Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Kofi Must Go

So says Sen. Norm Coleman in tomorrow's WSJ article. Here's the text of that article.

Kofi Annan Must Go
December 1, 2004
It's time for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to resign.

Over the past seven months, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program. That noble program was established by the U.N. to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people, then languishing under Saddam Hussein's ironfisted rule, as well as the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the U.N. after the first Gulf War. While sanctions were designed to instigate the removal of Saddam from power, or at least render him impotent, the Oil-for-Food program was designed to support the Iraqi people with food & other humanitarian aid under the watchful eye of the U.N.
Our Investigative Subcommittee has gathered overwhelming evidence that Saddam turned this program on its head. Rather than erode his power, the program was manipulated by Saddam to line his own pockets & actually strengthen his position at the expense of the Iraqi people. At our hearing on Nov. 15, we presented evidence that Saddam accumulated more than $21 billion through abuses of the Oil-for-Food program & U.N. sanctions.
We continue to amass evidence that he used the overt support of prominent members of the U.N., such as France & Russia, along with numerous foreign officials, companies & possibly even senior U.N. officials, to exploit the program to his advantage. We’ve obtained evidence that indicates that Saddam doled out lucrative oil allotments to foreign officials, sympathetic journalists & even one senior U.N. official, in order to undermine international support for sanctions. In addition, we’re gathering evidence that Saddam gave hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of OFF dollars to terrorists & terrorist organizations. All of this occurred under the supposedly vigilant eye of the U.N.
While many questions concerning Oil-for-Food (OFF) remain unanswered, one conclusion’s become abundantly clear: Kofi Annan should resign. The decision to call for his resignation doesn’t come easily, but I’ve arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch. In addition, & perhaps more importantly, as long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks & under-the-table payments that took place under the U.N.'s collective nose.
Mr. Annan was at the helm of the U.N. for all but a few days of the Oil-for-Food program, & he must, therefore, be held accountable for the U.N.'s utter failure to detect or stop Saddam's abuses. The consequences of the U.N.'s ineptitude can’t be overstated: Saddam was empowered to withstand the sanctions regime, remain in power, & even rebuild his military. Needless to say, he made the Iraqi people suffer even more by importing substandard food & medicine under the Oil-for-Food program & pawning it off as first-rate humanitarian aid.
Since it was never likely that the U.N. Security Council, some of whose permanent members were awash in Saddam's favors, would ever call for Saddam's removal, the U.S. & its coalition partners were forced to put troops in harm's way to oust him by force. Today, money swindled from Oil-for-Food may be funding the insurgency against coalition troops in Iraq & other terrorist activities against U.S. interests. Simply put, the troops probably wouldn’t have been placed in such danger if the U.N. had done its job in administering sanctions & Oil-for-Food.
This systemic failure of the U.N. & Oil-for-Food is exacerbated by evidence that at least one senior U.N. official, Benon Sevan, Mr. Annan's hand-picked director of the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food oversight agency, reportedly received bribes from Saddam. According to documents from the Iraqi oil ministry that were obtained by us, Mr. Sevan received several allotments of oil under Oil-for-Food, each of which was worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
To make matters worse, the actions of Mr. Annan's own son have been called into question. Specifically, the U.N. recently admitted that Kojo Annan received more money than previously disclosed from a Swiss company named Cotecna, which was hired by the U.N. to monitor Iraq's imports under Oil-for-Food. Recently, there are growing, albeit unproven, allegations that Kofi Annan himself not only understands his son's role in this scandal, but that he’s been less than forthcoming in what he knew & when he knew it.
As a former prosecutor, I believe in the presumption of innocence. Such revelations cast a dark cloud over Mr. Annan's ability to address the U.N.'s quagmire, however. Mr. Annan has named the esteemed Paul Volcker to investigate Oil-for-Food-related allegations, but the latter's team is severely hamstrung in its efforts. His panel has no authority to compel the production of documents or testimony from anyone outside the U.N. Nor does it possess the power to punish those who fabricate information, alter evidence or omit material facts. It must rely entirely on the goodwill of the very people & entities it’s investigating. We must also recognize that Mr. Volcker's effort is wholly funded by the U.N., at Mr. Annan's control. Moreover, Mr. Volcker must issue his final report directly to the secretary general, who will then decide what, if anything, is released to the public.
Therefore, while I have faith in Mr. Volcker's integrity & abilities, it’s clear the U.N. simply can’t root out its own corruption while Mr. Annan is in charge: To get to the bottom of the murk, it's clear that there needs to be a change at the top. In addition, a scandal of this magnitude requires a truly independent examination to ensure complete transparency, & to restore the credibility of the U.N. To that end, I reiterate our request for access to internal U.N. documents, & for access to U.N. personnel who were involved in the Oil-for-Food program.
All of this adds up to one conclusion: It's time for Kofi Annan to step down. The massive scope of this debacle demands nothing less. If this widespread corruption had occurred in any legitimate organization around the world, its CEO would’ve been ousted long ago, in disgrace. Why is the U.N. different?
Sen. Coleman is chairman of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, & a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Sen. Coleman is a former New York City prosecutor & from all accounts, a dogged one at that. I'm guessing that they've got other information on this scandal that hasn't been talked about yet. It'll be interesting to see what Sen. Coleman will find in this investigation. I'll keep you posted.

The Emerging Bush Majority


Check this site out. It's got a bunch of 'Bush Majority' clothing. My personal favorite is the hooded sweatshirt with this inscription: "Bush got 61,280,000 votes. France's population is 59,000,000. Any Questions???"

I've paraphrased it a bit but its contents are pretty close. If you're looking for a good laugh & you're a Bush voter, this website is just what the doctor ordered.

Ukraine Update

News: Cracks in the oligarch camp / Oligarchs "negotiate" in bad faith.
Discussion is continuing in the Parliament regarding Yushchenko's demands for coalition government & the like. Meanwhile, some other developments from
Maidan & Hotline: More cracks in the oligarch camp:
-Businesses & a major union have come out against Yanukovych's movement for separation.
-Speaker of the Parliament Lytvyn, a former supporter of Yanukovych, is speaking out against the oligarch TV's agitation for separatism.
-The Sumy city Social-Democrats (oligarch Medvedchuk's party) have declared for Yushchenko.
-Tyhipko, the head of Yanukovych's campaign & the Central Bank, has quit both positions. He's also criticized Yanukovych.
Yanukovych & Kuchma are playing for time and employing a rhetorical charm offensive:
-Kuchma has said he is in favor of a revote.
-Yanukovych said he'd make Yushchenko the PM if Yanukovych becomes president.
Meanwhile he's down in Donetsk working to split 3 regions off from Ukraine.
This is the greatest buddy team since Abbot & Costello or Stalin & Beria. The president makes nice sounds about revoting while his surrogates quietly set up an independent republic for him & his own to rule. The same day the president announces his support for new elections, his Prime Minister
pulls out of negotiations to go campaign for secession in Donetsk.
They get nice sound bites about working with the Opposition & revoting, while doing everything they can to drag out the 'negotiating' process & undermine the territorial integrity of the country.
UPDATE: Christopher Price very rightly points out that these delays also give more time for cold & disease to weaken the Opposition.
This Ukraine update comes curtesy of our freedom-fighting friends at Le Sabot Post-Moderne. Special thanks to Christopher Price, too, for opining that the 'dynamic duo' has an ulterior motive in dragging things out.
Personally, I'm guessing that they're also hoping that the enthusiam the freedom-loving protesters will wane. I'm guessing that that won't happen. That group of people wants reform & true independance too much.
It's encouraging, too, to see large parts of Yanukovych's support split off. I suspect that when another election is held, Mr. Yushchenko will get a ton of votes from former Yanukovych supporters & will swamp Mr. Yanukovych.
Update: There's a rumor going around that there won't even be another election. It's unsubstantiated at this point but I can't rule it out since Mr. Yanukovych's support seems to be crumbling by the minute. That isn't a position you want to be in if you're negotiating something important like this. I'll update this post if I get confirmation on this rumor.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Missing WMD's Found???

