A couple of AP articles that caught my eye, both for what they say and for what they don’t say *UPDATED*

I was very surprised to see an AP wire story reporting that Islamic militants (as opposed to mere “militants” or “insurgents”) were holding “Christians” (as opposed to mere “people”) hostage.  Even more surprising, the AP reported that the Islamic militants were probably affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq, an entity one apparently couldn’t acknowledge during the Bush years.

Just as I was thinking to myself, “Well, that AP worm has certainly turned, with this surprisingly honest report,” I read another wire story about the Chandra Levy murder trial.  You remember that story, right?  A decade ago, Rep. Gary Condit’s career was destroyed when an affair he had with Levy (which was definitely an unprincipled, immoral thing to do, since he was married), got morphed by the media into an unofficial murder charge.  Now, the probable actual murderer is on trial.

This is what the AP says about the defendant:  “Ingmar Guandique, a native of El Salvador, is on trial for the murder and attempted sexual assault of Levy nearly a decade ago.”

Now I, not having been born yesterday, verbalized yet another thought to myself:  “What are the odds that Guandique is an illegal immigrant?”  Turns out the odds are 100%.  Somehow, though, the AP just couldn’t bring itself to put that adjective out there.

Let me remind the open borders crowd that one of the virtues of having legal as opposed to illegal immigration, is that it enhances our government’s ability to weed out the killers before they cross our borders.

UPDATE:  This Philip Terzian post about the WaPo best seller list seems like an appropriate coda to a post on media bias.  I especially like the way Terzian describes the media’s inability to recognize its own bias:

One of the inherent difficulties of defining left-wing bias in the press to journalists is that it is something like describing the ocean to fish: It is so pervasive, and such a comfortable, nurturing environment, that it is hardly noticed.

Yeah — what he said.

Can it be good that Brad Bird is thinking about making a movie about the Iraq War? *UPDATED*

UPDATE: Thanks to the amazing power of the internet, a reliable source has let me know that this is a rumor, pure and simple.  No truth to it.  I’m leaving this post here, however,  just in case anyone follows up on it, so that there is no confusion about the truth (this) and the rumor (below).  Also, it is a cool mind game to imagine someone with Bird’s abilities tackling a story-line like this.  I might not necessarily like the results, but they’d still be interesting.

Okay, this is rumor, arising from speculation, with a sound basis in gossip, but I’m going to pass it on for what it’s worth.

You all know who Brad Bird is, right?  He worked on the Simpsons show, his first full length movie was The Iron Giant, and he shot to “I know that name” fame with The Incredibles.  The latter is a truly brilliant movie.  It’s witty, exciting, imaginative, and the voice casting is unusually perfect.  My favorite character is Edna “E” Mode, who is voiced by Brad Bird himself:

What’s also great about The Incredibles is the core values that permeate the movie’s fabric:  competition is good, striving for success is good, an education that seeks equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity is bad:

Helen: Dash… this is the third time this year you’ve been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet. A more… constructive outlet.
Dash: Maybe I could, if you’d let me go out for sports.
Helen: Honey, you know why we can’t do that.
Dash: But I promise I’ll slow up. I’ll only be the best by a tiny bit.
Dash: Dashiell Robert Parr, you are an incredibly competitive boy, and a bit of a show-off. The last thing you need is temptation.
Dash: You always say ‘Do your best’, but you don’t really mean it. Why can’t I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone’s special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

This was a subversive movie, and the funny thing was that even the people who worked on it didn’t realize it.  I know this because I knew a lot of the people involved in the film since it was made at Pixar Studios, across the bay from my Marin home base.  All of them, without exception, are die-hard Democrats who loathed Bush with an irrational passion, and rejoiced in Obama’s election.  They are unthinking, knee-jerk liberals, yet it was they who kept saying how brilliant the principles in The Incredibles were.  I pointed out, delicately, that the principles are at odds with an identity-based, Big Government, equality of outcome Democratic party, but they were incapable of seeing that.

As for Brad Bird, I don’t know.  I’ve met him once, and can tell you that he is a very nice man on superficial acquaintance, but that’s all I can tell you.  Everything else you know:  brilliant, imaginative and, possibly, subversive.

Which is why I found interesting a rumor that has popped up in Marin:  Bird is planning on making a movie called The Pride of Baghdad, about lions that ended up free after the Shock and Awe campaign in 2003.  My first thought was, “Oh, no!  Now anti-war, anti-American politics are going to trickle down into kids’ movies too.”  My second thought was, “Wait a minute.  I think Brad Bird is a bit subversive.  Let me check this out.”

What checking it had has revealed is that there is indeed a graphic novel called Pride of Baghdad, and it does take as its starting point the lions who escaped from the zoo as a result of the U.S. invasion.  As at least half the consumer reviewers at Amazon like to point out, and you can almost hear the trembling outrage in their voices, U.S. troops shot the lions, a story that made the news back in 2004.  (I rather suspect that the city’s residents were pleased not to have hungry lions roaming around, but that’s just me.)

Beyond that, however, I’m having trouble pinning down whether the book is pro-War or anti-War.  Most reviewers simply raved about the book’s incredibly graphics and its plot’s nuance.  They were vague as to ideology, Instead, they fell into a “this is a great book, I really liked it, take my word for it” mode.

As much as anything else, the Amazon reader reviews hint that it is the reader’s own sensibilities that inform the book.  You got the War is hell, and is worse than a lack of freedom reviews, as well as the War is hell, but being a perpetual prisoner is worse reviews.  It’s entirely possible that the book is so neutral, it is basically a Roar-schach test (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) of each viewer’s own values.  It will be very interesting, therefore, to see what values Brad Bird chooses to emphasize should he make the movie.  Will it be about the evil U.S. and the horrors of war, snatching people from their comfortable prisons and exposing them to death, or will it be about the fact that freedom is not free, but that any price we pay is better than the loss of individualism and freedom?

Is the Obama administration playing games?

Greyhawk is trying to put the pieces together in Iraq and Afghanistan when it comes to troop rotation.  Right now, on the information available, it looks as if their’s some sleight of hand going on with regarding to troop movements and the American public.  What do you think?

In the mid-19th Century, Palmerston called the manuverings between Russia and England over Central Asia “the great game.”  It looks as if the Obama administration is so self involved, the only game it’s playing is a shell game with itself and the American people.

How to avoid the stigma of being called an apartheid state

The head of the UN General Assembly just called Israel an “apartheid” state.  In other words, Israel is emblematic of evil in the world.  I’ve finally realized what the problem is:  Israel has a mixed population.

Think about it:  Iraq expelled her Jews and hounded her Christians into obscurity.  Saudi Arabia makes it illegal to be Jewish or Christian — so there are no Jews or Christians, making it a nice, homogenous population.  Iran also simply expelled or murdered different people.  The same holds true for Arab/Muslim state after Arab/Muslim state, all of whom are in good odor at the UN.

The secret, therefore, to avoid this insulting epithet isn’t to try to accommodate your hostile minority populations.  Instead, the secret is to destroy them entirely.  Once they’re good and gone, and once you’ve become a completely homogeneous racial or religious state by virtue of their (enforced) absence, nobody can tar you with the crime of being an “apartheid state.”

Orwell would be proud.

Celebrating an anything but grim milestone in Iraq

The MSM didn’t give this story any prominence (natch), but it’s some story:

U.S. deaths in Iraq fell in October to their lowest monthly level of the war, matching the record low of 13 fatalities suffered in July. Iraqi deaths fell to their lowest monthly levels of the year. Eight of the 13 Americans died in combat, most of them in northern Iraq where al-Qaida and other Sunni insurgent groups remain active. The U.S. military suffered 25 deaths in September and 23 in August.

I think some great people are going to be coming home soon, not because we ran away, but because we stayed, fought, and won:

Hat tip: Weekly Standard blog

Man bites dog? Dog bites man?

We all know that in the news world, “man bites dog” gets the front page, while “dog bites man” is ignored.  In a twisted way, then, one could say that the wall-to-wall Abu Ghraib coverage reflected the media’s horror that the American military had morphed from honor to dishonor.  (Or we could be realistic and say that the MSM adores anything that puts the military in a bad light.)

Given the impression that Abu Ghraib created of S&M prison conditions for Iraqis detained by the US, the current “man bites dog” story should be this one, from Max Boot, about the extraordinary success the American military in Iraq has had with the current batch of detainees.  Part of the success stems from changed conditions on the ground, but a significant part stems from changed conditions within the prison.  Given the airtime Abu Ghraib got, and the way it shaped perceptions about American prisons in Iraq, this should be a news story — but what do you bet that it won’t be?  Don’t bother to answer.  That was a rhetorical question.

As for me, I salute our American military for learning from its mistakes, and for being creative, innovative and flexible.

Good news and fascinating reporting

There’s a good news article in the SF Chronicle today, and one that also has a one interesting point and one missing point.  First, the good news:  A local Marine battalion just returned home yesterday, safe and sound, from its fifth tour of duty:

Number five was relatively easy.

The Marine battalion that has been to Iraq more often than any other returned home this week, and unlike previous trips to that combat zone, not a single leatherneck was lost.

I am delighted, and can’t think of any happier news to accompany a battalion’s return.  Congratulations go to each man (and woman?) in that battalion.  Hurrah!

