Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: History, Media, Politics, Tea Parties — Rick Moran @ 9:16 am

Tea party folk become outraged at just about anything that President Obama and the Democrats try to accomplish these days. I do too.

Now it’s time to step up and defend America and our Constitution against a different foe; the preacher who is planning to burn Korans on September 11 of this year.

As bad as Obama has been, there is nothing more destructive of the Constitution’s spirit and letter than burning the Koran - or any book for that matter. What this Reverend Jones is planning on doing is so antithetical to Americanism that any red-blooded tea party patriot should be steaming at the very thought that this glory-seeking preacher wants to besmirch our most sacred values by imitating Nazi brownshirts at their worst who piled high books by Jewish authors at Nuremberg and set fire to them.

There is no difference - none - between the 50 or so members of the Dove World Outreach Center and mindless Nazi drones if they carry through with this plan. This is really a no brainer for the tea party groups who have shown brilliance in organizing demonstrations against the president and his party. Why not head down to Gainesville, FL where this bunch of drooling mountebanks are about ready to spit on the Constitution, and demonstrate to protect the Koran?

I am absolutely, 100% dead serious about advocating this, despite the fact that such a demonstration will never, ever take place. If tea party groups are so all-fired, hell-bent-for-leather eager to protest against Obama’s questionable and extra-constitutional excesses, why not turn that notion into a crusade to demonstrate the idea that book burning is a slap in the face to our Founders and radically against the very idea of the First Amendment?

Ah, but don’t the inbred Teutons down in Florida have the same First Amendment right to purchase a book with their own money and burn it on private property? Of course they do - just as those who profess a reverence for the Constitution have a duty to protest against their sacrilege. What’s so hard to figure there?

To my mind, using the fact that Jones and his infantile followers have a right to burn a book as an excuse not to show America that the tea party is consistent in their love of the Constitution is hypocritical. Are tea party groups only in love with some of the Constitution? Do they wish only to protect certain sections of it?

And if you’re not going to protest against Nazi book burnings because it violates the spirit of the First Amendment, why not do it for the boys and girls serving in Afghanistan?

“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” Gen. Petraeus said in an interview. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”

Hundreds of Afghans attended a demonstration in Kabul on Monday to protest the plans of Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has said he will burn copies of Islam’s holy book to mark the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Afghan protesters chanted “death to America,” and speakers called on the U.S. to withdraw its troops. Some protesters threw rocks at a passing military convoy.

Military officials fear the protests will likely spread to other Afghan cities, especially if the event is broadcast or ends up on Internet video.

This fellow Jones obviously doesn’t get it:

Mr. Jones, head of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., said in a statement that “We understand the General’s concerns. We are sure that his concerns are legitimate.” Nonetheless, he added, “We must send a clear message to the radical element of Islam. We will no longer be controlled and dominated by their fears and threats.”

I would say you are being totally “dominated by their fears and threats” to the point that you would forget what country you live in and channel Adolf Hitler to make your point.

I don’t care what the rabid savages in Muslim countries will do if we burn Korans. If it wasn’t Koran burning, their holy men would find something else to stir up the primitive emotions of the uneducated rabble who can always be counted on to riot and shed blood in the name of Islam when they feel that their juvenile pride has been nicked.

My sole concern is with protecting the legacy of free expression in the United States - a legacy that would be damaged if we burn any book for any reason. Why stop at burning the Koran. Why not move on to 1001 Arabian Nights? Or the diaries of T.E. Laurence? There are dozens of books that deal with the Koran and the Muslim faith, both fiction and non-fiction. If you want to make a symbolic gesture about Islam, why not torch those volumes too?

Peter Wehner is a lot more under control than I am about this:

If he carries through on his plan, then, the actions by Jones may undermine our mission in Afghanistan and threaten the lives of those serving in that theater. People with standing in Jones’s life need to stop him, in part because his actions are deeply antithetical to our founding principles. The Third Reich burned books; those who are citizens of the United States should not.

Jones’s actions would also be an offense against the Christian faith. From what we know, Jesus not only wasn’t an advocate of book-burning; he was a lover of them, most especially the Hebrew Bible, which he often quoted. Beyond that, Christianity is premised on evangelism, on spreading what the faithful believe to be truth about God, history, and the human person. There is nothing that would lead one to embrace coercion or to stoke (literally) the flames of hatred.

Whatever differences the Christian faith has with Islam, they are ones that followers of Jesus need to articulate with reason, with measured words, and with a spirit of grace and understanding. And whatever purpose Jones thinks he’s serving, it is not the purpose of the Prince of Peace. It is, in fact, very nearly its antithesis. We can only hope that this deeply misguided pastor is stopped before he does significant damage to his country, its gallant warriors, and the faith Jones claims as his own.

Jones might not be stopped. But a clear signal of society’s disapproval can be made if tea party folks show up en masse in Gainesville to tell this charlatan that he doesn’t speak for those who love the Constitution and defend it from all besmirchers.



Filed under: WORLD POLITICS — Rick Moran @ 9:40 am

Something huge is going to have to be done in Haiti and done quickly or there will be a humanitarian catastrophe bigger than anything most of us can imagine.

Here’s the situation; 3 million people are without food, without water, without proper sewage, without shelter, and without a government that can facilitate aid that is now pouring into the stricken island nation.

What’s more, the prospects that much of this situation can be alleviated in the near future are close to zero. The earthquake has absolutely pulverized the country, paralyzed an already weak and ineffective government, and shortly, will shatter the civil compact that all societies must have if the law of the jungle is to be prevented from taking hold.

President Obama is responding magnificently - but it is not enough. How can it be when so much is needed by so many in such a short amount of time? As always, the US Navy is being called upon to deliver thousands of tons of supplies to the decimated population. But the port where they will be unloading those supplies is unusable:

What little infrastructure Haiti had before the earthquake was badly damaged, complicating relief efforts.

Supplies couldn’t come in by sea because Haiti’s main seaport was badly damaged during the quake, with the main dock partially submerged and cranes that move containers partially underwater and listing badly.

The port “has collapsed and is not operational,” said Mary Ann Kotlarich, a spokeswoman for Maersk Sea Lines, a big shipper.

The airport is, if possible, in even worst shape:

Things at the airport weren’t much better. Haitian air-traffic controllers couldn’t handle the volume of flights arriving in Port-au-Prince, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, leading to a suspension of U.S. originating aircraft for at least a few hours on Thursday. The airport has also run out of aircraft fuel, so inbound planes have to carry enough fuel to be able to leave without refueling.

Planes from Brazil, Spain and Belgium lined up outside the airport terminal. A handful of American military personnel sitting on the grass abutting the runway served as air-traffic control.

Adding to the chaos, thousands of victims camped out at the airport, which was also without electricity for long stretches of time. On Thursday night, planes were still circling the airport for hours, while dozens of airplanes were reported to be scattered around the damaged tarmac. U.S. officials are analyzing whether other permanent or temporary strips can be opened up to provide additional places to receive airborne assistance.

Thousands of American soldiers are being deployed to help distribute the aid and act as security for aid workers.

The rest of the world is doing what they can but, as usual, when Mother Nature goes on a bender, the world looks to America to do the heavy lifting, spend the money, supply the manpower, donate the food, water, and supplies, and eventually, take the lead in rebuilding. Meanwhile, the extraordinary generosity of the ordinary American is once again being put on display as even in the midst of a punishing recession, the nation’s churches and charity infrastructure are mobilizing a gigantic private relief effort that will dwarf the $100 million pledged by President Obama.