Iraqi Bomb Labs Signal Attacks in the Works
By Bill Gertz
Washington Times
Nov. 30, 2004
Chemicals & bomb-making literature found at two houses in Fallujah, Iraq, last week show Iraqi rebels are prepared to use chemical & biological weapons in future attacks, a U.S. military spokesman said yesterday. Rebels in Fallujah had materials for making chemical blood agents & also a "cookbook" on how to produce a deadly form of anthrax, said Army Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan in a telephone interview.
Col. Boylan said there are no signs to date that the terrorists actually used chemical or biological weapons in homemade bombs that the military calls improvised explosive devices (IEDs). "But this definitely shows that they had the intent & willingness to go down that road," he said. "The intent is there to at least make it & potentially to use it." A U.S. military team trained to handle chemical weapons removed the materials and equipment, & testing is under way, Col. Boylan said.
The two houses in Fallujah were used by terrorists linked to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the al Qaeda-linked leader who’s behind many of the suicide bombings & attacks against Iraqi civilians & U.S. military personnel, Col. Boylan said. Iraqi security forces & the U.S. military uncovered one chemical & bomb-making factory Wednesday, Col. Boylan said. A day later, a second residence was found with bomb-making & chemical-weapons material in another part of the city, he said.
The chemical lab was found during house-to-house searches of the city, where some 2,000 terrorists & former fighters for Saddam Hussein's regime were killed in recent battles. "The chemical labs had cookbooks that had formulas for making explosives," Col. Boylan said. "One of them had directions on how to make anthrax. One of them had ingredients & directions on how to make blood agent." Chemicals for the blood agent hydrogen cyanide that were found included potassium cyanide & hydrochloric acid, he said.
Hydrogen cyanide, which affects the blood, is extremely poisonous & can be used as a weapon in both vapor & liquid form. In addition to chemical-weapons materials, the troops uncovered other bomb-making materials in the residence, including ammonium nitrate & military explosives that are used in making roadside and vehicle bombs, he said. It’s believed the Fallujah rebels had planned to lace their improvised bombs with hydrogen cyanide, he said.
Soldiers also found testing kits labeled "Soman, Sarin & V-Gases," which are used to test for the presence of chemical nerve agents. The kits contained vials labeled in English, Russian & German that read, "For working instructions, refer to the instructions leaflet." Col. Boylan noted that the chemical weapons are "indiscriminate" terror weapons that were to be used against Iraqi civilians as well as against U.S., Iraqi & allied troops. He said Fallujah has been neutralized as a center for terrorist bombing operations by the U.S. military's ongoing operation there.
"We're finding tons of weapons, caches with hundreds of weapons, ammunition, IEDs & factories," he said. "These locations were being used to do nothing but fabricate IEDs & other weapons." He noted that Fallujah is considered the single largest place for weapons & explosives used by rebels in Iraq. "We're still going house to house" in Fallujah, he said.
Troops are fighting to clear buildings of insurgents, but "we still have pockets of resistance & sporadic fighting as they find holdouts, & that's to be expected," Col. Boylan said. "It isn’t an easy process. It's a slow, methodical process that once completed will have cleared the city" of insurgents, he said. Iraqi Minister of State Kassim Daoud said last week that the chemical laboratory "was used to prepare deadly explosives & poisons."
While the military hasn't confirmed this, it's certainly possible that they've found a WMD lab that's been recently used by Zarqawi's 'insurgents'. If the materials that Bill Gertz has reported on in this article are verified, a bunch of Democrats will owe Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Dick Cheney & President Bush an engraved apology for their reckless statements.
Considering that the reckless comments came from Sens. Kennedy, Kerry & Byrd & Howard 'Primal Scream' Dean, I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of this apology. An apology on their part would be construed as dignifyed & classy, something that's scarce, if not non-existant in that gang.

Weekly Standard Weighs In on the Ukraine

WHATEVER THE END GAME, the campaign to keep the Ukrainian government from stealing the election from Yushchenko is uniting the country as nothing before. Even the Russian & Ukrainian Orthodox churches had abandoned their centuries old schism in order to support the protests. "Nothing's ever been able to make us come together before," said one church official, "but this struggle for our future now has."
Unless Moscow is ready to risk international pariah status & send in its own tanks, its campaign to keep Ukraine as a vassal state has failed. The question for Putin & his government now is: What will his own citizens think now that the Ukrainian people have shown them the possibility of change through a popular campaign of protest and non-violence?
I think they've got it right. If truth be told, it's almost like it doesn't matter how the court rules because these same protesters won't let anything happen except a new election. I believe the court has taken notice of the worldwide 'publicity' its gotten & it's seen the size of the crowds supporting Yushchenko. That's why I believe the courts will rule in Yushchenko's favor.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Ukraine-Minnesota: Partners in Voter Fraud???

A gun smokes in Minnesota
Minnesota is one of the few states that allows same-day voter registration & has become infamous for its lax same day voter registration requirements. Under Minnesota's registration law, an eligible but previously unregistered individual may register to vote in his precinct by showing proof of residence in the precinct or, in the absence of such proof, having a voter registered in the precinct vouch under oath that he personally knows that the unregistered individual is a resident of the precinct.
Although the requirements necessary to establish residence are minimal, they aren't non-existent & they are the statutory protection against vote fraud & serial voting.Among the well-funded and supposedly independent groups supporting John Kerry in the campaign is Americans Coming Together (ACT).
ACT has taken notice of Minnesota's special vulnerabilty to vote fraud & organized a sophisticated effort to exploit it in a manner that violates Minnesota law. In Minnesota the Bush campaign has come into the possession of the following email from ACT to its Minnesota volunteers:
"Election Day is upon us. You are confirmed to volunteer with ACT (America Coming Together - http://www.actforvictory.org/) on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov 2. We will be creating name badges that include your Ward & Precinct information for each of the thousands of volunteers that day to make it easier to find a volunteer to vouch for a voter at the polls. I'm emailing you to request your street address, city & zipcode. We've already got your other contact information, but your record in our database doesn't include this information. You can save us time on election day by replying today to this email with this information, or give us a call at [phone number with St. Paul area code]. In order to get your badge correct, please reply by Thursday.Thank you for your help and cooperation. See you on Election Day!"
This email is a smoking gun of massive premeditated vote fraud. The ACT effort contemplates the prepositioning of registered voters as volunteers at their precincts of residence to provide the "vouching" necessary to get individuals registered to vote on election day in the precinct whether or not the volunteer "personally knows" the residence of the unregistered voter. It's a recipe for illegal voting in every precinct of the state. In addition to its offensive ground game in the state, the Bush campaign here has organized a defensive game plan to identify & prevent election-day fraud, a key component of the Kerry supporters' plan for carrying Minnesota.
Organized vote fraud, we'll see it on election day!
The guys at www.Powerlineblog.com have run a story telling of some voting intimidation in the Ukraine. In commenting on that story, John reminded us that voter fraud exists right here in Minnesota & talks about the fraud scheme of Americans Coming Together (ACT) that the Bush campaign found out about.
When Bill Clinton signed the Motor Voter Bill into law, I was one of many people who realized it was really a voter fraud bill. George Will even wrote a column about it stating that it offered people the ability to vote early & often.
Now that we've seen the organized voter fraud plans of this past election, I think it's time to start the engines of reforming voting regulations, both nationally & here in Minnesota. Minnesota has a rich history of high voter turnout & civic responsibility. Organized voter fraud is a black mark on that rich tradition.

