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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, November 28 through 30, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?
GS

SUNDAY, November 27, 2005

GS

SATURDAY, November 26, 2005

GS

FRIDAY, November 25, 2005

The First Thanksgiving...not what you learned in grammar school.  Too much to outline here.  But checking out a few good sources will pay dividends:
1) The article in this month's Smithsonian on the subject;
2) The new book entitled "1491", by Charles C. Mann, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005;
3) "The Pilgrims Were The Barbarians", by John Tierney, in The Day Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005, Opinion, pA12;
4) My offerings regarding Christopher Columbus and the Indians in the Involved Citizen Miscellaneous section of this web-site;
5) "More Than Children's Story About Pilgrims", by Sephen Mansfield, in The Day, same day and page.
This last article tells how the revisionists and "politically correct" cretins really work to get it wrong.  "These Pilgrims said they came to the New World 'for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith.'  This is their offense, apparently, for at least a few of their 21st century descendants.  It is because they devoted themselves to their God - and hoped the generations after them would as well - that their story is so eagerly distorted.  There are textbooks in use today that insist the Pilgrims held the First Thanksgiving to express gratitude to the Indians.  There is no mention of God or the Pilgrim's Christian faith.  Last year in Garwood, N.J., a school child who mentioned God in a Thanksgiving poem was immediately censured and the offending reference to deity removed from a class exhibit."   And there's more, much more of this going on.  Good people, don't remain silent in the face of such totaliarianism.  Let's safeguard that for which we can be truly thankful.

GS

THURSDAY, November 24, 2005

Here are some appetizers for your Thanksgiving Day dinner discussions.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, November 22 and 23, 2005

With all the furor over Iraq, how could we have forgotten the Israel - Palestine issue?  In fact, we didn't forget.  On Thursday, Nov. 17, we attended yet another fine bi-monthly meeting of the Southeastern Ct. Committee on Foreign Relations (check it out...excellent speakers and subjects).  The speaker was Edward G. Abington, a decades-long American diplomat posted to that intractable trouble-spot.  His review of events and background during the last 35 years to the present time, and his projections into the future, were not encouraging.  Herewith, my deductions and take-home points:

GS

MONDAY, November 21, 2005

URBAN RENEWAL SEMINAR, NOV. 12, 2005, MITCHELL. COLLEGE, MY NOTES AND THOUGHTS, Nov. l3, 2005

Some speak about inevitable winners and losers in this process. Who are the losers from this civic and economic revival? The city will be able to afford better schools for the poor and the middle class. Property owners will see substantial reductions in their taxes.  [New London has] unsurpassed harbor and beaches, and [a] fast-developing gourmand's paradise of ethnically diverse and high-quality restaurants.  We simply do a very poor job of marketing it.  The lesser destination of Mystic eats our lunch... and doesn't even pay for it.Or is all this just about power and fear of change? If so, "lead, follow, or get out of the way."

GS

SUNDAY, November 20, 2005

Perhaps I should apologize for including the recent and the following articles in this ordinarily easy-to handle section.  But this subject matter of Iraq is just too important to leave to just a few loud-mouth hypocrites as sources of fact and factoids.  Therefore, please read the following selections.  Then decide, when it comes to offering useful information and insights, "WHO LOVES YA, BABY?"  One more note: the Democratic political angst over this war, in addition to its PTSD over the Bush wins in 2000 and 2004, is being fueled by the Pentagon's rising anxiety over past mistakes and over its need to make real-life decisions about raising America's standing army recruitment and retention. Senator Joseph Biden admitted as much today, when he stated his reasons for getting out of Iraq: 1) we can't establish a liberal democracy there; and 2) if we do not draw down the military in Iraq promptly, we would have to change our military recruitment and retention methods.  To the first I say: Defeatism and a cavalier attitude regarding the Iraqi people.  To the second I say: stop the rape of the National Guard and Reserves...enact a fair Draft.

GS

<< Could the assessments of Iraq’s weapons program been off?  I am sure there were some marginal details that were incorrect, but on the matter of whether Iraq had a program, the error was not with the pre-war assessment, the error was with the weapons hunt.   LM>>

Where the WMDs Went
By Jamie Glazov <http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/authors.asp?ID=3>
FrontPageMagazine.com <http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=20154>  | November 16, 2005

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Bill Tierney, a former military intelligence officer and Arabic speaker who worked at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 and as a counter-infiltration operator in Baghdad in 2004. He was also an inspector (1996-1998) for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) for overseeing the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in Iraq. He worked on the most intrusive inspections during this period and either participated in or planned inspections that led to four of the seventeen resolutions against Iraq.

FP: Mr. Tierney, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Tierney: Thanks for the opportunity.

FP: With the Democrats now so viciously and hypocritically attacking Bush about WMDs, I’d like to discuss your own knowledge and expertise on this issue in connection to Iraq. You have always held that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Why? Can you discuss some actual finds?

Tierney:  It was probably on my second inspection that I realized the Iraqis had no intention of ever cooperating.  They had very successfully turned The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections during the eighties into tea parties, and had expected UNSCOM to turn out the same way.  However, there was one fundamental difference between IAEA and UNSCOM that the Iraqis did not account for.  There was a disincentive in IAEA inspections to be aggressive and intrusive, since the same standards could then be applied to the members states of the inspectors.  IAEA had to consider the continued cooperation of all the member states.  UNSCOM, however, was focused on enforcing and verifying one specific Security Council Resolution, 687, and the level of intrusiveness would depend on the cooperation from Iraq.

I came into the inspection program as an interrogator and Arabic linguist, so I crossed over various fields and spotted various deception techniques that may not have been noticed in only one field, such as chemical or biological.  For instance, the Iraqis would ask in very reasonable tones that questionable documents be set aside until the end of the day, when a discussion would determine what was truly of interest to UNSCOM.  The chief inspector, not wanting to appear like a knuckle-dragging ogre, would agree.  Instead of setting the documents on a table in a stack, the Iraqis would set them side to side, filling the entire table top, and would place the most explosive documents on the edge of the table.  At some point they would flood the room with people, and in the confusion abscond with the revealing documents.

This occurred at Tuwaitha Atomic Research Facility in 1996.  A car tried to blow through an UNSCOM vehicle checkpoint at the gate.  The car had a stack of documents about two feet high in the back seat.  In the middle of the stack, I found a document with a Revolutionary Command Council letterhead that discussed Atomic projects with four number designations that were previously unknown.  The Iraqis were extremely concerned. I turned the document over to the chief inspector, who then fell for the Iraqis’ “reasonable request” to lay it out on a table for later discussion.  The Iraqis later flooded the room, and the document disappeared.  Score one for the Iraqis.

On finds, the key word here is “find.”  UNSCOM could pursue a lead and approach an inspection target from various angles to cut off an escape route, but at some point, the Iraqis would hold up their guns and keep us out.

A good example of this was the inspection of the 2nd Armored Battalion of the Special Republican Guards in June 1997.  We came in from three directions, because we knew the Iraqis had an operational center that tracked our movement and issued warnings.   The vehicle I was in arrived at the gate first.  There were two guards when we arrived, and over twenty within a minute, all extremely nervous.

