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Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

No news from Sadr City — I wonder why

Posted by Richard on June 14, 2008

Remember Sadr City, the Shi'ite suburb of Baghdad? That's the place where, according to mainstream media reports earlier this spring, American and Iraqi Army forces were being handed a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of the all-powerful Mahdi Army, proving that the surge was a failure and the insurgent militias were in control.

There haven't been any mainstream media reports from Sadr City in a while (or from the other "Mahdi stronghold," Basra, which is now firmly in the hands of the Iraqi government). Gateway Pundit posted this U.S. Army photo that makes the reason for the MSM's sudden disinterest pretty clear:

US Troops Celebrated In Sadr City

A U.S. Army Soldier gets a lift from an Iraqi boy and his mule on Route Douglas in the Jamilla Market in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, June 9, 2008. (U.S. Army photo by Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young, MNF-Iraq)

Really– What more can you say?
US Soldiers- Smiling children- Safe Streets- Sadr City


(HT: Doug Ross, who thinks this may be the "photo o' the year," and wondered "when Reid and the rest of the Democrats will issue a formal apology to the U.S. military.")

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“Bush lied” is a lie

Posted by Richard on June 10, 2008

What's up with the WaPo? An epidemic of remorse about past sins? Just one editor having second thoughts? Hard to say. A week ago, I noted with surprise that The Washington Post had editorialized that the news from Iraq "ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the 'this-war-is-lost' caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)."

Now, WaPo's Editorial Page Editor has declared that the most pervasive leftist meme, "Bush lied," is false. But don't jump right to the WaPo opinion piece by Fred Hiatt, read the analysis by Doug Ross first.

On issue after issue, Hiatt points out that Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, claimed to have evidence that "Bush lied," but in fact Rockefeller's report clearly shows that on issue after issue, the President's statements were "substantiated by the intelligence community."

After five years of WaPo (and the rest of the MSM) supporting and promoting the "Bush lied" meme, it's quite a change.

Fred Hiatt concluded (emphasis added):

Why does it matter, at this late date? The Rockefeller report will not cause a spike in "Bush Lied" mug sales, and the Bond dissent will not lead anyone to scrape the "Bush Lied" bumper sticker off his or her car.

But the phony "Bush lied" story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.

And it trivializes a double dilemma that President Bill Clinton faced before Bush and that President Obama or McCain may well face after: when to act on a threat in the inevitable absence of perfect intelligence and how to mobilize popular support for such action, if deemed essential for national security, in a democracy that will always, and rightly, be reluctant.

For the next president, it may be Iran's nuclear program, or al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan, or, more likely, some potential horror that today no one even imagines. When that time comes, there will be plenty of warnings to heed from the Iraq experience, without the need to fictionalize more.

 Doug Ross concluded:

The Bush Lied meme, which was marketed incessantly by the Democrats and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself), was unadulterated partisan pap. Furthermore, it was dangerous pap, as it presents a future CINC with additional complexities and bickering even when the need to take military action is clear and present.

Yep. Thanks, Mr. Hiatt, for finally setting the record straight. Better late than never.

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Another Haditha Marine is exonerated

Posted by Richard on June 5, 2008

Charles Johnson aptly described the Haditha case as "The most ludicrous politically-motivated prosecution of US soldiers in the nation’s history…" I've blogged about the case before, most recently in March when Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum was cleared. Now, another defendant has been exonerated:

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A military jury acquitted a Marine intelligence officer Wednesday of charges that he tried to help cover up the killings of 24 Iraqis.

Cheers erupted as the seven-officer panel cleared 1st Lt. Andrew Grayson, who was the first of three Marines to be tried in the biggest U.S. criminal case involving Iraqi deaths linked to the war. The verdict came just five hours after deliberations began.

Grayson's attorney, Joseph Casas, said he believed the verdict could influence pending prosecutions.

"I think it sets the tone for the overall whirlwind Haditha has been. It's been a botched investigation from the get-go," he said. "I believe in the end all of the so-called Haditha Marines who still have to face trial will be exonerated."

Prosecutors did not make themselves available for comment.

That means six of the eight men originally charged have now been vindicated. As I said in March, "This travesty has already gone on far too long." The fools who continue to pursue this bad joke of a case ought to finally take the hint and drop the charges against the only remaining defendants, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn., and Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, of Rangely, Colo.

And I'm still waiting for Rep. John Murtha to apologize for calling his fellow Marines "cold-blooded murderers."