Ukraine Parliament Calls Election Invalid
By YURAS KARMANAU, Associated Press Writer
KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine's parliament on Saturday declared invalid the disputed presidential election that triggered a week of growing street protests & legal maneuvers, raising the possibility that a new vote could be held in this former Soviet republic.
Parliament's vote came amid a flurry of domestic & international support for the possibility of a revote. An EU envoy, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, said new elections were the "ideal outcome" for the standoff between Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych & Viktor Yushchenko. Asked if new elections were the only solution, Ben Bot answered: "Yes."
The Unian news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko as saying Friday that Moscow regarded a potential revote favorably, an apparent significant retreat from its earlier insistence that the Nov. 21 elections were fair & valid.
Parliament's move wasn't legally binding but clearly demonstrated rising dissatisfaction with the announced outcome. The U.S. & other Western nations contend the vote was marred by massive fraud.
The presidential election was won by the Russia-backed Yanukovych, according to the Central Elections Commission, but Yushchenko's supporters streamed into the streets, claiming he was cheated out of victory. The Supreme Court will hear an appeal by Yushchenko's supporters on Monday, & Yanukovych won't be inaugurated before that appeal is decided. Regional courts also are considering some 11,000 complaints, from both sides, about alleged voting fraud.
"The most realistic political decision, taking into account the mutual claims of massive violations, is to pronounce the elections invalid," parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said.
Also, parliament Saturday passed a vote of no confidence in the elections commission, which said Yanukovych, who also was backed by outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, won by 3 percentage points. While that no-confidence vote also has no legal ramifications, it steps up pressure on Yanukovych & his supporters.
"The Central Election Commission discredited itself in the first round, undermining public trust in the institution as it is," Lytvyn said.
The votes came as negotiators from both candidates' camps were expected to meet for talks in a format worked out with European envoys a day earlier.
Outside the parliament building, more than 7,000 opposition protesters encircled the building, chanting "Yushchenko!" Police stood near the building's entrances and watched.
Yushchenko told a cheering crowd he was insisting on a new election Dec. 12 & would give the talks two days at most to yield results. He also demanded that the election commission membership be changed, absentee balloting be prohibited, the candidates be given equal access to the media & that international observers participate.
"Kuchma & Yanukovych want to drag out time," said Ivan Plyushch, one of four Yushchenko supporters who were to participate in the working group, told The Associated Press. "But if in the next two days the situation doesn't develop, we'll return to active measures." He refused to elaborate.
Yanukovych aide Stepan Havrysh, who was to participate on behalf of the prime minister, said he believed it might be possible to reach an agreement.
The election has led to an increasingly tense tug-of-war between the West & Moscow, which considers this nation of 48 million people part of its sphere of influence & a buffer between Russia & NATO's eastern flank. The U.S. & the EU have said they can't accept the results & warned Ukraine of "consequences" in relations with the West.
"The international community is watching very carefully," President Bush said Friday. "Hopefully it'll be resolved in a way that brings credit & confidence to the Ukrainian government."
Concerns about the election's fairness have overshadowed policy differences between the two candidates.
Yushchenko, whose wife is U.S.-born, says he wants to push the country to greater integration with Western Europe, & he's suggested he'd seek NATO membership. His critics worry he'll alienate Ukraine from Russia, its key trade partner & main energy supplier.
Yanukovych was praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin & was expected to pursue closer ties with Moscow. He drew his support from Ukraine's pro-Russian, heavily industrialized eastern half, while Yushchenko's stronghold was the west, a traditional center of nationalism. Many Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east fear a Yushchenko presidency would make them second-class citizens.
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have massed in the Ukrainian capital all week to protest what they insist was Yushchenko's election victory. Rising temperatures & wet snow Saturday created a sea of slush around their sprawling tent camp along a main avenue & the central Independence Square, & many Yushchenko supporters, clad in orange rain ponchos, were trudging down the street with plastic bags tied around their shoes. Orange was his campaign color.
"I'm not hopeful & don't have faith in talks, so I plan to stand on the square until the end," said Ruslan Pokatai, 23, of Sumy, who's already spent five nights in the freezing cold.
Tens of thousands of Yanukovych supporters rallied in Donetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, to call for a referendum granting the region autonomy. Calls in the region for greater autonomy in the case of a Yushchenko presidency have intensified in recent days.
Yanukovych's Party of Regions scheduled an urgent session Sunday in the eastern city of Luhansk to discuss autonomy, lawmaker Anatoliy Blyzniuk told protesters gathered there.
"Some 15 million people have said: Yanukovych is our president," he said. "It isn't just that (Luhansk) region, it's the entire southeast of the country that wants that (autonomy) option."
The train's slowly, bit by bit, leaving the proverbial station on a Yanokovych presidency. while this vote isn't legally binding, it doesn't have to be because Yushchenko supporters won't accept anything but a full retreat & they're obviously willing to stand in the way of a Yanukovych presidency.
What's more, I did some digging into Le Sabot Post-Moderne's blogging & found out that the protesters are well-organized, with tent cities, food & warm clothing available to withstand the cold temps & long hours of protesting.
It's time Mr. Yanukovych faced the facts that the people have spoken & it's time to get out of the way. When a large group of people want something bad enough, long enough & loudly enough, it's only a matter of time until they get what they want.

Two, Three, Many Fallujas

Two, Three, Many Fallujas
From the December 6, 2004 issue of the Weekly Standard: The allies are uprooting insurgents throughout Iraq. by Mackubin Thomas Owens
The takedown of terrorists in Fallujah seems to have gone well. The terrorists, as expected, fought hard & mostly to the death, but U.S. & Iraqi casualties remain lower than the history of urban warfare would’ve led us to expect. Success in Fallujah can be attributed to two factors: a well-conceived plan & the outstanding execution of that plan by Marines & the soldiers on the ground.
But the second-guessing has already started. Critics are asking what the operation in Fallujah really accomplished. They note that the insurgents' leaders appear to have escaped & that violence has erupted elsewhere in northern Iraq. Media accounts also routinely describe the fighting outside Fallujah as a "rebel counteroffensive" that surprised the U.S. military, implying that the reduction of Fallujah merely created more insurgents.
But the view conveyed by these headlines is myopic. An equivalent headline in June 1944 would’ve read: "Massive U.S. Casualties on Omaha Beach; Hitler's Reich Remains Intact, Defiant." Such stories fail to place Fallujah, Mosul, Tal Afar, & other cities in northern Iraq in context. The fact is that Fallujah is part of a campaign, a series of coordinated events, movements, battles, & supporting operations, designed to achieve strategic or operational objectives within a military theater. Fallujah is just one battle, albeit an extremely important one, in a comprehensive campaign to stabilize the Sunni Triangle.
The key to a successful campaign is the proper sequencing of events. That sequencing depends on circumstances, which are always changing. A campaign begins with a plan, of course, but no plan can be locked in concrete. It was Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the Prussian general staff during the wars of German unification, who observed that "no plan of operation extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force. Only the layman thinks that he can see in the course of the campaign the consequent execution of the original idea with all the details thought out in advance & adhered to until the very end."
The commander, wrote Moltke, must keep his objective in mind, "undisturbed by the vicissitudes of events...But the path on which he hopes to reach it can never be firmly established in advance. Throughout the campaign he must make a series of decisions on the basis of situations that can’t be foreseen. The successive acts of war are thus not premeditated designs, but on the contrary, are spontaneous acts guided by military measures. Everything depends on penetrating the uncertainty of veiled situations to evaluate the facts, to clarify the unknown, to make decisions rapidly, & then to carry them out with strength & constancy."
In other words, able commanders choose between alternative courses of action depending on the circumstances. If my fleet’s been driven from the western Pacific & I want to be in position to bring sustained force against the Japanese home islands, what steps do I have to take? If I want to defeat Germany & I’m now at Normandy, what’s the best course of action? If my goal is to create the military & political conditions for a more liberal Iraq, what sequence of events leads to this outcome?
When they controlled Fallujah, the rebels were able to sustain a high rate of attack against the Iraqi government & coalition forces. Fallujah gave them infrastructure, human & physical, & provided the security needed to maintain a large terrorist network.
As one military analyst, writing for the Belmont Club blog, has remarked, in the absence of sanctuary, large terrorist organizations can’t survive. Without sanctuary, terrorist networks are reduced to "small, clandestine hunted bands."