The Iraqis had stopped the third group of our inspection team before it could close off the back of the installation.  A few minutes later, a soldier came from inside the installation, and all the other guards gathered around him.  He said something, there was a big laugh, and all the guards relaxed.  A few moments later there was a radio call from the team that had been stopped short.  They could here truck engines through the tall (10”) grass in that area.  When we were finally allowed in, our team went to the back gate.  The Iraqis claimed the gate hadn’t been opened in months, but there was freshly ground rust at the gate hinges.  There was a photo from overhead showing tractor trailers with missiles in the trailers leaving the facility.

When pressed, Tariq Aziz criticized the inspectors for not knowing the difference between a missile and a concrete guard tower.  He never produced the guard towers for verification.  It was during this period that Tariq Aziz pulled out his “no smoking gun” line.  Tariq very cleverly changed the meaning of this phrase.  The smoking gun refers to an indicator of what you are really looking for - the bullet.   Tariq changed the meaning so smoking gun referred to the bullet, in this case the WMD, knowing that as long as there were armed guards between us and the weapons, we would never be able to “find,” as in “put our hands on,” the weapons of mass destruction.  The western press mindlessly took this up and became the Iraqis’ tool.  I will let the reader decide whether this inspection constitutes a smoking gun.

FP: So can you tell us about some other “smoking guns”?

Tierney: Sure. Another smoking gun was the inspection of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Special Republican Guards.  After verifying source information related to biological weapons formerly stored at the National War College, we learned at another site that the unit responsible for guarding the biological weapons was stationed near the airport.  We immediately dashed over there before the Iraqis could react, and forced them to lock us out.  One of our vehicles took an elevated position where they could look inside the installation and see the Iraqis loading specialized containers on to trucks that matched the source description for the biological weapons containers.  The Iraqis claimed that we had inspected the facilities a year earlier, so we didn’t need to inspect it again.

Another smoking gun was the inspection of Jabal Makhul Presidential Site.  In June/July 1997 we inspected the 4th Special Republican Guards Battalion in Bayji, north of Tikrit.  This unit had been photographed taking equipment for the Electro-magnetic Isotope Separation (EMIS) method of uranium enrichment away from inspectors.  The Iraqis were extremely nervous as this site, and hid any information on personnel who may have been involved with moving the equipment.  This was also the site where the Iraqi official on the UNSCOM helicopter tried to grab the control and almost made the aircraft crash.

When I returned to the States, I learned that the Iraqis were extremely nervous that we were going to inspect an unspecified nearby site, and that they checked that certain code named items were in their proper place.  I knew from this information the Iraqis could only be referring to Jabal Makhul Presidential Site, a sprawling mountain retreat on the other side of the ridge from the 4th Battalion, assigned to guard the installation.  This explained why the Iraqis caused the problems with the helicopter, to keep it from flying to the other side of the mountain.

We inspected Jabal Makhul in September of 1997.  The Iraqis locked us out without a word of discussion.  This was the start of the Presidential Site imbroglio.  The Iraqis made great hay out of inspectors wanting to look under the president’s furniture, but this site, with its hundreds of acres, was the real target.

During the Presidential Site inspections in Spring of 1998, inspectors found an under-mountain storage area at Jabal Makhul.  When the inspectors arrived, it was filled with drums of water.  The Iraqis claimed that they used the storage area to store rainwater.  Jabal Makhul had the Tigris River flowing by at the bottom of the mountain, and a massive pump to send water to the top of the mountain, where it would cascade down in fountains and waterfalls in Saddam’s own little Shangri-la, but the Iraqi had to go to the effort of digging out an underground bunker akin to our Cheyenne Mountain headquarters, just so they could store rainwater.

A London Sunday Times article in 2001 by Gwynne Roberts quoted an Iraqi defector as stating Iraq had nuclear weapons in a heavily guarded installation in the Hamrin mountains.  Jabal Makhul is the most heavily guarded location in the Hamrin mountains.  With its under-mountain bunker, isolation, and central location, it is the perfect place to store a high-value asset like a nuclear weapon.

On nukes, some analysts wait until there is unambiguous proof before stating a country has nuclear weapons.  This may work in a courtroom, but intelligence is a different subject altogether.  I believe it is more prudent to determine what is axiomatic given a nation’s capabilities and intentions.  There was no question that Iraq had triggering mechanisms for a nuke, the question was whether they had enriched enough uranium.  Given Iraq’s intensive efforts to build a nuke prior to the Gulf War, their efforts to hide uranium enrichment material from inspectors, the fact that Israel had a nuke but no Arab state could claim the same, my first-hand knowledge of the limits of UNSCOM and IAEA capabilities, and Iraqi efforts to buy yellowcake uranium abroad (Joe Wilson tea parties notwithstanding), I believe the TWELVE years between 1991 and 2003 was more than enough time to produce sufficient weapons grade uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.  Maybe I have more respect for the Iraqis’ capabilities than some.

FP: Tell us something you came up with while conducting counter-infiltration ops in Iraq.

Tierney: While I was engaged in these operations in Baghdad in 2004, one of the local translators freely stated in his security interview that he worked for the purchasing department of the nuclear weapons program prior to and during the First Gulf War.  He said that Saddam purchased such large quantities of precision machining equipment that he could give up some to inspections, or lose some to bombing, and still have enough for his weapons program.  This translator also stated that when Saddam took human shields and placed some at Tarmiya Nuclear Research Facility, he was sent there to act as a translator.  One of the security officers at Tarmiya told him that he had just recovered from a sickness he incurred while guarding technicians working in an underground facility nearby.  The security officer stated that the technicians left for a break every half hour, but he stayed in the underground chamber all day and got sick.  The security officer didn’t mention what they were doing, but I would say uranium enrichment is the most logical pick.

What, not enough smoke?  There was the missile inspection on Ma’moun Establishment.  I was teamed with two computer forensic specialists.  A local technician stood by while we opened a computer and found a flight simulation for a missile taking off from the Iraqi desert in the same area used during the First Gulf War and flying west towards Israel.  The warhead was only for 50 kilograms.  By the time we understood was this was, the poor technician was coming apart.  I will never forget meeting his eyes, and both of us realizing he was a dead man walking.  The Iraqis tried to say that the computer had just been transferred from another facility, and that the flight simulation had not been erased from before the war. The document’s placement in the file manager, and the technician’s reaction belied this story. UNSCOM’s original assessment was that this was for a biological warhead, but I have since seen reporting that make me think it was for a nuclear weapon.

These are only some of the observations of one inspector.  I know of other inspections where there were clear indicators the Iraqis were hiding weapons from the inspectors.

FP: Ok, so where did the WMDs go?

Tierney: While working counter-infiltration in Baghdad, I noticed a pattern among infiltrators that their cover stories would start around Summer or Fall of 2002.  From this and other observations, I believe Saddam planned for a U.S. invasion after President Bush’s speech at West Point in 2002.   One of the steps taken was to prepare the younger generation of the security services with English so they could infiltrate our ranks, another was either to destroy or move WMDs to other countries, principally Syria.  Starting in the Summer of 2002, the Iraqis had months to purge their files and create cover stories, such as the letter from Hossam Amin, head of the Iraqi outfit that monitored the weapons inspectors, stating after Hussein Kamal’s defection that the weapons were all destroyed in 1991.