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Iraq news too good to report

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2008

American casualties in Iraq fell to a five-year low in May. Prime Minister al Maliki has united large portions of the population across all ethnic groups. The Iraqi army successfully pulled off al Maliki's bold plan to reclaim Basra from the Mahdi Army. And both al Qaeda and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias are on the run everywhere.

But there aren't many news stories about Iraq these days, and you'd be hard-pressed to find much information about these developments in the mainstream media. When the subject of the surge's success does come up, those invested in our defeat will say just about anything to explain it away. Case in point: Nancy Pelosi, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, insisted that the positive developments in Iraq aren't due to the surge, but to Iran's "goodwill."

Bless their hearts, the editors of The Washington Post acknowledged the good news in a surprising (to me, at least) editorial Sunday (emphasis added):

THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks — which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. [It's not odd to those of us who suspect there's an agenda behind the relentless coverage of bad news and ignoring of good.] While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now."

Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. It is — of course — too early to celebrate; though now in disarray, the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr could still regroup, and Iran will almost certainly seek to stir up new violence before the U.S. and Iraqi elections this fall. Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow U.S. commanders to make some welcome adjustments — and it ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the "this-war-is-lost" caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Read the whole thing

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Olbermann unhinged

Posted by Richard on May 15, 2008

In a rant so over the top that he seemed to be channeling Howard Beal, Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night accused President Bush of creating "cold-blooded killers … who may yet be charged someday with war crimes" and who have "laid waste to Iraq." Of course, this was on MSNBC, so almost no one saw it.
(text | text with commentary | video)

They're lapping it up at Democratic Underground, Huffington Post, Pandagon, Crooks and Liars, etc.

But don't you dare say they don't support the troops.

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More Haditha charges dropped

Posted by Richard on March 29, 2008

The government has dropped all charges against yet another Marine accused of killing civilians at Haditha in 2005:

The case against Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum, 26, of Edmond, Okla., was dropped as jury selection was about to begin for his court-martial. The government has been seeking Tatum's testimony against the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich of Meriden, Conn. [Editor's Note: Haditha Marines still need your help! Click here now.]

In addition to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, Tatum had been charged with reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. Tatum's attorney, Jack Zimmerman, said there was no agreement with the government before the dismissal.

''Absolutely, there is no deal,'' he said.

Zimmerman said Tatum would testify if called as a witness in future trials but that he would testify as a neutral witness, not a government witness.

Four enlisted men originally faced multiple murder charges. Tatum is the third to have all charges dismissed. Two of the four officers charged with failing to investigate have also been cleared. (See also my July 2007 post about the case.)

This travesty has already gone on far too long. The "evidence" that the Marines shot unarmed civilians consisted chiefly of "eyewitness statements" by Iraqis who were clearly insurgents, probably insurgents, family of insurgents, or intimidated by insurgents, and whose stories were contradictory and not credible.

The all-day battle was documented in detail by Maj. Frank Dinsmore, an intelligence officer, with UAV video, radio transmission transcripts, and reports from everyone involved up and down the chain of command. The investigating officer at the Article 32 hearing (equivalent of a civilian grand jury proceeding) found the prosecution's case against these men without merit and Dinsmore's evidence compelling, and he recommended that all charges be dropped. The government ignored that and tried to prevent Dinsmore from testifying.

As far as I know, Rep. John Murtha still hasn't apologized for calling his fellow Marines "cold-blooded murderers." Mainstream media outlets that prominently covered news of the "atrocity" and editorialized against it have never retracted or corrected what they said (except for Time magazine, which had to retract several parts of their original story, but AFAIK never apologized for accusing these men of war crimes). And despite losing at every turn, the government persists with the case.

One of the defense attorneys estimated that legal fees for each defendant will be around half a million dollars. If you'd like to help with those, go here. I don't know how they're supposed to get their reputations and the last three years of their lives back.

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Al Doura revisited

Posted by Richard on March 3, 2008

Pete Hegseth fought with the 101st Airborne in the Al Doura neighborhood of Baghdad during 2005-2006. Now he's returned as a civilian, and he's amazed by the changes:

Recalling the tension of my first patrol in this neighborhood as a platoon leader, my five senses are sharp. The dusty road below greets my boots, some of the smells are eerily familiar, and the sound of idling humvees is my only comfort. My head swivels to scan the street. My hands are naked without an M-4, so I find the nearest soldier.