If I may be allowed a small political aside;much of the world may wish for an emasculated America - perhaps even some in our own government - but a world without America as she is now, with all her faults and maddening inconsistencies, would be a world where those Haitians wouldn’t have a chance. There would be hundreds of thousands of dead before much help could reach the island without the US Navy and American generosity leading the way. That’s the bottom line and maybe someday, the rest of the world will take note of this fact.

As it stands now, there is still the frightening possibility that all of the world’s labors in trying to assist Haiti will simply be inadequate due to the scale of the disaster and the conditions in Haiti itself. Since it is generally believed that buried survivors in an earthquake must be reached within 72 hours for them to have much of a chance of survival, it would seem that the heartbreaking efforts of people to try and dig their loved ones out of the rubble with their bare hands will be all the help most of those suspended in a hellish limbo between life and death can expect. Too many collapsed buildings and not enough help in the form of professional rescuers means the loss of life from the quake and its aftermath will probably be even more stunning than figures coming from the Red Cross now.

And the topper to this disaster may be that tens of thousands of Haitians will be desperate enough to climb on to rafts and leaky boats, seeking succor from the US:

In Miami’s Haitian community, leaders say they fear that the earthquake’s aftermath and political unrest could prompt people to flee Haiti on rafts and in boats.

“A large wave of people taking to the sea, I worry about it,” says Jean-Robert Lafortune, chairman of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition. Political instability, even more than economic troubles, he says, is likely to lead to “a Haitian exodus.”

Officials say they aren’t gearing up to cope with a flotilla. “We’re not there yet,” says Philippe Derose, a councilman in North Miami Beach. But he and others complain that the Haitian government has failed to show leadership or organize even a morgue for the thousands feared dead.

It’s happened before. And the conditions that are forming in Haiti today probably means it will happen again.



Filed under: History, Media, Politics — Rick Moran @ 10:20 am

I note with some disappointment the reaction of many conservatives to the History Channel’s broadcast of The People Speak,, a project brought to us by the radical professor of political science, Howard Zinn.

Referring to Zinn as an “historian” is something of a misnomer. Rather, he uses his research into history to advance a personal, political, far left agenda. In other words, scholarship takes a back seat to politics.

Is he “anti-American?” Zinn, much more than most on the left, is dissatisfied with America not only as she has turned out, but even as she was conceived. His decidedly deterministic and Marxist interpretation of history sees the “revolution” as a gigantic trick played upon ordinary people, substituting British tyranny, for the merchant and manufacturer tyranny of the upper class that was homegrown. This makes him “anti-American” in the sense that he hates even America’s founding.

So yeah, he’s one of the few Americans that I would have little hesitation in referring to as “anti-American.”

But Zinn has also done this country - inadvertently - an enormous service. His book A People’s History of the United States popularized social history in a way that more academic social historians have never been able to do. There have been a few social histories of the United States that found favor with the public. David Hackett Fisher’s Albion Seed which told the story of the migrations to early America was a best seller. My personal favorite is a trilogy by the former Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin simply called The Americans.

But Zinn’s one volume People’s History is riveting reading and is used as a textbook in some high schools and many colleges today. Zinn gets in your face and forces you to see the underside of America that is just as real, just as compelling as any patriot’s story you are likely to read. It is full of angry people telling their stories, indicting America for its many sins against Native Americans, women, blacks, and unionists.

Yes, this is “real” history and deserves as much of an airing as any narrative history that reveals the sunny side of our past. The reason is “perception.” Good history - popular history - always has a point of view. Events are revealed according to the biases, both conscious and unconscious, of the historian. There is the danger - one that Zinn tumbles into - that the historian will become too emotionally involved with the subject matter and begin to make decisions that de-objectify the narrative. But good historians writing good history overcome this prejudice by thoughtful scholarship and not romanticizing or demonizing their subject. Conclusions are drawn carefully, and not without a bellyfull of primary source material that leads the reader to draw conclusions almost naturally, without much help from the author.

Zinn lets ordinary Americans reveal his point of view while structuring his narrative for maximum emotional impact. It is a damned effective technique although one should question how “scholarly” this approach might be.

An honest assessment then, would give these ordinary Americans directly affected by slavery, Jim Crow, second class citizenship for women, cultural genocide of Native Americans, and the government’s resistance to the formation of unions their voice and an equal place in our national storybook. Their words reflect their personal perceptions - their real life experiences - with oppression.

It is hard for some of us to acknowledge the fact that the glowing words and idealism found in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution didn’t mean squat to a very large number of our fellow Americans for a very long time. This is the way it was, and still is in some respects, which is why it is vital that we listen to what they have to say and acknowledge that we have often fallen short in making our ideals a reality for all Americans.

There is no shame in this. Indeed, I celebrate the fact that it is part of our exceptional nature that if we fight hard enough, and long enough, we can change the very nature of our society, something that is an impossibility just about anywhere else on earth. It is this revolutionary spark that is nurtured by books like A People’s History of the United States, even if its author is an anti-American, Marxist loon.

The History Channel would have done well to limit the scope of this project. It appears from their website that they have not. Wandering off into subjects that are clearly the personal pet peeves of Zinn would seem to make The People Speak almost unwatchable.

Case in point, this segment on the mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line in the winter of 1781. The narration leading up to a description by a Continental soldier named Samuel Dewee of the execution of 5 mutineers is laughable - a travesty really. The narration is read by poet Staceyann Chin and describes the officers eating well and being clothed in fine, warm uniforms while the ordinary soldier went about in rags while being paid in “worthless Continentals,” the inflated paper money. The mutiny was a protest against soldiers not having been paid since the beginning of the war and resentment against some officers was commonplace as it is in any army.

The facts are a little different. Most officers had not been paid either. If they ate better - a highly dubious proposition - it was because there were some that received their salary in coin, dispensed by the Pennsylvania state government, and were able to purchase food from the farmers in the surrounding countryside. These were usually officers who were still carried on the rolls of the state militia. Most received nothing.

And the executions? While corporal punishment was common in every army at that time, there is no official record that anyone was executed for the mutiny. It is hard to say what Dewee was describing when he told of these executions because according to histories developed from primary source materials, no one was put to death as a result of the mutiny. A few weeks after the Pennsylvanian’s protest, some New Jersey troops tried the same thing - with much different results. Washington sicced some hard eyed Connecticut men on the New Jersians and the mutiny died in a few hours. He also executed some of the ring leaders.

The question I have is why include this little vignette at all? Are we supposed to be shocked that starving, unpaid patriots would rebel against the authorities who were the cause of their intense suffering? Matt Damon was apparently so shocked that his junior high knowledge of history prevented him from imagining the bad things that have happened in America that he wanted to share with the rest of us.

And this is my major beef with this entire project. I have seen several of the segments from the series and the whole enterprise stinks of sanctimony - as if American history of this kind is locked away in a closet guarded by CIA agents 24 hours a day. All these liberal Hollywood and artsy-fartsy types have the arrogance to think that they are revealing anything that a 5th grader couldn’t discover on his own by taking a walk to a local library or even getting on line and performing some simple minded googling.

An example is Matt Damon’s melodramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. That document contains a list of grievances of the colonists, some of which may find an echo with both right and left today. I have no doubt this is Zinn’s doing, as the radical is constantly calling for revolution of the non-violent kind.