Thus, the key to success in the Sunni Triangle is the destruction of enemy infrastructure. The discoveries by American troops of car-bomb factories & vast stockpiles of arms & explosives indicate that Fallujah was the keystone of this infrastructure. It’s true that many rebels, including the ringleader, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, escaped from Fallujah. It’s also true that violence has erupted in Mosul, Ramadi & other cities of this area. But without a secure base in Fallujah, the effectiveness of Zarqawi's operation is likely to decline.
Here's what a senior U.S. diplomat recently told the Seattle Times: "There’ll be horrific events outside Fallujah...I’d never tell you that violence in Sunni areas won't get worse when you open up a battle." That period, he added, isn’t expected to last long. "You’ll have a shortish period when everybody will say the whole country's falling apart but they [the insurgents] won’t be able to maintain that tempo." In other words, the rebels can attack on a broad front for a while, but they won’t be able to keep it up for long. What’s going on in the Sunni Triangle isn’t so much a "rebel counteroffensive" as it is the last desperate gasp of a group running out of time & space.
The coalition must now go after the rest of the rebel infrastructure, which consists of a series of towns that coincide with two infiltration routes: The first runs from the Syrian border to the Euphrates, & then on to Baghdad & Fallujah; the second, from Iran & Kurdistan along the Tigris.
All wars hinge on logistics. No force, conventional or guerrilla, can continue to fight if it isn’t re-supplied. Storming Fallujah was absolutely essential to the destruction of the rebel logistics infrastructure. The city was the terminus of what the Belmont Club calls "the conveyor belt of destruction that flows from the Syrian border toward Baghdad." Just as the capture of Caen & St. Lô by the Allies in 1944 was a necessary prelude to the breakout from the bocage & the use of Cherbourg & Le Havre to support the drive across France, so the takedown of Fallujah is necessary to the security of Baghdad.
The rebels can expect no respite. American, British, & Iraqi forces will maintain a high operational tempo to prevent them from regrouping in the cities along their lines of communications & supply. If logistics are the sinews of war, we can expect that the next steps in the campaign will involve further interdiction of the rebels' lines of communication, perhaps at both ends of the Syria-Euphrates line: in Ramadi, closer to Baghdad; & in Arah & Qusabayah, near the Syrian border.
There’ll almost certainly be more heavy fighting in the near future. But it’ll be necessary to achieve the overall goal of the campaign. And if we’re to achieve our political goal in Iraq, this campaign must succeed.
Mackubin Thomas Owens is professor of national security at the Naval War College.
We've all read & heard critics who've made the points that we didn't capture Zarqawi & there's new fighting in other places, etc. This article, on The Weekly Standard's website, lays out a great description of what's been accomplished & what terrorist abilities have been destroyed by attacking & capturing Fallujah.
I recommend referencing the information from this article when people complain that we didn't capture Zarqawi & that we're still fighting elsewhere.
This is mindful of the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm where liberals who voted to deny President George H.W. Bush the authority to go to war then complained that we didn't "finish the job" by invading Baghdad & taking out Saddam. This time, many voted for going to war, then took to immediately criticizing this President Bush for one bad decision after another while others said we shouldn't have invaded.
If this continues, which I suspect it will, I'll have trouble respecting the average liberal politician. I'll continue respecting Senators Lieberman's, Breaux's & Bayh's position on this war because they've been level-headed about it & they've been supportive in all ways without being calculated about things like a certain former presidential nominee was.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Ukrainian update

Quick Updates. . .
I spoke with the BBC Radio today at HQ, & set up a phone interview for tomorrow morning with our organization. It's being taped at 9 Greenwich, but I'm not sure when it's running. I was at Marinskiy Palace tonight when EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana pulled in. A huge crowd of orange greeted him. Let's hope he also meets with success. Photos later tonight.
I also went by Bankova Street, where our other main tent city is located near the Presidential Admin building. Thanks to the magic of the press pass, I was able to get past about 3 layers of Opposition guards & get some up-close photos of the OMON special forces. What's remarkable is that the security forces are so minial that I actually had to work hard to get close to some. This is a good sign!
The streets have a Carnival atmosphere. I don't know if the mainstream press is reporting it, but things have gone way, way beyond Independence Square. All of downtown is essentially occupied territory. Everywhere you go you're met with crowds of orange folks or slow parades of orange-bedecked cars honking their horns. We own the city. The militia is thinly distributed with even sites like the Rada surrounded by only a handful of guards. ABC was reporting 12 buses of militia near the Cabinet of Ministers, but they seem to have already left.
More happy news: Donetsk TV continues to report talk of secession or autonomy. I think this will probably grow beyond a Susan Sarandon-level of kvetching into a genuine movement. They really do feel closer to Russia than they do to the rest of the country. The fact that they're discussing it demonstrates that they feel the tide turning.
I'm hoping to write up an article for National Review tonight. We'll see if it happens.
Thank you all for your prayers & encouragement. It's thanks to the attention of the world that the government hasn't moved on us. Thank you!!!
The fact that security in front of the official buildings is encouraging because there was a rumor earlier this week that troops might be used to break up this 'uprising'. Clearly, that won't happen anymore.
I love that they "own the city." You can hear the pride & jubilation in their proclaiming that. It's obvious that their yearning for freedom has taken hold & isn't relenting.
Talk of secession or autonomy is being seen as the insiders knowing that the tide is turning. Actually, I suspect they see the overwhelming condemnation from Europe & the U.S. for the elections as being a large obstacle. I think that they know they're beat because the crowds are growing, not dissipating. The longer that the people of the Ukraine maintain that intensity, the more disheartened the 'establishment' will become.
UPDATE: This just in from Arthur Chrenkoff's blog: One of the readers had this message: "Spread the word, ORANGE FOR UKRAINE & DEMOCRACY, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2004, the date is set, the World will wear orange as a sign of solidarity & support for Ukraine & Democracy." I couldn't find anything about this initiative on the net, but it sounds like a nice idea.
I'm all for it. In honor of the "ORANGE FOR UKRAINE & DEMOCRACY" campaign, from this moment forward, all updates & posts on the situation there, I'll post them in orange. (Yeah, I know it's kinda corny but I'm cool with that.)

Ukraine Update

Secession for Donetsk? I'm so sure they'd be missed.
Donetsk is the hub of Yanukovych support (he's the former governor of the region.) It's also the center of corruption in the country. Even the Baptist churches in that area are run like a mafia family, with some serious financial improprieties. If the Baptists are bad, you can imagine what the "former" Communists are like.
Last night, Donetsk TV was talking about autonomy or secession for the Donetsk region, or possible union with Russia. A bit like the reaction in American "blue" states after the last presidential election, there isn't a serious movement for autonomy in Donetsk. But such talk is a real sign that people are sensing which direction this thing is going.

Unrelated to the above post, a large group of militiamen is on-stage in Independence Square chanting "The Militia is with the People!" This is GREAT!
It's looking more & more like true liberty is being fought for & won in the Ukraine. In another article, there was much mention made of the numbers of church-related people joining in peacefully protesting this election fraud. Liberty comes to those who fight for it & who call on God to lead the battle. Let's just say that the 'battle' has been joined.
From the guys at Powerlineblog.com:
More updates from the Front!
1. The reformers have occupied not only the old Lenin Library, but also the first floor of the mayor's offices, & the Oktabarskaya Palace. This has all been done legally, with the support of the mayor of Kiev, Omelchenko. He's thrown in with us unreservedly, which is a huge boost.
2. There are small delegations from several foreign countries here supporting us. The Georgians are here in force, as well as the Belorussians, two countries which have suffered from similar governance to Ukraine's. A mad Irishman was running around chanting this evening, & I saw an African man carrying his national flag. A Bangladeshi girl shared a table with us at McDonald's tonight.
3. The rally at Independence Square is doing an admirable job at keeping momentum. They've had one of the Klitschko brothers [Ed.: They're boxers.] lending support. Tonight they had some great original comedy sketches involving Yanukovych & Kuchma fleeing the country in drag. [Ed.: Like the Jefferson Davis myth.]
4. Lech Walesa is here!
5. The news staff of Channel 1+1 (owned by oligarch Medvedchuk) walked out of work recently to protest his temniki, Soviet-style lists of mandatory speaking points for journalists. They've now returned to work, & have made a public pledge that they refuse to report lies. This is great! Their van was parked outside Yushchenko HQ tonight.
6. More militiamen have come over to the Reformists. A Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVS) general addressed the crowds tonight at the Square, & the administration & faculty of the Academy of the MVS has also declared for Yushchenko.
7. Churches are high-profile here. You see a lot of men in clerical garb (presumably Greek-Catholic.) Evangelicals are present all out of proportion to their population size, Jesus fish adorn several of the tents, & I've met a ton of them in the tent city & elsewhere.
It sounds like all the news from the Ukraine is positive for the forces of fair, accurate elections. Let's not forget the significance of Colin Powell's rather blunt statement saying that the U.S. wouldn't recognize the results of the elections. Most importantly though, let the people who've transformed the public squares get the vast majority of the credit. They haven't been intimidated & they refuse to let anything but the truth be the final result. They, in my humble opinion, are the face of bravery.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