Soon – as a young child approaches – the wary familiarity gives way to fascination. I may be in the same geographic location, but I'm not in the same neighborhood. This is not Al Doura, at least not as I knew it. Where did all these people and shops come from? Where is all the trash, and the open sewage? Where is the fear – the deep-seated fear?

I take a few steps into the middle of an intersection with a clear view in all directions. Along the main thoroughfare, my immediate surroundings are replicated: block after block of shops and bustling residents. The side streets that I remember as sewage-clogged gutters are clean and teeming with construction and activity

This is not Al Doura. The Al Doura I knew was the heart of sectarian violence, with daily body counts in the dozens. As I keep walking, I pass a busy car wash, and then a fitness center where young men pump iron and tear-outs of Muscle Fitness adorn the walls. We pass two new playgrounds, where boys clamber up and down slides and beautiful little girls play with dolls. A cart vendor offers me a bag of freshly popped popcorn – but I decline and have some falafel instead.

Increasingly relaxed and curious, I duck into side streets. One leads me to a buzzing recreation center, where soldiers are challenged to a game of pool. In the next room, teenage boys fight it out in the computer game "Medal of Honor" (which my little brother plays constantly). …

The entire time, we have only nominal security. It was disconcerting at first – I would never have come here unarmed two years ago – but the commander I'm walking with eases my concerns: the people are our security. The neighborhood residents trust the Americans, as well as the "Sons of Iraq" (or CLCs, as the Army calls them: Concerned Local Citizens) – local residents who provide security for the neighborhood. In a place where al-Qaeda dominated just eight months ago, today they couldn't buy a bag of popcorn.

Read the whole thing

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Vindicating Rumsfeld

Posted by Richard on January 16, 2008

Now that almost everyone admits that the situation in Iraq has greatly improved, the conventional wisdom seems to be that Donald Rumsfeld screwed things up, and that the Petraeus plan and troop surge turned things around. Alec Rawls begs to differ. In an important post from early December (I just recently saw James Rummel's link to it), Rawls argued that Rumsfeld set the stage (wittingly or unwittingly) for the current success:

Why did the Iraqis turn against al Qaeda and Iran? Because al Qaeda and Iran were murdering them en masse. And why were al Qaeda and Iran murdering Iraqis en masse? Because Defense Secretary Rumfeld’s small-footprint force-protection strategy meant that they couldn’t attack American troops without getting immediately annihilated.

In order to get the “continuing violence” that their allies in the Western media could use to create American defeat on the home front, the Saudi and Iranian proxy warriors in Iraq had no choice but to wage war on the Iraqi people.

Rawls further argued that the Rumsfeld strategy not only led to the current military success, but created the conditions from which political success will spring:

When al Qaeda answered his force protection strategy by attacking the Iraqi population, Rumsfeld obviously knew that this would turn the Iraqi people against al Qaeda, turning that population equation drastically in our favor. There was no reason at that point to upset this advantageous applecart by changing strategy. Just let it work, and not just because al Qaeda’s attacks on the Iraqi population promised to win the war on the ground for us. Equally important, it also handed us the one victory that we never could have won by military means alone: the battle to create in Iraq, not just a democracy, but a republic in the American sense (a system of liberty under law).

The great danger going into Iraq was not that we would lose the war, which was never a realistic possibility (so long as the Democrats did not actually succeed in losing the war at home). The real danger was losing the peace: that the Iraqi people, devoid of any post-Saddam identity beyond religion, would elect a Khomeinist government, handing the country democratically to the Islamofascists. …

If the theocrats took democratic control of the government even once, Iraq would be lucky to ever have democratic elections again. Elect people who believe that democracy is an “evil principle,” (Zarqawi’s description) and they are not likely to adhere to it. But Rumsfeld’s force-protection strategy, and al Qaeda’s response to it, matured the Iraqi contempt for theocracy in a short couple of very long years.

The vast majority of Iraqis now hate the religious vision of the Islamofascists. They hate the contempt for democracy and they hate the religious intolerance. Iraqis are rising now as a united people, promising brotherhood with Iraqis of other faiths. Just as Sunnis are standing up to al Qaeda , so too are Shiites standing up to Iran and the Sadr army.

This is a long, thought-provoking, and very important essay for anyone interested in Iraq and its future. I found it quite persuasive, and I strongly recommend that you read the whole thing. Be sure to check out the comments, too — there are some good ones. 