The article has two more interesting aspects that I wanted to bring to your attention.  First, while the Code Pinkers weep nightly for the babies the evil Bush administration is sending to Iraq, the babies have different ideas.  They were bored:

“It was a pretty smooth tour,” said Maj. Kevin Norton, second-in-command of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. “I think a lot of these Marines would rather have gone to Afghanistan.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — for all their bleeding hearts, Lefties lack empathy.  They are incapable of understanding that, while they run from any fight that doesn’t have a conservative American as an opponent (’cause they know the latter won’t hurt them), there are men and women who enjoy the challenge of a real fight, against a real opponent.  I’m not of those people but, by God!, I am so grateful that we have in this country people who are willing to do the tough fighting so that I don’t have to.

The other interesting thing in the article is the magical quality it imparts to the peace the Marines found on this, their last tour:

On this seven-month tour, there were no fatalities and only a handful of wounded. One Marine was injured badly enough to be sent back to the United States early.

This was made possible by a nearly total reversal of the level of violence in Anbar province, which for a time could not be mentioned in a story without the term “restive” in front of it. But the tribes of Anbar changed their way of thinking in the last year or so, and decided to side with the Americans and fight the foreign jihadists who had brought fear, intimidation and death by beheading to both the Americans and the local Iraqis.

Known as the “Awakening” movement, the decision by the Sunnis of Anbar, aided by money from the Americans, has meant a precipitous drop in violence in that region, which is west of Baghdad and stretches to the Syrian border. It includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, once two of the most dangerous places on Earth.

This is the new liberal line, and comes directly from the Biden playbook:  the Surge had nothing to do with the dramatic decrease in violence in Iraq.  It was just an mad moment of enlightenment amongst the tribes.  Those people just “changed their way of thinking.”  The most the author of the story will admit to is the fact that substantial cash infusions made a difference.  I think it was substantial Marine infusions that made the difference, but what do I know — I don’t write for the MSM.

Clarifying Obama’s secret Iraq negotiations

Two days ago, word broke that Barack Obama, despite myriad campaign promises to bring the troops home from Iraq as soon as possible, tried to derail withdrawal talks in order to advance his own political agenda.  Yesterday, Barack Obama issued a weirdly phrased denial that called Amir Taheri (the journalist who broke the story) a liar, while at the same time issue what was, apparently, an explicit concession that he tried to delay withdrawal talks:

In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

It turns out that there is lawyer’s language involved in that concession.  Obama claims now that all he was trying to was slow progress on the Strategic Framework Agreement, which is intended to establish the legal basis by which Americans will stay in Iraq over the long haul.  Implicit in his statement, therefore, is that he had nothing to do with the Status of Forces Agreement, which governs the troops’ current engagement in Iraq.  That makes a certain amount of sense — except it’s not true.

Taheri, who takes exception to being called a liar, today explains two things in great detail:  (1) the fact that the two Agreements are completely interrelated and that all parties have treated them as such; and (2) that Obama’s own words demonstrate that he is among those who recognizes that they are inextricably intertwined.

Strip away the lawyer’s fine distinctions and the basic point remains the same:  Obama was willing to put his own political ambitions ahead of what he himself states are the needs of this country and our troops.  In a very good National Review article, Peter Hegseth puts aside the name calling of “traitor” and “Logan Act violator,” and focuses tightly on this revelation about the connection between Obama’s understanding of American foreign policy and his character:

It’s not just that Sen. Obama doesn’t believe in the mission in Iraq, it’s that he still doesn’t get it (to plagiarize from the senator himself). Fundamentally, he doesn’t understand the mission in Iraq, what it takes to win a war, or the ramifications of the outcome of this war for the U.S.’s enduring national security. He just doesn’t get it.

In Obama’s world, foreign-policy contorts to meet domestic politics, and commanding generals accommodate arbitrary political timelines. From his perspective, facts on a foreign battlefield exist to the extent they comport with his judgment, rather than his judgment comporting to facts on a foreign battlefield.

Despite recognizing security gains in Iraq, Sen. Obama continues to declare the surge a strategic failure because it hasn’t created necessary political progress — an assertion that has been patently false for some time now. Nonetheless, Senator Obama won’t adjust his stance before the election because, as Taheri so aptly points out, “to be credible, his foreign-policy philosophy requires Iraq to be seen as a failure, a disaster, a quagmire.”

The MSM is never going to get around to reporting this story, so it’s up to us — “We, the People” — to broadcast word that the man who would be King . . . er, President . . . the man whose followers advance him as the personal embodiment of hope and change, is quite possibly the most cynical, self-involved, narcissistic, power-hungry, ego blinded person ever to make a run for the White House.

Does this sound like treason to you? *UPDATED*

Treason is a pretty simple concept.  Here are a few choice definitions:

A violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.

Violation of allegiance toward one’s country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one’s country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.

1. a crime that undermines the offender’s government
2. disloyalty by virtue of subversive behavior
3. an act of deliberate betrayal

Have you got all those definitions firmly in mind?  Now read this, from Amir Taheri, reporting in the New York Post:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,” Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops – and that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement negotiated by the Bush administration in its “state of weakness and political confusion.”

When I was a young adult, one of the absolute worst charges Reagan’s political opponents leveled at him was the claim that, while he was running for President against Jimmy Carter, he reached an agreement with the Iranian revolutionaries that they would not release the American hostages until after the presidential election — something that would reinforce the American voter’s impression that Carter was weak and inept.

In the 1990s, both the House and the Senate investigated these charges and found nothing.  Nevertheless, amongst Democrats and those further to the Left, mention Reagan’s name and this charge comes up as yet another example of the Left’s ability to believe simultaneously that conservatives/Republicans are yokels with two-digit IQs and evil manipulators whose savvy enables them constantly to double-cross naive Democrats.

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama grew up knowing about this charge against Reagan, and saw  it as yet another example of Reagan’s and the Republicans’ myriad calumnies.  Heck, I don’t even doubt that Obama dismisses the official debunking and believes it’s completely true that Reagan engaged in this heinous act.  Or, let’s put it another way — an act that was heinous when a Republican committed it against a Democrat.

I also have absolutely no doubt that Obama used Reagan’s alleged negotiations with the hostages as an inspiration for his undermining the American government, not during a “crisis,” but during an actual war.  Nobody in the Justice Department is going to do anything about it, of course.  Nevertheless, we can at least call ’em like we see ’em — if the Iraqi Foreign Minister spoke the truth (and this is not merely an inchoate conspiracy theory, but something straight from a possibly reliable horse’s mouth), Obama committed treason, plain and simple.

And this is the man that approximately half of the country wants to see as Commander in Chief?  Someone who will betray his own country and keep American troops at risk for an enterprise he believes is unnecessary simply for his own personal aggrandizement?  If we needed any further evidence that Obama is unfit to walk through the door of the White House, this is it.

Others blogging:

Wizbang
Instapundit
Hot Air
Lucianne
Brutally Honest
The Anchoress

UPDATE: Charlie from Colorado made such a good point in the comments that I think his point and my response need to be moved up here, to the post:

Charlie (Colorado):

Bookie, this is the one case where the definition of a crime is established in the Constitution:

Article III Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

I think it would be pretty hard to claim this was an overt act of levying war or of adhering to the enemies of the USA.

Now, if you wanted to suggest it was a violation of the Logan Act I’d be right there with you.

Bookworm:

Interesting point, Charlie. Did Obama give aid and comfort to the enemy? From his own point of view, I think he did.

My take on the War — and this particular time in the War — is that our troops our in Iraq trouncing the bad guys. Obama’s point of view is now, and certainly was back in July, when he made these statements — that the war is a failure, and that our troops are there as target practice for some amorphous “insurgents.” (I say amorphous because the Democrats keep denying that these are Al Qaeda people and they’ve assured us that Islam is a religion of peace.)

Because Obama’s view is/was that our troops our in the equivalent of a turkey shoot, with them being the turkeys, when he specifically requested that those same American troops be left to the depredations of those amorphously identified insurgents, Obama provided aid and comfort to the enemy. More American turkeys for them to shoot could only be a good thing from their point of view. (Mind you, I’m looking at the Iraq theater through the Obama prism.)

Likewise, by bad mouthing our administration abroad and implying that it is ineffectual, Obama is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Certainly, we’ve taken heart from captured communications between Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers in which the writers speak badly of their own command and troops.

And you’re right, of course — Obama’s also violating the Logan Act.

Best analysis I’ve seen of Obama’s myriad failures re Iraq

Before today, I hadn’t heard of Frank Turek.  After today, I’m going to keep an eye out for his articles.  He’s written a really splendid article explaining how deeply, terribly wrong Obama’s every position is regarding Iraq.  Frankly, for those who are well-informed, there’s nothing in this article you haven’t seen before.  I’m just impressed by how well and elegantly he pulls it together — to the point where’d I say that, if you have to send one article to a liberal friend supporting McCain on Iraq, and opposing Obama, I’d make it this one.

For example (emphasis in original):

Barack Obama’s recent op-ed in the New York Times declares, “It’s time to end this war.” (You remember that Senator McCain tried to respond, but the Times apparently wanted to give McCain his opinion rather than allow him to express his own.   Every day I read the New York Times and the Bible just to see what both sides are doing.)