While we looked away, Czar Putin stole Ukraine
Dick Morris
Nov. 24, 2004
Would-be czar Vladimir Putin has taken a giant step toward reasserting the regional hegemony of the former Soviet Union by stealing the election in Ukraine right under our noses.
As an unpaid, volunteer adviser to Viktor Yushchenko, the democratic candidate for president, I’ve seen, firsthand, how Viktor Yanukovich, the Putin candidate backed by a coalition of the Russian Mafia, oil barons, former KGB officials & communists stole the election & thwarted the obvious will of the voters.
While the former Soviet Union was composed of many smaller nations, now independent, the key was the combination of Russia & Ukraine. Russia's 145 million people & Ukraine's 45 million are the core of what was the Soviet empire. Reuniting them has to be the primary goal of any aspiring Russian czar. But the Ukrainian people don't want Russian domination.
The election contest pitted Yushchenko, who got the virtually solid support of the 60 percent of the population that is Ukrainian by ethnicity, against Yanukovich, who won equally united backing from the 40 percent that is ethnically Russian. The result was obvious: Exit polls (more accurate in Ukraine than when our own TV networks do them) showed Yushchenko winning by more than 10 points. But the final results, announced by the government, which supported Yanukovich, showed a small margin in favor of the Russian-backed candidate.
Putin regarded the contest as so important that he personally visited Ukraine in the weeks before the election to campaign for his candidate, a clear violation of the most elementary standards of independence & protocol. His former KGB henchmen & once & future communists, combined with Russian organized-crime figures & oil barons to pump money into the race & to intimidate voters on the ground.
Yushchenko, a pro-Western former prime minister, survived two assassination attempts to make the race. At the start of the contest, he was run off the road while driving in Ukraine. When he walked away from the wreck, the opposition poisoned him. Hospitalized in Vienna, his doctors diagnosed the poison, which mimicked a stroke in its symptoms, & nursed him to recovery.
If they couldn't commit murder, Putin's boys decided to commit larceny & did all they could to stack the election. Their totally controlled print & TV media, all the information outlets in the nation, refused to give any favorable coverage to Yushchenko & biased all their news toward Yanukovich. We couldn't even buy advertising space in any mass-media outlet. But, undaunted, Yushchenko's supporters got their message out by hand, distributing leaflets and fliers to every single household in the nation several times each week.
When, finally, the forces of freedom won the election, Putin's operatives rigged the count & released totally phony results showing their stooge to be the winner. The stakes couldn’t be higher. If Ukraine & Russia combine, as Putin clearly wants, the old Soviet Union will be back on the road to regional domination & the old ambitions of global power will return. And 45 million people will be cheated of the right to determine their own future.
We, in the West, are at best distracted & at worst willing to cede to Putin regional control in return for his assistance in the war on terror. It’s a mistake of the same order of magnitude as the allies made in the 1930s in dealing with Hitler.
The theft of the Ukrainian election is parallel to Germany's decision to march into the Rhineland. And our refusal to notice or act is akin to the French and British policy of turning the other way. Freedom may be on the march in the Middle East, but it is in full retreat in Eastern Europe.
So, again the echo of the Nixonian question about China: Who lost Ukraine?
Dick Morris might be all over the map in his analysis of American elections but he's been quite passionate about foreign elections. I first noticed his involvement in foreign elections when he was Vicente Fox's advisor.
It's obvious to me that Morris is serious about foreign policy. He told Bill O'Reilly that he was voting for President Bush this year. Bill O'Reilly looked totally shocked & asked him when he'd made that decision & he said that he'd decided immediately after watching how President Bush prosecuted the war in Afghanistan.
Morris wa also a major critic of John Kerry, saying that he wasn't serious about national security, decorations or not.
During Fox's election, Morris insisted on exit polling specifically so that vote corruption couldn't happen. Sound familiar???
Powell: U.S. Rejects Ukraine Vote Results
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday the U.S. doesn't consider legitimate the results of elections in Ukraine, which the opposition says was marred by fraud. He challenged leaders of the former Soviet bloc nation "to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not. If the Ukrainian government doesn't act immediately & responsibly there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine's hopes for a Euro-Atlantic integration & for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud," Powell said.
The secretary wasn't explicit. However, the U.S. often revokes the U.S. visas of officials involved in perpetrating fraudulent elections in foreign countries. Another option would be to refuse Ukrainian entry into Euro-Atlantic organizations such as NATO. Powell said he spoke with outgoing Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma & urged that his government not crack down on demonstrators. He also spoke with other regional leaders, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Powell spoke to reporters shortly after election officials in Ukraine declared that Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych won the election over opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko. The announcement raised fears of violence in Kiev, where tens of thousands of demonstrators have been demanding that the results be overturned.
"We can't accept this result as legitimate, because it doesn't meet international standards & because there hasn't been an investigation of the numerous & credible reports of fraud & abuse," Powell said. The crisis in Ukraine also posed a dilemma for the U.S.
Ukraine has supported the military campaign in Iraq, & contributed 1,600 soldiers to the coalition. Yushchenko had said that if elected, he'd withdraw Ukraine's troops.
Powell didn't elaborate about his conversation with Lavrov, but said he advocated a solution to the crisis in Ukraine that is "based on the law, using legal procedures." The State Department confirmed Tuesday that it had summoned the Russian ambassador & discussed Ukraine. The Kremlin described the meeting as "unprecedented interference" in another country's affairs.
Powell said Wednesday he discussed the elections with European Union officials & with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who has offered to mediate.
After reading Powell's comments, I'm certain that this election fraud is grinding to a halt. I think it's just a matter of time before the rest of the world joins in this crusade.

A Tug of War Over Ukraine
By STEVEN LEE MYERSPublished: November 24, 2004
It isn't just that Russia & President Vladimir V. Putin himself have come out so strongly for the candidate promising closer relations with Moscow, Viktor F. Yanukovich, while Europe & the United States are supporting Viktor A. Yushchenko, albeit more subtly. It's that both sides,rivals in what the United Financial Group, a Moscow investment banking company, calls "a cold-war-style proxy confrontation", have staked out diametrically opposed views of what unfolded in Ukraine.
Mr. Putin, through a Kremlin spokesman, called "open & honest" an election that the European Union, the U.S. & the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called everything but that. The returns of the Sunday vote showed a victory for his candidate, whose opponent disputes the results.
Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who led an American delegation to Ukraine, cited "a concerted & forceful program of election-day fraud & abuse." The speaker of Parliament, Boris V. Gryzlov, whose presence in Ukraine no doubt was intended as a counterweight to Mr. Lugar's, declared that "the election was as democratic as they come."
The saga continues but it appears that Sen. Lugar's presence matter to the international community & that his opinions are greatly respected. Let's hope Sen. Lugar's presence there brings about a fair conclusion to this election fraud.