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Clinton rewrites history again

Posted by Richard on November 28, 2007

Stumping for his wife in Iowa, Bill Clinton claimed he'd always opposed the war in Iraq and complained about not paying enough taxes (emphasis added):

On Iraq, he told the crowd that wealthy people like he and his wife should pay more taxes in times of war. "Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers," Clinton said, according to The Washington Post

I suppose for Bill Clinton, whether he opposed Iraq depends on what the meaning of the word "supported" is (emphasis added):

In a June 2004 article in Time magazine, Clinton also suggested that he would have acted the same way Bush did.

"So, you're sitting there as president, you're reeling in the aftermath of (Sept. 11), so, yeah, you want to go get (Usama) bin Laden and do Afghanistan and all that. But you also have to say, 'Well, my first responsibility now is to try everything possible to make sure that this terrorist network and other terrorist networks cannot reach chemical and biological weapons or small amounts of fissile material. I've got to do that.' That's why I supported the Iraq thing," he is quoted telling the magazine.

As for his resentment for not being "given the opportunity" to pay more taxes: Bill, nobody's stopping you! You can pay more quite easily. For starters, just stop taking all those deductions you usually take (like the used jockey shorts you donate to charity and write off at an inflated value).

If that doesn't increase your tax bill enough to abate your resentment, Bill, you can simply make a voluntary contribution to reduce the public debt (money is fungible, so reducing the public debt is functionally equivalent to buying the Army a Humvee — they can buy their own Humvee by borrowing back what you contributed). The IRS tells you how in most of its tax form instructions: 

If you wish to do so, make a check payable to “Bureau of the Public Debt.” You can send it to: Bureau of the Public Debt, Department G, P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. Or you can enclose the check with your income tax return when you file. Do not add your gift to any tax you may owe. See page 60 for details on how to pay any tax you owe.

I suspect Slick Willy won't be foregoing those itemized deductions or making any voluntary donations to the government. He doesn't really resent the fact that he wasn't "given the opportunity" to pay more taxes, he resents the fact that you and I and millions of other Americans were allowed to keep more of what we earned, instead of being forced to turn that money over to the "public servants" who can spend it so much more wisely.


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Michael Yon: Come Home

Posted by Richard on November 16, 2007

So you think that the war is lost and Iraqis just aren't ready to live in an open, tolerant, pluralist democracy? Then go look at Michael Yon's new dispatch, Come Home, a photo essay about the mass at St. John's Church in Baghdad yesterday (you might want the tissues handy). You really need to go look at the whole thing, but here's something to think about:

LTC Michael told me today that when al Qaeda came to Dora, they began harassing Christians first, charging them “rent.” It was the local Muslims, according to LTC Michael, who first came to him for help to protect the Christians in his area. That’s right. LTC Michael told me more than once that the Muslims reached out to him to protect the Christians from al Qaeda. Real Muslims here are quick to say that al Qaeda members are not true Muslims. From charging “rent,” al Qaeda’s harassment escalated to killing Christians, and also Muslims. Untold thousands of Christians and Muslims fled Baghdad in the wake of the darkness of civil war.  Most of the Christians are gone now; having fled to Syria, Jordan or Northern Iraq.

Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”


Don't forget, Michael Yon's reporting is entirely reader-supported. Please contribute a little something to help support the next dispatch. 

UPDATE (11/17): Two comments from Vodkapundit's 11/16 post about Michael Yon's dispatch:

What makes the picture and the people so moving to me is the background of this cross raising event. St. John's Chaldean Catholic Church was car bombed along with two other churches all within minutes of each other exactely one year ago on November 8, 2006. The congregation took down the cross and bells and put them in storage. They cleaned up the interior of the church, and at an Easter liturgy this year they welcomed a Shiite notable, who spoke movingly of the unity of Iraqis. I am touched by the generosity of spirit of these Muslims. The cross and bells are hated by reactionary Muslims. What a magnificent rebuke is this event of neighborliness. This is an icon of tolerance and mutual acceptance and,yes,love.

Posted by Michael Barger at November 16, 2007 10:56 PM
Again, wow. Thank you, Michael, for the additional background information. 

I am neither a Christian nor a Muslim, but this makes me happy for both. "One foot in front of the other"… that is what it takes. How wonderful it is that those feet are usually walking alongside a strong young American idealist. I am so proud of my country and its young warriors for peace.

