Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iraqi Myths and Realities - And Absolutely No Solutions

The BoGlobe OpEd is astounding in it complete lack of depth. They point to alledged myths, and spin events to suite their views, but provide only one solution, run and contain.
But if the United States wants to achieve its strategic objectives in the Middle East -- after three and half years of inconclusive warfare -- it is time to transcend the prevailing myths and consider the ramifications of an American departure from Iraq.

The first argument is that the American presence is the only way to avoid civil war. The reality is that Iraq is engulfed by a low-level civil war. Much of the violence now dominating television screens is sectarian strife. As Shi'ite militias and Sunni militants confront one another -- and as Iraq's democratically elected politicians increasingly demonstrate their impotence to lead their constituencies -- the notion that American troops are defending a democratic Iraq against Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign fighters is at best anachronistic. The longer US forces attempt to impose coercive stability, the more America will become entangled in Iraq's sectarian conflicts. Whether Iraq can hold itself together is a question that Americans can no longer answer on behalf of Iraqis.

There's that civil war thing as expected. Don't have a civil war, but you have sectarian violence, then you make up a new term - low-level civil war. The US military taking control of trouble regions that are in conflict with Saddam's dregs and Jihadists is anachronistic? Are they trying to claim that those groups aren't an issue? These specific groups most certainly are still in play in Iraq. Ignoring such realities is blindingly foolish. Certain areas do indeed have sectarian violence with the militias of various sects going toe to toe, but that shouldn't deny that other fighters are still causing conflict. It also is incredibly naive to fail to recognize that the Jihadists are likely involved in the sectarian violence in order to affect the results of their 4GW campaign. Must I also mention that the former Saddam loyalists are for the most part Sunni and therefore likely to be involved in the sectarian violence themselves?
The second argument is that even if Americans can't hold Iraq together, the US presence at least prevents a larger regional conflict. This myth holds that, in the vacuum created by an American withdrawal, all of Iraq's neighbors will find themselves sucked into the conflict. But for decades, conflicts in the Middle East have been successfully compartmentalized; civil wars and strife in countries as different as Algeria, Yemen, and Lebanon did not provoke larger regional conflicts.
This silly argument is a rarity in the realities of Iraq. I don't believe I've ever heard this even mildly argued by the present Administration or any of it's supporters. This argument is a distraction from the reality of Iraq.
What about the argument that Iraq will turn into a haven for terrorists? To a large extent, this has already happened. Under our watch, Iraq has become a magnet for jihadists eager to hone their skills in battle against US forces. The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this year has done little to stem the growth of terrorist cells in the country. The US invasion has achieved one thing: the transformation of a tyrannical state into one that will attract a large number of transnational terrorists. And that reality is unlikely to be disturbed by the size and strength of American forces.
Iraq is a terrorist haven? Hmm. I always thought of a haven as a place where you are safe. Training? I suppose fighting the US military is like on the job training. Kind of like learning to be a bee keeper by slamming your head against a bee's hive. This argument is again excessively shallow. The argument is that by attracting terrorists into a fight in Iraq you're merely aiding them in their cause. Of course, concentrating the more action oriented Jihadists in a single theater of operation and fighting them with a trained and focused military isn't a good tactic. It would be far better to leave these discontented and angry Jihadists scattered about the world with no task to focus on. That will certainly ensure that the US won't be attacked again. But hey, this "myth" must not have any support other than the obvious foolishness because the McBushitler crowd thinks it's good.

So they come right out and state what should be done.
"Staying the course" isn't working. A US departure can't make things much worse. If direct confrontation is not succeeding, then a more realistic solution is to quarantine the country to minimize negative consequences.
Can't make things "much" worse. Wonderful. Maybe in the short term. I'd love to know how they propose to quarantine Iraq. The country with borders that are hugely porous on the Iranian and Syrian borders. And what will happen with those Jihadists that are in Iraq to fight the US? What happened in Afghanistan when the Soviets left? The Jihadists dispersed. Then they started attacking the west.
The final argument marshaled in defense of an open-ended American commitment is the notion that a withdrawal would damage America's credibility. But the damage has been done. By defining victory not as the removal of Hussein but the creation of a Jeffersonian democracy on the banks of the Tigris, at any point the United States leaves, global opinion will conclude that America "was defeated." Simply punching time on the clock won't change that perception. Israel stayed in South Lebanon for 18 years; when it withdrew in 2000, Hezbollah claimed victory.
This is probably their most stupid statement of the lot. Haven't bothered learning any lessons of war have they? Forth generation warfare is famous for the use of these types of withdrawals for propaganda purposes. Should I mention the terrorist attacks on the African embassies and the Cole where the US failed to do anything of any effect? Did these people even bother to read the NIE conclusions that recently came out? If the US fails in the Iraqi democritization project, then we can be assured that the US will be attacked again and again. Success will be a psychological win of huge proportions in the Middle-east.

This whole Op-Ed was astounding for it's extreme lack of depth and complete failure to have a long term view of the actions in Iraq. Sadly this is the norm with most of those who argue for cut-and-run. If they don't like the methods being used, that is fine, suggest different methods, but the run-away crowd completely misses where the endgame of this conflict must run.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Anonymous Browsing

Browsing anonymously, wonder what this will do to blogging.

A group of computer hackers and human rights workers have launched a specially-crafted version of Firefox that claims to give users complete anonymity when they surf the Web.

Dubbed "Torpark" and based on a portable version of Firefox, the browser will run from a USB drive, so it leaves no installation tracks on the PC. It protects the user's privacy by encrypting all in- and outbound data, and also anonymizes the connection by passing all data through the TOR network, which masks the true IP address of the machine.

Check out the rest at Schneier's.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More NIE Analysis

Caught this mentioned at Wizbang. They quote the best part, so I'll quote it as well. Not sure how accurate this is, but it is a thought provoking point of view.
This was written by committee. It contains something for everyone and avoids any clear statements that might prove wrong. How was the press so absurdly misled?

Anybody who has ever experienced bureaucratic infighting will understand immediately what happened. Someone inserted the silly sentence about the Iraq conflict breeding resentment precisely so it could be wrenched out of context and leaked. That someone wanted to reinforce the Democrats' argument that they are fit to lead despite all their anti war foolishness.

The NIE doesn't say that the war in Iraq is counterproductive but that must be what a significant part of our intelligence apparatus believes. If not, the NIE's Key Judgments would probably never have speculated about resentment in the Muslim world and any such speculation would certainly never have seen the light of day. Some, at least, of our intelligence experts are antiwar moonbats.

Given the track record those experts have compiled, Democrats shouldn't be so eager to rely on any of them. Anyone who is tempted to take seriously what intelligence experts have to say about the strategic consequences of fighting in Iraq should take a lesson from the Ghost of Intelligence Past.

And everyone has to have heard that the Dems want the full report released.
"The American people deserve the full story, not those parts of it that the Bush administration selects," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
Ted shouldn't get his panties in a twist, he merely needs to wait a couple of days and it will be leaked to the NYTimes. Secrets be damned. Not to mention the political win they get by being able to declare the President is holding information that the people have a right to.

Oh, and the Dems are bitching about the Iraq report:
A separate high-level assessment focused solely on Iraq may be coming soon. At least two House Democrats - Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Jane Harman of California - have questioned whether that report has been stamped "draft" and shelved until after the Nov. 7 elections.

An intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the process, said National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told lawmakers in writing only one month ago that he ordered a new Iraq estimate to be assembled. The estimate on terrorism released Tuesday took about a year to produce.

I'm sure that one will make it into the public view, at least those portions that are convenient for Democrats political interests.

It makes me wonder why no one is being prosecuted for all these leaks.