In fact, for Damon and some of the others who read the letters, diary and journal entries, speeches, and other media upon which the show is based, it appears that they approach the subject matter as if there has been some kind of plot to keep our inglorious past hidden from the American people. Simpletons who are exposed to critical pedagogy are usually floored when they realize that they don’t know everything. And upon receiving knowledge that overturns their assumptions, are almost evangelical in their desire to lecture the rest of us about what we don’t know.

Social history is a valuable adjunct to narrative history - the latter usually concentrating on the “Great Man” or “Great Ideas” view of our past. But social history without proper context is incomplete and this Howard Zinn project for the History Channel appears to fail miserably in providing any kind of structure that would enlighten anyone about the true nature of America and our past.



Filed under: History — Rick Moran @ 7:37 am

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware River.

This post originally appeared December 25, 2004.

It is perhaps the most parodied image in American history.

In countless advertisements, cartoons, sitcoms, movies, and plays, the image of George Washington (or some comical replacement) standing heroically by the bow of a boat as it navigates the frozen ice floes of the Delaware River has etched itself permanently into the American psyche. More often than not, the image has been used to show a haughtiness on the part of the individual substituting for Washington or to poke fun in an iconic way at America itself.

What the painting and its imitators doesn’t show is how near a thing it was that American independence died that night and how the iron will and gambling nature of one man changed the course of history and virtually assured freedom for the colonies.

Just three days prior to the attack on the Hessian outpost at Trenton, Tom Paine published the first of his “Crisis” articles whose ringing words still tug at the heartstrings of patriots everywhere:

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

At the time of the crossing, things couldn’t have been worse for the patriot cause. Washington had seen his army continuously thrown back since the previous summer’s ill-advised campaign to meet the British army in New York. Every battle became a humiliating defeat. Every retreat saw his army shrink. From a high of 20,000 at the battle of Brooklyn Heights to its now paltry 4500 ill fed, ill clothed, scarecrows, the Continental army had become something of a joke to their enemies.

New York was lost. New Jersey was mostly occupied with more and more patriots giving an oath of allegiance to King George so that they could buy food for their families. The Congress in Philadelphia had fled to Baltimore where they hoped somehow to carry on a war that seemed all but lost. In effect, George Washington was not only in charge of the military for the young country, he was head of the government as well, acting as something of a military dictator but always careful to inform the Congress of exactly what he was doing.

But George Washington desperately wanted to go on the offensive. Seeing an opportunity with the way the British had spread out their garrisons throughout the New York and New Jersey countryside, Washington decided to take the biggest gamble of his career. An inveterate card player, (Wist was his game of choice) as well as being offensive minded by nature, he knew that his little army was about ready to disintegrate what with enlistments up after the first of the year. In his own mind, he felt he had no other choice but to attack. And attack not just one but two of the more isolated British outposts. He had it in mind to threaten the huge British supply depot at Brunsiwck, New Jersey thus causing General Howe in New York to shorten his lines and relieve the pressure on New Jersey patriots.

The choice of Trenton was based on both geography and necessity. But the attack on Princeton was a strategically brilliant concept. By taking both Trenton and Princeton, Washington would cut off the British Army in New York from their main base of supply in New Brunswick. And such a move would free most of New Jersey from British occupation and rally patriots in that beleaguered state to the cause.

None of this would matter unless Washington could get across the Delaware and attack the overconfident Hessians at Trenton. Using an extraordinarily sophisticated intelligence operation, Washington was able gather enough information about the Hessian defenses at Trenton to make the enormous gamble worth taking. Throughout the war, Washington acted as his own spymaster, developing networks of patriots in and around New York city. The British couldn’t sneeze without Washington knowing about it.

Beginning the crossing at 2:00 pm on Christmas day, Washington’s plan called for three separate columns to descend on Trenton at the same time. But due to an ice storm that came up early that evening, the other two columns never made it to the battlefield. Only the tirelessness of General John Glover’s “Marblehead Regiment” who courageously battled the ice and cold by manning the oars that took Washington’s boats containing 2,500 men, horses, and two precious cannon across the river made the victory possible.

The march from the New Jersey side of the river to Trenton was a nightmare. It was said one could see the progress of the army’s march by following the bloody footprints in the snow; many of the 2,500 men did not have any shoes. Two men died of the cold on the march. And instead of reaching the Hessian encampment while it was still dark, Washington’s threadbare little army didn’t reach Trenton until well after dawn.

Nothing, however, deterred Washington from attacking. After overcoming the sleepy outposts, Washington’s troops entered the town and before the Hessians could get organized, surrounded the enemy, killed Colonel Rall the Hessian commander, and forced the garrisons’s surrender. By noon of the 26th, Washington was back across the Delaware with almost 1000 prisoners and a huge cache of supplies.

A few days later, Washington scored perhaps his most audacious victory at Princeton. Crossing the River again, he confronted General Cornwallis whose 1500 troops had occupied a position between Washington and Trenton. With darkness falling, Washington left 400 men to tend campfires, giving Conrwallis the impression he was staying put while taking the bulk of his army clear around Cornwallis to attack a garrison headquartered at Princeton.

At first, the battle went badly for the Continentals. As the British surged forward and threatened to rout Washington’s army, he spurred his horse forward, rallied his men, and with bullets flying all around him, led the troops to a decisive victory. Then, before Cornwallis could cut off his retreat, he led his force to Morristown where he went into winter quarters.

General Howe in New York was beside himself. He realized that Washington, from his secure position on the heights above Morristown, could swoop down and attack any of his isolated garrisons at will. Accordingly, he pulled back his forces to the immediate vicinity of New York. In the space of 10 days, Washington had defeated two separate British forces, captured tons of desperately needed supplies, rallied the patriots, and levered the British out of New Jersey. No matter what defeats lay in Washington’s future, his reputation and position in American history was secured by his victories at Trenton and Princeton.

Two recent treatments of Trenton are worth mentioning. David Hackett Fisher’s “Washington’s Crossing” a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for History is eminently readable and is a treasure trove of tidbits on Washington and the continental army. The book also has some excellent background on Washington’s unconventional but very effective intelligence network.

And then there’s the made-for-cable production called “The Crossing” which stars Jeff Daniels as George Washington. Daniels, who gave an excellent portrayal of Colonel Joshua Chamberlain in Ted Turner’s “Gettysburg” falls a little flat trying to play Washington. While the movie is very watchable, I don’t think there’s an actor living or dead who could do justice to the part of Washington. The iconic image of Washington as father, savior, and ultimately civic saint makes the portrayal of such a gigantic historical figure problematic.



Filed under: Ethics, Media — Rick Moran @ 8:21 am

Franklin Foer, Editor of The New Republic is still trying desperately to confirm many of the details of bad behavior by US troops in Iraq related in the Scott Thomas stories. He really needn’t worry that much; blogs appear to be doing his work for him:

This information is from an anonymous soldier who served in the area described by Thomas. It partially confirms one of the more gruesome stories in the Thomas diaries - that of a soldier wearing the skull of a dead child that was unearthed by a mass grave:

There was a children’s cemetery unearthed while constructing a Combat Outpost (COP) in the farm land south of Baghdad International Airport. It was not a mass grave. It was not the result of some inhumane genocide. It was an unmarked cometary where the locals had buried children some years back. There are many such unmarked cemeteries in and around Baghdad. The remains unearthed that day were transported to another location and reburied. While I was not there personally, and can not confirm or deny and actions taken by Soldiers that day, I can tell you that no Soldier put a human skull under his helmet and wore it around. The Army Combat Helmet (ACH) is form fitted to the head. Unlike the old Kevlar helmets, the ACH does not have a gap between the helmet and the liner, only pads. It would have been impossible for him to have placed and human skull, of any size, between his helmet and his head. Further more, no leader would have tolerated this type of behavior. This type of behavior is strictly forbidden in the U.S. Army and would have made the individual involved subject to UCMJ actions.