Posted by sherlock at November 17, 2007 12:49 AM

Like sherlock, I'm neither a Christian nor a Muslim. But I enthusiastically second his comment. There are, as I said recently, many "decent people of good will" in Iraq, and I'm so very proud of them and of the brave and dedicated Americans who are helping them. The scale is smaller, but looking at Michael Yon's photo essay evoked in me many of the same emotions I felt when I watched the Berlin Wall fall — a tremendous feeling of joy and pride about the greatness and glory that we humans are capable of, and a sense of optimism and hope for the future. 

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Burying the good news

Posted by Richard on November 8, 2007

Apparently, the front page of The New York Times is reserved for covering global warming, the (perennially) impending recession, and bad news from Iraq. Good news from Iraq has to figuratively sit in the back of the bus. From Newsbusters (emphasis in original):

When Rush Limbaugh opened today's show by mentioning that the New York Times had relegated to page A19 the story of the ridding of Al Qaeda-in-Iraq from all of Baghdad, I actually thought he might be joking. Surely not even the Times could be so brazenly biased as to bury such a huge story reflecting the success of the surge. But, sure enough, Rush was right. A19 is exactly the location to which the Times exiled the story. And to further reduce the number of people who would learn the good news, the paper stuck this bland headline on the story: "Rebel Unit Now Out of Baghdad, U.S. General Asserts". The headline of the online version of the story, "Militant Group Is Out of Baghdad, U.S. Says," differs slightly, but the text is the same.

Yeah. It was just some "rebel unit" or "militant group" that the MNF has driven out of all of Baghdad: AL-FREAKING-QAEDA!

"Rebel Unit," indeed — it's just amazing what lengths the NYT editors will go to in order to avoid the obvious headline, "Al Qaeda Driven Out of Baghdad."

The Washington Post, not to be outdone in terms of burying the good news, relegated this story to page A20:

BAGHDAD, Nov. 7 — The drop in violence caused by the U.S. troop increase in Iraq has prompted refugees to begin returning to their homes, American and Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

Tahsin al-Sheikhly, an Iraqi government spokesman, said 46,030 displaced Iraqis had returned last month from outside the country to their homes in the capital. He declined to comment on how the government determined those statistics.

"People are starting to return to their homes," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, commander of U.S. troops in Baghdad. "There's no question about it." 

The quote from Maj. Gen. Fil is from the same luncheon with reporters that the NYTimes story cited. WaPo not only buried the whole story one page deeper, they didn't mention the general's remarks about driving out al Qaeda until the 7th paragraph.

Here's something else I noticed: The NYTimes story described al Qaeda in Iraq as "the homegrown Sunni extremist group that American intelligence agencies say is foreign-led," and the WaPo story described it as "a largely homegrown Sunni insurgent group that U.S. officials say they believe is led by foreigners."

These aren't wire service stories, and they don't appear to share any authors — the NYT story is by Damien Cave, with contributions from Baghdad by Khalid al-Ansary, Anwar J. Ali, and Mudhafer al-Husaini; the WaPo story is by Amit R. Paley, with contributions from "Zaid Sabah and Dalya Hassan in Baghdad, Saad Sarhan in Najaf and other Washington Post staff in Iraq." I suppose the NYTimes' Iraqi contributors could also be the "other" WaPo contributors. But I suspect the nearly identical descriptions are simply media group-think.

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Michael Yon: Thanks and Praise

Posted by Richard on November 8, 2007

As regular readers are no doubt aware, I'm not religious. Nonetheless, Michael Yon's latest dispatch from Iraq, Thanks and Praise, moved me. It's yet another example of basically decent people of good will coming together in that country — at great risk to themselves, I'm sure — to declare that they want to live together in peace:

A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from “Chosen” Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ” Thank you, thank you,” the people were saying. One man said, “Thank you for peace.” Another man, a Muslim, said “All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.” The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.)


By all means, click the link and look at Yon's wonderful, heartwarming photograph. And please make a donation so that his reporting can continue. 

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Bad news for Democrats, good news for Iraq

Posted by Richard on October 24, 2007

The Democrats' ongoing effort to declare defeat in Iraq has suffered another setback with yet more confirmation that the Petraeus Plan is working well:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilize the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

Of course, this is Reuters, so reporter Aseel Kami felt compelled to insert a bit of random, pointless buzzkill: 

The ministry released the new figures as bomb blasts in Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul killed five people and six gunmen died in clashes with police in the holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala south of the Iraqi capital.