Mehlman to Further Grassroots Strategy

By Bill Sammon
President Bush's campaign manager, who beat the Democrats at their own "get-out-the-vote" ground game on Nov. 2, plans to build on that strategy when he becomes chairman of the RNC. "One of my jobs at the RNC will be to institutionalize this grass-roots focus," Ken Mehlman told editors & reporters of The Washington Times in his first postelection editorial board interview. "We have an opportunity to take that & make it durable & continue building on the gains we've made," he said during a visit to the newsroom at The Times.
For decades, Democrats did a better job of turning out voters on Election Day, but Mr. Bush's too-close-for-comfort victory in 2000 persuaded Republicans to emulate the Democrats' grass-roots efforts & eventually exceed them. Although Sen. John Kerry turned out large numbers of Democrats earlier this month, President Bush turned out even more Republicans. Mr. Mehlman explained that although Democrats used paid union members to get out the vote, Republicans used volunteers who were neighbors of the voters they targeted.
"At the end of the day, love beat money," he said. "And the fact that 1.4 million volunteers, & 7.5 million e-activists, were out working their hearts out, day to day, beat a paid army."
Mr. Mehlman acknowledged that maintaining that grass-roots enthusiasm will be a major challenge as Republicans look ahead to the midterm elections in 2006 & the presidential race in 2008. "How do we keep folks motivated?" he said. "Look, is the 2006 election a challenge? Absolutely. Historically, it's a difficult election for the president's party" in the sixth year of his term.
But he insisted that Mr. Bush's agenda for tort reform, tax simplification & the partial privatization of Social Security will attract even more voters to the Republican Party, which already controls the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate & a majority of the governorships, including in the four most-populated states.
"We have an extraordinary opportunity, an opportunity that we as a party haven't had in a generation, where we simultaneously have an ideologically conservative majority & an operationally conservative majority. And that's what we didn't have before," he said.
He noted that when President Nixon was re-elected in 1972, Republicans didn't control the House or Senate. When President Reagan was re-elected in 1984, the party didn't control the House or many governorships. And when Republicans took over the House in 1994, they lacked control of the White House.
"The historic moment that we have as Republicans today is totally unprecedented in any of our lives, in my opinion," Mr. Mehlman enthused. "We're really at a very unique moment that we now have, in my opinion, an obligation & an opportunity to seize." It was a reference to Mr. Bush's plan to spend the "political capital" he earned during the campaign on aggressively enacting his agenda.
"The most important thing I see happening is, I think, we have an opportunity to put forward very bold policies," Mr. Mehlman said. "The second term is when we need to do a lot of this stuff." He said he hasn't thought much about the 2008 presidential election, for which no Republican has emerged as the party's likely front-runner. Vice President Dick Cheney has said he has no desire to succeed Mr. Bush.
Asked about possible Republican presidential candidates, Mr. Mehlman said many names have been discussed in newspapers, TV stations & other news outlets. He mentioned, in order, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist; Colorado Gov. Bill Owens; Arizona Sen. John McCain; former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani; Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; New York Gov. George E. Pataki; Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; & Virginia Sen. George Allen. As for Democrats, he mentioned Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York & Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina as "the people that you hear about as most likely to run. When you look at the people on our side," he said, "there's nothing that makes me prouder to be a Republican."
Although he noted that he hasn't been named chairman of the RNC, Mr. Mehlman said he looks forward to competing against the incoming chairman of the DNC, which is up for grabs among a variety of candidates, including former presidential candidate Howard Dean.
He also said the Democrats will have to do some serious soul-searching about their overreliance on "Bush hatred" as a campaign strategy in 2004. One of the lessons of this campaign is that anger isn't an agenda &, frankly, that anger, by itself, isn't sufficient to win elections," he said. "You need a positive agenda.
"The country has demonstrated over the last many elections that yesterday's ideas, whether they be higher taxes, whether they be more bureaucracy, more regulation, aren't where people see the future going," he added. "Government that says, 'We the elite know better for the people' I think is fundamentally not a model of government that is likely to attract majority support in America in the 21st century."
Mr. Mehlman's got a good grasp on what must be done to extend the Republicans' House & Senate majorities. Most important to any political party are the ideas & ideals it holds dear but nearly as important is the 'machinery' put in place to turn out the voters who agree with those ideals & virtues. Mssrs. Mehlman & Rove & President Bush seem to have mastered that understanding.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Statement on Ukrainian Elections

Statement on Ukrainian Elections
The United States is deeply disturbed by extensive & credible indications of fraud committed in the Ukrainian presidential election. We strongly support efforts to review the conduct of the election & urge Ukrainian authorities not to certify results until these investigations of organized fraud are resolved. We call on the Government of Ukraine to respect the will of the Ukrainian people, & we urge all Ukrainians to resolve the situation through peaceful means. The Government bears a special responsibility not to use or incite violence, & to allow free media to report accurately on the situation without intimidation or coercion. The United States stands with the Ukrainian people in this difficult time.
It's sounding more & more like that election will get scrutinized alot more intensely than was initially reported & much has to do with the President's weighing in on this.
Something tells me that this election result will get overturned but that's just a hunch. I'll keep you posted.

Giving Thanks
By Tony Snow
If you think Independence Day is America’s defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down. Every one of our greatest national treasures, our liberty, enterprise, vitality, wealth, military power, global authority, flow from a surprising source: our ability to give thanks. Look back through history &you’ll see.
The people who sailed to our rough & forbidding shores wanted to lay claim not just to a raw wilderness, but also to an idea: A republic that encouraged liberty by venerating virtue, or put it in less highfalutin terms, a place where people could do what they wanted because they could trust their neighbors.
Of course, mere liberty didn’t help the earliest settlers much. The colony at Roanoke vanished, presumably due to hardship & disease, & the first generation of European immigrants suffered staggering mortality rates. Yet legend has it that those who survived the first rough year in New England decided to do something unusual then & extremely unusual now. They stopped, not to mourn, commemorate, or rage against their fates, but to give thanks & share their meager stocks of food with local Indian tribes.
That celebration highlighted what would become this nation’s formulating virtues, with humility being first & foremost among them. Despite recent complaints around the world about American “arrogance,” we’re actually a modest people, willing to attribute our greatness to special blessings, credit Providence for our gifts, & dedicate ourselves to making full use of our bounty.
Humility begets generosity, another staple. Somewhere near you, somebody right now is trying to help the indigent & poor, providing food, shelter, clothing or simple kindness. Millions of Americans annually commit themselves to such good works, & no country on earth comes close to matching our record.
Finally comes the matter of faith. We believe. We believe in our destiny as a nation. We believe we've been called to do good, to spread the blessings of liberty & encourage the sense of trust upon which free societies depend.
To have faith is to believe in truth, believe that truth confers special power on those lucky enough to get a little insight, & to know in our hearts that all these things come from God, which is why we should never get too cocky about our successes.
This circle of virtues, from humility to God & back, explains why any American can rise from penury to greatness, & why all of us feel the tug of history’s call. It helps us understand why young men, thrust into combat operations a half-world away, can operate with brutal efficiency on a battlefield & then display jaw-dropping compassion the instant hostilities draw to a close. It accounts for the fact that Americans volunteer their services in every squalid encampment on this planet, & why the typical picture of an American features a smile. We know life is good.
Our virtues also help us shove aside adversity & create something glorious & new from the ashes of hardship & tragedy. Consider this singular Thanksgiving proclamation:
“The year that is drawing to its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields & healthful skies.
To these bounties…others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate & soften…the heart.”
Abraham Lincoln wrote those words in the midst of what then was the bloodiest year in American history, 1863. Despite a grueling & murderous war, he encouraged Americans “to set apart & observe the last Thursday of November…as a day of Thanksgiving & Praise to our beneficent Father” & to extend a hand to “widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers” & to “heal the wounds of the nation & restore it…to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility & Union.”
No civilization in history has committed itself so fervently to giving thanks when things seemed bleakest & worst. In the poem written for John Kennedy’s inaugural, Robert Frost noted that our brashness, our faith, made us strong, but only after hardship broke down some of our natural stubborn pride & reserve:
“Something we were withholding made us weak,
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith we found salvation in surrender."
That “surrender” part is especially apt. We surrender arrogance so we can enjoy the jaunty proceeds of being free. But there’s more:
“Such as we were we gave ourselves outright(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.”
And for a land ever caught up in the act of becoming, we give thanks, for the land, for the society strong & free, & most of all, for each other.
Tony's always been one of my favorite writers & this is a perfect example why. Tomorrow, as we gather with families, let's remember to give thanks for all that we have, especially those things that we take for granted. Being an American is a special privilege that we take for granted. Yes, we need to remember that humility & goodwill are part of the responsibility of being blessed with citizenship in this incredible nation.
God bless America with wise, humble, statemanlike leadership, with responsible citizenry & with a graciousness that reaches out to those that need uplifting. Amen.