Not a “mass grave” as described by Thomas (the article said that Thomas and his mates “speculated” that it could have been a mass grave) but rather an unmarked children’s cemetery that the army then moved to another location. A difference worth quibbling about? Not to my mind. That much we can confirm about the story.

What about the soldier walking around wearing a part of a child’s skull? This may be a little more problematic for TNR as the soldier makes clear above. Is it possible some goof put the piece of bone on his head and paraded around for a few minutes or longer? This is possible. But spending an entire day with the skullbone underneath his helmet would seem to be an impossibility.

Score one for the blogs. And chalk up an embellishment to the author.

In the end, that’s what I think this story is going to be about; a real combat soldier who is serving in Iraq with a gift for writing and who didn’t mind spicing up his memoirs with some exaggerations and embellishments to the truth. The Bradley driver who targeted dogs with his vehicle will probably end up being someone who decided it was suicide to slow down in a combat zone to avoid hitting a dog or two. Did he joke about keeping track of how many dogs he ran over while trying to ease the tension you might find on a combat patrol? Other incidents related by Thomas may be composites of several different events that actually happened but for the sake of his “narrative,” he chose to combine various elements in order to make a seamless whole.

An excellent technique - if you’re writing fact-based fiction. Unfortunately for The New Republic, this isn’t the case.

The problem for Foer and TNR is that they presented this fellow Thomas as writing the unvarnished truth about his experiences in Iraq. In this case, embellishment of the facts surrounding any of the incidents mentioned is the same as lying. Publishing what they purport to be “journalism” as opposed to a story based on fact, TNR was obligated to vet carefully anything that appeared in those articles before the fact. The idea that Foer is just now getting around to that little detail is astonishing - especially after the Stephen Glass fiasco.

I’m not sure why but Matthew Yglesias doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with this:

. . but amidst The Weekly Standard’s huffing and puffing about how “Scott Thomas” couldn’t possibly have come across a mass grave in a particular area of operations where he allegedly said he came across one (crucially, he didn’t actually say that), they inadvertently corroborated the story. Thomas said he and other soldiers found a bunch of skeletons during the construction of a combat outpost. One of the article’s detractors concedes that “There was a children’s cemetery unearthed while constructing a Combat Outpost (COP) in the farm land south of Baghdad International Airport” and then gets very insistent that it was no mass grave. The article, however, just said they found a bunch of bones and then speculated idly that it might have been a mass grave. Well, turns out it was a children’s cemetary.

Meanwhile, the case that nobody could possibly have driven around in his Bradley Fighting Vehicle killing dogs seems to essentially come down to the fact that “This would violate standard operating procedure (SOP) and make the convoy more susceptible to attack.” I don’t, however, think anyone ever argued that killing dogs was SOP, the claim was that it happened. Surely the Standard is prepared to concede that SOP, though standard, is sometimes violated.

First, why must Yglesias do his own bit of exaggerating here? The Standard didn’t “inadvertently” corroborate the information about the children’s cemetery. That’s absurd. Is Yglesias saying that Goldfarb is such a dolt he forgot to exclude exculpatory evidence that would prove Thomas correct? Evidently yes. No mention of debunking the child’s skullbone on the head of the soldier story by Yglesias. Looks like he “inadvertently” left that out.

As for the Bradley deliberately targeting dogs, it is evident that Yglesias is a little behind the information curve. Several vets who have driven or a currently driving Bradleys point out the impossibility of targeting anything given the location of the hatch as well as the range of vision afforded the driver. This would seem to supersede Yglesias’ contention that judging the veracity of the incident came down to a question of SOP.

Another “inadvertent” omission by Yglesias? I guess so. I think Matthew would probably fit in wonderfully at The New Republic.

Debunking or confirming specific incidents related by Scott Thomas is important but at the same time, we mustn’t lose sight of the overall picture of the military being painted by the left recently; and that is, the US army is chock full of kooks, crazies, gun nuts, latent serial killers, rapists, psychologically disturbed, violence prone killers who are careening around Iraq firing indiscriminately at civilians, killing kids for sport, and hating their hosts with a genocidal passion.

I have no doubt that war turns men into beasts, that no amount of training can prepare young men for the horror of combat, and that the stress of numerous deployments has taken its toll on the psychological health of many in the military.

But articles like those written by Scott Thomas and the 7500 word screed appearing this month in The Nation make no effort to avoid generalizing the behavior of the few into what amounts to an indictment of the entire US military.

That’s their intent, of course. Being anti-war has its perks, not the least of which is the right to talk out one side of your mouth claiming support for the troops while dishing dirt on the military out of the other side. And inadvertently or not, the effect is to tar the entire military serving in Iraq with the crimes of the few.

The article in The Nation is astonishing for its detailed recitation of some brutal atrocities as well as the casual - perhaps inhuman is a better word - manner in which the death of civilians was treated by the military. The graphic descriptions of war crimes come from 50 ex-military people who served in Iraq between 2003-2005.

Many of these young men are undergoing psychological treatment for the things they did as well as incidents they witnessed first hand. For them, as well as no doubt thousands of others who the experts say will need counseling when their tours are over, let us wish them well and hope that they can recover and adjust to living among civilians.

Does the fact that many of those interviewed for the article - if not the overwhelming majority - come from anti-war groups or were recommended by them cast doubt on their stories? We don’t know. Wherever possible, The Nation included press reports that confirmed the soldiers’ stories. But that fact raises other questions of media contamination as well as the simple, human penchant for remembering things differently from the way they actually occurred. And then there is the experience we in the United States have had with these types of forums, specifically the Viet Nam era “Winter Soldier” confabs. To avoid the worst errors made by the organizers of that anti-military get together - it turns out many of the testimonials of atrocities were given by people either never in the military or who couldn’t possibly have witnessed what they were describing - The Nation was careful in only interviewing genuine ex-servicemen. Whether they served in areas that would have put them in a position to actually witness the events they describe is up to the reader to decide.

The problem for The Nation is the same one facing The New Republic; how do you vet stories in a combat zone, months or years after the fact? Given the anti-war agenda of both publications as well as their reputation for advocacy journalism, questions should always be raised about their sources and methods. And despite arguments by the left to the contrary - that even if partly true, the stories confirm a “larger truth” about Iraq and the military - the standards for publication should be at least as strict as those used when publishing any other news story in those magazines.

Where is the truth in all of this? In the eye of the beholder, naturally. Subjective vs. objective truth will always fight it out when issues that enjoin the passions of the people are discussed and debated. It might be helpful if we remember however, that smearing the reputations of honorable people for political profit reserves a special level in hell for the practitioners - something both publications might want to keep in mind when printing stories about the United States military.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:05 am

Scooter Libby a fall guy? Vice President Cheney the puppeteer who pulled strings in order to discredit heroic, anti-war critics? Karl Rove, evil mastermind, burrowing into the dark recesses of government and spreading lies about Joe Wilson to the press? Award winning journalists rising to the bait offered by Libby, Cheney, and Rove - printing their lies while failing to do their duty and question the justification for war?