Imagine the previous sentence rewritten by someone not rooting for the other side: 

"The ministry released the new figures as two new office buildings were dedicated in Dohuk and Erbil International Airport announced expansion plans to accommodate the growing number of direct flights from Vienna, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Stockholm, Dubai, and other European and Asian commercial centers."

Critics would object, "that's propagandizing!" Exactly. And that's what Aseel Kami's version is, too. Ah, well, what else is new?

It looks like the Democrats' latest attempt to undermine the war effort isn't succeeding, either. They sought to anger Turkey (whose bases and support the U.S. and Iraq badly need) by bringing up an alleged Ottoman Empire genocide from 90 years ago (while doing nothing about genocide today in Darfur and increasing the likelihood of genocide tomorrow in Iraq).

At first, it appeared to be working. The Turks became angry at us and threatened consequences. Soon, they were rattling their sabers regarding the long-standing problem of terrorist attacks into Turkey by the PKK, hiding out in rugged northwestern Iraq. Now, it seems that all sides have agreed that the PKK are murderous communist scum who in no way represent the interests of democratic Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Iran:

Iraq today vowed to do all it could to disrupt the activities of PKK fighters sheltering in its northern border region with Turkey as international pressure intensified on Ankara and Baghdad to find a way of avoiding a Turkish invasion.

Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Kurdish foreign minister, said after talks in Baghdad with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, that both Iraq's central government and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) in the north were committed to reining in the PKK.

"We will actively help Turkey to overcome this menace," said Mr Zebari. He said Iraq would send a security and political delegation to Turkey for more talks, and promised full cooperation with the Turkish government "to solve the border problems and the terrorism that Turkey is facing through direct dialogue."

This isn't surprising to anyone who read what Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd) said a couple of days ago:

In a speech that I recently made in Al-Sulaymaniyah, I openly stated that the Kurds do not believe that the PKK's military acts in Turkey or Iran can serve the Kurdish people's interests. Indeed they undermine their interests. We believe that armed action hurts democracy in Turkey and hurts Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party [AKP]. This party is a new democratic feature that wishes to build a new Turkish society that makes room for Turkey's Kurds and the other ethnic groups in the country.

The AKP recognizes the existence of a Kurdish people and a Kurdish cause. It adopts a friendly attitude towards using the Kurdish language in the media. Furthermore the recent parliamentary elections were free in the Kurdish areas and led to the election of patriotic Kurdish deputies to parliament. The AKP won more than 60 percent of the Kurdish vote, which means that they are happy with it. This means that carrying out armed actions against this party serves only chauvinist forces in Turkey.

Regarding the presence of PKK combatants in Iraq, our constitution clearly forbids the continued presence of foreign armed forces on Iraqi territory or using such forces to launch armed attacks on neighboring countries. …

I wish to state that we are willing to operate within the tripartite committee with Turkey and the United States to put an end to the PKK's activities in Iraqi Kurdistan and to confine them to the Qandil Mountains [in Turkey]. At any rate we do not want to allow them to benefit from the current situation.

Apparently, The New York Times was paying no attention to Talabani's remarks or Babacan's visit to Iraq, or to the Kurdistan Regional Government's unambiguous condemnation of violence and terrorism and commitment to democracy, peace, and friendly relations with its neighbors. Either because they're behind the curve or just determined to ignore anything remotely positive, the NYT editors eagerly embraced doom and gloom today (emphasis added): 

The news out of Iraq just keeps getting worse. Now Turkey is threatening to send troops across the border to wipe out Kurdish rebel bases, after guerrillas killed at least a dozen Turkish soldiers. This latest crisis should have come as no surprise. But it is one more widely predicted problem the Bush administration failed to plan for before its misguided invasion — and one more problem it urgently needs to deal with as part of a swift and orderly exit from Iraq.

Since I'm not a highly-paid editor with a Columbia j-school degree, it's not immediately apparent to me how we urgently deal with the PKK problem as part of a swift and orderly exit from Iraq. Is the NYT suggesting that American troops depart overland to the north and west? 

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How FISA protected al Qaeda kidnappers

Posted by Richard on October 17, 2007

Apparently, it's a very small world when it comes to telecommunications. Two people having a cell phone conversation in Iraq are likely to have that call routed through American telecom infrastructure, where it could be intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies. But under the old FISA law (which the Democrats are trying to restore and further tighten this week), they'd need a warrant. It could be granted retroactively, but first someone has to stick their neck out and grant emergency permission based on the belief that the warrant will later be approved. Think bureaucrats and political appointees are eager to do that?