Mass Offensive Launched South of Baghdad
By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Some 5,000 U.S. Marines, British troops & Iraqi forces launched a new offensive Tuesday aimed at clearing a swath of insurgent hotbeds across a cluster of dusty, small towns south of Baghdad.
U.S. & Iraqi forces have come under repeated attacks by car bombs, rockets, & small arms fire in these areas in "an apparent attempt to divert attention" away from the former militant stronghold of Fallujah, the military said. The new offensive was the third large-scale military operation this month aimed at suppressing Iraq's Sunni Muslim insurgency ahead of crucial elections set for Jan. 30.
But violence has continued unabated, as masked gunmen shot to death a Sunni cleric Tuesday in the second such attack against a member of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, which has called for a boycott of the national elections. The cleric, Sheik Ghalib Ali al-Zuhairi, was killed as he left a mosque after dawn prayers in the town of Muqdadiyah, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
His assassination occurred a day after another prominent Sunni cleric was killed in the northern city of Mosul, Sheik Faidh Mohamed Amin al-Faidhi, who was the brother of the group's spokesman. It was unclear whether the two attacks were related.
Insurgents hit a U.S. convoy with a roadside bomb near the central Iraq city of Samarra, prompting the Americans to open fire, killing an Iraqi, hospital officials said. Mortar rounds aimed at a nearby U.S. military base injured two children.
The joint military operation kicked off with early morning raids in the town of Jabella, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, as Iraqi & American troops, backed by jets & helicopters, swarmed into the region known as the "triangle of death."
The belt of towns south of the capital, formed by the cities of Youssifiyah to the northwest, Latifiyah to the south & Mahmoudiya to the east, has become notorious for its frequent ambushes by car bombs, rockets, & small arms on U.S. & Iraqi forces as well as travelers.
In the wake of the massive assault on the rebel bastion of Fallujah, insurgent attacks throughout central & northern Iraq stepped up dramatically. Earlier this month, northern Mosul witnessed a mass insurgent uprising in apparent support of Fallujah's guerrillas. Some 2,400 U.S. & Iraqi troops were sent in to retake control over western parts of the city.
At least 54 U.S. troops have been killed & 425 wounded during the Fallujah offensive that began Nov. 8. Throughout Iraq, the number of American soldiers wounded overall has surpassed 850, & the wounded total for the entire war has topped 9,000, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
"We believe that some fighters from Fallujah skirted away & came down to our area to, among other reasons, take a little bit of pressure off of Fallujah. To what degree that was coordinated & how extensive, we really can't say," said Capt. David Nevers, a spokesman for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Another reason for the spike in attacks might also be that Iraqi & Marines have stepped up house-to-house searches & vehicle checkpoints in the area for the last three months, detaining nearly 250 insurgents, he said. "For the past couple months, we've gone into areas that formerly hadn't seen a lot of presence...We went in & stirred up a few hornets nests," Nevers said.
At least 32 suspected insurgents were captured in this morning's raids, the U.S. military said. In other joint raids conducted in Iskandariyah & Latifiyah, another 45 suspected terrorists were arrested, said Iraqi police Capt. Hadi Hatif.
Britain's 1st Battalion of the Black Watch Regiment, which was brought to the area from the southern Basra region to aid U.S. forces, were also involved in closing off militant escape routes between Baghdad, Babil province to the south & Anbar province to the west.
The new offensive is aimed at stemming the wellspring of violence that's engulfed much of the country ahead of the elections. But the recent attacks against the Sunni clerics, as well as last week's deadly U.S. & Iraqi raid on Baghdad's Abu Hanifa mosque, raise troubling questions about whether the elections can unify the religious & ethnic divisions in Iraq. Al-Faidhi, the 41-year-old cleric killed in Mosul, was the head of a religious school & a popular figure who was well-liked by the Shiite & Kurdish communities in Mosul.
"He was against the American occupation to Iraq but he opposed the use of violence, preferring peaceful means & politics. His goal is to unite the Muslims around the world. He insisted on making Kurds part of the community in Mosul & he managed to do that," said family member Mohammed Khadr.
Mohammed Bashar al-Faidhi, the slain cleric's brother & the spokesman for the Association of Muslim Clerics in Baghdad, said he believes the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind the assassination of his brother, along with "some Iraqi elements" were involved.
"I don't mean that the Mossad itself was the one who carried out the assassination, but the Mossad used their agents to execute the plot. I don't rule out the possibility that there are Iraqi elements who have their own agenda at this point of time who were involved with the Mossad."
Meanwhile, a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr accused the government of violating terms of the August agreement that ended an uprising by al-Sadr's followers in Najaf.
Ali Smeisim, al-Sadr's top political adviser, made no explicit threats but his remarks raised the possibility of a new confrontation between the government & al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which fought heavy battles against the Americans & their Iraqi allies in April & August. Smeisim said the government has broken a promise in the August agreement not to arrest members of al-Sadr's movement & to release most of them from detention.
"The government, however, started pursuing them & their numbers in prisons have doubled," Smeisim said. "Iraqi police arrested 160 al-Sadr loyalists in Najaf four days ago."
Smeisim also accused the government of conspiring with two major Shiite parties, Dawa & the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to marginalize al-Sadr's movement & prevent its clerics from speaking in mosques. Trouble from al-Sadr's armed followers would further complicate the security situation ahead of the January vote. The U.S.
is eager for the election go ahead as planned, hoping that an elected government widely accepted by the Iraqi people will take the steam out of the insurgency still raging in Sunni areas of central, western & northern Iraq as well as the capital.
But a boycott by Sunni Arabs, who make up an estimated 20 percent of the nearly 26 million population, could deprive the new government of legitimacy. The majority Shiites, believed to form 60 percent of the population, strongly support elections. Still, Iraq's interim prime minister expressed confidence Monday that the election will succeed. Ayad Allawi said he believed that only "a very small minority" would abstain during the election.
As the election approaches, U.S. commanders in Iraq probably will expand their troops by several thousand. Army units slated to depart are also being held back until after the election. There are now about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
In Egypt, where 20 nations have gathered for an international conference on Iraq, members have committed themselves to supporting the U.S.-backed Iraqi interim government & its war against insurgents.
The gathering, which included many who'd previously opposed the war, represented hard-won acknowledgment of the need for international cooperation to deal with its consequences. "It's a world duty to save Iraq from its tragic situation," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.
Looking back on the security situation in Iraq, It's pretty apparent that they held off on going on the offensive in Fallujah & other 'no-go' zones. Now that the offensives have started, I'm confident of the outcome. In turn, I'm more confident that the Iraqi national elections will happen on Jan. 30, 2005 as planned.
I'm also confident that there will still be attempts to undermine coalition security efforts but that they'll have little negative impact on the elections. In fact, if Afghanistan is a model, the terrorists might just drive more Iraqis to the polls.

Intelligent Intelligence Reform???

Rep. Duncan Hunter convened a hearing last week with the Joint Chiefs of Staff that put in place the final chess piece in a high-stakes battle to defeat the Senate's version of a far-reaching intelligence reform bill.
Mr. Hunter, a California Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee & is a key ally of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, already had secured a letter of support from Gen. Richard B. Myers, the Joint Chiefs chairman.
In the letter, Gen. Myers endorsed Mr. Hunter's, not the Senate's, version of the intelligence reform bill because it "maintains this vital flow of resources through the secretary of defense to the combat-support agencies," that is, to intelligence collectors.
At the hearing, Mr. Hunter read the excerpt to the chiefs of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps & Navy. The four-star officers heartily endorsed Gen. Myers' position.
Mr. Hunter now had the top brass behind him to defeat language in the Senate bill that he saw as giving a new director of national intelligence too much power to control the systems and product of Pentagon spy agencies. With Fallujah as a backdrop, Mr. Hunter worried that the Senate bill "translates into ineffectiveness on the battlefield &, at worse, combat casualties," he told The Washington Times yesterday.
There is concern, as one Bush administration official said yesterday, that the Senate version would produce this scenario: Every time the generals want to move a satellite to help a war commander quickly obtain intercepted communications or overhead images of the enemy, they will have to get the new national director's approval. Largely through the force of Mr. Hunter's argument, the key legislation to enact recommendations of the bipartisan September 11 commission stalled Saturday.
Gen. Myers' letter, along with the chiefs' testimony, enabled Mr. Hunter to persuade conservative Republicans to join in opposition. "Reasonable legislators stopped & listened," Mr. Hunter said yesterday. "That's what the Republican conference did."
Hopes for a compromise over the bill collapsed while President Bush was meeting in Chile with Latin American &Asian leaders. Mr. Bush has vowed to revive the legislation, raising questions about whether he will order the Pentagon's top brass to back down. In Chile, Mr. Bush did not address complaints that his own Pentagon scuttled the bill. "Hopefully, we'll get a bill done," he said. "When I get home, I look forward to getting it done."
Mr. Rumsfeld, administration officials say, privately expressed unhappiness that the press was blaming him for Congress' rejection of the intelligence bill. Mr. Rumsfeld had expressed reservations about any bill that diluted the defense secretary's power. But once the White House announced support of the Senate version, he stayed out of the House-Senate conference debate.
Of particular concern are three Defense Department agencies: the National Recon Office, which runs the U.S. galaxy of spy satellites; the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which analyzes the images; & the National Security Agency, which eavesdrops on communications. They are generally referred to as "combat-support agencies."
Their importance was underscored by the battle of Fallujah, where American troops relied heavily on satellite photos to plan the attack & then to watch the enemy during the fighting.
Mr. Hunter yesterday said Mr. Rumsfeld stayed out of the Senate-House fight. The congressman said Gen. Myers only wrote the Oct. 21 letter after the congressman telephoned him late at night during tough negotiations with senators and asked him to take a position.
"I solicited the Joint Chiefs to support me on this, not vice versa," Mr. Hunter said. "I called Secretary Rumsfeld a few weeks ago, & he told me he was part of the team. ... He couldn't engage in the conference. He's always been up front."
Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said: "Secretary Rumsfeld has been a strong supporter of the president's objectives. Intelligence reform is an important, but tough & complex matter. To suggest that one person, any person, is responsible for the Congress being unable to pass the intelligence bill is wrong & unfair to all those who are working on this important legislation."
Mr. Hunter, a former Army Ranger whose Marine Corps son recently completed a tour in Iraq, said he believes deeply that the Senate bill would impede the military's access to intelligence.
He said Stephen J. Hadley, the incoming White House national security adviser, wrote language in the intelligence bill to enforce the defense secretary's relationship with his spy agencies, but senators rejected it. Some congressional aides depicted the Myers letter as the Joint Chiefs chairman's bucking the White House. But the Bush official pointed out that, as a condition to winning Senate confirmation, all chairmen pledge to give Congress their honest professional opinions. And Mr. Hunter said: "This president likes to hear the plain, unvarnished positions of the chiefs."
Thanks go out to Gen. Richard Myers & the 4 star generals with him & Representative Duncan Hunter for shooting down this overreaching reform bill. As was pointed out in this article, it potentially had the ability to take away a vital tool from battlefield commanders. That's simply unconscienable. Here's hoping that President Bush sides with Gen. Myers when they resume negotiating on this bill.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Is Michael Scheuer the New Richard Clarke?