I was on the inspections that follow-up on Hussein Kamal’s defection, and Hossam said at the time that Hussein Kamal had a secret cabal that kept the weapons without the knowledge of the Iraqi government.  It was pure pleasure disemboweling this cover story.  Yet the consensus at DIA is that Iraq got rid of its weapons in 1991.  This is truly scary.  If true, when and where did Saddam have a change of heart? This is the same man who crowed after 9/11, then went silent after news broke that Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence operative in Prague. Did Saddam spend a month with Mother Theresa, or go to a mountain top in the Himalaya’s? Those that say there were no weapons have to prove that Saddam had a change of heart.  I await their evidence with interest.

FP: So do you think the WMD is the central issue regarding Iraq?

Tierney:  No, and it never should have been an issue.  The First Gulf War -- and I use this term as a convention, since this is actually all the same war -- was a prime example of managing war instead of waging it.  Instead of telling Saddam to get out of Kuwait or we will push him out, we should have said to get out of Kuwait or we will remove him from power.  As it was, we were projecting our respect for human life on Saddam, when actually, from his point of view, we were doing him a favor by killing mostly Shi’ite military members who were a threat to his regime.  I realize that Saudi Arabia, our host, did not want a change in government in Iraq, and they had helped us bring down the Soviet Union with oil price manipulation, but we should have bent them to our will instead of vice versa.  Saddam would not have risked losing power to keep Kuwait, and we could have avoided this whole ordeal.

We topped one mistake with another, expecting Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party, a criminal syndicate masquerading as a political party, to abide by any arms control agreement.  Gun control and Arms control both arise from the “mankind is good” worldview.  If you control the environment, i.e. get rid of the guns, then man’s natural goodness will rise to the surface.  I hope it is evidence after more than a decade of Iraqi intransigence how foolish this position is.  The sobering fact is that if a nation feels it is in their best interest to have certain weapons, they are going to have them.  Chemical weapons were critical to warding off hoards of Iranian fighters, and the Iraqis knew they would always be in a position of weakness against Israel without nuclear weapons.  The United States kept nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union, but we would deny the same logic for Iraq?

There is also the practicality of weapons inspections/weapons hunts.   After seventeen resolutions pleading with the Iraqis to be nice, the light bulb still didn’t go off that the entire concept is fundamentally flawed.  Would you like to live in a city where the police chief sent out resolutions to criminals to play nice, instead of taking them off the streets?

As I said earlier, I knew the Iraqis would never cooperate, so the inspections became a matter of illustrating this non-cooperation for the Security Council and the rest of the world.  No manipulation or fabrication was necessary.  There was a sufficient percentage of defectors with accurate information to ensure that we would catch the Iraqis in the act. UNSCOM was very successfully at verifying the Iraqis’ non-cooperation; the failure was in the cowardice at the Security Council.  Maybe cowardice is too strong a word.  Maybe the problem was giving a mission that entailed the possible use of force to an organization with the goal of eliminating the use of force.

On the post-war weapons hunt, the arrogance and hubris of the intelligence community is such that they can’t entertain the possibility that they just failed to find the weapons because the Iraqis did a good job cleaning up prior to their arrival.  This reminds me of the police chief who announced on television plans to raid a secret drug factor on the outskirts of town.  At the time appointed, the police, all twelve of them, lined up behind each other at the front door, knocked and waiting for the druggies to answer, as protocol required.  After ten minute of toilet flushing and back-door slamming, somebody came to the front door in a bathrobe and explained he had been in the shower.  The police took his story at face value, even though his was dry as a bone, then police proceeded to inspect the premises ensuring that the legal, moral , ethnic, human, and animal rights, and also the national dignity, of the druggies was preserved.   After a search, the police chief announced THERE WERE NO STOCKPILES of drugs at the inspected site.  Anyone care to move to this city?

FP: Let’s talk a little bit more about how the WMDs disappeared.

Tierney: In Iraq’s case, the lakes and rivers were the toilet, and Syria was the back door.  Even though there was imagery showing an inordinate amount of traffic into Syria prior to the inspections, and there were other indicators of government control of commercial trucking that could be used to ship the weapons to Syria, from the ICs point of view, if there is no positive evidence that the movement occurred, it never happened.  This conclusion is the consequence of confusing litigation with intelligence.  Litigation depends on evidence, intelligence depends on indicators.  Picture yourself as a German intelligence officer in Northern France in April 1944.  When asked where will the Allies land, you reply “I would be happy to tell you when I have solid, legal proof, sir.  We will have to wait until they actually land.”  You won’t last very long.  That officer would have to take in all the indicators, factor in deception, and make an assessment (this is a fancy intelligence word for an educated guess).

The Democrats understand the difference between the two concepts, but have no qualms about blurring the distinction for political gain.  This is despicable.  This has brought great harm to our nation’s credibility with our allies.  A perfect example is Senator Levin waving deception by one single source, al-Libi, to try and convince us that this is evidence there was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, as though the entire argument rested on this one source.  Senator Levin, and his media servants, think the public can’t read through his duplicity.  He is plunging a dagger into the heart of his own country.

Could the assessments of Iraq’s weapons program been off?  I am sure there were some marginal details that were incorrect, but on the matter of whether Iraq had a program, the error was not with the pre-war assessment, the error was with the weapons hunt.

I could speak at length about the problems with the weapons hunt.  Mr. Hanson has an excellent article in “The American Thinker,” and Judith Miller, one of the few bright lights at the New York Times, did an article on the problems with the weapons hunt that I can corroborate from other sources.  But if the Iraqi Survey Group had been manned by a thousand James Bonds, and every prop was where it should have been, I doubt the result would have been much different.  The whole concept of international arms inspections puts too much advantage with the inspected country.  Factor in the brutality used by the Baath Party, and it amounts to a winning combination for our opponents.

I was shocked to learn recently that members of the Iraqi Survey Group believed their Iraqi sources when they said they don’t fear a return of the Baath Party.  During my eight months of counterinfiltration duty, we had 50 local Iraqis working on our post who were murdered for collaborating.   Of the more than 150 local employees our team identified as security threats, the most sophisticated infiltrators came from the Baath Party. This was just one post, yet the DIA believes no one was afraid to talk, even though scientists who were cooperating with ISG were murdered.  You can add this to the Able Danger affair as another example of the deep rot inside the intelligence community.

I believe that once the pertinent sources have a sense of security, a whole lot of people are going to have egg on their face.  I believe the Iraqis had a WMD program, and I am not changing my story, no matter how many times Chris Matthews hyperventilates.

FP: Before we go, can you briefly touch on some of the prevailing attitudes in the U.S. military that may hurt us?

Tierney:  There is a prevailing attitude that the U.S. is too big and ponderous to lose, so individual officers don’t have to take the potentially career-threatening risks necessary to win.  I have heard it said that for every one true warrior in the military, there are two to three self-serving, career-worshipping bureaucrats.  We shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, the Army advertised “Be all you can be!”  Or in other words, get a career at taxpayer expense.

President Clinton changed the definition of the military from peace makers to peace keepers, and no senior officers resigned or objected.  President Clinton took a one star general who ran a humanitarian effort in Northern Iraq, Shalikashvilli, and made him Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  The signal was out, warriors need not apply.  Shalikashvilli later spoke at a U.N. meeting and listed the roles for the military in the “Revolution in Military Affairs.”   He included warm and fuzzy things like “confidence building,” but failed to mention waging war.  In my five years at CENTCOM headquarters, I very rarely heard the words, “war,” “enemy,” or “winning.” This was all absorbed into the wonderful term “strike operations.”