Subversive Crap

Bruce at mAss Backwards just cracks me up with how he words his conclusions.
Courtesy of Richard "Yogi" Cote, a 70-year-old store owner in Manchester, New Hampshire.
"We were just standing there, chatting. Next thing I know this fella has my customer by the throat and he has a knife, the pointy part, right to his neck. He says, 'Give me the money or I'll cut him.' So I picked up the bat and swung it," Cote told the Union Leader. "I hit him twice in the head. The only one that got hurt was the bad guy."
A hard-working, law-abiding citizen refusing to be a meek, compliant victim. Good thing he didn't try pulling that subversive crap down here in the People's Progressive Republic of Massachusetts.
That got a decent laugh-out-loud from me in the office. That doesn't happen often.

You Can't Miss Fast Enough to Win

Commentary on Jeff Cooper's Passing at Winds of Change.

Another at QandO.

Detainee Trials and the Political Opposition

Lots of articles on this one. Frankly, the Dems are going down the path of no return. (And one RINO)
But Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, objected that the measure would be "used by our terrorist enemies as evidence of U.S. hypocrisy when it comes to proclamations of human rights."
Yeah, right. Those terrorists that already rank us as those to be killed because we're not Muslims, and already define us as morally corrupt because we don't adhere to Sharia need a reason? Has Levin missed that they consider us weak because we have allowed human rights to restrain us in how we fight?
"Let me be very clear. I believe that there is a special place in hell reserved for the planners and perpetrators of 9/11," said Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Alamo). But, she said, the bill would "do nothing but put us in further legal limbo."

"This bill is practically begging to be overturned by the court," added House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
I think they may have a point, considering that the liberal side of the SCOTUS decided, for some unfathomable reason, to decide that these detainees are provided protections of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, though the clearly fall outside of the definition of those protected in the Conventions.
A bipartisan effort led by Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to strip out the provision preventing detainees from filing habeas corpus petitions - demands for legal justification for their imprisonment - is expected to come before the Senate today.
This one always gives me a warm feeling. Let's go out of our way to give illegal combatants legal rights to enter the US criminal system when we don't even provide an allowance for that to legal combatants. The bill gives similar protections to habeas corpus as given in a courts-martial, and that should be enough.

Then there are the complaints about giving the President too much power.
Democrats, who opposed the measure, charged that the leeway given to interrogators and the limited legal recourse granted to terror suspects who would face military trials gave Bush dictatorial powers.
Yep, that ranks in there with the other generic rhetorical complaints. Here's Kucinich's little enjoiner, he sounded like he was about to burst into tears at the end of his tantrumn with this:
'This bill is everything we don't believe in,' shouted Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, waving a copy of the bill on the podium.
And Murtha:
"It gives too much leeway to the president," said Representative John P. Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania.
And Leahy:
"This is un-American, this is unconstitutional, this is contrary to American interests, this is not what a great and good and powerful nation should be doing," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.
Makes you wish you had more time to read all of their debate, since I'm certain there is more context, though I'm dubious that there is any convincing content.

There was some intelligence from the Dems at least:
Concerned the legislation was being rushed through before an election without most senators understanding what was in the final version, Democratic Senators Robert C. Byrd of Virginia and Barack Obama of Illinois planned to offer a sunset provision that would require Congress to review the military commissions, as the trials are known, in five years.
Review is always a good idea, especially as it will allow tuning of the legislation if needed. (And if there is a Dem in the Whitehouse we'll get to see how they will react if they are stripped of the ability to interrogate and bring terrorists to trial.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What Clinton's Outburst Should Remind Us

Richard Miniter makes an excellent point.

Bill Clinton's outburst on Fox News was something of a public service, launching a debate about the antiterror policies of his administration. This is important because every George W. Bush policy that arouses the ire of Democrats--the Patriot Act, extraordinary rendition, detention without trial, pre-emptive war--is a departure from his predecessor. Where policies overlap--air attacks on infrastructure, secret presidential orders to kill terrorists, intelligence sharing with allies, freezing bank accounts, using police to arrest terror suspects--there is little friction. The question, then, is whether America should return to Mr. Clinton's policies or soldier on with Mr. Bush's.

Charles Krauthammer, a former psychiatrist, made an interesting observation on Brit Hume's show the other night. Clinton, as we saw during the Monica debacle, tends to get angry and point his finger when he's lying. And just as he did when defending his record on terrorism and announcing that he had battle plans to invade Afghanistan drawn up. Coincidence?

Anyway, read the rest of the article if you care to remind yourself exactly how many times we were attacked under Clinton and exactly how little he did about it. Hell, I voted for the guy twice (I know, I know) and even I was frustrated with his lack of response.

The bigger point here is that while we have to give both administration a pass pre-9/11, it's important to think about how we want to fight the war going forward. And the Dems seem to want to fight it like it's a police issue.

Nuclear Energy Editorial

Yeah, I know. Another editorial supporting nuclear power and having no effect.

Well, at least this one points out an article that describes the radioactive output of coal burning. I'll just cherry-pick this bit since the quantities are astounding.
Thus, by combining U.S. coal combustion from 1937 (440 million tons) through 1987 (661 million tons) with an estimated total in the year 2040 (2516 million tons), the total expected U.S. radioactivity release to the environment by 2040 can be determined. That total comes from the expected combustion of 111,716 million tons of coal with the release of 477,027,320 millicuries in the United States. Global releases of radioactivity from the predicted combustion of 637,409 million tons of coal would be 2,721,736,430 millicuries.

Keith Olbermann - JackAss

I've commented on this imbecile before. It really gives one pause how an alledgedly reputuable MSM company can have idiots like this running about. This is his opening statement regarding Chris Wallace's Attack on Saint Bill.
It is not essential that a past president, bullied and sandbagged by a monkey posing as a newscaster, finally lashed back.

McQ at QandO has more specifics on Olberman's tantrum.
Anyone who has actually looked into this story understands that the interview ground rules stipulated a half-and-half split between talking about the Clinton global initiative and whatever Wallace wanted to ask about. Both sides acknowledge that without question.

As many have pointed out, but obviously missed by Olbermann, everyone in the room knew what the optional subject would be. We'd just seen two weeks of the ex-President reacting forcefully to ABC's "Path to 9/11". To pretend, as Olbermann does, that Clinton was "sandbagged", is to be politically naive to the point of cluelessness or purposely disingenuous. I'd have to say it is the latter. I'd also point out that is absolutely nothing new for Olbermann.
I'd also point out that Clinton was given a free pass on the topic in 6 other interviews done in the MSM. Funny that there isn't any cries about those media organizations playing favoritism.

To say the least, I don't watch MSNBC.

People's Socialist City of New York and the Food Police

I can't wait to see how they decide how to enforce this one.
New York City restaurants and street vendors may be facing this edict: Change your cooking oil — or pay a stiff fine.

The city's public health officials proposed a regulation Tuesday that would require all restaurants to virtually eliminate artery-clogging trans fats in their cooking oils and margarines over six months. If the rule is enacted, it would mean posh eateries, small outdoor vendors and chain restaurants, including McDonald's, that are using trans fats would have to switch to healthier oils or risk being fined $200 to $2,000.

The second proposal would require some major chains such as Starbucks, Subway and McDonald's to list calories for items on their menus or menu boards.

I thought the Mayor of this berg was a Republican.

Why cut out the middle-man? Why not just arrest all the fat and unhealthy people and force them to get into shape?
"Restaurant inspectors have long addressed food safety concerns, and now they are taking actions to help people avoid heart disease, diabetes and obesity," Wootan says. "A lot of food manufacturers are taking trans fat out of their products. This will nudge restaurants to do the same."
Nudge? You're enacting legislation that requires the elimination of trans fats, that's not a nudge.

What's next? The candy police?

NIE Conclusions: How Much Did This Cost?