The problem isn't entirely theoretical, according to a New York Post story. On May 12, while the strict FISA rules were still in effect, al Qaeda gunmen in Iraq attacked a U.S. outpost, killing four soldiers and taking three others — Spc. Alex Jimenez, Pfc. Byron Fouty, and Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr. — hostage. The subsequent frantic search led to information possibly identifying the kidnappers. U.S. intelligence agents asked for permission to intercept communications that might lead to the kidnappers and their captives:

Starting at 10 a.m. on May 15, according to a timeline provided to Congress by the director of national intelligence, lawyers for the National Security Agency met and determined that special approval from the attorney general would be required first.

For an excruciating nine hours and 38 minutes, searchers in Iraq waited as U.S. lawyers discussed legal issues and hammered out the "probable cause" necessary for the attorney general to grant such "emergency" permission.

Finally, approval was granted and, at 7:38 that night, surveillance began.

"The intelligence community was forced to abandon our soldiers because of the law," a senior congressional staffer with access to the classified case told The Post.

"How many lawyers does it take to rescue our soldiers?" he asked. "It should be zero."

Democrats supporting the tightening of FISA denounced the release of the story as a cynical attempt to politicize the search for the soldiers. Fox News has a fair and balanced presentation of both sides, along with a detailed timeline. The Democrats' House Intelligence Committee staff argued that it shouldn't have taken NSA lawyers five hours to determine that they had probable cause, and it wouldn't have been necessary to track down Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in Texas if three other Justice Dept. officials authorized to approve the request had been available.

Granted, five hours seems like a long time for lawyers to hem and haw over probable cause. But consider the climate. These people knew there was an ongoing surveillance firestorm, complete with leaks to the New York Times, congressional hearings, lawsuits, endless political posturing, and threats of legal action. If you were an NSA attorney, how quickly would you stick your neck out and say, "I recommend going ahead, and I guarantee the FISA court will retroactively approve"? If you were Gonzales or one of the assistant AGs, wouldn't you carefully review the material presented to you before authorizing the intercept, knowing it could land you in front of a hostile committee with the news cameras rolling?  

The Democrats' argument amounts to saying that the restrictions wouldn't have been a problem if the officials involved had just acted without regard for the possible consequences — the consequences that those same Democrats have done their best to hang over the officials' heads.

It's nice that Democrats are so concerned about our privacy now, considering how hard they worked to undermine it for umpteen years (remember Carnivore, "key escrow" encryption, "Know Your Customer," and John Effin' Kerry's repeated attempts to further destroy financial privacy?). But do we have to protect the privacy of what amounts to battlefield communications by our enemies during a war? 

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About that Sanchez speech

Posted by Richard on October 16, 2007

Captain Ed Morrissey interviewed Senator John McCain today, and one of the topics was the widely reported speech by recently retired General Richard Sanchez criticizing the administration's blunders in Iraq. McCain was clearly put out by Sanchez's recent remarks (podcast is available here). According to McCain, he tried to get Sanchez to support his criticisms of the Rumsfeld strategy, and Sanchez defended the existing policies. If true, that casts a different light on what Sanchez is saying now, as Captain Ed noted:

The impression he gave was that his was a lone voice in high command, opposed to the strategy from the start. He made it sound as if no one listened to his input and that the administration and Congress simply ignored dissenting opinions from the field.

McCain begs to differ. Sanchez, McCain says, had several opportunities to inform Congress of any dissent he might have, but Sanchez simply didn't offer any. Not only did Sanchez not voice dissent, he actively endorsed the policies and strategies employed before his retirement. McCain, who was looking for credible allies at the time, would have loved some corroboration for his own criticisms of the war strategy — and McCain was making headlines for offering those as far back as 2004.

Regarding Friday's Sanchez speech, a few people (including the good Captain, Power Line, and Democracy Project) noticed that press coverage of his remarks was rather incomplete. Sanchez was addressing the Military Reporters and Editors Luncheon, and the first half of his speech (full text here) was a blistering denunciation of his audience and their distorted, agenda-driven coverage of the war (emphasis added):







Funny, there was nary a mention of that half of his speech on the evening news or in the wire service stories, NYTimes, WaPo, etc.

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