Operation Desert Fox was a perfect example of the uselessness of strike operations. Iraqis have told me that the WMD destruction and movement started just after Operation Desert Fox, since after all, who would be so stupid as to start a bombing campaign and just stop.

It was only after Saddam realized that President Clinton lacked the nerve for anything more than a temper-tantrum demonstration that he knew the doors were wide open for him to continue his weapons program.   We didn’t break his will, we didn’t destroy his weapons making capability (The Iraqis simply moved most of the precision machinery out prior to the strikes, then rebuilt the buildings), but we did kill some Iraqi bystanders, just so President Clinton could say “something must be done, so I did something.”

General Zinni, Commander of CENTCOM, and no other senior officer had any problem with this fecklessness.  They apparently bought into the notion that wars are meant to be managed and not waged.  The warriors coming into the military post 9/11 deserve true warriors at the top.  I believe the house cleaning among the senior military  leadership started by the Secretary of Defense should continue full force.  If not across the board, then definitely in the military intelligence field.

FP: Mr. Tierney it was a pleasure to speak with you today. Thank you for visiting Frontpage.

Tierney: Thank you Jamie for the opportunity to say there were weapons, and that we were right to invade Iraq.

----------

The War We're Winning
Innovative Teams Are Building Goodwill at the Grass-Roots Level
By Vance Serchuk
Armed Forces Journal
Publication Date: November 1, 2005

The front-line fighters in the battle for hearts and minds in Afghanistan are in the American and coalition Provincial Reconstruction Teams, or PRTs. In the classic counterinsurgency mold, these are relatively small operations combining civilians, including Afghan government officials, nestled in a protective military security shell, along the lines of civil action patrols in Vietnam. The PRTs clearly are keys to success in Afghanistan.

Recently, I visited the PRT in Ghazni, in the hills southwest of Kabul. Ghazni has a lot of history, but little else. The PRT is located in and around a former Taliban madrassa, a long, gray, concrete corridor of a building south of the city center. Although co-located with a combined-arms battalion--comprised of soldiers from the 116th Infantry Regiment of the Virginia National Guard at the time of my visit earlier this year--the American military base is easy to miss, little more than a smudge of Hesco barriers, canvas tents and plywood bee huts along an otherwise desolate stretch of the Kabul-Kandahar road.

Despite an unprepossessing appearance, however, PRTs such as the one in Ghazni are part of an important and evolving experiment in counterinsurgency warfare, with potentially far-reaching implications for the way the U.S. government wages the war on terror.

The idea for PRTs was conceived in late 2002. The teams comprise not just soldiers, but diplomats, development policy experts (from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Agriculture) and representatives of the Afghan government in Kabul to the far-flung corners of the country. While PRTs dispense money for reconstruction projects, the strategic purpose of these civil-military field teams is arguably more political than economic. By engaging in high visibility, feel-good humanitarian activities, PRTs--which, when U.S.-run, typically consist of just 70 to 80 people, the overwhelming majority for force protection--assert a kind of "benign ownership" over their area of responsibility, extending the reach of coalition forces and planting the flag of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Ghazni PRT, for example, is involved in a range of activities, from training local police to refurbishing schools. The base also has a hole-in-the-wall clinic that attracts between 15 and 30 patients a day. Although the medicine on offer is rudimentary--mostly geared toward head colds and indigestion--the clinic is popular among provincial Afghans, for whom any health care is a radical advance. In early 2004, the clinic would typically see a woman a month; a year later, it was treating as many as 10 a day.

Although a handful of PRTs were established in the early months of 2003, it was not until later that year that their numbers rose dramatically. The expansion was coincident with the arrival of Zalmay Khalilzad as U.S. ambassador in Kabul and a push by the U.S. military to flatten its force posture throughout the country, while still maintaining a relatively light footprint. Consistent with the best counterinsurgency theory, decisionmaking was decentralized, pushing soldiers and civilians alike into closer proximity with the Afghan population.

By intensively engaging across a spectrum of Afghan society, PRTs not only have an opportunity to shape the local balance of power, but simultaneously to glean valuable intelligence. It has been estimated, for instance, that the dozen or so Foreign Service officers posted to PRTs are responsible for generating half of the State Department's political and economic reporting from Afghanistan.

Given their modest size and separation from Kabul, PRTs unsurprisingly put a premium on flexibility, informality and ad hoc improvisation. "Over the last few weeks, I've been educating myself about bridge design and construction," said one soldier during a weekly staff briefing in Ghazni, shortly before launching into a detailed presentation about the needs for local infrastructure.

On my first night in Ghazni, we took a convoy a short distance over snow-covered roads for a dinner meeting with the provincial governor. The National Guardsmen rode in Humvees, but the PRT commander preferred his sport utility vehicle, amicably arguing along the way with his State Department adviser about the relevant lessons from Vietnam-era programs.

In practice, PRT support for local governance has tended to translate into close ties with the provincial governor, appointed by President Karzai. Sometimes, this has given spirit to an otherwise weak, but decent, representative of the new democratic order sent from Kabul; in other instances, it has amounted to reciprocal back-scratching with a local power broker, who has ties to drugs, militias and worse. Often as not, it's been a little of both.

Gathered in an L-shaped reception area warmed at its center by an incongruously large wood-burning stove, the dapper, young governor of Ghazni welcomes his American guests. Over cloudy cups of green tea and plates of dried fruit, conversation occasionally veers toward security--especially concerning a problematic police chief with ties to an Islamist radical group--but mostly the focus is on provincial development: municipal snow removal, funding for the local university, the uneven electricity supply (as if on cue, the lights flicker out intermittently.)

Teeth Gnashing

It is precisely this blurring of traditional lines between security and reconstruction--a distinction, incidentally, that nations such as Germany and Canada have tried to reassert in establishing their own PRTs in Afghanistan--that initially prompted a great deal of teeth gnashing by relief workers and nongovernmental organizations. American officials retort that this is a distinction the Taliban and other extremist groups, in their murder of aid workers, burning of schools and intimidation of would-be voters, clearly do not respect.

"There are no neutral spaces in Afghanistan anymore," says one U.S. military official.

Despite all the attention PRTs have attracted, it's striking just how little money they spend. Of the $1.4 billion nonsecurity-related funding obligated in 2004, for instance, PRTs accounted for barely $100 million, less than 10 percent of the total. In fact, the overwhelming majority of aid money in Afghanistan is increasingly focused toward long-term, large-scale reconstruction projects, in which the PRTs play a comparatively small role.

More important than the raw sum of money the PRTs disperse, however, is where and how they work. Consider that the two major metropolitan provinces of Kabul and Kandahar together received approximately 70 percent of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development for "local" projects last year. PRTs provide a desperately needed pipeline into Afghanistan's other 32 provinces, where a dollar of aid can go a long way. In particular, they can operate where the strategic need is greatest, but where traditional aid agencies are least capable of operating: areas where the Taliban still have a grip on the local populace, or where warlords remain the dominant political force.