Go read it for yourself. Personally, I found nothing here that I haven't read in analysis on the Web or in several of the better books on Al-Qaeda and the Salafi Jihad.

There is one section in particular that stands strongly against the Dems cut-and-run proposals:
We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.
  • The Iraq conflict has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.
This statement is quite clear to me as pointing out that Iraq is in fact drawing in jihadists just as the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan did. And that by finishing the effort in Iraq, we could very well have a huge effect of quenching the Jihadist movement. The question is, do we have sufficient nerve to stay in Iraq until the job is done and destroy as many of the Jihadists as we can? For most certainly, if we leave quickly, the dispersion of these Jihadist from Iraq will allow them to focus on attacking US interests in this country and abroad. Iraq, like Afghanistan, was a theater of glory for the Jihadists to fight in. There was no sneaking around waiting and discontent for action. They found an immediate outlet for the agressions they had.

Continuing the fight in Iraq will also allow the US to bolster its defenses in the world. The CIA can hopefully be fixed and be made effective again. The Dept. of Homeland Security can build up and hopefully stabilize in the short term giving us additional protections.

I found this at QandO:
There's more to the document, of course, most of it written in the same vein: "If we win, they will lose. But, if they win, we will lose", and the like.

Man, I can see why we pay those CIA boys the big money, when they look really deep into a situation like that. Although, the money is irrelevant, really, isn't it? You just can't buy that quality of analysis.

The bottom line is that the crowing over the "increased threat" meme is, where it isn't just garbage generated for political purposes, telling us absolutely nothing we don't already know.
Seems like I wasn't alone in what I saw.

McQ also chimes in with analysis of a WaPo OpEd spin on the NIE.

addresses this as well.

Also check out Wretchard's analysis.

Speaking of Idiots

The Bass organization should either look to have a more honest tact to addressing blogs or maybe just require IQ tests of the people that work for them.
CONCORD, N.H. -- A top aide to U.S. Rep. Charles Bass resigned Tuesday after disclosures that he posed as a supporter of the Republican's opponent in blog messages intended to convince people that the race was not competitive.

Operators of two liberal blogs traced the postings to the House of Representatives' computer server. Bass' office traced the messages to his policy director, Tad Furtado, and issued a statement announcing Furtado's resignation Tuesday.

"Tad Furtado posted to political Web sites from my office without my knowledge or authorization and in violation of my office policy," said Bass, who apologized to the bloggers and said he referred the matter to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Posting as IndyNH and IndieNH, Furtado professed support for Democrat Paul Hodes but scoffed at a poll showing him tied with Bass and suggested Democrats should invest their time and money elsewhere.

"I am going to look at the competitive race list to figure out where to send another donation and maybe help out in other ways," IndieNH wrote. "Maybe CT or NY for me _ they are at least close by. Anyone interested in pooling NH efforts for some of those races?"

Laura Clawson, who runs "Blue Granite," and Michael Caulfield, who runs "NH-02 Progressive," said they were suspicious of IndieNH's postings from the beginning.

What an idiot. Though I'd bet this is more common that people are willing to admit. Oh and I'd contend that both sides of the aisle are playing at this. I'm also dubious if Clawson caught on right from the beginning. Read any blog and unless you are so deep into the fever swamp that the middle-of-the-road readers believe your complete crap, then you will get comments that question any position from any angle.

The funniest thing is that, like most people running around the internet, this guy apparently believed he was completely anonymous.
After tracing the poster's IP address, Clawson posted an article last week on the results, and the postings stopped. The bloggers said they also could see opposition research done on Hodes by the same computer user, under searches such as "Hodes and gay marriage" and "Hodes and taxes."
The least you could do is post from a laptop at the local Starbucks or the like. That way at least the IP wouldn't tell them where you were working from.

Well, at least the idiot resigned.

Gas Prices, Polls, and Imbeciles

I think this is nearly definitive proof that my contention that people aren't so much bad as they are stupid.
The statistics show an uncanny relationship: As oil prices inched higher over the past five years, President Bush's approval ratings sagged lower. So perhaps it's not surprising that with a sudden and almost unprecedented drop in gasoline prices just before a crucial election, conspiracy theories abound.

It's not just the bloggers suggesting that the 66-cent drop in the average pump price over the past seven weeks to $2.38 per gallon is thanks to the collusion of former oilmen President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their Big Oil buddies. (Bloggers advancing this theory include Long Delayed Echoes, NH Insider, Various Miseries, and The "What Do I Know Grit.") A Gallup Poll found that 42 percent of the public thinks the Bush administration is deliberately manipulating the price. As plausible as that scenario apparently seems, energy analysts nevertheless deem it impossible.

"There are so many buyers and sellers and traders out there - you could never put together a conspiracy without having headlines all over," says Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, who long has argued the oil market was heading for a fall. "I understand it seems simplistic to argue that trader psychology changes, but sometimes the simple answer is best."

42% of those polled are either incredibly stupid or just haven't a clue about a capitalist economy. I would love to have been the pollster. "What do you base your belief on, and why are you so sodding stupid?"

Read the linked article for a quite clear explanation as to why the market prices of gas has dropped so much.

Then there is Rick Newman at USnews with an opinion piece that shows no bias at all:
Let's assume for a moment that President Bush has a little dial underneath his desk that lets him send gasoline prices up or down, depending on what best suits his political needs. This, evidently, is the belief of a considerable number of Americans, like the 42 percent of respondents in a new Gallup Poll who think the Bush administration is deliberately lowering gas prices to help Republicans in the upcoming November elections. The suspicion isn't really that surprising, given Bush-Cheney ties to Big Oil and Persian Gulf potentates, not to mention demonstrated dishonesty on other big issues like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Here's my question: Why have the Republicans used the gas-price knob so poorly up till now?

Ah yes, the promulgated lie that Bush lied about Iraq's WMDs and wasn't just using the data provided to him by the CIA. It MUST be true by now, the press has pushed it long enough that it has reached the status of truth by common agreement of the MSM and those with BDS.

Well at least he points out the fallacy of the conspiracy theory.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Jeff Cooper: RIP

Jeff Cooper passed away on Monday.

Check out the link to see the announcement.

It's Good to Have Friends On the UNSC: Iran/Russia Nuclear Deal

Surprise surprise surprise. Why doesn't this shock me at all?
MOSCOW -- Russia will ship fuel to a controversial atomic power plant it is building in Iran by March under a deal signed Tuesday, news agencies reported, as Tehran's nuclear chief met with a Russian security officer at the Kremlin.

The agreement signed by Sergei Shmatko, head of the state-run company Atomstroiexport, and Mahmoud Hanatian, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, should allay Iran's complaints that Moscow is dragging its feet on supplying fuel for the Bushehr plant.

It will also renew concerns by the West, which accuses Tehran of seeking to enrich uranium in order to build nuclear weapons.

ITAR-Tass reported that Shmatko met Hanatian to sign an additional protocol setting out a time frame for starting up the Bushehr plant.

"The document provides for supplying Russian fuel for the atomic energy plant in March, physical startup in September 2007 and electric generation by November 2007," Hanatian was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass.

Shmatko said about 80 tons of fuel would be supplied, according to Interfax and ITAR-Tass.

Meanwhile, Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov insisted again on seeking a diplomatic solution to international concerns over Tehran's nuclear program at a meeting with Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh.

It's such a beautiful thing to see Russia taking full advantage of its new capatalist system. Amazing that they supported the sanctions against Iran for their nuclear ambitions and then suddenly decide that Iran is just an innocent pawn in the game of life. (And sells them a huge amount of nuclear fuel.)

Will wonders never cease.