Is Obama right?  Is it time to end this war?  Maybe it is time to begin drawing down our forces and handing-off more responsibility for security to Iraqi forces.  This idea is gaining favor in Bagdad and Washington.

The problem for Obama is that withdrawal, not victory, has always been his goal.  Obama wanted to “end this war” when it would have meant an American defeat.  The only reason a slow withdrawal is possible now is because President Bush made the unpopular but wise decision to increase our efforts while Obama and the Democrat party tried to get us to cut and run.

This raises a larger question about Obama’s fitness for the presidency.  Obama has four positions related to the war which, in my view, disqualify him for the presidency.

First, how can a serious candidate for President of the United States have a long-standing goal to end the war rather than win it?  Great presidents don’t end wars—they win them. The only way the American military can be defeated is when American leaders forfeit the fight for them.  And that’s exactly what Obama has wanted to do for years.

Hoist by their own petard

In light of the Surge’s manifest success, John Hawkins, of Right Wing News, has written a column that assembles many of the Democratic gloom and doom predictions about the Surge when it was first proposed.  Makes for interesting reading in that it exposes the profound ignorance and ideological blindness coming from the Left.

Who do you trust, McCain or Obama?

TigerHawk has an interesting article on Andrew Sullivan’s comments about our recent successes in Iraq.  The article includes this quote from Sullivan:

Of course, this all makes Obama’s 16 month withdrawal timetable more and more feasible. It really now is a question of prudence and strategy in how best to withdraw troops. Do you trust McCain to get them all out swiftly and prudently? Or do you trust Obama to get them all out prudently and swiftly? It’s a judgment call.

Well, gee, let’s see.  I trust Obama to get us out swiftly and I trust McCain to get us out prudently.  How can Sullivan not see the difference?  And who do you trust? 

Talking to the troops

I’m sorry to say that, for me, “the troops” have always been somewhat abstract, not because I don’t respect and admire them, but because I really don’t know any troops.  Living in my Marin bubble, where the military is anathema to the average person, you simply don’t have a large number of people entering the service, nor do you have a large number of military personnel wandering around the streets.  When I do get the opportunity — usually at airports in other states — I always go up and thank the troops I see, but that’s the extent of my interactions with them.  Otherwise, my military friends are people I’ve met through my blog.  They have no faces; they just have wonderful voices.

Today, though, I learned that I can make a little dent in that abstraction, as can you, through an email program One Marine’s View is offering.  Major Pain describes some Marines currently serving in Iraq:

We have a large group of Marines currently located in a remote area of Iraq.  Mail might arrive once a week if the fates are with them, and water is obtained from a well on site. These are your Marines, living on the edge of the empire, alone and determined to succeed.  They don’t live in Fallujah, they don’t have a PX or a store.  They operate with the bare bones and a can do attitude.  Adapt and overcome are the pillars of their structure, while rebuilding in an insurgent filled area.  Police stations are built and governed by Lt’s, and life and death decisions are made by 20 something year olds.

They sleep in WWII era wooden huts and sleeping bags, as the constant blowing dirt finds its way into everything they own.  They cherish the basic things most take for granted in the states. Operating flawlessly in the 100+ weather is not the exception, it’s the expected. They are a tight group that redefines the phrase, “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy”.

One Marine’s View has now set up a special email address:  dirtpeople@gmail.com.  What makes that email address special is this:

Sending in an email will give OMV the right to publish it in any format, thereby allowing me to publicly post them all.  This way many will benefit from your support, instead of just a couple.  Please take just a few minutes to let your Marines know how proud you are of their outstanding service, and incredible spirit.

I’m planning on sending my email right now.  How about you?

By the way, Maj Pain suggests something more than the “thank you” I try to pass out in airports, and urges something more along the lines of a dinner conversation.  I’m chatty.  I think I can do that.

Prescient versus naive? stupid? ideologically blind?

Frederick Kagan has a fascinating comparison of the specific Iraq policy plans McCain and Obama advanced before the Surge.  McCain actually envisioned a surge-like event, and described all the positive benefits that would flow from it — and his predictions proved to be completely accurate.  Obama, of course, demanded retreat and defeat.  Given the success of the plan McCain envisioned, it is not unreasonable to assume that Obama’s opposite plan might have had a very opposite outcome.  I love Kagan’s conclusion:

For any voter trying to choose between the two candidates for commander in chief, there is no better test than this: When American strategy in a critical theater was up for grabs, John McCain proposed a highly unpopular and risky path, which he accurately predicted could lead to success. Barack Obama proposed a popular and politically safe route that would have led to an unnecessary and debilitating American defeat at the hands of al Qaeda.

The two men brought different backgrounds to the test, of course. In January 2007, McCain had been a senator for 20 years and had served in the military for 23 years. Obama had been a senator for 2 years and before that was a state legislator, lawyer, and community organizer. But neither presidential candidates nor the commander in chief gets to choose the tests that history brings. Once in office, the one elected must perform.

WaPo editor finally figures out that the Left lied, not Bush

There is an absolutely staggering editorial in today’s Washington Post — it admits that, John Rockefeller’s “official” indictment to the contrary, Bush did not lie. If anything, Rockefeller, in his official Senate Intelligence Committee report is lying by reaching conclusions at odds with his own evidence:

Search the Internet for “Bush Lied” products, and you will find sites that offer more than a thousand designs. The basic “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker is only the beginning.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, set out to provide the official foundation for what has become not only a thriving business but, more important, an article of faith among millions of Americans. And in releasing a committee report Thursday, he claimed to have accomplished his mission, though he did not use the L-word.

“In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent,” he said.

There’s no question that the administration, and particularly Vice President Cheney, spoke with too much certainty at times and failed to anticipate or prepare the American people for the enormous undertaking in Iraq.

But dive into Rockefeller’s report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.

On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements “were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates.”

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements “were substantiated by intelligence information.”

On chemical weapons, then? “Substantiated by intelligence information.”

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.” Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? “Generally substantiated by available intelligence.” Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? “Generally substantiated by intelligence information.”

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda “were substantiated by the intelligence assessments,” and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda “were substantiated by intelligence information.” The report is left to complain about “implications” and statements that “left the impression” that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

In the report’s final section, the committee takes issue with Bush’s statements about Saddam Hussein’s intentions and what the future might have held. But was that really a question of misrepresenting intelligence, or was it a question of judgment that politicians are expected to make?

There’s more in the same vein. I suspect we should make multiple copies and start handing them out whenever we hear someone start to say “Bush lied….”

Others blogging this one: The Anchoress, Brutally Honest, Cheat-Seeking Missiles, Hot Air

Steve Schippert, writing at The Tank on National Review, has a nice parallel post which discusses what a rarity the above editorial is by focusing on an ABC news story that desperately tries to spin the success in Iraq to Obama’s benefit (“This is not the Iraq War I thought I knew.”)

Victory might be ours

I love Dean Barnett’s column explaining how much Bush and our military have achieved In Iraq and deservedly castigating the Democrats who would, first, deny that any victory is within our sights and, second, give the credit for American perseverance, strength and fortitude to the Iranians.

Lynn Woolsey confirms her status as an idiot *UPDATED*

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but Lynn Woolsey represents me in Congress. I didn’t vote for her — but this is what you get in a majority style democracy. Marin County has many virtues, which is why I like to live here, but wise political choices are not among those virtues.

Right now, as progress in Iraq gets better and better, Woolsey is attempting to subvert local councils by pressing them to denounce the war as “unwinnable.” Fortunately, in most communities, the council’s have figured out that (a) such denunciations are beyond their area of responsibility and (b) they really don’t want to end up looking like the Berkeley City Council:

REP. LYNN WOOLSEY wants Marin’s city councils to join her in opposing the war in Iraq.

Woolsey has made no secret that she wants the troops to pack up and return home .

Aside from the Fairfax Town Council, which often jumps into politics that stretch far beyond town borders, many Marin councils have rebuffed pressure to take official stands on the war.

They cite policies that limit their vision to local or state issues that directly affect their towns.

Local peace activists are hoping that Woolsey’s political prodding will be enough to get them to depart from business as usual. A petition is making the rounds in Mill Valley, asking the City Council to take a stand against the war, just as it did opposing the Vietnam war in 1968.

Woolsey asked local mayors: “To bring an end to the occupation and to halt the hemorrhage of tax dollars from local projects, I encourage local governments to add your voices to your constituents; by adopting resolutions sending a strong message to Washington – our troops have done everything that has been asked of them, and it’s time to bring them home.”

Woolsey said the war is “unwinnable” and affects every citizen.

Larkspur Mayor Kathy Hartzell said she hasn’t seen Woolsey’s letter, and Mill Valley’s was mailed to an old post office box address, said Mayor Shawn Marshall.

Hartzell added the Larkspur council doesn’t take stands on matters “that are outside the parameter of our responsibilities.”

Boro said he’s not planning to put Woolsey’s request on his council’s agenda, either.

There’s not a lot of political support for the war on the San Rafael council, he said – adding it is not an issue the council can control or have an impact on.

I’m too lazy to look into it, but I’d be willing to bet that Woolsey has never talked to Petraeus or anyone else with feet on the ground information about Iraq, and I also suspect that she’s never actually visited Iraq on a fact-finding mission. Facts don’t drive her; ideology does. As Bugs says, what a maroon.