As the war in Afghanistan evolves, the role of PRTs will undoubtedly change, too. The Bush administration is pushing for all of the sites to be turned over to NATO by the end of next year, suggesting a future in which they become the instruments of a long-term, Balkans-like peacekeeping mission. It would be far preferable, however, if instead of making PRTs into appendages of the international community, they could be reoriented toward an aggressive program of building local institutions, improving the quotidian workings of Afghan governance at a grass-roots level.

Still, the very existence of the PRT program is itself something of a miraculous achievement. The PRTs are, after all, an all-too-rare expression of interagency innovation and cooperation in the war on terror: a serious, sustained attempt to fill a pronounced gap between the Bush administration's strategic ends and institutional means in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The real challenge with PRTs, then, is not simply how they can be made more effective to suit the local conditions in Ghazni and at 20-plus other locations across Afghanistan, but whether the concept can be replicated elsewhere. Where else besides Afghanistan is the Department of Agriculture on the front lines of the war on terror?

Vance Serchuk is a research fellow at AEI.

----------

Irresponsible on Iraq

Washington Post, Sunday, November 20, 2005; Page B06

A SERIOUS congressional debate about Iraq is essential at a time when public support for the mission is falling and the danger of failure seems great. Aggressive challenges to the Bush administration's military and political strategy -- even calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops, such as that made by

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) on Thursday -- must be part of that democratic discussion. Yet what we've mainly seen during the past two weeks is a shameful exercise in demagoguery and name-calling.

Democrats accuse President Bush of deliberately lying about the grounds for war three years ago. Vice President Cheney responds by calling accusations by the Democrats "dishonest and reprehensible, " while Mr. Bush claims his critics "send mixed signals to our troops and the enemy." Mr. Murtha, a 73-year-old former Marine, was said by the White House to advocate "surrender to the terrorists" and called a coward by Republican members of Congress. He replied by smearing Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush as "guys who got five deferments and never been there, and send people to war."

It sounds like the final days of a bitter, mud-slinging political campaign. But what is at stake is not an election but a war in which American soldiers are being killed and wounded almost every day and in which one possible outcome is a major victory for the Islamic extremist movement that carried out the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those losses won't be stemmed, nor the dangers averted, by attack rhetoric or sound bites that deliberately distort the facts. Leaders of both parties know that, of course. Which raises the question: Is their priority to win in Iraq -- or in next year's midterm elections?

The hard truth is that those two objectives may be in conflict. The war is unpopular for many reasons, including the painful human losses, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, incompetent management of postwar reconstruction and the involvement of some U.S. personnel in appalling practices of torture. Mr. Murtha, deeply moved by the wounded soldiers he has visited, cited several other serious problems, including the wear and tear on the U.S. military and the steady increase in attacks by insurgents.

Yet Mr. Murtha, like other Democrats who advocate an early pullout, grossly misstates the nature of the conflict in Iraq. In a news conference, he contended that U.S. troops "have become the primary target" and have united Iraqis against them. In fact, far more Iraqis than Americans are being killed by the insurgents; Iraq is divided between a Shiite and Kurdish majority -- whose leaders strongly support a continued U.S. presence -- and a Sunni and Islamic extremist minority that seeks to drive international forces out so that it can try to impose a dictatorship on the rest of the country. As Democrats such as Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) have recognized, a premature American departure from Iraq would not end but greatly escalate what is now a low-grade civil war. It could allow al Qaeda to claim a triumph and establish a base for attacking the United States and its allies in the Middle East.

Mr. Bush indulges in his own surreal rhetoric, insistently describing Iraq as a Manichaean battle between foreign terrorists and Iraqi democrats, rather than the multi-sided power struggle that it is. In so doing, he hamstrings his own diplomats and generals, who are trying to forge a political accord among the various Iraqi communities and isolate the foreign and Sunni extremists through a conventional counterinsurgency campaign. Many Democrats have no better alternative strategy, which may be why their leaders spend most of their time making charges about what was said, or not, about weapons of mass destruction in 2002.

What's needed is more talk about Iraq in 2005. Though there have been successes -- including the staging of an election and a constitutional referendum -- the country is in danger of splitting into pieces, and the Bush administration has not done enough to head that threat off. New elections in December could propel the country toward a political accord that would undermine the insurgency. But reconstruction has foundered and needs to be relaunched, with emphasis on supplying electricity and jobs. Iraqi troops are improving but still are far from ready to fight the counterinsurgency war on their own. If there is to be any chance of that war being won, the United States will have to commit its own forces to the fight for years, though perhaps not at current levels. The alternative is to risk a defeat that would be devastating to U.S. security. That's a hard truth to face: It can't be done amid a partisan free-for-all.

SATURDAY, November 19, 2005

After the recent long offerings, this will be short but to the same point.  The current "toxic atmosphere" in Washington D.C. is the direct result of the outrageous, totally undocumented and continuing charges by the Democrats that President Bush and his administration intentionally lied to mis-lead this country into war in Afganistan and Iraq.  Now comes a decorated Viet Nam war veteran, a long-time spokesman for the Pentagon, but for many years a civilian legislator, who by his statements gives cover for the always gun-shy liberals, encouragement to the enemy, and a voice to the Defense Department people who screwed up the post-war Iraq operation by trying to do it on the cheap - in order to save money for their out-dated mega-war mega-toys.  This combination causes real anger among those of us who know that both our troops and the enemy have ears.  Well, the Democrats are irresponsible, but they are stupidly giving cover also to a Republican majority making its own mistakes.  If this continues, theirs will be the best gift to these lack-luster Republicans come November, 2006.  Meanwhile, the President should not only hit back belatedly with facts and leadership.  He should also send another 30,000 troops to insure a safe and convincing Iraqi election in mid-December.  An exclamation mark, if you will, to everyone concerned in these watershed times.

GS

FRIDAY, November 18, 2005

GS

THURSDAY, November 17, 2005

"Torture".  As many people and all debaters know, he who is allowed to frame the question generally wins.  So at the outset of comment on this tough subject, I yield the definition of "torture" to no one.  Next, there is no need to reference recent articles on the subject, as related to Senator McCain and other Senatorial efforts to imbed a prohibition against "torture" in pending vital defense legislation.  There are planty of them.  But there are not too many that dare to offer the other side.  One is the editorial in the WSJ Nov. 12-13, 2005, Opinion, pA6, entitled "A Tortured Debate".  Particularly as a physician (and not particularly as an attorney), I have had some difficulty formulating my own views on the subject.  Finally, here are some relevant questions, and my answers: 1) is "torture" an intrinsic evil, or is it situational? That is, is our use of coercive techniques for self-defense the same as the use of those techniques by Nazi Germany, Japan and by the Viet Cong for aggressive and sadistic purposes?  2) Could Senator McCain, a victim of aggressive torture himself,  ever be able to condone its use under any circumstances? 3) do the perpetrators of death and destruction indiscriminantly against innocent civilians through stealth qualify for protection under the Geneva Convention? 4) should the understandable but mis-placed self-interest concerns of the military, analogous to a physician being more concerned about himself than about treating the contageous disease of his patient, be a trump card here?  Answers: situational; No; No; No.  Therefore, the President is correct in resisting the civilized world's criminalization of "torture", whatever that is in our hands, in this no-holds-barred World War lll against radical Islamic Jhad and any similar threat to our survival.

