Last week, President Bush give a brief statement regarding Scooter Libby being indicted on 5 charges. Bush urged all Americans to remember that Mr. Libby is innocent untill proven guilty, that is our system of justice, was his message to Americans.
I was amazed once again with the absolute "vanilla" style with which this administration uses it's propaganda and spin. They do not fabricate intricate stories and illusions, no they simply state their view/reality and America devours it without hesitation. How could this man stand there in the Rose Garden looking directly into the camera and state with a straight face that all men are innocent untill proven guilty. Of course here in the U.S. "according to the Constitution" we are all innocent untill proven guilty, but for that so-called leader to make this statement is an insult to every man and women here in America. It is an insult to your intelligence not to mention completly disrepectful to this country. I would like Bush to make that statement to Edgar Padilla! I would welcome Mr. Bush to make that same statement to the people illegally captured and held/tortured in GITMO!
Never before has an administration gone to such lenghts to strip Americans and other people of the world from this fundamental birth right. Neither Mr. Padilla (see previous post) nor any persons held in GITMO have been formally charged with a crime yet all these people are detained behind bars for in some cases over 3 years now. I ask you, are these people considered innocent untill proven guilty? There has been an inditment and there is evidence against Mr. Libby. Why has he not been afforded the same treatment?
I know this is not the first time the administration and the Republicans have double-talked us if not straight out lied to our faces but for some reason this instance has my blood boiling. What I don't understand: why are the majority of Americans not as outraged as I? Are there other people who want to grab Bush by the throat and choke some sense into him? There should be, America you should be outraged! When Bush makes these comments he is insulting your intelligence, they believe that you are stupid or scared.
I can gaurantee you this America, no matter how non-violent you may you would not allow someone to insult you and mock you on a daily basis. You would not allow someone to look you in the face and lie to you. You would not allow a person to distort matters when you know the concrete facts. No America I venture to say that you would not allow this you would stand up for yourself, you would correct this person. Maybe you would just give them a good old fashioned ass-whooping. Why then do we allow the person who represents each and every one of us and our country to act in this manner?
When we stop citizens from boarding the subway in New York are we considering all men and women innocent untill proven guilty? Has Mr. Padilla, confined to a naval brig for more than 3 years ever been considered innocent untill proven guilty? Are the men of GITMO, being held in cages for more than 3 years considered innocent untill proven guilty?
Last week, President Bush give a brief statement regarding Scooter Libby being indicted on 5 charges. Bush urged all Americans to remember that Mr. Libby is innocent untill proven guilty, that is our system of justice, was his message to Americans.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 10:00 AM
I am stealing this entire article on the history of avian flu from ringsurf.com since it explains the avian flu better than I can. I believe my last post might not have driven the point home quite enough and maybe people are still not taking this issue seriously enough. In order to understand the avian flu, we must understand the influenza virus itself and this may shed some light on how the virus will affect humans. It will mutate into a strain that is deadly to us. It has in the past and will continue to develop in this way. Our government is not prepared to protect it's people from this coming pandemic. Just think for one minute if you doubt the seriousness of this. When you go to the doctor for a virus infection and the doctor prescribes you antibiotic, they also give you specific instructions on the use; he tells you how many pills to take and for how many days. You need that type of information. The doctor does this because if people use the antibiotics too long or when they don't need them, then the virus or flu will become resistant to the particular antibiotic.
Avian influenza spreading to humans is not something to be taken lightly, it has happened in the past with deadly results. Wikipedia has some great information on the Spanish avian flu of 1918 which killed 25-50 million people worldwide. They also have a good backround on the avian influenza, please don't push this issue onto the back burner.