UPDATE:  I dashed off the above post this morning, without a lot of effort.  Marooned in Marin, however, did put a lot of effort in a post on the same topic, and it’s well worth reading.

Why you shouldn’t cut off your nose to spite your face

I’ve been finding very disturbing the intense hostility that conservatives direct against John McCain. So much so that I wrote a very long rant on the subject, which American Thinker was kind enough to publish and which I reprint below:

Perhaps because I’m a neocon, and not a dyed-in-the-wool, native-born conservative, I look at John McCain, with all his flaws, and still think that he’s a pretty darn good candidate for our time. More importantly, I think that Obama is a very dangerous candidate precisely because of the time in which we live. I therefore find disturbing the number of conservative purists who insist that they’re going to teach John McCain — and everyone else, dammit! — a lesson, either by sitting out the election or by throwing their vote away on a third party candidate. This is a kind of political game that may be fun to play in uninteresting eras, but I think it’s suicidal given the pivotal existential issues we now face.

It’s easy to target John McCain’s flaws. Most recently, he’s managed to buy into the whole green machine just as it’s becoming clear that the greenies probably rushed their fences, and leapt into hysteria well in advance of their facts. Still, whether because you view the world through green colored glasses, or because you really hate funding totalitarian governments that are hostile to America, there is a lot to be said for exploring energy alternatives. McCain’s free market approach should help that effort. Also, by the time he becomes President, there should be a sufficient aggregation of rationally based information about the climate to allow McCain a graceful retreat from a foolish campaign promise.

McCain also seems to be unresponsive to the feeling ordinary Americans have that illegal immigration is a big problem. This feeling arises, not because we’re all xenophobic nutcases, but because we recognize a few fundamental truths: (a) American law starts at American borders, and it is deeply destructive to society’s fabric to have an immigrant’s first act in this country be an illegal one; (b) a country’s fundamental sovereign right is the ability to control its own borders; (c) unchecked immigration provides a perfect pathway, not merely for the field worker, but for the bomb-maker; and (d) immigrants who come here should be committed to this country and its values, and shouldn’t just by moseying over to grab some illegal bucks to send to the folks back home.

Nevertheless, while illegal immigrants are irritating, they’re not an existential threat that can bring America to its knees within the next four years. They are a problem, but not an imminent one.

McCain may also never be absolved of the sin he committed with the McCain-Feingold Act, a legislative bit of bungling that has George Soros singing daily Hosannas. However, that’s done. There is no doubt that it reflects badly on McCain’s judgment, but I think it’s a sin that needs to be ignored, if not forgiven, in light of the person facing McCain on the other side of the ballot box.

You see, from my point of view, this election isn’t really about John McCain at all. It’s about Barack Obama. Of course, it shouldn’t be about Barack Obama. During a time of war and economic insecurity, one of the two presidential candidates should not be a man who has no life history, beyond a remarkable ability at self-aggrandizement, and no legislative history, despite a few years paddling about in the Illinois State Legislature and three years (count ‘em, three) doing absolutely nothing in the United States Senate.

That Obama is a man of no accomplishments or experience, though, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t managed to acquire some bad friends and bad ideas. The friends are easy to identify: Comrade . . . I mean Rev. Wright; Michelle “the Termagant” Obama; the explosive Ayers and Dohrn duo; Samantha “Hillary is a Monster” Power; Robert “Hamas” Malley; Zbigniew “the Jews are out to get me” Brzezinski; etc. Over the years, he’s sought out, paid homage to, and been advised by a chilling collection of people who dislike America and are ready to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone who talks the Marxist talk and walks the Marxist walk.

Obama’s ideas are as unnerving as his friends. To my mind, the Jihad that Islamists have declared against us is the fundamental issue of our time. Thanks to the nature of modern asymmetrical warfare, the fact that these Jihadists number in the tens of thousands, rather than the millions, and that they’re often free operators, not formal armies, does nothing to lessen the serious threat they pose to American freedoms. We’ve seen with our own eyes the fact that, using our own instruments of civilization, 19 determined men can kill almost 3,000 people in a matter of hours.

Nor was 9/11 an aberration, committed by the only 19 Islamic zealots on planet Earth. Whether they’re using the hard sell of bloody deaths, or the soft sell of co-opting a nation’s institutions and preying on its well-meant deference to other cultures and its own self-loathing, the Jihadists have a clearly defined goal — an Islamic world – and they’re very committed to effectuating that goal. And while it’s true that, of the world’s one billion Muslims, most are not Jihadists, the fanatic minority can still constitute a critical mass when the passive majority either cheers on the proposed revolution from the sidelines or does nothing at all. As Norman Podhoretz has already explained, this is World War IV.

I understand this. You understand this. McCain understands this. Obama, however, does not understand this. He envisions cozy chit-chats with Ahmadinejad and loving hand-holding with Hamas. There’s every indication that, given his world view, he’ll take Clinton’s “Ah feel your pain” approach one step further, and engage in a self-abasing “I — or, rather, America — caused your pain.” That approach failed when Carter tried it, and it’s only going to fare worse the second time around.

Obama is also bound and determined to withdraw instantly from Iraq, even though the momentum has shifted completely to the American side. Even though another famous Illinois politician spoke scathingly of General McClellan for “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” at Appomattox, Obama has not learned from that painful lesson. He is adamant that he will repeat McClellan’s errors and enshrine the snatching method as national policy. Every five year old understands that you don’t leave the fight when it’s going your way; Obama, however, does not. That is scary in and of itself.

There is one thing, though, that Obama understands with perfect clarity: the role of Supreme Court judges. He knows that they should apply compassion and empathy, without the restrictive hindrance of the outdated United States Constitution. I’m not making this up. He’s said so: “I want people on the bench who have enough empathy, enough feeling, for what ordinary people are going through.”

As someone unfortunate enough to litigate in a jurisdiction filled to overflowing with these empathic judicial actors, I can tell you that this approach is disastrous. First, it’s unfair within the confines of a single case when the judge can ignore the law and, instead, decide a case based on the color of his underpants on any given day. Second, and more importantly, judicial activism (for that is what Obama describes) also destroys the stability necessary for a safe, strong society. It becomes impossible for people and entities to make reasoned calculations about future behavior, since they cannot rely on cases or statutes as guides. They simply have to hope that, if things go wrong, the judge before whom they appear likes them better than he likes the other guy. This is no way to run a courtroom, let alone a country.

What should concern all of us is the power a President Obama will have to effect an almost permanent change on the Supreme Court, one that will last far beyond his presidency. Those with gambling instincts point to the fact that, if anyone leaves the Court during an Obama presidency, it will be the existing liberal justices. In other words, they say, Obama, by replacing the departing liberal justices with equally liberal incoming justices, will simply be maintaining the status quo. I’m not so sanguine.

Although I preface the thought with a “God forbid,” it is possible that conservative justices might leave the Court too, whether through death, illness, incapacity, or personal choice. If that’s the case, Obama, backed by a compliant Democratic Congress, will be able to appoint anyone he pleases to the Court. With a solid activist majority, you can bet that, in your lifetime (as well as your children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes), the Supreme Court will become the second Legislative branch, with the sole difference being that it will be completely unhindered by having to woo or be answerable to any pesky voters back home.

It’s these last two points — the War and the judiciary — that make me feel very strongly that we have to accept John McCain as president, warts and all. While he is far from perfect, he is rock solid on the two issues that can’t just be massaged away in four years. He will continue to wage war, both on the field and in the realm of ideas, against the Jihadists, and he will appoint conservative Supreme Court justices.

He is, therefore, a much better bet than the scenario in which the gamblers among us have placed their faith; namely, a replay of 1976 and 1980. These risk-takers believe that, as happened before, we’ll elect a horrible, horrible ultra-liberal President who will expose to the world how hollow Democratic ideologies really are. Then, after a mere four years, a sadder but wiser American public will elect the next Ronald Reagan who will magically make everything right again.

I have my doubts. First, I think there’s a great deal of conservative hubris in believing that we can just wish for and get the Second Coming of Ronald Reagan. Not only was he a pretty unique man, he’d been kicking around the political arena for decades. Do you look out in that same arena right now and see anyone remotely like him who will be ready to serve and acceptable to the American public in the next four years? Second, Reagan came in facing two primary problems: a stagnant Cold War and a moribund economy. Both of these situations were remediable. Reenergizing a stagnant war game America the dominant position; and rejiggering a damaged, but fundamentally strong economy was difficult, but do-able.

Here, however, we have two situations that are not so easily repaired should Obama bungle them (as I confidently expect he will). We are not fighting a Cold War, we are fighting a hot war. To walk away now inevitably places the momentum in the hands of our enemies, enemies who have done what the Soviets never did: entered our borders and killed our people in the thousands. Further, unlike the Soviets who had replaced their revolution with a cold, calculating political machine, one that could yield to rational self-interest, we now find ourselves facing fanatics in the blind grip of an ideology completely antithetical to any rational negotiation. To lose the high ground now – and we certainly have that high ground in Iraq – may mean to lose it forever. Even the best case scenario would only echo the changes between the late 1930s and early 1940s, when the Allies, having lost the high ground, were eventually able to win it back at the cost of more than twenty million lives.