NIE Report: More Questions

Here's a peice by Robert Kagan at Wapo on the NIE leak.
It's too bad we won't get to see the full National Intelligence Estimate on "Trends in Global Terrorism" selectively leaked to The Post and the New York Times last week. The Times headline read "Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat." But there were no quotations from the NIE itself, so all we have are journalists' characterizations of anonymous comments by government officials, whose motives and reliability we can't judge, about intelligence assessments whose logic and argument, as well as factual basis, we have no way of knowing or gauging. Based on the press coverage alone, the NIE's judgment seems both impressionistic and imprecise. On such an important topic, it would be nice to have answers to a few questions.

For instance, .....
You should read the rest. His opinion on what really is in the report vs what the press has reported is interesting.

John Kerry: Fear Monger

Democratic extremists tend to continually point to the Rethugs as fear mongering when it comes to discussions of the war on terror. They also love to then point out port security as being nearly non-existent. That, though, isn't fear mongering. Then you get John Kerry having a seizure in the OpinionJournal OpEd over Afghanistan. You can be certain that he's not fear mongering, though I'm not sure how that is much different than the usual political blathering.
If Washington seems to have forgotten Afghanistan, it is clear the Taliban and al Qaeda have not. Less than five years after American troops masterfully toppled the Taliban, the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again. Time is running out to reverse an unfolding disaster in the war we were right to fight after 9/11.

Funded largely by a flourishing opium trade, a resurgent Taliban effectively controls entire swathes of southern Afghanistan. Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled. Britain's commander in Afghanistan recently said that "the intensity and ferocity of the fighting is far greater than in Iraq on a daily basis."

Al Qaeda is again taking advantage: The recent plot to blow up U.S.-bound jets was reportedly masterminded by an al Qaeda affiliate operating from Afghanistan. The same killers who attacked us on 9/11 are still plotting against America--and they're still holed up in Afghanistan. President Karzai put it simply: "The same enemies that blew up themselves in . . . the twin towers in America are still around." And while President Bush frequently quotes Ayman al-Zawahiri, he hasn't mentioned that on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 al Qaeda's No. 2 described the situation in Afghanistan as "very good."

Time is running out!!! Beware the coming of the end!!! You have to enjoy reading Kerry quoting al-Zawahiri. It almost is reminiscent of Winter-Soldier. Oh my, the enemy says things are hunky-dory so we need to panic. Could it possibly be that the enemy is playing you like the moronic fiddle that you are? I'm certain if Kerry says that al-Zawahiri is telling the truth it must be so.
When did denying al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan cease to be an urgent American priority? Somehow, we ended up with seven times more troops in Iraq--which even the administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11--than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free. Even as the president claimed we are on the offensive against terrorists, Gen. James Jones, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, made an urgent plea for more troops to fight the Taliban. President Karzai has also appealed for more troops and support, and on my trip to Afghanistan this year, he stressed to me the importance of a robust American troop presence. And on Sept. 11 this year, U.S. Col. Michael Harrison noted "more troops would be welcome" in the hunt for bin Laden and his henchmen.
I guess Kerry missed the 20,000 US troops and the NATO led forces. Of course, he still is making the assumption that more feet on the ground will improve the odds. He also seems to have missed that NATO has been having some success in fighting the Taliban groups that periodically pop up. Kerry keeps following the party line that there are never enough troops. One wonders if there is a possibility to satisfy them on the correct manning of a war.
We must also redouble our reconstruction efforts. The Taliban's resurgence comes as no surprise when 40% of the population is unemployed and 90% lack regular electricity. As Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry recently said, "wherever the road ends, that's where the Taliban starts." That's why our generals are asking for more reconstruction funds to win over the local population. Yet this administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than Afghanistan--and actually cut Afghan aid by 30% this year. We need to substantially increase development aid and take advantage of the improved security provided by additional troops to ensure that reconstruction efforts reach the remote villages where the Taliban finds support. We must ensure that the elected government in Kabul, helped by the U.S.--not the Taliban, helped by al Qaeda--rebuilds Afghanistan.
90% lack regular electricity? Is this due to damage from the original conflict with the Taliban, or is it just that they've never had regular electricity? The term "reconstruction" strikes me as deceptive. Many of the areas that are being discussed have never had regular roads as we know them, nor electricity. No doubt development aid would help for a country where the easiest way to make money is by growing opium poppies. But this isn't "reconstruction" by any sense of that word.
Finally, we must use economic leverage to ensure the Taliban no longer finds sanctuary and recruits in Pakistan. Last year we gave Pakistan only $300 million in economic support, about what we spend in a day in Iraq. We need to give more, in development funds earmarked for specific projects that help undermine radicals, and demand more in return from the Musharraf government. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. The U.S. must not cut and run from the real front line in the war on terror. We must recommit to victory in Afghanistan.
I understand that Musharraf has been a fairly good ally against the terrorists and Taliban. I'm uncertain as to how much we should bolster him and his present military "presidency". He did take over in a coup from a corrupt democratic regime, but there doesn't appear to be any movement toward moving back to democracy. Assisting Pakistan would be good in maintaining an ally, but Musharraf may end up being one of the dictator types that we bolster to our later consternation.

So what is Kerry really up to with this OpEd? God knows. I am highly dubious that he'll get a second shot at the Whitehouse. But I suppose he has nothing to lose by posturing as he has been.

Scapegoating Rumsfeld, Again

This sort of news really would have more effect if this wasn't clearly a partisan hatchet job. Maybe if it wasn't just a democratic committee and that they had actually had a balanced group testifying with equal numbers of retired generals that are for and against Rumsfled. Can this be seen as anything but a ploy to pull these generals out, again, to reperform their testimony before the election?
Three retired military officers who served in Iraq called today for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, telling a Democratic "oversight hearing" on Capitol Hill that the Pentagon chief bungled planning for the U.S. invasion, dismissed the prospect of an insurgency and sent American troops into the fray with inadequate equipment.

The testimony by the three --two retired Army major generals and a former Marine colonel -- came a day after disclosure of a classified intelligence assessment that concluded the war in Iraq has fueled recruitment of violent Islamic extremists, helping to create a new generation of potential terrorists around the world and worsening the U.S. position.

In testimony before the Democratic Policy Committee today, retired Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and served as a senior military assistant to former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, charged that Rumsfeld and others in the Bush administration "did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq."
I thought their original testimony gave context to the running of the pentagon, but this rehash isn't anything but party politics.

I found a blog at Countercolumn from back in March on these general Eaton's attack on Rumsfeld, and it doesn't appear that Eaton's testimony has changed greatly.

Frankly, Rumsfeld has made mistakes. And in fact the generaly testifying made some mistakes themselves. That type of thing happens in wars. Can we recover from mistakes like the failure to address insurgencies in Iraq? Certainly. It will take more time though, and it's not that the military can't bring this theater to a successful conclusion as much as it is the US public's inability to have sufficient patience to let the military succeed.

In many ways, the greatest generation is making the present generation look especially pathetic.

Monday, September 25, 2006

NIE Report - Heresay on a Grand Scale

I read the NYTimes original article on this and got the usual, no big surprises. Secret classified report with leaked vague information. Not that we'll ever actually see this report, or find out who spilled it to the press. But it certainly makes for perfect political posturing prior to an election.

Today I saw Jay Tea's blog entry at Wizbang and had some additional thoughts.
The first is that it seems that all reports like this all have the same general theme: everything we have done or might do will only make things worse. I never see any reports saying that "this will make things better" or "this will have no real effect." It seems that all roads lead to disaster. If we confront them, we will encourage more to join them. If we ignore them, we will embolden them to strike harder. And if we negotiate or capitulate, we will be seen as week and lead to more demands and threats.