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, November 15 and 16, 2005

More about facts, and who's lying.  The only question I have is why it took Pres. Bush and his administration so long to respond to the irresponsibility of Senators Reid, Kennedy, etc.  GS

Who Is Lying About Iraq ?
By Norman Podhoretz
Commentary Magazine.com | November 11, 2005

[This article will appear in the December issue of Commentary but has been released in advance at the magazine's website, www.commentarymagazine.com]

Among the many distortions, misrepresentations, and outright falsifications that have emerged from the debate over Iraq, one in particular stands out above all others. This is the charge that George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and/or unnecessary war in Iraq by telling a series of lies that have now been definitively exposed.

What makes this charge so special is the amazing success it has enjoyed in getting itself established as a self-evident truth even though it has been refuted and discredited over and over again by evidence and argument alike. In this it resembles nothing so much as those animated cartoon characters who, after being flattened, blown up, or pushed over a cliff, always spring back to life with their bodies perfectly intact. Perhaps, like those cartoon characters, this allegation simply cannot be killed off, no matter what.

Nevertheless, I want to take one more shot at exposing it for the lie that it itself really is. Although doing so will require going over ground that I and many others have covered before, I hope that revisiting this well-trodden terrain may also serve to refresh memories that have grown dim, to clarify thoughts that have grown confused, and to revive outrage that has grown commensurately dulled.

The main “lie” that George W. Bush is accused of telling us is that Saddam Hussein possessed an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD as they have invariably come to be called. From this followed the subsidiary “lie” that Iraq under Saddam’s regime posed a two-edged mortal threat. On the one hand, we were informed, there was a distinct (or even “imminent”) possibility that Saddam himself would use these weapons against us and/or our allies; and on the other hand, there was the still more dangerous possibility that he would supply them to terrorists like those who had already attacked us on 9/11 and to whom he was linked.

This entire scenario of purported deceit has been given a new lease on life by the indictment in late October of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby stands accused of making false statements to the FBI and of committing perjury in testifying before a grand jury that had been convened to find out who in the Bush administration had “outed” Valerie Plame, a CIA agent married to the retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, IV. The supposed purpose of leaking this classified information to the press was to retaliate against Wilson for having “debunked” (in his words) “the lies that led to war.”

Now, as it happens, Libby was not charged with having outed Plame but only with having lied about when and from whom he first learned that she worked for the CIA. Moreover, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor who brought the indictment against him, made a point of emphasizing that

>
>> [t]his  indictment is not about the war. This indictment is not about the
>> propriety  of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort,
>> people who  oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not
>> look to this  indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any
>> vindication of how  they feel.
>>
>> This is simply an indictment that says, in a  national-security investigation
>> about the compromise of a CIA officer’s  identity that may have taken place
>> in the context of a very heated debate  over the war, whether some person—a
>> person, Mr. Libby—lied or  not.

No matter. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, spoke for a host of other opponents of the war in insisting that

>
>> [t]his case  is bigger than the leak of classified information. It is about
>> how the Bush  White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order
>> to bolster  its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to
>> challenge  the President.

Yet even stipulating—which I do only for the sake of argument—that no weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq in the period leading up to the invasion, it defies all reason to think that Bush was lying when he asserted that they did. To lie means to say something one knows to be false. But it is as close to certainty as we can get that Bush believed in the truth of what he was saying about WMD in Iraq.

How indeed could it have been otherwise? George Tenet, his own CIA director, assured him that the case was “a slam dunk.” This phrase would later become notorious, but in using it, Tenet had the backing of all fifteen agencies involved in gathering intelligence for the United States. In the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2002, where their collective views were summarized, one of the conclusions offered with “high confidence” was that

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

The intelligence agencies of Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Israel, and—yes—France all agreed with this judgment. And even Hans Blix—who headed the UN team of inspectors trying to determine whether Saddam had complied with the demands of the Security Council that he get rid of the weapons of mass destruction he was known to have had in the past—lent further credibility to the case in a report he issued only a few months before the invasion:

>
>> The discovery of  a number of 122-mm chemical rocket warheads in a bunker at
>> a storage depot  170 km southwest of Baghdad was much publicized. This was a
>> relatively new  bunker, and therefore the rockets must have been moved there
>> in the past few  years, at a time when Iraq should not have had such
>> munitions. . . . They  could also be the tip of a submerged iceberg. The
>> discovery of a few rockets  does not resolve but rather points to the issue
>> of several thousands of  chemical rockets that are unaccounted for.

Blix now claims that he was only being “cautious” here, but if, as he now also adds, the Bush administration “misled itself” in interpreting the evidence before it, he at the very least lent it a helping hand.

So, once again, did the British, the French, and the Germans, all of whom signed on in advance to Secretary of State Colin Powell’s reading of the satellite photos he presented to the UN in the period leading up to the invasion. Powell himself and his chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, now feel that this speech was the low point of his tenure as Secretary of State. But Wilkerson (in the process of a vicious attack on the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of Defense for getting us into Iraq) is forced to acknowledge that the Bush administration did not lack for company in interpreting the available evidence as it did:

>
>> I can’t tell  you why the French, the Germans, the Brits, and us thought that
>> most of the  material, if not all of it, that we presented at the UN on 5
>> February 2003  was the truth. I can’t. I’ve wrestled with it. [But] when you
>> see a  satellite photograph of all the signs of the chemical-weapons
>> ASP—Ammunition  Supply Point—with chemical weapons, and you match all those
>> signs with your  matrix on what should show a chemical ASP, and they’re
>> there, you have to  conclude that it’s a chemical ASP, especially when you
>> see the next  satellite photograph which shows the UN inspectors wheeling in
>> their white  vehicles with black markings on them to that same ASP, and
>> everything is  changed, everything is clean. . . . But George [Tenet] was
>> convinced, John  McLaughlin [Tenet’s deputy] was convinced, that what we were
>> presented [for  Powell’s UN speech] was accurate.

Going on to shoot down a widespread impression, Wilkerson informs us that even the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was convinced:

>
>> People say,  well, INR dissented. That’s a bunch of bull. INR dissented that
>> the nuclear  program was up and running. That’s all INR dissented on. They
>> were right  there with the chems and the bios.

In explaining its dissent on Iraq’s nuclear program, the INR had, as stated in the NIE of 2002, expressed doubt about

>
>> Iraq’s  efforts to acquire aluminum tubes [which are] central to the argument
>> that  Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear-weapons program. . . . INR is not
>> persuaded that the tubes in question are intended for use as centrifuge
>> rotors . . . in Iraq’s nuclear-weapons  program.

But, according to Wilkerson,

>
>> The French  came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we
>> have just  spun aluminum tubes, and by God, we did it to this RPM, et cetera,
>> et  cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes
>> were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges.
>> Otherwise, why would you have such exquisite  instruments?

In short, and whether or not it included the secret heart of Hans Blix, “the consensus of the intelligence community,” as Wilkerson puts it, “was overwhelming” in the period leading up to the invasion of Iraq that Saddam definitely had an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and that he was also in all probability well on the way to rebuilding the nuclear capability that the Israelis had damaged by bombing the Osirak reactor in 1981.