Likewise, the Supreme Court situation, if Obama is able to switch the balance from strict constructionist to activist, cannot magically be remedied. Even Reagan was unable to make that change. It’s been thirty-five years, and American is still riven by Roe v. Wade, the most famous activist decision of them all (and that is true whether you are pro-Choice or pro-Life). One can only imagine how many decades of damage an activist Obama Supreme Court can do.

It is very tempting to those who care deeply about their country and their politics to “punish” an ostensibly conservative politician who has, too often and too visibly, wandered from the fold. Sometimes, however, teaching someone a lesson can be infinitely more painful for the punisher than for the punishee. That’s what I fear will happen now, if conservative voters decide that McCain has failed to pass the purity test and then gamble that Obama can’t really be that bad. I’m here to tell you that Obama can be that bad, and that we owe it to ourselves and our fellow citizens to keep him out of office.

These bombs were not put together in the garage *UPDATED*

Have you heard the old expression “a fine Italian hand?” It’s an old saying that applied to a situation in which you believed, at first, that you were dealing with one rather inept adversary. However, as the matter progressed, you began to realize that there was a more skilled, subtle — and invisible — player involved, manipulating things at a much more sophisticated level. That player was the “fine Italian hand.” In Iraq, it is becoming more and more apparent that Americans are facing, if not a fine, than a deadly Iranian hand. Bob Owens has more on this story with regard to a new and deadly weapon on the Iraqi battle field.

UPDATE:  Someone who has the technical expertise to know, has indicated to me that there are technical problems with the view expressed in that linked article that require us to take its conclusions with a large grain of salt.  Read it, by all means, but he suggests that we do not rely too heavily on its conclusions.

Moral relativism demands that we respect their choices

There are no good people or bad people. There are only people who have different cultural values. My deep and abiding respect for the multicultural principles underlying moral relativism demand that I accept as culturally reasonable the fact that terrorists in Iraq strapped a remote-controlled bomb to an eight year old girl in order to demonstrate their resistance to Western imperialism by blowing up an Iraqi commander.

Aw, the heck with it. These people are monsters. This is subhuman behavior that is the antithesis of anything resembling civilization. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the “masterminds” sacrificed his own daughter to this plot.  Nothing can be said to excuse this act.

The dishonor of an “honor culture”

The British press was rocked for a few minutes a couple of weeks ago by the story of an Iraqi girl whose father murdered her quite brutally because she’d fallen in love with a British soldier. (There was no hint, by the way, that she’d done anything about the love; it was an infatuation from afar.) An interview with that father gives one a good insight into the culture arrayed against us in the epic clash of civilizations in which we’re now embroiled:

Two weeks ago, The Observer revealed how 17-year-old student Rand Abdel-Qader was beaten to death by her father after becoming infatuated with a British soldier in Basra. In this remarkable interview, Abdel-Qader Ali explains why he is unrepentant – and how police backed his actions.

For Abdel-Qader Ali there is only one regret: that he did not kill his daughter at birth. ‘If I had realised then what she would become, I would have killed her the instant her mother delivered her,’ he said with no trace of remorse.

Two weeks after The Observer revealed the shocking story of Rand Abdel-Qader, 17, murdered because of her infatuation with a British solider in Basra, southern Iraq, her father is defiant. Sitting in the front garden of his well-kept home in the city’s Al-Fursi district, he remains a free man, despite having stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death.

Abdel-Qader, 46, a government employee, was initially arrested but released after two hours. Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. ‘They are men and know what honour is,’ he said.

[snip]

It was her first youthful infatuation and it would be her last. She died on 16 March after her father discovered she had been seen in public talking to Paul, considered to be the enemy, the invader and a Christian. Though her horrified mother, Leila Hussein, called Rand’s two brothers, Hassan, 23, and Haydar, 21, to restrain Abdel-Qader as he choked her with his foot on her throat, they joined in. Her shrouded corpse was then tossed into a makeshift grave without ceremony as her uncles spat on it in disgust.

‘Death was the least she deserved,’ said Abdel-Qader. ‘I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion,’ he said.

You can read the rest — which is as sickening as the bit above — here. First and foremost, the article is a reminder that Islam, as practiced by Arabs at least, is possibly the most self-centered religion in the world. It’s not really about serving God, nor is it about living a moral life where your own behavior must measure up to God’s standards. Instead, it’s all about “me, me, me!” “You embarrassed me, therefore you offended God.” “You aren’t living life the way I think you should, therefore I get to kill you to satisfy my God.” Although Islam apologists try to treat it as part of the modern trinity of non-pagan religions, it is, in fact, a religion deeply rooted in human sacrifice — and the sacrifice isn’t for the greater glory of God (which was, at least, the excuse for the ritual sacrifices in days of old), but simply to satisfy the killers’ egos and insecurities.

Second, although it shouldn’t be any less foremost, is the miserable, craven, ill-informed, stupid, dangerous behavior of those on the Left, who claim so loudly to be the staunchest defenders in the West of women’s rights (and gay rights, and workers’ rights, and immigrant rights). These nincompoops certainly pay lip service to these “rights”, and they’re always willing to assert them against those cultures that accord the greatest respect to women and gays and workers and immigrants. At the same time, though, they’re so blinded by their obsequious desire to placate any group that isn’t America, that they are yielding ground at warp speed to people who firmly believe in an unimpeded right to slaughter women and gays, and to enslave workers (especially those immigrants unlucky enough to end up in such bastions of Muslim paganism as Saudi Arabia or Yemen).

Incidentally, Barack Obama is the ne plus ultra of this foul Leftist trend. Although he is frantically denying it now (once more making a bald-faced liar of himself), and although the NYT’s is desperately trying to work as the enabler for this man’s Leftist pathology, he really thinks he can and should just sit down and have a chat with these fanatics, at which point they’ll smile and retreat permanently.

What an idiot — which would be fine if he confined his stupidities to a small circle of friends and business associates. It’s frightening, though, to think that Obama wants to visit this level of cultural unawareness and blatant stupidity on the American people and the world.

The correct response, of course, to this kind of barbarity is Lord William Bentinck’s response to sati (or suttee), the old Indian practice that required a widow to immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.  When told that the British could do nothing to prevent sati because it was an ancient Indian practice and that outlawing it might destroy Britain’s interests in India, he nevertheless went ahead, in 1829, and made the practice illegal.  It still took decades for the practice to die out, but his legislation struck it the first death blow.

“Yes, I will ignore the commanders.”

Our local public radio station was replaying the most recent Hillbama debate, and so I listened to a piece of it that had slipped under my radar the first time. It’s actually quite funny, despite the scary implications of what Hillary is saying she’ll do regarding Iraq if she’s elected President. Here’s what she said, with my little interlineations:

MR. GIBSON: Let me just add a little bit to that question, because your communications director in your campaign, Howard Wolfson on a conference call recently was asked, “Is Senator Clinton going to stick to her announced plan of bringing one or two brigades out of Iraq every month whatever the realities on the ground?” And Wolfson said, “I’m giving you a one-word answer so we can be clear about it, the answer is yes.”

So if the military commanders in Iraq came to you on day one and said this kind of withdrawal would destabilize Iraq, it would set back all of the gains that we have made, no matter what, you’re going to order those troops to come home?

SENATOR CLINTON: Yes, I am, Charlie. And here’s why: You know, thankfully we have a system in our country of civilian control of the military. And our professional military are the best in the world. They give their best advice and then they execute the policies of the president. I have watched this president as he has continued to change the rationale and move the goalposts when it comes to Iraq. [Garbled, but she seems to be saying that Bush has been receiving the best military advice available, and he’s been ignoring it so that he can continue to stay in Iraq.]

And I am convinced that it is in America’s best interest, it is in the best interest of our military, and I even believe it is in the best interest of Iraq, that upon taking office, I will ask the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and my security advisers to immediately put together for me a plan so that I can begin to withdraw within 60 days. I will make it very clear that we will do so in a responsible and careful manner, because obviously, withdrawing troops and equipment is dangerous. [However, when I, Hillary, am President, I won’t bother to listen to any advice at all, and then ignore it. Instead, without going through boring channels, based upon my civilian understanding of events in iraq, I’ll simply demand that we start withdrawing troops. Hah!]

I will also make it clear to the Iraqis that they no longer have a blank check from the president of the United States, because I believe that it will be only through our commitment to withdraw that the Iraqis will begin to do what they have failed to do for all of these years.

I will also begin an intensive diplomatic effort, both within the region and internationally, to begin to try to get other countries to understand the stakes that we all face when it comes to the future of Iraq. [Because really, those idiot leaders currently have no idea how dangerous it is to have Iran building itself up.]

But I have been convinced and very clear that I will begin to withdraw troops within 60 days. And we’ve had other instances in our history where some military commanders have been very publicly opposed to what a president was proposing to do. [Note how she doesn’t say the numbers she’ll withdraw. If she removes 10 people, she’s kept her promise.]

But I think it’s important that this decision be made, and I intend to make it.

MR. GIBSON: But Senator Clinton, aren’t you saying — I mean, General Petraeus was in Washington. You both were there when he testified, saying that the gains in Iraq are fragile and are reversible. Are you essentially saying, “I know better than the military commanders here”? [He’s absolutely right. That is what she said in the first paragraph above.]