The Evidence Scheuer Ignored
Michael Scheuer says he saw no evidence of ties between bin Laden & Saddam; he must not have been reading the papers.
by Thomas Joscelyn
On Sunday’s Meet The Press Tim Russert asked his guest, Michael Scheuer, to respond to questions concerning his first book from 2002, Through Our Enemies' Eyes.
In it, as I pointed out in an earlier article, Scheuer cites numerous pieces of evidence that substantiate the Bush administration's claim that Saddam's Iraq had a relationship with al Qaeda. However, in his recent media appearances, Scheuer now gives the impression that there is no evidence that there was a relationship.
Tim Russert asked Scheuer about this apparent contradiction; his response left much to be desired. Scheuer's response does, however, illustrate one of the many problems Porter Goss & the Bush administration face in their attempt to reform the intelligence community. When asked about his analysis in 2002, Scheuer responded (in part), "I certainly saw a link when I was writing the books in terms of the open-source literature, unclassified literature, but I had nothing to do with Iraq during my professional career until the run-up to the war." (emphasis added)
Scheuer had "nothing to do with Iraq" during his professional career? Scheuer's response implies that during his entire tenure as the head of the CIA's "bin Laden unit" he never seriously investigated the possibility that Saddam's Iraq was aiding bin Laden's al Qaeda in its endeavors. In other words, he never tested the hypothesis of "state support" for al Qaeda's terrorist activities.
This startling admission reveals the type of pathological "group-think" that needs to be purged from the CIA. In the early '90s the CIA adopted a specific "stateless" paradigm for understanding terrorism. Directly contrary to the prevailing wisdom of the 1980s, terrorist acts were no longer suspected of being "state-backed" affairs. Instead, the mantra of "loosely affiliated" terrorist networks took root & pariah states such as Iraq, despite being on the State Department's list of "state sponsors of terrorism" every year, were increasingly viewed as bit players in the terrorist arena.
As a brief example of how problematic this view became, consider the events of just three months during Scheuer's tenure as the head of the bin Laden unit, from December 1998 until February 1999. In December 1998 President Bill Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox, a massive missile strike against Iraqi targets, which lasted from December 16 to 19.
Operation Desert Fox was the last of many U.S./U.K. efforts in 1998 to destabilize & punish the Iraqi regime for its refusal to comply with weapons inspections. For example, the Iraqi Liberation Act, signed into law by President Clinton on October 31, provided direct funding & support for a coalition of Iraqi opposition groups as well as funding for Radio Free Iraq (which broadcasted anti-regime programming into Iraq from Prague).
With such intense Western pressure on the Iraqi regime mounting, & his conventional military forces completely inept (his anti-aircraft artillery couldn’t even shoot down one coalition aircraft), whom could Saddam turn to for support? Osama bin Laden & al Qaeda. The weeks following Operation Desert Fox were flooded with media reports from around the world warning of an alliance between Saddam & bin Laden.

The main event which triggered these reports was Faruq Hijazi's (one of Saddam's top intelligence operatives) visit to Afghanistan on December 21, just two days after the bombing campaign ended, to meet with bin Laden & his cohorts. Scheuer discusses this meeting (as well as an earlier one in 1994) in Through Our Enemies' Eyes.
The first report of the December meeting appeared in Milan's Corriere Della Sera December 28, 1998 & was quickly followed by reports in virtually every major Western country: for example, the Paris-based Al-Watan Al-Arabi January 1, 1999, Newsweek January 11, 1999, ABC News January 14, 1999, The New York Post February 1, 1999, the London Guardian two articles on February 6, 1999. Even a number of Arab newspapers & Radio Free Iraq on January 8, 1999 reported the meeting with Hijazi & Saddam's offer of safe haven for, & desire to work with, bin Laden.
Saddam's relationship with UBL became so well known that when the Taliban reported bin Laden "missing", probably a bit of disinformation, in February of 1999, the media knew where he was likely to go: Iraq. The AP led the way by reporting on February 13, "Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has offered asylum to bin Laden, who openly supports Iraq against the Western powers." Similar stories spread, once again, throughout the global media.
The Clinton administration wasn’t unaware of these reports. As reported in the 9/11 Commission Report, Bush administration critic Richard Clarke worried in an email to Sandy Berger on February 11 that UBL would find out about a proposed U-2 fly over & "armed with that knowledge, old wily UBL will likely boogie to Baghdad." Also according to the 9/11 Commission Report, Bruce Riedel, of the National Security Council staff, told Berger that, "Saddam Hussein wanted UBL in Baghdad."
Did Scheuer ignore all this evidence & continue to have "nothing to do with Iraq?" Didn’t he think it was important to investigate Iraq's relationship with al Qaeda in February of 1999? According to his answer on Meet The Press, he never seriously investigated the possibility that Saddam's Iraq could collaborate with bin Laden's al Qaeda before the run-up to the Iraq war.
Scheuer says that in the prelude to the Iraq war he went through the CIA's classified archives of "roughly 19,000 documents, probably totaling 50,000 to 60,000 pages" & in it he found "absolutely no connection...in terms of a relationship." As shown by Stephen Hayes, the evidence cited above is just a small sampling of the total evidence that was available to Scheuer and the intelligence community.
Did the CIA's copious files really not include any mention of this evidence, as Scheuer now suggests? It’s hard to believe. It’s more likely that Scheuer simply returned to the CIA's institutionalized view of terrorism as "loosely affiliated networks" without significant state support.
Such a mindset offers us a unique view of how the old CIA operated. It’d become so "dysfunctional" that existing paradigms for understanding terrorism were treated as unquestionable dogma. Scheuer threw out this old paradigm in 2002 when he wrote, "We know for certain that UBL was seeking CBRN weapons…& that Iraq & Sudan have been cooperating with UBL on CBRN weapon acquisition & development."
Now all Goss has to do is throw out the old mindset altogether. He has his work cut out for him.
It's pretty obvious that the CIA is "dysfunctional" at minimum & a major impediment to the security of our nation at worst. It'll be alot of work for Mr. Goss & President Bush to clean out the antiquated mindset at CIA but it's long overdue.