History of Avian Flu
The Avian Flu disease has captured considerable international attention over the past year with serious epidemics of this disease affecting Japan, South Korea, and areas of South-east Asia earlier this year. Now considered a pandemic, serious outbreaks of avian influenza had also affected the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany in 2003. Avian flu had also been reported in Australia, Pakistan, Italy, Chile, and Mexico. The impact of this serious disease has been disruptive to the poultry industries as millions of chickens, geese, and turkeys were slaughtered to prevent further transmission of this highly contagious disease.
Besides its devastating effect on domestic poultry, Avian Flu has received unprecedented publicity because of what occurred in Hong Kong in 1997. Before this time, Avian flu was thought to infect birds only, however, a different strain of Avian Flu virus was detected in humans, marking the first time that Avian Flu was transmitted to humans. During this outbreak, 18 people were hospitalized and 6 of them died. To control the outbreak, authorities killed about 1.5 million chickens to remove the source of the virus.
Earlier this year in January, a major outbreak of Avian influenza surfaced again in Vietnam’s and Thailand's poultry industry. Within a few short weeks, the disease had spread to ten countries and regions in Asia, including Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and China. Over 50 million chickens, ducks, geese, and turkey were slaughtered in an intensive effort to stop the disease from spreading any further. The outbreak was then contained in March. Unfortunately, this outbreak took a considerable toll on human lives. There were 34 people infected with the Avian Flu in Vietnam and Thailand, of which 23 of them tragically died.
Though scientists determined that the spread of the Avian flu virus from birds to humans are rare occurrences, they were also quick to express grave caution that this problem could become significantly worse if the virus mutated into a more lethal form, or a form that could pass easily from humans to humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) is particularly concerned about the Avian virus' potential to swap genes with a common flu virus, creating a lethal form of the virus that could spread around the globe within months.
Avian Flu was first recorded in Italy more than 100 years ago in 1878. As the cause of massive poultry epidemics, this disease was then known as “Fowl Plague”. This disease reared its ugly head in the United States in 1924-25, and then again in 1929. In 1955, it was determined that the virus causing Fowl Plague was one of the influenza viruses. All influenza viruses affecting domestic animals (equine, swine, avian) belong to Type A, and Type A influenza virus is the most common type producing serious epidemics in humans. Types B and C do not affect domestic animals.
There are two forms of Influenza A viruses occurring worldwide – (i) highly pathogenic and (ii) mildly pathogenic. The outbreaks in Hong Kong, and those that were found reported recently are caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A virus (HPAI – subtypes H5 and H7). It is a form of this virus that has the ability to be transmitted to humans. Although our understanding of Avian Flu is relatively limited, the recent outbreaks have stimulated research all around the world to further our knowledge of this important disease and virus.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 6:47 PM
I have been reading some interesting information regarding the avian flu and the eventual spreading of it here in America. Recently the bird flu reached Eastern Europe, and scientists warn that if and when the virus jumps to humans it could cause results similar to the 1918 Spanish avian flu in which 40-50 million people worldwide died. Remember last year when the United States (the global super-power) ran out of regular flu vaccinations?
Currently only one drug, Tamiflu, has proven to reduce symptoms of avian flu. How many doses of Tamiflu does the world's richest country own? Current stockpiles in the United States would be able to treat roughly 2% of the population. Which 2% do you think would receive the treatment? Have no fear, America, the Bush administration has just placed a desperate last-minute order for Tamiflu with the Roche company for 81 million doses. The problem with this is if the avian flu hits this winter (which scientists predict it will) the doses will not be available in time. Roche has stated that the 81 million dose order will not be produced in time for winter.
It is no surprise that other nations have prepared ahead of time for the coming pandemic threat by stocking up on Tamiflu; countries like Canada, France, Britain and Japan are prepared to protect their citizens.
What did you expect, America? We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on war in Iraq. Why would the Bush administration try to protect it's people against a real threat? In light of this recent discovery of the shortage of Tamiflu doses, it is no surprise to me that the Bush administration has recently introduced legislation that would hand over all powers to the Pentagon in case of emergency here in America. Surely an outbreak of the avian flu with shortages of the drug needed to treat it could result in mass rioting and chaos. That is where the armed forces step in and lock us down. I believe in my heart of hearts that the response to Katrina in New Orleans was a test run for just this type of situation.