SENATOR CLINTON: No, what I’m saying, Charlie, is that no one can predict what will happen. [True, but our military commanders, armed with massive amounts of facts and experience, are presumably in the best position to make some predictions.] There are many different scenarios. But one thing I am sure of is that our staying in Iraq, our continuing to lose our men and women in uniform, having many injured, the Iraqi casualties that we are seeing as well, is — is no way for us to maintain a strong position in the world. [So, again, she’s saying precisely what she said before: I’m not only going to ignore the military commanders, I’m not even going to bother asking for their advice because, in an unpredictable situation, I clearly know better than anyone else what’s going on and what to do.]

It’s not only about Iraq. It is about ending the war in Iraq, so that we can begin paying attention to all of the other problems we have. There isn’t any doubt that Afghanistan has been neglected. It has not gotten the resources that it needs. We hear that from our military commanders responsible for that region of the world. And there are other problems that we have failed to address.

So the bottom line for me is, we don’t know what will happen as we withdraw. We do know what will happen if we stay mired in Iraq. The Iraqi government will not accept responsibility for its own future. [Bottom line: I have no idea what’s going to happen; I’m going to ignore the commanders who warn of a blood bath, and I’m going to withdraw. So there!]

Our military will continue to be stretched thin, and our soldiers will be on their second, third, even their fourth deployment. And we will not be able to reassert our leadership and our moral authority in the world.

And I think those are the kind of broad issues that a president has to take into account.

What’s really scary is that Hillary is less wacko on this subject than Obama.

Oops!  Looked at the clock.  Gotta run.

Beating up thugs

The news story was the beating the Iranian thugs and terrorists took in Basra. But there was another type of thuggery going on, too, and Ralph Peters attacks it with a righteous zeal:

LIKE many Americans, I get angry at biased “reporting” about Iraq and the spin from dishonest pundits. Usually, I get over it quickly, since my expectations of the media are pretty low.But sometimes a Big Lie just won’t let go. And the lefty lie that the Iraqi military is a hopeless failure must be answered.

Yes, we all know that left-wing media outlets, such as the dying New York Times, need Iraq to fail to redeem their credibility. They’ll do all they can to dismiss any sign of progress.

But the perverted gloating over recent Iraqi military operations in Basra combines willful ignorance of military affairs with a shameless manipulation of the facts. Yes, some local Iraqi police and new military recruits ran away. But that was all that the media reported.

Where was the coverage of the 95 percent of the Iraqi security forces who did their duty? Some fought superbly. The Iranian-backed gangs and militias took a beating.

Muqtada al Sadr – not the central government – asked for a cease-fire. The Iraqi military remains in Basra, still pushing (and freeing the occasional kidnapped journalist). The government now has a presence where lawlessness prevailed – and it took control of Basra’s vital port facilities, the country’s economic lifeline.

But all we continue to hear about is the one Iraqi cop or soldier in 20 who ran away.

Read the rest here.

The horrors of battle

A couple of nights ago, I watched a Frontline show entitled Bad Voodoo’s War, which followed a platoon of National Guard soldiers who were deployed to Iraq at the beginning of the Surge in 2007.  The show’s editor/producer did not go to war with the men.  Instead, she gave them video cameras, and they recorded their thoughts and activities and mailed the footage to her for editing.

As the narrator acknowledged at the beginning of the show, the unit, which named itself Bad Voodoo, was not the usual National Guard unit of men and women who are mostly civilians but have a military background.  Instead, the men (I didn’t see women) in this unit were already seasoned combat veterans.

In many ways, it was a fine show, since it really did give viewers a day-in-life style view of a National Guard unit.  The two men who got all the camera time were interesting men, who were intelligent, highly motivated, and deeply committed to their team.

One could tell from the way in which the editor tried to build tension that she wanted viewers to see the horrors of the war into which our troops were flung to support Bush’s madcap surge.  The problem was that this wasn’t what happened at all.  Instead, the unit was given the job of escorting convoys through Iraq, and keeping an eye out for IEDs and drive by shooters and crashers.

Theirs was clearly a stressful job, but the men’s main complaint was that they weren’t in battle.  Contrary to the Progressive view of hapless lambs being forced to the slaughter in Iraq by a Halliburton driven government, these men lamented their passive role and wanted to be “boots on the ground.”  They felt wasted as escorts.

During the six months that they filmed themselves for the show (which was the duration of the main part of the Surge), the unit’s convoy managed to run into two IEDs, neither of which even wounded anyone.  Each took out the back of a truck, but the main damage was time, with the men waiting hours on the roadside for the necessary aid.

The supreme irony was that the main type of injury this seasoned unit suffered during the height of the surge was — bladder infections.  Yup, because of the extreme heat, the guys drank and drank and drank.  But the nature of their job meant that they couldn’t always relieve themselves when necessary and they got backed up.

I’m sure the Frontline people were disappointed to lose the dramatic storyline, as well as the properly stereotyped storyline.  As for me, though, if the worst my troops are suffering in a battle torn country is bladder infections, I say Hallelujah!

I believe them, but….

Here’s the story:

Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The three anti-war Democrats made the trip in October 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to persuade Congress to authorize military action against Iraq. While traveling, they called for a diplomatic solution.

Prosecutors say that trip was arranged by Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a Michigan charity official, who was charged Wednesday with setting up the junket at the behest of Saddam’s regime. Iraqi intelligence officials allegedly paid for the trip through an intermediary and rewarded Al-Hanooti with 2 million barrels of Iraqi oil.

The lawmakers are not named in the indictment but the dates correspond to a trip by Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California. None was charged and Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said investigators “have no information whatsoever” any of them knew the trip was underwritten by Saddam.

“Obviously, we didn’t know it at the time,” McDermott spokesman Michael DeCesare said Wednesday. “The trip was to see the plight of the Iraqi children. That’s the only reason we went.”

Both McDermott and Thompson are popular among liberal voters in their reliably Democratic districts for their anti-war views. Bonior is no longer in Congress.

Thompson released a statement Wednesday saying the trip was approved by the State Department.

“Obviously, had there been any question at all regarding the sponsor of the trip or the funding, I would not have participated,” he said.

During the trip, the lawmakers expressed skepticism about the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Though such weapons ultimately were never found, the lawmakers drew criticism for their trip at the time.

I actually believe Thompson and McDermott when they say that they didn’t know that Saddam was the direct backer of their trip.  Given the run-up to the war, I don’t think even anti-War Dems would have been foolish enough to take money from Saddam and go on an official Iraqi sponsored trip.  At the very least, they’d have known that to have done so would have cast doubts on any findings they made, just as no one believes reports that come back from official visitors to North Korea.

What makes the story interesting isn’t that three Congressmen got snookered.  What makes it interesting is that Saddam Hussein was using local affiliates to affect the American political process.  Only the most naive would believe that this was a unique incident, or that Saddam Hussein was/is the only one doing it.  The covert aspects of this story are disturbing, and have a distinct Cold War odor in the middle of the hot war that’s currently preoccupying us.  As those of us who lived through the Cold War know, disinformation is as potent a weapon as a bomb, and the ease with which Hussein manipulated American politicians is disturbing.

Interesting editorial choice

As is the rest of the media, the Times is making much of the fact that 4,000 American troops have died during more than five years of war in Iraq. I won’t repeat here (or, at least, I won’t repeat at length) my oft-stated belief that, while each death is a personal tragedy, this is a volunteer military that has graciously and with extreme bravery stepped up to help defend all of us and that, thank God, it has been blessed by an extremely low casualty total compared to wars of similar scope and length. But I digress….

As always, I’m leery of MSM articles about the War dead, since I can’t escape the feeling that they’re written less to honor the dead than to score political points against the war. “See, you stupid chickenhawks — wars kill people, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.”

Still, the Times has done a nice job giving life to several men who died within the last year in Iraq. One of them, Daniel J. Agami, doesn’t sound at all like the typical liberal stereotype (one that is completely false) that sees American soldiers a naive minorities sneakily enticed into the military by bribes and promises so that corporations can get rich off their blood. Instead, he sounds like a real American — someone who is one in that rich blend that is the American melting pot, and who believes in what this country has to offer and willingly puts his life on the line to defend it:

Private Agami had time for everyone, and everyone had time for him. Affectionately called GI Jew, he held his religion up to the light. He used it to build tolerance among the troops and shatter stereotypes; few in his unit had ever met a Jew. He flew the Israeli flag over his cot in Adhamiya. He painted the words Hebrew Hammer onto his rifle. He even managed to keep kosher, a feat that required a steady diet of protein shakes and cereal.

He is a mensch, something that is also reflected in the letters and emails his family made available to the Times for this profile.

And yet, when it came to Army Specialist Agami, the Times made a rather unusual decision — it used his picture as the major photograph to illustrate the article. Choosing his picture would not be so unusual, of course, if it weren’t for the fact that the picture the Times chose has Agami sitting in front of a huge Israeli flag. Reading down into the article (way down, almost near the end), it makes sense why he would be photographed in front of this flag: “He flew the Israeli flag over his cot in Adhamiya.” Given that Agami willingly fought for and died for this country, I don’t see anyone having a problem with his choice of decor.

What is a problem is the fact that the Times uses this particular photograph to illustrate an article about American troops who have died in Iraq. One simply can’t escape the impression that the Times is trying to send the subliminal message — a very strong subliminal message — that Americans are fighting and dying for Israel, not for America.