This is The Plame Narrative - or at least a large part of it. There’s more of it to be found on lefty websites who have flogged this story and defined its parameters so that any deviation from The Plame Narrative is dismissed as Administration propaganda or just more of the same from “the right wing noise machine.” The problem with other parts of The Narrative - such as the entire Joe Wilson smear job was hatched in the Oval Office and President Bush ran it like a covert operation - is that much of it is so wildly fanciful that leaving the loonier parts on the cutting room floor becomes a necessity so that the entire script isn’t discredited by rational people laughing at some of the more outrageous claims made by the netnuts in their “investigation” of what happened.

But the part of The Plame Narrative that has been set in stone from day one had to do with Joe Wilson and his trip to Niger.Tasked by the CIA to get to the bottom of Iraq’s involvement in uranium buying, Heroic Joe sipped mint tea while a parade of Niger officials paid him a visit poolside at his hotel to assure him that all was on the up and up with regards to obeying the sanctions against Iraq. Upon returning to the US, Heroic Joe wrote up a report and gave it to the CIA proving that we had no worries about Saddam getting his hands on anymore yellowcake uranium (no one has yet answered the question; “What were 500 tons of yellow cake uranium still doing at the nuclear research center of Al-Tuwaitha in Iraq when American tanks rolled into Baghdad?”) And the Genesis chapter in this narrative Bible is Mr. Wilson’s New York Times editorial on what he did and what he found out during his excellent adventure in Niger.

It is important to note that Scooter Libby was convicted of lying about conversations he had with reporters, some of which took place before the Wilson editorial appeared in the Times. So did the White House know that Wilson was going to write that editorial and were they determined to stop him?

Not exactly. You see, our Heroic Joe had been shopping his story for 6 months to various reporters. In an interview with the LA Weekly, Wilson let slip that he had been trying to leak news of his top secret trip all over Washington since the President’s 2003 State of the Union Speech:

I spoke to a number of reporters over the ensuing months. Each time they asked the White House or the State Department about it, they would feign ignorance. I became even more convinced that I was going to have to tell the story myself.

It would be natural for a source to claim ignorance if that source actually knew nothing about the subject. And what Wilson fails to mention in every speech he gives on the affair is that the CIA never forwarded anything about his Niger junket to the Vice President or anyone else in the Executive Branch. This fact raises interesting questions about the CIA and their role in this entire matter (see my good friend Clarice Feldman’s piece in today’s American Thinker for that story).

Not that it matters anymore but for the background and details of that trip, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on Pre-War Intelligence Assessments of Iraqi WMD (Pages 49-57) makes Mr. Wilson out to be exactly what the White House was desperately trying to tell journalists; a bald faced liar.

You see, by the time the editorial appeared on July 6, 2003, Joe Wilson knew full well that no one in the Administration had been briefed on his Niger trip. He also knew that some of the information he returned with actually confirmed (according to CIA analysts) that Saddam had made some attempts to acquire yellowcake uranium from that country in 1999. He knew that the impetus for the trip did not originate with the Vice President’s office (although Cheney did ask the CIA about the reports of uranium sales that appeared in another intelligence report) but rather with the Counterproliferation Division at the CIA. How did he know this? He was married to a woman who worked in that division.

Then there were the faked memos about Saddam’s efforts to buy uranium from Niger that Wilson bragged he had spotted as forgeries before the government did - except he didn’t see them until after the government had already dismissed them as phonies.

These are facts you’ll never see in The Narrative. Instead, The Narrative tells the story of a White House who buried Heroic Joe’s report and denied it even existed to the “lapdog” press all so that they could continue their mad dash to war. The Narrative also tells the story of Heroic Joe the whistleblower, making a nuisance of himself in official Washington, going from department to department begging people to listen to him about the Administration’s twisting his intelligence on Niger to justify going to war.

What The Narrative leaves out is the fact that Joe Wilson is a self-promoting, self aggrandizing heel whose lies have done enormous damage. What else he may be is pure speculation but there is some reason to believe that he may have been the front man for a faction at the CIA who opposed the President’s policies in Iraq and, in fact, may have interfered in the 2004 election by leaking embarrassing and damaging analyses at key points in the campaign. This is the part of The Narrative you won’t see played out on lefty blogs today as Scooter Libby gets raked over the coals and sinister intimations of a wider “plot” to discredit a proven liar are aired.

Prosecutor Fitzgerald says there will be no more indictments. It took him more than 3 years, thousands of hours of grand jury testimony, thousands of more hours of FBI interviews as well as an unknown number of hours involving interviews of the principals with his staff to come up with Libby’s 3 lies to the Feds and the grand jury. No Karl Rove being frog marched to the jailhouse. No Dick Cheney being led away from the White House in handcuffs. No President Bush being impeached (for this incident anyway). All the fantasies of the netnuts regarding the Administration and what Fitzgerald was going to uncover shown to be the illusions of obsessive paranoids whose hatred of this President and his policies has led them into a deranged mental state.

Scooter Libby was wrong to lie to the FBI. He was wrong to lie to the grand jury. His lies constituted obstruction of justice. These are serious charges and should not, under any circumstances be minimized. Despite what you may think of Patrick Fitzgerald, he was a duly appointed representative of the justice system and was justified in prosecuting Mr. Libby for his crimes (even though some prosecutors may have chosen not to). But the reality is Scooter Libby would not have been placed in a position where out of loyalty to his boss or fear for his own legal situation he felt it necessary to obscure the facts if Joe Wilson had told the truth.

Ideally, someone should hold Mr. Wilson accountable for what his lies have wrought. Instead, he is feted and celebrated as a hero. A movie is in the works about the entire affair - all the better to reinforce The Narrative in the public’s mind. And the left will continue to flog the story, positing ever more fantastic conspiracy theories while the truth - contained in two bi-partisan Congressional reports struggles to be see the light of day.

“A lie will make it halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes,” said Winston Churchill. For Joe Wilson and his allies on the left, not only have their lies circumnavigated the globe several times but they stole the truth’s footwear long ago.


I have also posted this article at Tom DeLay.Com. Many thanks to Aaron for inviting me to be a guest blogger.



Filed under: General — Rick Moran @ 9:36 am

Note: This is the extended version of the original bleg.

First, allow me to take this opportunity to wish all my readers - left and right - a Happy New Year. I hope 2007 will be a good year for all of us - prosperous, safe, healthy, and filled with joy.

Looking over the past year and taking stock, I celebrated some achievements while coming up with some resolutions for the New Year that I’d like to share with you.

1. The number of Bloglines subscriptions to The House topped 3,500 last year. This is largely due to the fact that the folks at that excellent blog aggregator placed my site in their “Quick Pick” subscriptions for conservative blogs.

2. Several of my articles were republished at a variety of sites including RealClear Politics, Frontpage Mag, and, of course, The American Thinker.

3. I was featured in a story on the Sunday front page of the huge suburban daily here in the Chicago area, The Daily Herald.

4. Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post became one of my best friends, featuring me in his “Media Notes” column more than a dozen times.

5. Readership climbed steadily during the year, passing 80,000 per month in October. After a big decline in December, numbers are on the way back up.

6. My Ecosphere ranking is a joke. I used to put a lot of stock in NZ Bear’s system but when one of my post’s garners more than 30 links and I get credit in his system for only 7, something is screwed up. Be that as it may, I haven’t gone down much and have been as high as the low 200’s.