You can't argue this one. While Bush claims he is fighting the war in Iraq to make us more safe here, he is actually making us less safe and it has nothing to do with terrorism. It is your money, America! Instead of it being used to buy drugs needed to treat your children and loved ones, it is being used to murder and conquer. It is time to take back our money and maybe a little of our self respect too.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 12:00 PM
A recent article by Knight Ridder has exposed the lack of contract oversight in Iraq. The inspector general for the Department of Defense withdrew all auditors from Iraq in the fall of 2004, according to Lt. Col. Rose-Ann Lynch, spokeswoman for the Defense Department's inspector generals office. What does this mean for you and I? Currently there is $142 billion in taxpayer money allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq with no auditors from the Defense Department reviewing how the money is being spent. According to the article, between October of 2004 and this month only 1 of the 107 audits listed on the Defense Department IG's website involved Iraq. Lt. Col. Lynch told Knight Ridder that the Defense Department Inspector General "currently has no specific audits being conducted in Iraq."
This is our money America. It is taxpayer money that we worked hard for. Would you sit by and allow someone to rip you and your family off? Do you look at receipts to check if your being "swindled". I will end this asking just one question: If you were running a business, is this how you would handle your contracting and spending?
Posted by Jason McMaster at 7:00 AM
The New York Times recently ran an article detailing some of the contracts awarded for Katrina cleanup based on the first release of contract details from the government. The report shows that there was 15 contract that exceed $100 million with 5 of them exceeding $500 million. One alarming fact is that more than 80% of the contracts were awarded without competative bidding, on top of that the contracts are cost plus. For anyone who doesn't understand this type of contract, a cost plus contract means that the contractor bills the government for all it's costs plus a mark up which can balloon the original price of the contract.
AshBritt recieved a $586 million contract to collect and process debris. This company is based out of Pompano Beach, Florida and is a former client of a lobbying firm run by the current Governor of Mississippi. Senate filings show that AshBritt paid roughly $40,000 in 2005 to the Washington lobbying firm founded by Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Mr. Barbour was also the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. The report shows that AshBritt is charging the government $15 per cubic yard to remove debris and also will be additionally reimbursed for it's costs to dispose of the materials. The problem with this is that three towns in Mississippi hired their own contractors and records show they paid between $10.64 and $18.25 a cubic yard to remove debris, which includes the cost of disposal. The New York Times article quotes Mike Carroll who is a municipal official in Orlando, Florida with much expierence in hurricane cleanups as saying: "Let me put it to you this way: If $15 was my best price, I would rebid it."
Richard Skinner is the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security who is reviewing the Katrina contracts, told the New York Times: "We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing." He was also quoted saying that most of the deals had been sealed with no more than a handshake and no documentation.
The contracts show alarming differences in prices with trailers costing $15,000-$23,000, house inspections that cost between $15-$81 per home and ferries and ships that are being used as housing, costing between $13-$70 million for six months of use.
The question I ask is how many bad contracts and over-charging does it take before the government stops using certain companies? Betchel Corporation was awarded a contract of roughly $100 million and I can assure you from expirence that this company not only does a bad job they severely overcharge, take it from a person in Massachusetts who has seen them at work on the Big Dig. Another questionable company recieving contracts is Kellogg, Brown & Root which was awarded $60 million in contracts. This company is a subsidiary of Halliburton and I believe we all know of their stellar track record in Iraq.