The second is that it (what little is cited) seems to take the position that trends and patterns and actions taken prior to the invasion of Iraq are irrelevant. As I noted above, the preachers of doom and gloom have always said that whatever action is proposed is a recipe for apocalypse. The first President Bush's confronting Iraq would lead to a wave of terrorism. President Clinton's cruise missile attacks would only create new martyrs. The invasion of Afghanistan would lead us to a quagmire just like it did to the Soviet Union. And the invasion of Iraq would spark a new wave of anti-Americanism and waste away all the goodwill we had after 9/11.

I've been an amateur observer of world events for some time, and I've noticed one consistent element: anti-Americanism is always "on the rise." The only time we seem to have much international support is when we're on our knees -- either knocked there by a sucker punch like 9/11, or groveling and begging for forgiveness and help. It seems that only when we're strong and resolute do we find out who our true friends are.

That sounds pretty much spot on to me.

It all reminded me of something I've read about the military and its situational reports. No military agency has anything to gain by painting a pleasant picture of the environment where they will have to work. Gloom and doom tends to get more funding and support from congress. I'm pretty much thinking that the intelligence agencies tend to fall into that same scenario. They do have to report accurately, but they don't have to make the conclusions look rosy.

There is no doubt in my mind that Iraq caused more terrorists. I'd also state that it has also eliminated a lot. This also raises the question of what would have come to be if Iraq hadn't been invaded. Can anyone honestly state that Saddam wouldn't have become a greater state sponsor of terrorism? I did say 'greater' because, no doubt he had supported Hamas suicide bombings by paying the families money after they occurred. I'd think there are other examples of that out there as well.

You also have to think of any situation where a war didn't increase the risks to the country. Iraq probably increased the risk a lot, but you have to also consider where that action could lead. It may lead to stabilizing a section of an unstable region, though it will take time and effort. It definitely lead to the removal of a brutal dictator who destabilized the region and had set himself against the US. There may be bad consequences to it all, but only if we fail to bring Iraq to a stable conclusion.

Steyn on Chavez and Ahmadinejad at the UN

Steyn cracks me up. I don't think he's necessarily right on a lot of things, though he is generally bent in the right direction. Here's the conclusion of his Sunday piece.
It may be news to the Council of Foreign Relations types and the Dems, but the U.N. demonstrated this last week that it is utterly incapable of reform. Indeed, any reforms would be more likely to upgrade and enhance the cliques of thugs and despots than of the few states willing to stand up to them. The most sensible proposal this week came from Chavez, who demanded the U.N. relocate to Venezuela. You go, girl! Dershowitz would be better off trying to get America expelled from the U.N., and encouraging it to join a new group of nations serious about defending freedom in the world: It would be a very small club. This week Jacques Chirac dropped the threat of sanctions against Iran. A few months ago, he briefly mused about nuking the Persians, but he's now folded like ... well, not like the Arabs and their tents: They're busily pitching them all over Europe with no plans to fold at all. Anyone who thinks the U.N. is the body to mediate Iran's nuclearization or anything else is more deluded than Ahmadinejad. At this rate, the Twelfth Imam will be the next secretary-general.
After the calls for removing the US from the security council and the veto right there is little doubt that the world overall wants the US out of the UN. Personally I agree with them, except I think we need to also take our money with us and make them move the UN facilities to Venezuala. I'm going to be that those two things would make the UN diplomats much happier to have the US as the Veto-wielding member of the UN and it's pathetic security council.

Clinton's Tantrum

I watched parts of this, but it was far to silly to bother with. I got to the Cole part of the response and changed the channel.
CLINTON: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.

So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.

So you did Fox's bidding on this show. You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know is ...

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, sir.

CLINTON: No, wait. No, no ...

WALLACE: I want to ask a question. You don't think that's a legitimate question?

CLINTON: It was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question of.

I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, "Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?"

I want to know how many you asked, "Why did you fire Dick Clarke?"

I want to know how many people you asked ...

The Cole incident occured on Clinton's watch. Bush wasn't elected, so I don't see what the relevance of that statement is. Frankly, it sounds a bit foolish.

Clinton has very little to bicker about here. If Fox chooses to take the political bend toward the conservative agenda, they are a rarity. Clinton's tirade against Fox is so limited in context that it strikes me as deflection. Could he honestly state that the vast majority of the MSM hasn't asked all his questions and many more that are clearly bent toward a liberal agenda? And I'm fascinated that he took this interview at all considering that he should have known that Fox would ask such a question. His responses make me pause and futher consider his honesty. This sounds like he nearly loses himself in trying to CYA.

Clinton at least stated what he did do:
CLINTON: No, no. I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him.

The CIA, which was run by George Tenet, that President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to, he said, "He did a good job setting up all these counterterrorism things."

The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came there.

Now, if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: After the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden.

But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9/11.

The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would've had to send a few hundred Special Forces in helicopters and refuel at night.

Even the 9/11 Commission didn't do that. Now, the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too. All I'm asking is, anybody who wants to say I didn't do enough, you read Richard Clarke's book.

I have to say, I'd be very skeptical about Clarke's book. Just as I'm skeptical over any of the statements from a person that was involved in the administrations that were involved in the time before 9/11. Too much of the time is spent pointing to what they did right and ignoring what they did wrong. That's why independant analysis will always be better.

I can also understand why the military was strongly against the use of Special Forces in Afghanistan. Dropping them there would have been certain death. No support structure or ability to quickly evac them would have made the risk far too high. And think of the PR coup that Al-Qaeda would have gotten if they had captured or killed a Special Forces unit.

I'm glad that Fox took it there. The press never took Clinton to task for anything more than the Lewinski scandal. It's especially nice to see this reaction with all the books coming out trying to shift all of the blame for terrorism to Bush and their attempts to deny that the previous administrations had anything to do with it.

I also think Dale Franks at QandO has it right.
Now, if the Democrats wanna say that's because OBL is a wily SOB, and they couldn't get it done, then, fine. But that means that George W. Bush gets a pass on that subject, too. On the other hand, if the argument is that Mr. Bush's failure to do so is a case of rank incompetence, then I think you have to re-evaluate Mr. Clinton's performance in that light as well. Either OBL is so devious that getting him is more a matter of luck than skill, or the political leaders we've had are just too timid or stupid to make it happen. One or the other.

You don't get to have it both ways.
And as to Clinton's contention that Fox and Wallace has never asked any of these questions of the Bush Administration, Patterico has some interesting insights.
Wallace replied that such questions had been asked. Clinton replied: “I don’t believe you asked them that.”

I believe he did.

In 2004, Wallace asked almost the exact same question of Donald Rumsfeld that he asked Clinton today.

Here’s what Wallace asked Clinton today:

[H]indsight is 20 20 . . . but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?

And here is what Wallace asked Donald Rumsfeld on the March 28, 2004 episode of Fox News Sunday:

I understand this is 20/20 hindsight, it’s more than an individual manhunt. I mean — what you ended up doing in the end was going after al Qaeda where it lived. . . . pre-9/11 should you have been thinking more about that?

. . . .

What do you make of his [Richard Clarke’s] basic charge that pre-9/11 that this government, the Bush administration largely ignored the threat from al Qaeda?

. . . .

Mr. Secretary, it sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority.

Nice. I guess I don't put in enough effort to find these types of things. But then, that's part of the reason I read the blogs to find out these little bits.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Detainee Act Moving Forward

Not surprisingly the Repugs have come to some understanding. Unfortunately, the details are still unclear. Other than the more liberal sector of the MSM for the most part is condemning it completely. But then I expect if the bill outlined the use of the comfy chair and soft pillow tortures, they'd still be bitching.
The White House yesterday reached a compromise with Republican senators over treatment standards for the nation's most dangerous terrorism suspects, with President Bush declaring that "the most potent tool we have" -- aggressive interrogations -- will continue.