7. I had several high profile media exposures including an appearance on C-Span’s Sunday Morning’s Washington Journal as well as an appearance on the CBC with Craig Crawford to talk about Jack Bauer. I was also a guest on the nationally syndicated Michael Reagan show and Rush Limbaugh read a couple of my articles from The American Thinker on his program.

Now for my resolutions.

1. This is a make or break year for me as far as writing is concerned. If there isn’t a dramatic change in my fortunes by next fall, I’ve told Zsu Zsu that I’ll quit the blog and my other projects and go back to the 9-5 grind - hopefully someplace where I can still write a little. My dearest has sacrificed a lot to help me pursue this dream and I consider it unfair to her to ask her to continue to bear the burden of supporting us. My part time job is bringing in enough to cover our food and incidentals every week but it is her paycheck that pays the rent and the bills. Our savings are also dwindling and since neither of us are spring chickens, those dollars that are drawn down every quarter or so are going to be harder to recover over the years we have left before we’re both turned out to pasture.

In order to maximize my chances, I’ve decided quite simply that I have to write more. You, my dear friends, will be the beneficiary of this resolution in that I will branch out from my rather narrow focus of politics and foreign policy and delve more into some issues that are important to all of us; homeland security, immigration reform, health care, and a few other issues I have neglected since I started writing this blog.

I will also closely monitor the various investigations that will be initiated by Democrats over the coming months. If you’re a Republican and a conservative, I can guarantee you are not going to like what you hear about Iraq reconstruction, Katrina contracts, and other issues that will come before the various House and Senate committees. I will try my best to cut through the spin and the headlines and get to the real issues that are important in these investigations. But I can assure you, from what’s already been released from trials held here in the US regarding Iraq reconstruction, there will be some shocking developments to report on.

I will also try to write more about ethics. My articles about Terry Schiavo as well as other social issues seems to bring out the best (and worst) in my commenters as well as giving me a chance to think deeply about things that really matter.

And finally, in about a week I’m going to restart my radio program on WAR Radio. The 2nd generation software has been installed and I’ve got some great ideas on how the show will proceed; more interviews with newsmakers, important bloggers, and some authors as well as some lighter stuff I hope you’ll enjoy.

Now to the purpose of this post - my bi-annual request for funds.

I realize that many of you generously gave when I had the “Bleg Blitz” last September - a 12 hour fund raising effort that solved an emergency need for cash when Sue’s granddaughter was born and she had to leave work to take care of her daughter in law for 10 days. For those who opened their wallets back then, I would like to again say “thank you” and please do not feel obligated to donate again.

This bleg will be more traditional. I have placed two buttons below; one connects to Amazon.com and the other to Paypal. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

I have written before of our rather modest lifestyle so your contribution will go largely to easing our monthly distress of stretching our dollars to make ends meet. If I ever get enough ahead, I plan on redesigning the blog - but so far, that just hasn’t been in the cards.

So if you like what you read here - or if I challenge your assumptions, pique your curiosity, raise your blood pressure, or make you giggle a little - I would be forever grateful of you were to contribute.

Thank you.

Rick Moran

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JUNE 30, 1863

Filed under: History — Rick Moran @ 8:53 am

This is the fourth in my series of week-long blog posts called Countdown to Gettysburg“. They are written from the perspective of someone who lived at that time and as if the internet existed in 1863.

The introduction to the series is here.

Previous Posts:

June 27, 1863

June 28, 1863

June 29, 1863

(Check back for updates during the day)

Have you heard what our infantry says every time a cavalryman passes?

“Seen any dead cavalrymen lately?”

Well, it looks like those infantrymen are going to have to stop insulting the cavalry because Stuart is in Hanover with 5000 reb horsemen. As I write this, there’s a battle going on right smack dab in the center of town. It appears that General Judson (Kill Calvary) Kilpatrick has taken his brand new 3rd Cavalry Division into action for the first time. If true (and check back later because I’ll probably have details) then that would make this engagement the largest cavalry action of the war to date.

But Stuart in Hanover! How the devil did he get there? He’s obviously trying to connect with Lee’s army - which is now hurrying toward the road junction of Gettysburg - by moving directly west, right across our front. Apparently, Stuart was raiding somewhere southeast of Baltimore which is heavy sesesch country. I imagine this is why we didn’t hear about his movements until now.

Advance elements of the reb army may already be close to Gettysburg as I write this. There was a report that a couple of brigades from Henry Heth’s Division were sweeping aside the Pennsylvania militia to make way for Richard Ewell’s Corp and were somewhere to the west of Gettysburg causing considerable alarm in the town itself.

Those fat, rich, and happy Pennsylvania farmers are in for a big surprise if the rebs occupy Gettysburg. I hear General Early demanded $100,000 from the good citizens of York or he swore he’d burn the town. There’s also word that the rebs destroyed a large cache of whiskey in Chambersburg. Serves those copperheads right. Maybe now they’ll stop bad mouthing the war and get behind our President.

As in the past when I’ve blogged battles, my sources in the War Department telegraph office, in army intelligence, and officers who are “in the know” will be updating me regularly. I expect to have some news shortly from both the town of Gettysburg and Hanover so make sure you check back later.


As promised, here’s the skinny on the engagement at Hanover. It comes from an account wired to me by a reporter for the local Hanover Citizen.

From what I can gather, old Kill Cavalry Kilpatrick was pretty much ambushed. While the head of his column was several miles ahead near New Baltimore at Abbottstown, the 18th Pennsylvania, which he had left as a rear guard, was bushwhacked right in the center of town by two brigades of North Carolina Tar Heels. Stuart split the 18th in half and there was wild confusion as terrified citizens mixed with union troopers in the center of town, all trying to find cover.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Elon Farnsworth commanding the 1st Brigade heard the commotion back in town and sent two brigades to investigate. Arriving in town himself, he coolly sized up the situation and led the 5th New York in a spirited countercharge that temporarily broke the rebs advance.

Kilpatrick himself rode like a demon back into town when he heard that Stuart had occupied it. By the time he got there, the rebs had been driven from the town by dismounted union troopers and Farnsworth’s courageous attacks but were still a danger.

So Kilpatrick occupied a range of low hills to the west of town and started to bombard Stuarts exposed positions. Of course, he also bombarded a few houses in the process which likely displeased the residents mightily. It was at this point that he sent a newly minted Brigadier by the name of George Armstrong Custer (who my sources tell me is a real “comer” and to watch his career closely) and two brigades of Michigan troopers in a dismounted counterattack. While my source in intelligence won’t be specific, he tells me that Custer’s men used a brand new rifle in their attack. My guess would be it’s that 7 shot Spencer repeater I’ve heard so much about. At any rate, it was fierce enough and sustained enough that Stuart was forced to make a hasty withdrawal.

As battles go, it wasn’t much. Looks like about 300 total dead and wounded with the rebs getting the worst of it. What gladdens the heart is that our troopers stood toe to toe with Jeb Stuart and gave as good as they got. That bodes well for the future.

And Stuart will have to make a long detour, probably by way of Carlisle, in order to reach Lee’s army at Gettysburg. All in all, a pretty good days work.

Note: My fried at the War Department telegraph office tells me to expect some dispatches a little later. Check back for updates.