All of us can agree that this work needs to be done, and it needs to be done as fast as possible, however you would not run a company in this manner and I believe it is no way to run a government. That is unless the government is trying to line the pockets of these big corporations. A simple solution to this problem as pointed out by the New York Times would be if FEMA and other government agencies simply entered into more "indefinite delivery or indefinite quantity" contracts. These contracts are awarded through open biding in advance of the need for services and would allow for quicker response in the case of emergencies.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 2:45 PM
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility produced a press release today regarding the October 11, 2005 order issued by the National Park Service that requires workers to submit to a political loyalty test. The mandatory screening will be carried out by the Park Service headquarters and the Assistant Secretary of Interior (3rd crony in charge).
Exactly who would have to submit to these screenings? According to the press release, the order would apply to all persons hired for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers covering more than 1,000 management and supervisory posistions. Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of PEER had this to say about the new order: "“It is outrageous that park superintendents must swear political loyalty to the Bush agenda and parrot hokey mottos in order to earn a promotion, the merit system is supposed to be about ability, not apple polishing.”
I believe the purpose of this new order is to stifle anyone from the National Park Service from speaking out against Bush administration policies, in particular the policies of Gail Norton, Secretary of Interior. The new order may have been sparked as a result of the recent U.S. Forest Service official who voiced concerns about pesticide misuse in forests located in the Southwest of the country.
Doug Parker, the Forest Service official who voiced concern, was fired from his job as pesticide coordinator and assistant director of forestry health. Mr. Parker, who worked for the Forest Service for over 40 years, believes he was fired as a result of his public complaints- complaints he made because he feared the Forest Service was not obeying laws or policies, in particular the National Environmental Policy Act. Mr. Parker had this to say about his pestiside concerns: "When it comes down to it, besides the violation of policy and law, it's a betrayal of the public trust, if we're going to use toxic chemicals out in the environment, we need to assure the public that what we're doing meets our policy, which is ensuring the proper use of pesticides."
Once again America, it is clear that while we continue to stick our heads in the sand the Bush administration leaves no stone unturned in their quest to infect the entire country with cronies in all areas of public interest.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 6:20 PM
So you still support the war in Iraq? This may make you sick, it may just give you nightmares but I urge each and every one of you to go to http://www.nowthatsfuckedup.com/bbs/forum23.html and check out some of the pictures sent to that site from troops in Iraq. This is what war looks like folks, take a good hard look at the pieces of human beings. I imagine most will not want to see these truly gruesome images but you should, these are the things being done in the name of each and every one of us Americans. War is not pretty, our bombs are not "smart" look death in the face and then think about weither or not you support this war.
If it helps out just imagine these images as your family and friends, maybe that will put this into perspective for all of you.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 8:45 PM
What is the cost of capitalism? Check out this report by the Center for American Progress on the profits of oil companies. Did you know that ExxonMobil had the highest profits for any company in the history of keeping such records last year? Seems everyone has to make sacrifices these days, except the oil companies. Thanks in part to Washington.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 7:00 AM
Here is a little piece of a post by A Family in Baghdad: "And a strange story from Basra, its stars are British dressed in Arabic clothes, inside a car full of explosives, who were caught by the Iraqi Police, and were put in jail for investigation, and then a British tank came along, attacked the jail, and set them free. People were very angry, and burned a number of armed vehicles, whose pictures we saw in newspapers; the Iraqi Police demand an explanation and an apology from the British troops in Basra, the people are angry, wondering: perhaps those have some hands in inflaming disturbances among the Iraqis… just like in Israel, where there is a group called: the Arabists, who are dressed in Arabic clothes, and slip among the Palestinians in demonstrations or gatherings, to perform explosions or assassinations…."