The deal was reached when Bush dropped his insistence that the United States redefine the Geneva Conventions to allow the coercive techniques -- which remain classified, but reportedly include sleep and food deprivation and forcing suspects to stand for protracted periods.

Instead, the senators agreed to rewrite the 1996-97 War Crimes Act to ban only the most aggressive techniques. Currently, the act bans anything that would constitute a "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions. The new law, the White House said, would define specific crimes that would be banned, including cruel or inhuman treatments, biological experimentation, mutilation, rape, sexual assault, and torture.

Both sides expressed confidence that the agreement would allow the CIA's interrogation program for "high-value" suspects, the exact parameters of which remain classified, to continue.

"The agreement clears the way to do what the American people expect us to do: to capture terrorists, to detain terrorists, to question terrorists, and then to try them," Bush said shortly after the agreement was announced.

There's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved," said Senator John McCain of Arizona, who is one of three Republican lawmakers who opposed the original White House demand that the Senate agree to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions. "The agreement that we've entered into gives the president the tools he needs to continue to fight the war on terror and bring these evil people to justice."

Unlike the Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act is an American law that applies only to US officials and is not part of an international treaty. Rewriting the War Crimes Act to outlaw specific acts -- and implicitly permitting others -- does not erode the Geneva Conventions, which broadly state that countries can't engage in "outrages upon personal dignity," said Senator Lindsey O. Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

"We're not being seen as rewriting the terms in the middle of the war," said Graham, who worked alongside McCain and the Senate Armed Services chairman, John W. Warner of Virginia, in crafting the compromise.
This sounds like a half-measure to me. I suppose I'll wait to see what the end legislation is.

Then there is the secret evidence discussion.
The deal also resolves two major sticking points concerning the rules under which terrorist suspects can be tried in military tribunals. Rather than give defendants full access to classified information gathered against them, as the senators initially wanted, defendants will be allowed to review only the evidence prosecutors present to juries. And prosecutors will be able to redact from that evidence any intelligence-gathering "sources and methods."
That strikes me as a better standing. In fact I believe this is similar to what is allowed in a courts martial. There is the part on coerced evidence that I'm still wary about, since it really will come down to opinion of the judge.
In addition, while the White House had wanted coerced testimony to be admissible in trials, the agreement will allow judges to rule on a case-by-case basis whether such evidence was gathered lawfully.
Though various articles and editorials take differing stances on what this actually means.

Take the NYTimes, which clearly hates everything to do with this bill.
About the only thing that Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham had to show for their defiance was Mr. Bush's agreement to drop his insistence on allowing prosecutors of suspected terrorists to introduce classified evidence kept secret from the defendant. The White House agreed to abide by the rules of courts-martial, which bar secret evidence. (Although the administration's supporters continually claim this means giving classified information to terrorists, the rules actually provide for reviewing, editing and summarizing classified material. Evidence that cannot be safely declassified cannot be introduced.)

This is a critical point. As Senator Graham keeps noting, the United States would never stand for any other country's convicting an American citizen with undisclosed, secret evidence. So it seemed like a significant concession - until Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, briefed reporters yesterday evening. He said that while the White House wants to honor this deal, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, still wants to permit secret evidence and should certainly have his say. To accept this spin requires believing that Mr. Hunter, who railroaded Mr. Bush's original bill through his committee, is going to take any action not blessed by the White House.

I find it a bit odd that they are arguing that section I highlighted. The net result of that statement is pretty much the same now as it had previously been. If the evidence can be declassified, it will be and utilized. If it can't be, then it will still be allowed, but not given to the detainee. Unless they are arguing that the Administration didn't even seek to declassify any evidence, but I don't see that as being what was proposed.
Even before the compromises began to emerge, the overall bill prepared by the three senators had fatal flaws. It allows the president to declare any foreigner, anywhere, an "illegal enemy combatant" using a dangerously broad definition, and detain him without any trial. It not only fails to deal with the fact that many of the Guantanamo detainees are not terrorists and will never be charged, but it also chokes off any judicial review.
That's an odd bit there. The GITMO detainees are terrorists or illegal combatants. The two definitions don't neccessarily need to coexist, but either definition should allow for prosecutions. Now, if they aren't going to be charged, that is a true complaint. The US shouldn't hold those that aren't going to be charged. If they don't clearly meet the requirements to prosecute them, then we must just take the risk and release them.

I also disagree with the contention that the "illegal combatant" defenition is "dangerously broad." If they don't fall under the definitions of legal combatant or civilian in the Geneva Conventions and they are taken in some form of combat or terrorist action, then they are most certainly illegal combatants.

The NYTimes gives great advice to the Dems:
The Democrats have largely stood silent and allowed the trio of Republicans to do the lifting. It's time for them to either try to fix this bill or delay it until after the election. The American people expect their leaders to clean up this mess without endangering U.S. troops, eviscerating American standards of justice, or further harming the nation's severely damaged reputation.
Of course, they miss the point that a lot of the swing public is frankly sick and tired of the Dems blocking without any counterproposals. Delay will be viewed negatively. And, no surprise, they go with the three reasons that there should be no allowances for the tribunals. Endangering troops, which is foolish due to the fact that the enemy hasn't and won't observe those conventions that the US is already allowing in this conflict. Then there's the "standards of justice" ploy, which I always intepret as they want the same levels of protections for these war criminals that they would allow for our own legal combatants. And lastly, and nearly completely irrelevant, is the reputation of the US - Those that think the US is a monster won't be coming to our side, those who are with us likely will stay, and those on the fence (a rarity) likely won't be swayed by this because the law will merely encode thing that we have been doing and in reality are not nearly as brutal as our enemies.

Then there is the WaPo editorial that states that this will just allow the abuses to go on. Well, I suppose in the view of the WaPo's editor using harsh language would be abusive, so I don't much see any value in their opinion.
The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.
Statements like this bother me on the level that they completely ignore who is the focus of these actions and exactly why they are being done. This stance on absolute moral righteousness completely denies the thought that these people are intent on killing US citizens and have been actively engaged in doing just that. You can most certainly argue about whether the detainee is of that definition, but I'll let those decisions be made by those best qualified for that task. This whole situation is one where the ends do justify the means. Does that make me a moral relativist? Yep. And recall my stance on "fair" fights.

I would have preferred an interpretation of the Geneva Convention's CA3. That would have been clearly and cleanly drawing a line in the sand for the world to see. All this dithering in the legalese and politics continues to ensure that the reality of processing these illegal combatants remains in the fog.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Clinton Era Executive Order Upheld Over Bush Executive Order

This is with regards to the "roadless rule" Executive Order that Clinton enacted and the Bush EO countermanding it. That's EO 13211. Now I'm wondering how this judge has decided that Clinton's EO has merit over Bush's.
Ruling against the Bush administration's efforts to open national forests for logging and mining, a federal judge in California on Wednesday set aside a U.S. Forest Service rule that allows governors to decide which land in national forests is suited for development.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte largely reinstated one of the most sweeping, emotionally fraught and legally contentious land-protection measures in decades: the Clinton-era "roadless rule," which put nearly a third of the national forests -- roughly 60 million acres -- off-limits to most development.


Laporte's order chastised the Bush administration for having changed the 2001 roadless rule without explaining why it was doing so, for failing to cite "any new evidence" for altering land protections that had been years in the making and for ignoring the consequences of its new policy on endangered species.

What? So Clinton's EO is ok and didn't require any explanations for changing the rules on use, but Bush has to detail his reasoning for counteracting it? Why is "new evidence" required?

Smells of Judicial over reach to me.

There are some voices speaking against the finding:

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens criticized the ruling, saying a task force that takes citizens' input is the right way to manage the state's wilderness.

"It would be very unfortunate if we were to revert back to a rule established hastily without public input during the waning days of the Clinton administration," Owens said. "We simply should not have a federal magistrate in San Francisco unilaterally dictating natural resource policy for the entire country."