Additional confirmation of this latter point comes from Kenneth Pollack, who served in the National Security Council under Clinton. “In the late spring of 2002,” Pollack has written,

>
>> I  participated in a Washington meeting about Iraqi WMD. Those present
>> included  nearly twenty former inspectors from the United Nations Special
>> Commission  (UNSCOM), the force established in 1991 to oversee the
>> elimination of WMD in  Iraq. One of the senior people put a question to the
>> group: did anyone in  the room doubt that Iraq was currently operating a
>> secret centrifuge plant?  No one did. Three people added that they believed
>> Iraq was also operating a  secret calutron plant (a facility for separating
>> uranium  isotopes).

No wonder, then, that another conclusion the NIE of 2002 reached with “high confidence” was that

>
>> Iraq could  make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires
>> sufficient  weapons-grade fissile material. (1)

But the consensus on which Bush relied was not born in his own administration. In fact, it was first fully formed in the Clinton administration. Here is Clinton himself, speaking in 1998:

>
>> If Saddam  rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We
>> want to  seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s
>> weapons-of-mass-destruction  program.

Here is his Secretary of State Madeline Albright, also speaking in 1998:

>
>> Iraq is a  long way from [the USA], but what happens there matters a great
>> deal here.  For the risk that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear,
>> chemical,  or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest
>> security  threat we face.

Here is Sandy Berger, Clinton’s National Security Adviser, who chimed in at the same time with this flat-out assertion about Saddam:

>
>> He will use  those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times
>> since  1983.

Finally, Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, was so sure Saddam had stockpiles of WMD that he remained “absolutely convinced” of it even after our failure to find them in the wake of the invasion in March 2003.

Nor did leading Democrats in Congress entertain any doubts on this score. A few months after Clinton and his people made the statements I have just quoted, a group of Democratic Senators, including such liberals as Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, and John Kerry, urged the President

>
>> to take  necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile
>> strikes on  suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed
>> by Iraq’s  refusal to end its weapons-of-mass-destruction  programs.

Nancy Pelosi, the future leader of the Democrats in the House, and then a member of the House Intelligence Committee, added her voice to the chorus:

>
>> Saddam  Hussein has been engaged in the development of
>> weapons-of-mass-destruction  technology, which is a threat to countries in
>> the region, and he has made a  mockery of the weapons inspection process.

This Democratic drumbeat continued and even intensified when Bush succeeded Clinton in 2001, and it featured many who would later pretend to have been deceived by the Bush White House. In a letter to the new President, a number of Senators led by Bob Graham declared:

>
>> There is no  doubt that . . . Saddam Hussein has invigorated his weapons
>> programs.  Reports indicate that biological, chemical, and nuclear programs
>> continue  apace and may be back to pre-Gulf war status. In addition, Saddam
>> continues  to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a
>> licit  missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten
>> the  United States and our allies.

Senator Carl Levin also reaffirmed for Bush’s benefit what he had told Clinton some years earlier:

>
>> Saddam  Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the
>> region.  He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, and is building
>> weapons of  mass destruction and the means of delivering  them.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed, speaking in October 2002:

>
>> In the four  years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that
>> Saddam  Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical- and biological-weapons
>> stock,  his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also
>> given  aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda
>> members.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, agreed as well:

>
>> There is  unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively
>> to develop  nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the
>> next five  years. . . . We also should remember we have always underestimated
>> the  progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass  destruction.

Even more striking were the sentiments of Bush’s opponents in his two campaigns for the presidency. Thus Al Gore in September 2002:

>
>> We know that  [Saddam] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical
>> weapons  throughout his country.

And here is Gore again, in that same year:

>
>> Iraq’s search  for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to
>> deter, and we  should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is
>> in  power.

Now to John Kerry, also speaking in 2002:

>
>> I will be  voting to give the President of the United States the authority to
>> use  force—if necessary—to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a
>> deadly  arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and
>> grave  threat to our security.

Perhaps most startling of all, given the rhetoric that they would later employ against Bush after the invasion of Iraq, are statements made by Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd, also in 2002:

>
>> Kennedy  : We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and
>> developing weapons of mass destruction.
>>
>> Byrd : The last UN  weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are
>> confident that  Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and
>> biological weapons,  and that he has since embarked on a crash course to
>> build up his chemical-  and biological-warfare capabilities. Intelligence
>> reports indicate that he  is seeking nuclear weapons. (2)

Liberal politicians like these were seconded by the mainstream media, in whose columns a very different tune would later be sung. For example, throughout the last two years of the Clinton administration, editorials in the New York Times repeatedly insisted that

>
>> without  further outside intervention, Iraq should be able to rebuild weapons
>> and  missile plants within a year [and] future military attacks may be
>> required  to diminish the arsenal again.

The Times was also skeptical of negotiations, pointing out that it was

>
>> hard to  negotiate with a tyrant who has no intention of honoring his
>> commitments and  who sees nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons as his
>> country’s  salvation.

So, too, the Washington Post, which greeted the inauguration of George W. Bush in January 2001 with the admonition that

>
>> [o]f all the  booby traps left behind by the Clinton administration, none is
>> more  dangerous—or more urgent—than the situation in Iraq. Over the last
>> year, Mr.  Clinton and his team quietly avoided dealing with, or calling
>> attention to,  the almost complete unraveling of a decade’s efforts to
>> isolate the regime  of Saddam Hussein and prevent it from rebuilding its
>> weapons of mass  destruction. That leaves President Bush to confront a
>> dismaying panorama in  the Persian Gulf [where] intelligence photos . . .
>> show the reconstruction  of factories long suspected of producing chemical
>> and biological weapons.  (3)

All this should surely suffice to prove far beyond any even unreasonable doubt that Bush was telling what he believed to be the truth about Saddam’s stockpile of WMD. It also disposes of the fallback charge that Bush lied by exaggerating or hyping the intelligence presented to him. Why on earth would he have done so when the intelligence itself was so compelling that it convinced everyone who had direct access to it, and when hardly anyone in the world believed that Saddam had, as he claimed, complied with the sixteen resolutions of the Security Council demanding that he get rid of his weapons of mass destruction?

Another fallback charge is that Bush, operating mainly through Cheney, somehow forced the CIA into telling him what he wanted to hear. Yet in its report of 2004, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee, while criticizing the CIA for relying on what in hindsight looked like weak or faulty intelligence, stated that it

>
>> did not find  any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce,
>> influence,  or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq’s
>> weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities.

The March 2005 report of the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission, which investigated intelligence failures on Iraq, reached the same conclusion, finding

>
>> no evidence  of political pressure to influence the intelligence community’s
>> pre-war  assessments of Iraq’s weapons programs. . . . [A]nalysts universally
>> asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or
>> alter any of their analytical judgments.

Still, even many who believed that Saddam did possess WMD, and was ruthless enough to use them, accused Bush of telling a different sort of lie by characterizing the risk as “imminent.” But this, too, is false: Bush consistently rejected imminence as a justification for war. (4) Thus, in the State of the Union address he delivered only three months after 9/11, Bush declared that he would “not wait on events while dangers gather” and that he would “not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer.” Then, in a speech at West Point six months later, he reiterated the same point: “If we wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long.” And as if that were not clear enough, he went out of his way in his State of the Union address in 2003 (that is, three months before the invasion), to bring up the word “imminent” itself precisely in order to repudiate it:

>
>> Some have  said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have
>> terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on
>> notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly
>> emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late.
>> Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy,
>> and it is not an option.