It wouldn't surprise me one bit to find out that most of the suicide bombings were carried out by "coalition" forces in an attempt to plunge the country into a civil war, and justify the continuing occupation. There have also been reports from Iraq of suicide car bombings with no drivers. Of course this is all very hard to prove due to the lack of honest reporting on the ground in Iraq.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 8:24 PM
I honestly have nothing to say about this clip from CNN showing the disgusting beating of a 64 year old man in New Orleans. Please view both clips and then read the CNN article, pay close attention to the end paragraphs when they start to justify this brutal beatdown, the poor cops were under some stress. Why not America, fuck it this guy deserved being beat by a bunch of gung-ho white assholes (oh I'm sorry I meant heros) he was drunk. What do you think they do to people in Iraq? What do you think they (the troops who come home and become cops) will do to the rest of us? Do you think this is a black and white issue, because it isn't. These assholes don't give a fuck about you or me, that could just as easy be you laying in a pool of your own blood. I would love to see the day when a group of citizens tied up and beat the shit out of a cop, opps there I go again I mean hero. FUCK THE POLICE!!!
While your at it check out this other story from CNN about police looting (actually it is not called looting when white people or cops do it) and leaving their posts. Oh how I love those power-hungry coward pieces of shit. Not to advocate violence, well maybe but this is exactly the reason EVERYONE in America should have an automatic weapon. Protection against the SS, you may know them as police.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 12:56 PM
Yesterday President Bush gave a speech to the National Endowment for Democracy in the Ronald Reagan Building. The topic of the speech was the war on terror, with most of the talk focusing on the "terrorist" ideology along with the war in Iraq and how the aforementioned relates to the latter.
The tone of the speech was set early on with 9/11 references in 3 of the first 9 paragraphs, or about the first 3 minutes. After Bush played the 9/11 fiddle for America, he quickly reminded us who we should be afraid of and/or angry at. This is when the propaganda really started flying, as Bush introduced America to some new stereotype labels: Islamic Radicalism, Militant Jihadism and my personal favorite Islamo-fascism.
Can you start to see the foundation that is being poured here? Islamo-Fascism: the knee jerk reaction is Hitler, WWII. We know fascism is bad and we know that America defeated it! If Iraq is Islamo-Fascist, then stay the course. Keep the fight going until we get Hitler. I also believe a bit of this may have been the old "throwing shit against the wall and seeing what sticks". I say this due to the fact that a few minutes later in the speech, Bush equates fighting Islamic radicals to our fight against communism. Once again, Bush paints a face on Iraq and that is the face of communism. Citing yet another clear cut enemy of America's yesteryear and insinuating another victory for America.
"The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century."-President Bush (Speech to the National Endowment for Democracy)
What is happening here? Bush is painting a picture for us, a giant propaganda mural with Iraq sketched as a Hitler/Stalin hybrid. Important to note, however, is that America did win the battle against communism and fascism. So by labeling Iraq and "Islamic radicals" as such, it is easily believable and accepted that we will win this battle in Iraq.
This may be true if it were not for one small detail. Iraq is not the center of the world for all evil to gather. Iraq is a country that America invaded and now occupies. Most of the "terrorists" there are the citizens of what was once Iraq and they are fighting for their lives and their homes. This war, no, this illegal land-grab in Iraq is nothing like the battle against fascism or communism. For the people of Iraq, however, it is a little similar to the battle we fought against England, the battle we fought to gain our freedom!
Posted by Jason McMaster at 7:00 PM
Here is an article written by William Odom the former Director of The National Security Agency under President Reagan. I love when the former Reagan administration members speak out against the Bush administration. How could they possibly argue with a member of the Reagan administration, we all remember how much they sang his praises when he died.
By William E. Odom
If I were a journalist, I would list all the arguments that you hear against pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, the horrible things that people say would happen, and then ask: Aren’t they happening already? Would a pullout really make things worse? Maybe it would make things better.
Here are some of the arguments against pulling out:
1) We would leave behind a civil war.
2) We would lose credibility on the world stage.
3) It would embolden the insurgency and cripple the move toward democracy.
4) Iraq would become a haven for terrorists.
5) Iranian influence in Iraq would increase.
6) Unrest might spread in the region and/or draw in Iraq's neighbors.
7) Shiite-Sunni clashes would worsen.