I'm coming to the opinion that California seems to think it runs the country, and is now trying to enforce that through the Judiciary.

California and Another Frivolous Lawsuit

How is it that California can set the most restrictive emmission controls in the country and when the auto makers meet them, then sue the makers for polluting?
California, which has battled the automotive industry over new global warming regulations for years, sued the world’s six-largest automakers yesterday, demanding that they pay for environmental damage caused by the emissions of their vehicles.

“Global warming is causing significant harm to California’s environment, economy, agriculture and public health,” said the state’s attorney general, Bill Lockyer.

“Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and automakers have refused to act.”

The suit, filed in United States District Court in Northern California, is the first such attempt to hold automakers accountable for the greenhouse gases that vehicles produce. It accuses General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan of creating a public nuisance by building millions of vehicles that collectively discharge 289 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

Mr. Lockyer contends that the products of the six companies are responsible for a fifth of the carbon dioxide emissions nationwide and nearly a third of the emissions in California, which has more vehicles than any other state.

He said he would seek at least “tens of millions” in damages for past, current and future contributions to air pollution, beach erosion and reduced water supplies.

The automakers named in the suit declined to comment on it directly, but a trade group representing them labeled the accusations a “nuisance suit” similar to an unsuccessful attempt by several Northeastern states to hold utilities liable for environmental damages.

I think the car makers should do what they've previously done with similar lawsuits, stop selling the plaintiff cars. Ford did that with police suits on the Crown Vic, I don't see any reason that these car makers can't do the same.

And to think we thought that only gun makers would be attacked for the legal use of their products.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chavez's Halo

Hugo Chavez makes me laugh. This probably goes over really well with the Theocrats.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President George W. Bush "the devil'' and "world tyrant'' in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in which he urged the member governments to fight U.S. domination.

"The devil came here yesterday,'' Chavez, 52, said in remarks that included accusations that the U.S. is plotting to overthrow him and that the UN is helpless to combat the threat posed by U.S. power. He said the podium in the General Assembly hall still "smells of sulphur today,'' a reference to what is termed the devil's element in mythology.

World leaders and diplomats in the hall applauded his remarks, which included an appeal to read Noam Chomsky's book, "Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Dominance.'' The U.S. had only a young note-taker in its allotted seats for the appearance by Chavez.

Chavez, whose country is the third-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has allied himself with Cuba, Iran and other countries at odds with the U.S. and its superpower status.

"The U.S. is the "greatest threat looking over our planet, placing at risk the very survival of the human species,'' Chavez said. "We appeal to the people of the U.S. to halt this threat, like a sword hanging over our heads.''

He said it would take a psychiatrist to analyze Bush's speech to the General Assembly yesterday, and that his ambitions for world domination would make an "Alfred Hitchcock movie'' that he said could be titled "The Devil's Recipe.''

'Sees Extremists'

"Everywhere he looks he sees extremists and you, my brother, he looks at your color and says there is an extremist,'' Chavez said of Bush. "But it is not that we are extremists. The world is waking up and people are standing up.''

Sounds like Hugo is a touch paranoid. Funny that he characterizes Bush as seeing extremists everywhere, but he seems to see US plots against him at every corner. But then, I suppose he's not buying all these new weapons from Russia because he's feeling particularly secure.

Well, at least you can predict that he'll always turn that rhetoric up another notch at the UN.

Negraponte on Common Article 3 Clarifications

Negraponte comes out pretty much stating what I've been trying to get at:

The current debate centers on legal questions concerning Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. In June, the Supreme Court determined that Common Article 3 applies to al-Qaeda terrorists.

The administration is committed to complying with the law of the land, and we must ensure our laws provide clarity on the vague standards contained in Common Article 3, such as “outrages upon personal dignity.” Thus, the president has asked that Congress clarify our treaty obligations just as it has done on many other occasions. Absent such clarification, our intelligence professionals would be subject to unpredictable legal interpretations, including those of foreign courts. This vital program cannot go forward unless the law is clarified.

The administration's proposal would not redefine Common Article 3. It would provide clarity by mirroring language written by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and passed by Congress less than a year ago as part of the Detainee Treatment Act.

Under this approach, our intelligence professionals would know what they can and can't do because the standard would be one that is well established in U.S. law as determined by U.S. courts.

Clarifying our laws would not jeopardize our troops. Lawful combatants such as U.S. soldiers would continue to be fully protected by all aspects of the Geneva Conventions. Nothing in the administration's proposal in any way would undercut these fundamental protections. The issue we are debating is the standard of treatment for unlawful combatants — those who hide among civilian populations and plot attacks on innocents.

Why is it so very difficult for McCain and his ilk to be able to tie the legislation for the interrogation methods that are allowed in the military with the interrogation methods for this legislation.

Democracy in the Middle-East

Pretty good historical article on the Middle-East and the related prospects to Democracy. I'll just quote a bit of the conclusion.
There are, as I've tried to point out, elements in Islamic society which could well be conducive to democracy. And there are encouraging signs at the present moment--what happened in Iraq, for example, with millions of Iraqis willing to stand in line to vote, knowing that they were risking their lives, is a quite extraordinary achievement. It shows great courage, great resolution. Don't be misled by what you read in the media about Iraq. The situation is certainly not good, but there are redeeming features in it. The battle isn't over. It's still very difficult. There are still many major problems to overcome. There is a bitter anti-Western feeling which derives partly and increasingly from our support for what they see as tyrannies ruling over them. It's interesting that pro-American feeling is strongest in countries with anti-American governments. I've been told repeatedly by Iranians that there is no country in the world where pro-American feeling is stronger, deeper and more widespread than Iran. I've heard this from so many different Iranians--including some still living in Iran--that I believe it. When the American planes were flying over Afghanistan, the story was that many Iranians put signs on their roofs in English reading, "This way, please."

So there is a good deal of pro-Western and even specifically pro-American feeling. But the anti-American feeling is strongest in those countries that are ruled by what we are pleased to call "friendly governments." And it is those, of course, that are the most tyrannical and the most resented by their own people. The outlook at the moment is, I would say, very mixed. I think that the cause of developing free institutions--along their lines, not ours--is possible. One can see signs of its beginning in some countries. At the same time, the forces working against it are very powerful and well entrenched. And one of the greatest dangers is that on their side, they are firm and convinced and resolute. Whereas on our side, we are weak and undecided and irresolute. And in such a combat, it is not difficult to see which side will prevail.

This is reminiscent of Thomas Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map. Only Lewis is describing democracy rather than socio-economic connectedness.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Assault on Waco: Discovery Channel DocuDrama

From what David Hardy says, the Discovery Channel is channeling the History channel.
I watched Assault on Waco on the Discovery Channel last night, having sent the producers some footage and audiotapes.... I gave up after the first 20 minutes or so. There were too many areas where it was just plain invented.

I mean ... there's ATF agent Robert Rodriquez, the most honest agent on the ATF side, and the only one with guts enough to go to Mt. Carmel undercover on the morning of the raid. He's given an account of what happened, as have some surviving Davidians. They agree that Koresh talked to him, left the room to take a phone call, and came back shaking. He told Robert that, I think, the ATF and National Guard were coming. Robert got the feeling that Koresh knew he was an agent (as he in fact did), and said he had to go. Koresh shook his hand and, in one account, said you have to do what you have to do.

In the movie, an angry Koresh confronts Robert, shouting that he is an ATF agent, as the other Davidians give him hostile stares. It just didn't happen. Koresh never accused him, and was shaking in fear rather than angry.


Is anyone else really really tired of these cable channels doing a really sloppy or, in some cases, completely incompetent reporting of historical events? This climbs on the pile that the History channel has been building with all their shocking revelations of the "real" history of various events.