From Gettysburg:

I entered this place to-day at 11 a.m. Found everybody in a terrible state of excitement on account of the enemy’s advance upon this place. He had approached to within half a mile of the town when the head of my column entered. His force was terribly exaggerated by reasonable and truthful but inexperienced men. On pushing him back toward Cashtown, I learned from reliable men that [R.H.] Anderson’s division was marching from Chambersburg by Mummasburg, Hunterstown, Abbottstown, on toward York. I have sent parties to the two first-named places, toward Cashtown, and a strong force toward Littlestown. Colonel Gamble has just sent me word that Lee signed a pass for a citizen this morning at Chambersburg. I can’t do much just now. My men and horses are fagged out. I have not been able to get any grain yet. It is all in the country, and the people talk instead of working. Facilities for shoeing are nothing. Early’s people seized every shoe and nail they could find.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

[P.S.] - The troops that are coming here were the same I found early this morning at Millersburg or Fairfield. General Reynolds has been advised of all that I know.

General Buford’s cavalry has run into Henry Heth’s men (Pettigrew’s Brigade) from A.P. Hill’s Army. The rebs are moving quicker than anyone here imagined although you’d think after the feats of marching pulled off by Stonewall Jackson in the Shenendoah Valley last year our brass hats would have a good idea of what the rebs were capable of.

And good for General Johnny! Reynolds has pushed his men hard and they appear to be within a few miles of Gettysburg proper. That’s great news. Buford should be able call on the Black Hats if things get sticky later today.

Here’s a little background on Gettysburg I got from the Army:

Established in 1780, Gettysburg lies among a series of gently sloping ridges generally running north to south with the town itself the center of a road net composing of eight main and two branch roads extending in all directions. Running westnorthwest towards Cashtown was the Chambersburg Pike while just to the north the Mummasburg Road also stretched out in a northwesterly direction. Continuing clockwise was the Carlisle Road branching out due north, then the Harrisburg Road to the northeast, the York Road to the east-northeast, the Hanover Road to the east-southeast, the Baltimore Pike to the southeast, the Taneytown Road due south, the Emmittsburg Road to the south-southwest and finally the Hagerstown Road to the westsouthwest

You can see why Bobby Lee chose Gettysburg to concentrate his army for the coming fight. Looks like just about every decent road in southern Pennsylvania goes through the little town. And Baltimore is just two days march from the town down the Baltimore Pike. We better not let General Lee slip by us as he’s done so many times. He could be halfway to Baltimore before we got organized.

I may have one more update later today. If I get any further dispatches from Buford or Reynolds, I’ll definitely post them.


Here’s the latest from Buford who has taken up a strong position on a ridge next to a Lutheran Seminary:

I have the honor to state the following facts: A.P. Hill’s corps, composed of Anderson, Heth, and Pender, is massed back of Cashtown, 9 miles from this place. His pickets, composed of infantry and artillery, are in sight of mine. There is a road from Cashtown running through Mummasburg and Hunterstown on to York pike at Oxford, which is terribly infested with roving detachments of cavalry. Rumor says Ewell is coming over the mountains from Carlisle. One of his escort was captured to-day near Heidlersburg. He says Rodes, commanding a division of Ewell’s, has already crossed the mountains from Carlisle. When will the reserve be relieved, and where are my wagons? I have no need of them, as I can find no forage. I have kept General Reynolds informed of all that has transpired.

Major Rathbone tells me that by morning, it’s likely that Buford’s 2700 dismounted cavalry will be facing upwards of 10,000 rebs. They’ll be coming at him “three skirmishers deep” says the Major, “thick as fleas and mad as hornets.” He’s got a good defensive position but General Reynolds better start moving his I Corp at first light. We don’t know how long Buford can hold the high ground.

One more note from Pinkertons: They’ve identified units of Longstreet’s Army coming fast down the Cashtown Road. And with A.P. Hill sweeping down from Carlisle, our entire left wing is in danger of being flanked before half our boys even get to the battlefield.

Looks like Buford and Reynolds have their work cut out for them in the morning.

And so…there’s no avoiding it. Tomorrow will see these two great armies engaged in what everyone knows is the most important battle of the war. I hope our boys are getting a good nights sleep. They’re going to need it.



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:02 am

A reoccurring theme that I’ve written about on this site has been the war by national security apparatchiks in the CIA, the State Department, and even in the Department of Defense against the Bush Administration’s foreign policy. Powerline, among others, has covered this subject in great detail - a subject largely ignored by the mainstream press. This is unfortunate because most of the Administration’s actions in the Plame Affair need to be understood in this context if one is interested in getting to the heart of the motivations behind what was going on.

This is not to say that the “outing” of Valerie Plame was in any way a justifiable act. Even if, as some claim, it was common knowledge that Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, naming CIA employees in print is unconscionable. This has been a favorite gambit of the left for more than 30 years, done to undermine the agency’s effectiveness and can simply never be countenanced.

But the question unanswered by the President’s critics is how do you pushback against unelected bureaucrats who are not only undermining policy, but also attacking the credibility of the Chief Executive of the United States of America? Do you sit in the Oval Office and simply take it? Do you allow these partisans who used selective leaking of classified information in order to deliberately try and defeat a political rival at the polls, to operate with impunity while American men and women are fighting and dying overseas?

The arrogance and hubris exhibited by the leaking clique in the CIA and State Department - unelected, unaccountable, unhinged - demonstrates the dysfunctionality of those vital departments. This incompetence and bureaucratic game playing led directly to the tragedy of 9/11 and will, if not stopped, be the death of many more of us.

Scooter Libby evidently felt he had permission to leak parts of the classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that showed the consensus of the government - not the selected, cherry-picked leaks of opposing viewpoints that came out later during the Presidential campaign - was that:

* Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.

* We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.

* Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.

* Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material.

This was not “twisted” intelligence. It was not invented out of whole cloth. This was the best guess of our intelligence professionals gleaned from hundreds of discussions, thousands of pages of documents, and discussion and debate at the highest levels of our intelligence apparatus. It was then presented to the President and it was up to him - the elected leader of the government - to act on it or not.

The President chose to act. And when some of that NIE turned out to be wrong or overblown, the leakers, the bureaucratic ass coverers, the partisans, and the ideologues crawled from underneath the rock they were hiding and unleashed a blizzard involving the most brazenly criminal and incontrovertibly illegal dissemination of classified material in memory. Not since Nixon had to deal with our SALT fallback negotiating position showing up on the front page of the New York Times has a President had to scramble to stem the flow of damaging leaks.

This is the context in which Joe Wilson wrote his little editorial heard ’round the world - a screed that his since been shot so full of holes that swiss cheese is whole by comparison. Wilson was lying. The Vice President did not send him to Niger. His junket was not an exercise in fact finding. If it was, one must ask why Wilson’s “report” was never disseminated to the White House. And of course, Wilson mis-characterized his own findings when he said that there was no evidence that Saddam was seeking uranium in Africa. Two separate inquiries - one in the Senate and one British - concluded that in fact Saddam was seeking to buy yellowcake uranium to augment the 500 tons he already possessed and had in storage at the Al-Tuwaitha nuclear facility.

We know all of this. The fact that it has to be repeated time and time again says more about how the media and the left continue to flog the dead horse of pre-war intelligence than it does about the White House pushback against the leakers. By dressing the same pig up in different couture, the President’s critics seek to raise long dead charges under different auspices in order to damage his credibility further and undermine support for the Iraq War with the American people.

Even the New York Times recognizes there’s nothing new to the Scooter Libby “revelations” except to grouse that their own publishing of classified information is not getting a pass:

The testimony by the former official, I. Lewis Libby Jr., cited in a court filing by the government made late Wednesday, provides an indication that Mr. Bush, who has long criticized leaks of secret information as a threat to national security, may have played a direct role in authorizing disclosure of the intelligence report on Iraq.