8) We haven’t fully trained the Iraqi military and police forces yet.
9) Talk of deadlines would undercut the morale of our troops.
But consider this:
1) On civil war. Iraqis are already fighting Iraqis. Insurgents have killed far more Iraqis than Americans. That’s civil war. We created the civil war when we invaded; we can’t prevent a civil war by staying.
For those who really worry about destabilizing the region, the sensible policy is not to stay the course in Iraq. It is rapid withdrawal, re-establishing strong relations with our allies in Europe, showing confidence in the UN Security Council, and trying to knit together a large coalition including the major states of Europe, Japan, South Korea, China, and India to back a strategy for stabilizing the area from the eastern Mediterranean to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Until the United States withdraws from Iraq and admits itsstrategic error, no such coalition can be formed.
Thus those who fear leaving a mess are actually helping make things worse while preventing a new strategic approach with some promise of success.
2) On credibility. If we were Russia or some other insecure nation, we might have to worry about credibility. A hyperpower need not worry about credibility. That’s one of the great advantages of being a hyperpower: When we have made a big strategic mistake, we can reverse it. And it may even enhance our credibility. Staying there damages our credibility more than leaving.
Ask the president if he really worries about US credibility. Or, what will happen to our credibility if the course he is pursuing proves to be a major strategic disaster? Would it not be better for our long-term credibility to withdraw earlier than later in this event?
3) On the insurgency and democracy. There is no question the insurgents and other anti-American parties will take over the government once we leave. But that will happen no matter how long we stay. Any government capable of holding power in Iraq will be anti-American, because the Iraqi people are increasingly becoming anti-American.
Also, the U.S. will not leave behind a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq no matter how long it stays. Holding elections is easy. It is impossible to make it a constitutional democracy in a hurry.
President Bush’s statements about progress in Iraq are increasingly resembling LBJ's statements during the Vietnam War. For instance, Johnson’s comments about the 1968 election are very similar to what Bush said in February 2005 after the election of a provisional parliament.
Ask the president: Why should we expect a different outcome in Iraq than in Vietnam?
Ask the president if he intends to leave a pro-American liberal regime in place. Because that’s just impossible. Postwar Germany and Japan are not models for Iraq. Each had mature (at least a full generation old) constitutional orders by the end of the 19th century. They both endured as constitutional orders until the 1930s. Thus General Clay and General MacArthur were merely reversing a decade and a half totalitarianism -- returning to nearly a century of liberal political change in Japan and a much longer period in Germany.
Imposing a liberal constitutional order in Iraq would be to accomplish something that has never been done before. Of all the world's political cultures, an Arab-Muslim one may be the most resistant to such a change of any in the world. Even the Muslim society in Turkey (an anti-Arab society) stands out for being the only example of a constitutional order in an Islamic society, and even it backslides occasionally.
4) On terrorists. Iraq is already a training ground for terrorists. In fact, the CIA has pointed out to the administration and congress that Iraq is spawning so many terrorists that they are returning home to many other countries to further practice their skills there. The quicker a new dictator wins the political power in Iraq and imposes order, the sooner the country will stop producing well-experienced terrorists.
Why not ask: "Mr. President, since you and the vice president insisted that Saddam's Iraq supported al Qaeda -- which we now know it did not -- isn't your policy in Iraq today strengthening al Qaeda's position in that country?"
5) On Iranian influence. Iranian leaders see US policy in Iraq as being so much in Teheran's interests that they have been advising Iraqi Shiite leaders to do exactly what the Americans ask them to do. Elections will allow the Shiites to take power legally. Once in charge, they can settle scores with the Baathists and Sunnis. If US policy in Iraq begins to undercut Iran's interests, then Teheran can use its growing influence among Iraqi Shiites to stir up trouble, possibly committing Shiite militias to an insurgency against US forces there. The US invasion has vastly increased Iran's influence in Iraq, not sealed it out.