It would be nice to believe that the Times highlighted this particular photograph because its editors wanted to make the point that ours is an exceptionally pluralist army, made up of Americans representing the vast tapestry of race and religion that enriches America. Given the Times‘ political biases, though, it’s very difficult to escape the conclusion that some editor couldn’t resist making a political point even as he followed a directive from on high to honor America’s war dead.

UPDATE:  The Times has changed the picture about which I blogged, but Atlas Shrugs captured it.

On a different point, as someone reminded me in a private email, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and one need not jump to any conclusions about the Times‘ motives — as I’ve tried not to, commenting only on the peculiar impression the chosen photo made.  My problem, of course, is that, while a cigar may just be a cigar, sometimes it matters whose cigar is at issue — and the Times has not shown itself to be friendly, or even neutral, towards either Israel or the U.S. military.

A little perspective on the “grim milestone” watch

If nothing else proves that most MSM journalists are hacks, it’s their inability to break free from the phrase “grim milestone” whenever they talk about a new reportable number of American deaths in Iraq.  They’ve taken a phrase that should give a sense of tragedy and, instead, turned it into something so hackneyed it’s almost laughable.  Just to make my point, here’s the LA Times, reprinted in the SF Chron, with the latest iteration of that expression (see paragraph 2).  A Google search will lead you to more than 92,000 other articles in which grim milestones rear their ugly heads.

I had this particular grim milestone put into perspective for me by my 8 year old today, someone who is fascinated (and always has been) by war and the military.  I forget how it came up, but the conversation, as it so often does with him, turned to war.  He said something and my response was “Honey, war is dangerous.  You can’t have a war without people dying.”   His next question was inevitable:  “How many people have died in Iraq?” I told him that lots of people have died, including 4,000 American troops.  After we clarified that my reference to troops meant 4,000 individual deaths, and not the wiping out of 4,000 battalions, he commented, “Is that all?”  “Yes,” I said, “that’s all.”  I began to remind him that each death was an individual tragedy, a loss for mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. . . .   He cut me off:  “I know that, but 4,000 is a really small number compared to other wars.  Millions died in World War II.  Four thousand is nothing.  I’m really sad they died, but that’s not a big number for a war.”

I didn’t let the conversation stop there, explaining to him that there are still lots of people wounded — seriously and permanently — but that modern medicine is one of the reasons our troops have such a high survival rate.  He appreciated that and, bless his little 8 year old heart, showed appropriate sympathy for the men and women who come home hurt.  Still, I think he had a point and exhibited some good perspective based upon his fairly accurate historic knowledge.  (Did I mention that he’s interested in warfare?)

Iraq would vote for McCain

To be honest, I made that post title up, but the fact is that Iraqi attitudes are in line with McCain’s (and Republicans’) views about Iraq: They too think the situation in Iraq is improving, they want Americans to stay and see this thing through, and they think it is very important that America continue to target Al Qaeda. Read about it here.

McCain and . . . Churchill

Writing at American Thinker today, Steven Warshawsky gave a very good review to John McCain’s victory speech the other night. Warshawsky praises McCain for taking the high road and promising to focus on the issues, which should help middle class voters get past possible guilt about not voting for the woman or the black candidate. Warshawsky also approves of the way McCain discussed what some of us believe, along with McCain, is the nation’s number one problem; namely, the War the Islamic extremists have declared against us. Here’s what McCain had to say:

America is at war in two countries, and involved in a long and difficult fight with violent extremists who despise us, our values and modernity itself. It is of little use to Americans for their candidates to avoid the many complex challenges of these struggles by re-litigating decisions of the past. I will defend the decision to destroy Saddam Hussein’s regime as I criticized the failed tactics that were employed for too long to establish the conditions that will allow us to leave that country with our country’s interests secure and our honor intact. But Americans know that the next President doesn’t get to re-make that decision. We are in Iraq and our most vital security interests are clearly involved there. The next President must explain how he or she intends to bring that war to the swiftest possible conclusion without exacerbating a sectarian conflict that could quickly descend into genocide; destabilizing the entire Middle East; enabling our adversaries in the region to extend their influence and undermine our security there; and emboldening terrorists to attack us elsewhere with weapons we dare not allow them to possess.

Warshawsky sees this as an elegant way for McCain to avoid his Achilles’ heel, which is that he supported the war from the git-go, while the majority of Americans are sick of the war. To this end, McCain doesn’t focus on the past, but promises resolution in the future. Substantively, I agree with both McCain and Warshawsky. This election is about 2008 and the years beyond. It’s not about entering the Way-Back machine and allowing a future Democratic president to change events in 2003.

I happen to like the speech for another reason, though. Purposely or not, it perfectly echoes Winston Churchill’s “finest hour” speech after the Brit’s ignominious defeat against the Germans in 1940, and their disorganized, but miraculous retreat at Dunkirk. Just as McCain did above, Churchill opens by stating the problem, including the fact that past decisions were, to say the least, imperfect. He then goes on to put the focus where it should be — the future. Because each perfectly shaped paragraph is an inevitable prelude to the important points he makes in the subsequent paragraph, I’m not going to shave and snip much. Instead, I ask you to take the time to read the language below and to consider whether that’s not precisely the point McCain is making. (All emphasis placed in the speech below comes from me.)

I spoke the other day of the colossal military disaster which occurred when the French High Command failed to withdraw the northern Armies from Belgium at the moment when they knew that the French front was decisively broken at Sedan and on the Meuse. This delay entailed the loss of fifteen or sixteen French divisions and threw out of action for the critical period the whole of the British Expeditionary Force. Our Army and 120,000 French troops were indeed rescued by the British Navy from Dunkirk but only with the loss of their cannon, vehicles and modern equipment. This loss inevitably took some weeks to repair, and in the first two of those weeks the battle in France has been lost. When we consider the heroic resistance made by the French Army against heavy odds in this battle, the enormous losses inflicted upon the enemy and the evident exhaustion of the enemy, it may well be the thought that these 25 divisions of the best-trained and best-equipped troops might have turned the scale. However, General Weygand had to fight without them. Only three British divisions or their equivalent were able to stand in the line with their French comrades. They have suffered severely, but they have fought well. We sent every man we could to France as fast as we could re-equip and transport their formations.

I am not reciting these facts for the purpose of recrimination. That I judge to be utterly futile and even harmful. We cannot afford it. I recite them in order to explain why it was we did not have, as we could have had, between twelve and fourteen British divisions fighting in the line in this great battle instead of only three. Now I put all this aside. I put it on the shelf, from which the historians, when they have time, will select their documents to tell their stories. We have to think of the future and not of the past. This also applies in a small way to our own affairs at home. There are many who would hold an inquest in the House of Commons on the conduct of the Governments-and of Parliaments, for they are in it, too-during the years which led up to this catastrophe. They seek to indict those who were responsible for the guidance of our affairs. This also would be a foolish and pernicious process. There are too many in it. Let each man search his conscience and search his speeches. I frequently search mine.

Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future. Therefore, I cannot accept the drawing of any distinctions between Members of the present Government. It was formed at a moment of crisis in order to unite all the Parties and all sections of opinion. It has received the almost unanimous support of both Houses of Parliament. Its Members are going to stand together, and, subject to the authority of the House of Commons, we are going to govern the country and fight the war. It is absolutely necessary at a time like this that every Minister who tries each day to do his duty shall be respected; and their subordinates must know that their chiefs are not threatened men, men who are here today and gone tomorrow, but that their directions must be punctually and faithfully obeyed. Without this concentrated power we cannot face what lies before us. I should not think it would be very advantageous for the House to prolong this Debate this afternoon under conditions of public stress. Many facts are not clear that will be clear in a short time. We are to have a secret Session on Thursday, and I should think that would be a better opportunity for the many earnest expressions of opinion which Members will desire to make and for the House to discuss vital matters without having everything read the next morning by our dangerous foes.

The disastrous military events which have happened during the past fortnight have not come to me with any sense of surprise. Indeed, I indicated a fortnight ago as clearly as I could to the House that the worst possibilities were open; and I made it perfectly clear then that whatever happened in France would make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the British Empire to fight on, ‘if necessary for years, if necessary alone.”

[snip]

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

We no longer seem to be capable of this kind of soaring rhetoric, but I give McCain credit for fully comprehending the ideas behind Churchill’s magnificent speech.

A citizen journalist in Iraq

I lost track of his blog for a while, and didn’t realize that Teflon Don, who wrote so poetically and movingly on his blog, Acute Politics, about his Iraq experiences when he was on active duty there has returned as a civilian journalist.  You should definitely check it out.  He’s roaming more freely as a civilian, which expands the scope of his posts, and he still brings that same lyrical sensibility and intelligent insight to everything he writes.  (The pictures are good too.)

When the absence of news is political

A friend sent me an email that I found fascinating on two levels. The first level was the email’s content, which describes all the huge positive strides occurring in Iraq that somehow never manage to get into the mainstream media:

Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their Embassies in Iraq?

Did you know that the Iraqi government currently employs 1.2 million Iraqi people?

Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 new schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been completed in Iraq?

Did you know that Iraq ‘s Air Force consists of three operational squadrons, which includes 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport aircraft (under Iraqi operational control) which operate day and night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 Bell Jet Rangers?

Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando Battalion?

Did you know that Iraq averaged production of 2.4 million barrels of oil per day in November, according to the global energy information firm Platts. That’s nearly a half million more than the post-2003 average. Oil exports, around 1.9 million bpd, fund nearly the entire federal budget!

Did you know that Iraq’s higher educational structure consists of 20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all currently operating?

Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the re-established Fulbright program?

Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational? They have 5 – 100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.

Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?

Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?

Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq ? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.

Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary school by mid October?

Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq and phone use has gone up 158%?

Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consists of 75 radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?

Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of 2004?

Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had a televised debate recently?

OF COURSE WE DIDN’T KNOW! WHY DIDN’T WE KNOW? BECAUSE OUR MEDIA DOESN’T TELL US!

Without researching each and every fact, I’m assuming that most or all of them are true, because I have stumbled across references to at least half of them in other sources.

What was just as interesting to me as the facts above was the way in which my friend chose to present the email.  He said “not politics, but good news out of Iraq.”  I know what he meant, of course:   this is not an email about either the elections or specific Congressional or Presidential actions (or attempted actions). Nevertheless, buried in that throwaway line is a deeper truth, which is the fact that the absence of this factual material is actually highly political.  The American media’s decision to withhold this information isn’t just about editorial or business calculations.  It comes about, instead, because the media has made the political decision to back the anti-War horse.  Since that horse is stumbling, the only way the media can avoid losing the race is to hide the finish line.

This kind of hide the ball reporting has huge political significance:  Obama, the current fair-haired boy of Democratic politics, is running on an anti-War platform, one so strong that he insists that one of his first acts in achieving office will be to yank Americans out of Iraq post haste, without regard for the consequences.  This is a salable position only if it’s predicated on the belief that Iraq is a failure and that it’s no use throwing good American money and after bad (not to mention the American troop lives that can be saved).  It’s an unsalable position, however, if the underlying truth is that America is making a positive difference, that things are improving, and that the overly hasty removal of Americans from Iraq will result in a maelstrom that makes Pol Pot’s Killing Fields look like a mere trial run for mass slaughter.

The face of the enemy shows even when he tries to hide it

Are there words to describe men who strap bombs onto mentally disabled women and then send them into a marketplace, only to blow up the women and kill and injure hundreds of surrounding civilians, using remote control devices that keep the bombers themselves safe?  I think there is a word:  Evil.  This is pure, undiluted, undisguised evil.

Does this mean Bush didn’t lie? Yes, I think it does. *UPDATED*

I’ve never believed Bush lied and, to the extent his information was incorrect (as was information in the hands of all other Western agencies and governments), I assumed that our spywork was to blame. Now we get confirmation of what’s been rumored forever — it was Saddam who lied, never suspecting that his bluff would be called, not by Iran, but by the US:

Saddam Hussein initially didn’t think the U.S. would invade Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction, so he kept the fact that he had none a secret to prevent an Iranian invasion he believed could happen. The Iraqi dictator revealed this thinking to George Piro, the FBI agent assigned to interrogate him after his capture.

[snip]

“He told me he initially miscalculated… President Bush’s intentions. He thought the United States would retaliate with the same type of attack as we did in 1998…a four-day aerial attack,” says Piro. “He survived that one and he was willing to accept that type of attack.” “He didn’t believe the U.S. would invade?” asks Pelley, “No, not initially,” answers Piro.

Once the invasion was certain, says Piro, Saddam asked his generals if they could hold the invaders for two weeks. “And at that point, it would go into what he called the secret war,” Piro tells Pelley. But Piro isn’t convinced that the insurgency was Saddam’s plan. “Well, he would like to take credit for the insurgency,” says Piro.

Saddam still wouldn’t admit he had no weapons of mass destruction, even when it was obvious there would be military action against him because of the perception he did. Because, says Piro, “For him, it was critical that he was seen as still the strong, defiant Saddam. He thought that [faking having the weapons] would prevent the Iranians from reinvading Iraq,” he tells Pelley.

You can read the rest of the article here and, of course, watch the 60 Minutes interview.

Incidentally, it’s also apparent from the interview that, even if Saddam didn’t have WMDs in 2003, he was plenty prepared to have them in future:

He also intended and had the wherewithal to restart the weapons program. “Saddam] still had the engineers. The folks that he needed to reconstitute his program are still there,” says Piro. “He wanted to pursue all of WMD…to reconstitute his entire WMD program.” This included chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, Piro says.

But do you think any of this will change of the minds of the Bush lied/people died crowd?

UPDATE: From SGT Dave’s comment to this post:

The only problem I have at this time is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there were indeed chemical weapons in Iraq at the time of the invasion. We captured some while I was serving in Baghdad (the 500 “old” rounds) and had at least one shell used as an IED.

Saddam had all the physical machinery in place to start making chemical and biological weapons; he didn’t have the chemical precursors, but was seeking them. The same goes with radiological/nuclear weaponry. The only reason he didn’t have these items was lack of ways he could get money out of the country and into the hands of the dealers.

The bottom line remains that at least five tons of the chemical weapons reported destroyed by the UN inspectors were recovered by US forces; the mobile laboratory facilities reported destroyed by Iraq and the UN were captured in western Iraq during the opening days of the war; the Saddam regime attempted to purchase yellow-cake uranium for refining (despite C.Wilson’s false statements to the press – contradicting his sworn report) in a centrifuge array that was captured by US forces – again reported as destroyed by Iraq and the UN; and Saddam ordered items shipped to Syria (though the contents of those shipments is not known/releasable at this time).

The writing on the wall is just about as clear as the German redeployment of the Panzer divisions eastward into Poland. If not for the Germans’ own crazy leader interfering with the battle plan, the ignorance and arrogance of the Russian leader of the time nearly brought down an entire nation in a single campaign season. While Bush is no Churchill or Roosevelt, I fear that the other choices we were given would have given results in the range of Stalin or Chamberlain.
Wow, quite a rant – even for me.

Even now the literate and relatively knowledgable are falling prey to the spin. Don’t concede that there “weren’t” WMD – there were. Don’t even let them put out that there “wasn’t a significant amount” – enough agent to kill over a million people ten times over is quite a bit. They are lying now, as they were before, but they are lying about the lies that they told about the lies. Don’t give them the first step; they will keep lying until the truth is only known by those willing to dig into the classified and official “sworn” documents.

Don’t be a victim of Newspeak and Newthink. They’re lying to you.

UPDATE II: And more from SGT Dave, whose comments here are factual enough that they shouldn’t be buried:

Saddam was killing dozens every day in Baghdad, not to mention the “swamp Arabs” and the Kurds.

Training areas used to practice hijackings – including a set of four that killed about 3,000 Americans.

Mid-grade weaponized anthrax, enough to pollute an area the size of Kansas.

Enough sarin, VX, and mustard gas to kill every Shi’ite in Baghdad.

And I won’t go into the torture and rape rooms – it took days to get the images out of my nightmares.

Saddam may have been lying on some things, but you cannot take that kind of risk. I’m out here; I was there. The truth is that we didn’t do it because we “can”. We did it because the risk was too high regarding what he could have done. There is no defense in thousands of miles of sea any longer.

Maybe I’m a simple reactionary, but I believe it was worth the time I spent there. I have friends that still serve and believe it was worth it. You didn’t get to meet a young woman of my acquaintance, there in Mashtal in Baghdad. She didn’t have fingers on her left hand and her right leg didn’t work quite right anymore. When she was eight Uday thought she was very pretty playing in the schoolyard. She can’t ever have kids and was trembling when she took the aid bag from my hand, with food for her mother and sister. My counterpart with Civil Affairs and her female terp got the story of why she was scared of the big men in uniform.

I will never, ever, forget the look on that woman’s face and the fear those unspeakable individuals made manifest in her. If one – ONE – little girl in that place was spared this by our actions, then it was worth every cent, every drop of blood, sweat, and tears we shed.

Those people were dead, Swamp. They were just waiting their turn to be buried. They have a chance, you selfish, greedy, me-me-me, complacent goof. And some died – but so did the founders of our nation, disregarding the “safe” path that allowed tyranny to rule unchallenged. Too many “liberals” complain of the cost, ignoring the pile of bodies that went to making their right (RIGHT!) to complain possible.

I’m ranting again; God save me, I am not as strong as I should be. I am fallable, weak, and human. But I am a soldier, and I will cleave to my duty and find strength in my honor. Don’t think that the men and women who gave all gave in vain. They gave for that elusive, precious, and irreplacable commodity – hope.

And I hope the Iraqi people fulfill that hope. But I know that the enemy is not attacking my home, my business, or my nation on our land. And I know why – so do you, if you look at what the enemy is saying.

And that too, is what “defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic” means. They would be fighting us anyway – you want the shootout in your house or theirs?

And Ari; there are no dispassionate historians; the ISP could have stopped the hijackers by turning their trainers over to INTERPOL when they crossed the border from Syria and moved overland to Turkey with ISP assistance before boarding planes into the EU to give guidance to the hijackers. Or even by taking Bin Laden out and shooting him instead of throwing a four day feast/orgy congratulating him on the USS Cole and US Embassy incidents.

‘Nuff said – There is a lot of Truth out there, but few, if any, are willing to address it.