The disclosure occurred at a moment when the White House was trying to defend itself against accusations that it had inflated the case against Saddam Hussein.

The president has the authority to declassify information, and Mr. Libby indicated in his testimony that he believed Mr. Bush’s instructions — which prosecutors said Mr. Libby regarded as “unique in his recollection” — gave him legal cover to talk with a reporter about the intelligence.

The fact that the President “has the authority to declassify information” seems to have escaped the notice of people like Andrew Sullivan, David Corn,, and Christy Hardin Smith among others. The Washington Post is even more definitive in its judgement on the legality of the issue:

Legal experts say that President Bush had the unquestionable authority to approve the disclosure of secret CIA information to reporters, but they add that the leak was highly unusual and amounted to using sensitive intelligence data for political gain.

“It is a question of whether the classified National Intelligence Estimate was used for domestic political purposes,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a Washington lawyer who formerly served as general counsel for the CIA.

Indeed, a tough case to make either way regarding “domestic political purposes.” Was there an element of politics involved in the leak? I don’t doubt it. But - and this is something the President’s critics never, ever give him credit for - was there also an effort to pushback against those who sought to undermine Bush’s credibility?

The answer to that question is clearly yes. And I think the overwhelming evidence points to this being the major reason for the Plame Affair, this particular NIE leak, and other actions taken by the Administration to defend their good name. To not acknowledge these facts - as the left and media never do - is to beggar belief. Bush’s critics would have him sitting in the oval office emasculated, his credibility in tatters, while his enemies flitted from reporter to reporter leaking a steady stream of classified information with the President’s men constrained from responding because in order to do so, they must leak back. Meanwhile, our men and women are fighting in Iraq and watching as their Commander in Chief twists slowly in the wind, hung by a cabal of shameless, partisan, witchhunters who worked against the interests of the United States as determined by her elected leaders.

A totally unsatisfactory state of affairs but one not of the President’s making. I’ve had major differences with the President on Iraq. But this partisan effort to alter the historical record on pre-war intelligence time and time again for political purposes sticks in my craw. This is one issue on which I will continue to defend the President’s actions until the record is set straight.


With all my growling about motivations for the leaks, I never addressed the fact that this story has absolutely nothing to do with the Plame Affair except in a tangential way. Tom McGuire quoting from the Times article I linked above:

More air is let out of the balloon in paragraph six:

Mr. Libby did not assert in his testimony to a grand jury, first reported on the Web site of The New York Sun, that Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney had authorized him to reveal the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson.

That is a wildly significant point. However, the Times fails to cover the comment made by Special Counsel Fitzgerald (p. 27 of his filing), which is even stronger than a failure by Libby to assert something in testimony:

During this time, while the President was unaware of the role that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser [i.e., Libby, who had both jobs] had in fact played in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment…

That is not just Libby asserting that the President was uninvolved in Libby’s leaks of the Plame info; it is Fitzgerald saying so too.

This hasn’t stopped some of the most amatuer, one dimensional, analysis I’ve ever seen on the web taking place at some of the top lefty websites:




Austin Bay is a little more nuanced in his analysis. But then, a three toed sloth would be more nuanced in their analysis of this issue than anyone I’ve seen so far on the left:

Presidents and vice-presidents can declassify information based on their own good (or bad) judgment. That is a privilege and responsibility of the office. Their authority is near-absolute.Disseminating unclassified information isn’t a crime — no matter the technique used. The information can be disseminated at a press conference, in a press release, in a speech, or — yes– via leak. (UPDATE: Background links I should have included in the original post– though the president’s power in the sphere is common knowledge. The president is at the top of the Classification Authority hierarchy– he holds the ultimate clasification/declassification power. The vice-president is granted authority from the president. See this link to the relevant executive order regarding the vie-president. And I just found this article by Byron York which details the estension of presidential powers to the vice-president. York’s article emphasizes the formal codification of the vice-president’s classification powers, which is a change from past administrations.)

Reporters thrive on “leaks” because a leak usually means “scoop.” A leak can also mean “spin” but that’s an understood aspect of Washington’s political carnival. However, leaking properly declassified material isn’t a crime. Leaking classified material is illegal– and so is publishing classified material in a press release.



Filed under: Iran — Rick Moran @ 8:22 pm

Leave it to Mohammed ElBaradei to make the world safe for Iranian nukes.

Scurrying hither and thither like some kind of peripatetic Energizer Bunny, the head of the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nobel Peace Prize winner has been a busy little bee since breathing fire and talking tough a few weeks ago regarding Iranian nukes. At that point, 27 out of 35 nations voted to take Iran to the Security Council woodshed so that economic sanctions could be considered.

Not so fast says our fearless watchpuppy:

TEHRAN, Feb. 20, 2006 (UPI) — The head of the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency claims the threat of sanctions against Iran will make the current nuclear program standoff worse.

Mohammed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said threatening sanctions on Iran for operating a uranium enrichment plant will make matters worse and in the end won’t work because China and Russia — two veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council — oppose sanctions.

ElBaradei also said Iran has a sovereign right to operate the plant and feels the course to go is strike a deal to limit enrichment, Itar-Tass reports.

Please note first how we have gone from trying to prevent Iran from enriching uranium to limiting their enrichment. In other words, instead of allowing their centrifuges once fully operational to enrich enough uranium to make 30 nuclear bombs a year, maybe we should only allow them the ability to create 20 ten kiloton nuclear warheads.


This is the same Mohammed ElBaradei who leaked the bogus information about missing explosives from al Qaqaa one week before the US presidential election in 2004 trying to influence the outcome. It’s the same Mohammed ElBaradei who allowed Saddam Hussein to keep 500 tons of yellowcake uranium at a nuclear site in Iraq called Al-Tuwaitha until the US military carted away the fissile material in disgust following the fall of Baghdad. This is the same Mohammed ElBaradei who insisted that North Korea’s nuclear program was peaceful. Ditto for ElBaradei regarding Iran.

And now that every country on the planet knows that Iran is working as fast as it can to gather enough enriched uranium to blow Israel off the map (and God knows who else) we have our brave UN Nuclear Enabler-in-Chief backing down from his original position of trying to beat some sense into the radioactive mullahs in Iran. So what has changed since earlier this month? It appears that ElBaradei, like most bureaucrats, hates confrontation - despite the fact that part of his job description is confronting rogue nuclear states - and doesn’t want to “make things worse.”

Excuse me, would someone please bop the Nobel Prize winner on the head and ram a steel rod up his backside to stiffen his spine just a touch? This is what President Ahmadinejad has been counting on all along; that the UN and the west just don’t have the stomach for this confrontation. Couple that with the machinations of the inscrutable Chinese and the extraordinary cynicism of Russia and you have the recipe for a full fledged meltdown of international will when it comes to placing a stop order on the desires of the fanatics in Tehran to get their hands on the ultimate defense against cartoon blasphemy.

At least western Europe appears to be waking up and may be willing to initiate some kind of sanctions regime with the US even if China and/or Russia veto such a proposal in the Security Council. And even if they don’t veto it, watch for the proposal to be so watered down as to be almost meaningless anyway.

When the history of the beginning of the 21st century is written - if we are vouchsafed such a luxury - let it be said that the international institution whose primary responsibility it was to prevent the one country in human history with a desire to bring about Armageddon failed miserably to stand up and be counted when it counted the most.

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