Questions for the administration: "Why do the Iranians support our presence in Iraq today? Why do they tell the Shiite leaders to avoid a sectarian clash between Sunnis and Shiites? Given all the money and weapons they provide Shiite groups, why are they not stirring up more trouble for the US? Will Iranian policy change once a Shiite majority has the reins of government? Would it not be better to pull out now rather than to continue our present course of weakening the Sunnis and Baathists, opening the way for a Shiite dictatorship?"
6) On Iraq’s neighbors. The civil war we leave behind may well draw in Syria, Turkey and Iran. But already today each of those states is deeply involved in support for or opposition to factions in the ongoing Iraqi civil war. The very act of invading Iraq almost insured that violence would involve the larger region. And so it has and will continue, with, or without, US forces in Iraq.
7) On Shiite-Sunni conflict. The US presence is not preventing Shiite-Sunni conflict; it merely delays it. Iran is preventing it today, and it will probably encourage it once the Shiites dominate the new government, an outcome US policy virtually ensures.
8) On training the Iraq military and police. The insurgents are fighting very effectively without US or European military advisors to train them. Why don't the soldiers and police in the present Iraqi regime's service do their duty as well? Because they are uncertain about committing their lives to this regime. They are being asked to take a political stand, just as the insurgents are. Political consolidation, not military-technical consolidation, is the issue.
The issue is not military training; it is institutional loyalty. We trained the Vietnamese military effectively. Its generals took power and proved to be lousy politicians and poor fighters in the final showdown. In many battles over a decade or more, South Vietnamese military units fought very well, defeating VC and NVA units. But South Vietnam's political leaders lost the war.
Even if we were able to successfully train an Iraqi military and police force, the likely result, after all that, would be another military dictatorship. Experience around the world teaches us that military dictatorships arise when the military’s institutional modernization gets ahead of political consolidation.
9) On not supporting our troops by debating an early pullout. Many US officers in Iraq, especially at company and field grade levels, know that while they are winning every tactical battle, they are losing strategically. And according to the New York Times last week, they are beginning to voice complaints about Americans at home bearing none of the pains of the war. One can only guess about the enlisted ranks, but those or a second tour – probably the majority today – are probably anxious for an early pullout. It is also noteworthy that US generals in Iraq are not bubbling over with optimistic reports they way they were during the first few years of the war in Vietnam. Their careful statements and caution probably reflect serious doubts that they do not, and should not, express publicly. The more important question is whether or not the repressive and vindictive behavior by the secretary of defense and his deputy against the senior military -- especially the Army leadership, which is the critical component in the war -- has made it impossible for field commanders to make the political leaders see the facts.
Most surprising to me is that no American political leader today has tried to unmask the absurdity of the administration's case that to question the strategic wisdom of the war is unpatriotic and a failure to support our troops. Most officers and probably most troops don't see it that way. They are angry at the deficiencies in materiel support they get from the Department of Defense, and especially about the irresponsibly long deployments they must now endure because Mr. Rumsfeld and his staff have refused to enlarge the ground forces to provide shorter tours. In the meantime, they know that the defense budget shovels money out the door to maritime forces, SDI, etc., while refusing to increase dramatically the size of the Army.
As I wrote several years ago, "the Pentagon's post-Cold War force structure is so maritime heavy and land force weak that it is firmly in charge of the porpoises and whales while leaving the land to tyrants." The Army, some of the Air Force, the National Guard, and the reserves are now the victims of this gross mismatch between military missions and force structure. Neither the Bush nor the Clinton administration has properly "supported the troops." The media could ask the president why he fails to support our troops by not firing his secretary of defense.