Rendition Case to Syria?

This one strikes me as quite odd. I would think that you'd need to be on good diplomatic terms with a country to have rendition be effective. In this case Syria is the country that the person was sent to, and I'm thinking that they are not on our list of helpful countries.
A government commission on Monday exonerated a Canadian computer engineer of any ties to terrorism and issued a scathing report that faulted Canada and the United States for his deportation four years ago to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

The report on the engineer, Maher Arar, said American officials had apparently acted on inaccurate information from Canadian investigators and then misled Canadian authorities about their plans for Mr. Arar before transporting him to Syria.

"I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constituted a threat to the security of Canada," Justice Dennis R. O'Connor, head of the commission, said at a news conference.

The report's findings could reverberate heavily through the leadership of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which handled the initial intelligence on Mr. Arar that led security officials in both Canada and the United States to assume he was a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist.

But its conclusions about a case that had emerged as one of the most infamous examples of rendition - the transfer of terrorism suspects to other nations for interrogation - draw new attention to the Bush administration's handling of detainees. And it comes as the White House and Congress are contesting legislation that would set standards for the treatment and interrogation of prisoners.

"The American authorities who handled Mr. Arar's case treated Mr. Arar in a most regrettable fashion," Justice O'Connor wrote in a three-volume report, not all of which was made public. "They removed him to Syria against his wishes and in the face of his statements that he would be tortured if sent there. Moreover, they dealt with Canadian officials involved with Mr. Arar's case in a less than forthcoming manner."

This is a bit confusing. Canada places Arar on a terrorist watch list of some variety, which apparently is shared with the US. Arar, a Syrian citizen, lands in the US, and is deported to Syria via a stop in Jordan. On arrival in Syria he is arrested and beaten on a regular basis. This strikes me as being a bit thin on the logic side. Or not all of the relevant information is here. This line gives a bit more support to the contention though.
On Sept. 26, 2002, the F.B.I. called Project A-O and told the Canadian police that Mr. Arar was scheduled to arrive in about one hour from Zurich. The F.B.I. also said it planned to question Mr. Arar and then send him back to Switzerland. Responding to a fax from the F.B.I., the Mounted Police provided the American investigators with a list of questions for Mr. Arar. Like the other information, it included many false claims about Mr. Arar, the commission found.
I wonder how deportations usually work. Do you send them back to where they just came or do you send them back to their counrty of origin? I suppose there are variables in to what is done, but why would you send a terrorist suspect back to a country that probably will refuse him if they know what you suspect?

I suppose I'll have to make a statement on rendition, since not including a moral statement on torture when it is a side topic seems to get me criticized. I don't like rendition. If you can't do the job yourself, why do it at all. I understand it's a dodge around the legal system of the country, and that just makes it all the more deplorable. This case, if accurate, is especially sickening, considering that all evidence provided here has the appearances of being exceedingly thin.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Moral Clarity on Torture

An interesting bit of a blog at Globalclashes that calls my blog on Common Article 3 unconvincing since I appear to be a relativist on the morality of torture.
What makes the arguments of this article unconvincing is that they don't even acknowledge that torture is immoral, but suggest that torture is the eye of the beholder and that what matters more than anything is to break hardened and dangerous terrorists such Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. I strongly disagree. The United States and its allies have rightly chosen to fight terrorism by arguing that it is wrong because there are such things are universal principles and values, which apply to all of humanity. The fight against terrorism is not just about winning a war or breaking or killing terrorists.
That is an interesting strawman, since that isn't what the topic was on at all, and in fact I take no stand on the morality of torture at all. The topic was the political games that are being played and how the congress should themselves define and clarify how our country understands CA3, including torture.

But I suppose I'll admit that I'm a relativist with respect to torture. Let's look at an extreme example. If someone has kidnapped a freind of mine or their child (or my family for that matter) and I know this with unpeachable evidence, do you really think that a blow torch and a ball-peen hammer wouldn't be included in any conversation I had with them? Please, be realistic. I don't believe in fair fights when death is possible, I don't believe my opponent has any right greater than my own in any forum. Once you've decided that violating my rights is okey dokey, I'll get really unpleasant. Relativism just popped up there didn't it? I'm willing to damage an agressor far more than a bystander and relatively speaking, I find that something I can live with.

That said, I do understand that governments must take some moral ground in their dealings with the world. My original blog on CA3 was trying to get to the point that the congress has a huge oppurtunity to take that ground unambiguously right now. I don't doubt that there will be people and countries that believe that we are toturing people when we play loud music at them. I feel that way every time I go to the gym. But by drawing the line that we are willing to go too clearly in the sand should make it completely understandable to any enemy or friend where the US will go to protect themselves and their interests. If McCain and his ilk don't like what the present Administration is doing at this time, then they have an obligation to define the limits legeslatively.

Anbar Province Insurgency Loses Footing

This comes from Threatswatch regarding a NYTimes article. It appears that there are some fractures in the tribal support for the insurgents.
A big development in Iraq today as 25 of the 31 al-Anbar tribes have openly declared against al-Qaeda and the insurgency and have commited to fight them and rid their region of their violence.

“We held a meeting earlier and agreed to fight those who call themselves mujahedeen,” Mr. Rishawi said in an interview today. “We believe that there is a conspiracy against our Iraqi people. Those terrorists claimed that they are fighters working on liberating Iraq, but they turned out to be killers. Now all the people are fed up and have turned against them.”

The agreement came on a day when a series of coordinated suicide bombings rocked two of Iraq’s most volatile cities outside the capital.

It is important to note that the sizes and relative power of the tribes in Iraq varies greatly. It is not reported precisely which tribes are among the 25 and which 6 tribes remain in support of al-Qaeda and the insurgency, which is not an insignificant detail. However, that being said, one of the tribes among the 25 is a ‘subset’ of the largest tribe in Anbar and some numbers were mentioned in the article.

Makes you wonder if the coalition did something right or was it just that the insurgents are doing things wrong. This does look like a good place for the Iraqi government to step in and form militias that are under government control. They could then organize and aid the counterinsurgency to their own benefit as well as that of the local populations. This would be different from the mess in Baghdad where the security voids were filled by militias under control of the religious sect leaders. The security needs are present and when the population is willing, giving them aid will move the central government's prospects forward.

In fact, moving to emplace militias could be hugely helpful to US forces in Anbar. With a bit of organization, they could clear out or disrupt insurgent forces in a sector, then hand it over to the Iraqi militias to maintain. This has worked in several historica insurgencies, such as Malasia and even Vietnam.

Non-Alllied Movement

NAM is an odd group. They are alledgedly "non-aligned" but their loudest voices do seem to complain about the same thing, the US. Makes you wonder if they are against globalization as well.
Developing countries yesterday wrapped up a multinational summit with North Korea charging that U.S. threats drove it to acquire deterrent atomic weapons and Iran winning solid support for its nuclear ambitions.
Iran, Venezuela and Cuba joined North Korea in leading efforts to forge an anti-U.S. alliance. Summit leaders, in a statement on Iran, "reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes."

They warned that any attack or threat against any nuclear facility used for peaceful purposes was a violation of international law.

North Korea took the opportunity to assail the United States for unilateral actions against individual countries and called for a revitalization of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

"The United States is attempting to deprive other countries of even their legitimate right to peaceful nuclear activities," said North Korea's second-ranking leader, Kim Yong-nam.
It is odd to hear groups that voluntarily joined the UN's NPT who continue to screech about the US attempts to restrain them from developing "peaceful" uses for nuclear energy. North Korea being the oddest of all since they developed nuclear weapons for "peaceful" purposes. It would be interesting to see how many of the NAM countries believed that the development of nuclear weapons was a peaceful endevour.