■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■
So why is almost nobody advocating a pullout? I can only speculate. We face a strange situation today where few if any voices among Democrats in Congress will mention early withdrawal from Iraq, and even the one or two who do will not make a comprehensive case for withdrawal now.Why are the Democrats failing the public on this issue today? The biggest reason is because they weren’t willing to raise that issue during the campaign. Howard Dean alone took a clear and consistent stand on Iraq, and the rest of the Democratic party trashed him for it. Most of those in Congress voted for the war and let that vote shackle them later on. Now they are scared to death that the White House will smear them with lack of patriotism if they suggest pulling out.
Journalists can ask all the questions they like but none will prompt a more serious debate as long as no political leaders create the context and force the issues into the open.
I don't believe anyone will be able to sustain a strong case in the short run without going back to the fundamental misjudgment of invading Iraq in the first place. Once the enormity of that error is grasped, the case for pulling out becomes easy to see.
Look at John Kerry's utterly absurd position during the presidential campaign. He said “It’s the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time," but then went on to explain how he expected to win it anyway. Even the voter with no interest in foreign affairs was able to recognize it as an absurdity. If it was the wrong war at the wrong place and time, then it was never in our interest to fight. If that is true, what has changed to make it in our interest? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
The US invasion of Iraq only serves the interest of:
1) Osama bin Laden (it made Iraq safe for al Qaeda, positioned US military personnel in places where al Qaeda operatives can kill them occasionally, helps radicalize youth throughout the Arab and Muslim world, alienates America's most important and strongest allies – the Europeans – and squanders US military resources that otherwise might be finishing off al Qaeda in Pakistan.);
2) The Iranians (who were invaded by Saddam and who suffered massive casualties in an eight year war with Iraq.);
3) And the extremists in both Palestinian and Israeli political circles (who don't really want a peace settlement without the utter destruction of the other side, and probably believe that bogging the United States down in a war in Iraq that will surely become a war between the United States and most of the rest of Arab world gives them the time and cover to wipe out the other side.)
The wisest course for journalists might be to begin sustained investigations of why leading Democrats have failed so miserably to challenge the US occupation of Iraq. The first step, of course, is to establish as conventional wisdom the fact that the war was never in the US interest and has not become so. It is such an obvious case to make that I find it difficult to believe many pundits and political leaders have not already made it repeatedly.
Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 6:18 PM
What is happening to the U.S. Supreme Court? Last week Judge Roberts was confirmed as the chief justice of the court, a position usually filled from within. It took William Rehnquist 11 years of service on the Supreme Court before he was promoted to Chief Justice. Not in the Bush era however. In these days and times you get your promotion before you even start work.
This leads us to this morning when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to fill the final vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Once again Bush has flown in the face of standard practice and nominated someone with zero experience as a judge. How could she possibly be qualified to be one of the highest ranking judges in the country? It is simple: this is classic Bush cronyism, only this time he raised the stakes.
Since Ms. Miers has never served a day as a judge it is interesting to examine her "qualifications":
*She received her schooling from Southern Methodist University, finishing her studies in 1970.
*From 1970-1972 she worked as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Joe Estes.
* In 1972 she took a job as a lawyer for the firm Locke, Purnell, Raine & Harrell, where she stayed until 1999 serving as, among others, George W. Bush's personal lawyer.
*In 1992 she became the President of the Texas Bar Association.
*Ms. Meirs served on George Bush's gubernatorial campaign in 1994 (she also served on his presidential campaign in 2000).
*She served as Chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission from 1995-2000 when she resigned.
*Her close ties to George Bush continued in 2000 when she was hired as the Assistant to the President while also serving as Staff Secretary.
*Ms. Miers was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for the White House in 2003.
*In 2004 she was named the White House Counsel.
So why not, America? Let's fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a person who has as much experience as a judge as I do. Urge the Congress to confirm another Bush crony! Why not look how good the last crony (I mean Mike Brown) did.
For some more good information on Ms. Miers, check out this post by Attytood it goes a little more into detail about Miers and her time as President of the Texas Bar Association and as the Chairwoman for the Texas Lottery Commission.
Posted by Jason McMaster at 5:05 PM