What of the related charge that it was still another “lie” to suggest, as Bush and his people did, that a connection could be traced between Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11? This charge was also rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Contrary to how its findings were summarized in the mainstream media, the committee’s report explicitly concluded that al Qaeda did in fact have a cooperative, if informal, relationship with Iraqi agents working under Saddam. The report of the bipartisan 9/11 commission came to the same conclusion, as did a comparably independent British investigation conducted by Lord Butler, which pointed to “meetings . . . between senior Iraqi representatives and senior al-Qaeda operatives.” (5)

Which brings us to Joseph C. Wilson, IV and what to my mind wins the palm for the most disgraceful instance of all.

The story begins with the notorious sixteen words inserted—after, be it noted, much vetting by the CIA and the State Department—into Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address:

>
>> The British  government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought
>> significant  quantities of uranium from Africa.

This is the “lie” Wilson bragged of having “debunked” after being sent by the CIA to Niger in 2002 to check out the intelligence it had received to that effect. Wilson would later angrily deny that his wife had recommended him for this mission, and would do his best to spread the impression that choosing him had been the Vice President’s idea. But Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, through whom Wilson first planted this impression, was eventually forced to admit that “Cheney apparently didn’t know that Wilson had been dispatched.” (By the time Kristof grudgingly issued this retraction, Wilson himself, in characteristically shameless fashion, was denying that he had ever “said the Vice President sent me or ordered me sent.”) And as for his wife’s supposed non-role in his mission, here is what Valerie Plame Wilson wrote in a memo to her boss at the CIA:

>
>> My husband  has good relations with the PM [the prime minister of Niger] and
>> the former  minister of mines . . . , both of whom could possibly shed light
>> on this  sort of activity.

More than a year after his return, with the help of Kristof, and also Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, and then through an op-ed piece in the Times under his own name, Wilson succeeded, probably beyond his wildest dreams, in setting off a political firestorm.

In response, the White House, no doubt hoping to prevent his allegation about the sixteen words from becoming a proxy for the charge that (in Wilson’s latest iteration of it) “lies and disinformation [were] used to justify the invasion of Iraq,” eventually acknowledged that the President’s statement “did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address.” As might have been expected, however, this panicky response served to make things worse rather than better. And yet it was totally unnecessary—for the maddeningly simple reason that every single one of the sixteen words at issue was true.

That is, British intelligence had assured the CIA that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy enriched uranium from the African country of Niger. Furthermore—and notwithstanding the endlessly repeated assertion that this assurance has now been discredited—Britain’s independent Butler commission concluded that it was “well-founded.” The relevant passage is worth quoting at length:

>
>> a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi  officials visited Niger in 1999.
>>
>> b. The British government had  intelligence from several different sources
>> indicating that this visit was  for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since
>> uranium constitutes almost  three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the
>> intelligence was  credible.
>>
>> c. The evidence was not  conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed
>> to having sought,  uranium, and the British government did not claim  this.
 

As if that were not enough to settle the matter, Wilson himself, far from challenging the British report when he was “debriefed” on his return from Niger (although challenging it is what he now never stops doing - (6) ), actually strengthened the CIA’s belief in its accuracy. From the Senate Intelligence Committee report:

>
>> He [the CIA  reports officer] said he judged that the most important fact in
>> the report  [by Wilson] was that Niger officials admitted that the Iraqi
>> delegation had  traveled there in 1999, and that the Niger prime minister
>> believed the  Iraqis were interested in purchasing  uranium.

And again:

>
>> The report on  [Wilson’s] trip to Niger . . . did not change any analysts’
>> assessments of  the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the
>> information in the  report lent more credibility to the original CIA reports
>> on the uranium  deal.

This passage goes on to note that the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research—which (as we have already seen) did not believe that Saddam Hussein was trying to develop nuclear weapons—found support in Wilson’s report for its “assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq.” But if so, this, as the Butler report quoted above points out, would not mean that Iraq had not tried to buy it—which was the only claim made by British intelligence and then by Bush in the famous sixteen words.

The liar here, then, was not Bush but Wilson. And Wilson also lied when he told the Washington Post that he had unmasked as forgeries certain documents given to American intelligence (by whom it is not yet clear) that supposedly contained additional evidence of Saddam’s efforts to buy uranium from Niger. The documents did indeed turn out to be forgeries; but, according to the Butler report,

>
>> [t]he forged  documents were not available to the British government at the
>> time its  assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not
>> undermine [that  assessment]. (7)

More damning yet to Wilson, the Senate Intelligence Committee discovered that he had never laid eyes on the documents in question:

>
>> [Wilson] also  told committee staff that he was the source of a Washington
>> Post  article . . . which said, “among the envoy’s conclusions was that the
>> documents may have been forged because ‘the dates were wrong and the names
>> were wrong.’” Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have
>> come to the conclusion that the “dates were wrong and the names were wrong”
>> when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names
>> and dates were in the reports.

To top all this off, just as Cheney had nothing to do with the choice of Wilson for the mission to Niger, neither was it true that, as Wilson “confirmed” for a credulous New Republic reporter, “the CIA circulated [his] report to the Vice President’s office,” thereby supposedly proving that Cheney and his staff “knew the Niger story was a flatout lie.” Yet—the mind reels—if Cheney had actually been briefed on Wilson’s oral report to the CIA (which he was not), he would, like the CIA itself, have been more inclined to believe that Saddam had tried to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.

So much for the author of the best-selling and much acclaimed book whose title alone — The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity—has set a new record for chutzpah.

But there is worse. In his press conference on the indictment against Libby, Patrick Fitzgerald insisted that lying to federal investigators is a serious crime both because it is itself against the law and because, by sending them on endless wild-goose chases, it constitutes the even more serious crime of obstruction of justice. By those standards, Wilson—who has repeatedly made false statements about every aspect of his mission to Niger, including whose idea it was to send him and what he told the CIA upon his return; who was then shown up by the Senate Intelligence Committee as having lied about the forged documents; and whose mendacity has sent the whole country into a wild-goose chase after allegations that, the more they are refuted, the more they keep being repeated—is himself an excellent candidate for criminal prosecution.

And so long as we are hunting for liars in this area, let me suggest that we begin with the Democrats now proclaiming that they were duped, and that we then broaden out to all those who in their desperation to delegitimize the larger policy being tested in Iraq—the policy of making the Middle East safe for America by making it safe for democracy—have consistently used distortion, misrepresentation, and selective perception to vilify as immoral a bold and noble enterprise and to brand as an ignominious defeat what is proving itself more and more every day to be a victory of American arms and a vindication of American ideals.
 

—November 7, 2005
 

NORMAN PODHORETZ is the editor-at-large of COMMENTARY and the author of ten books. The most recent, The Norman Podhoretz Reader (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0743236610/102-8206653-3261763), edited by Thomas L. Jeffers, appeared in 2004. His essays on the Bush Doctrine and Iraq, including “World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win” (September 2004) and “The War Against World War IV” (February 2005), can be found by here : http://www.commentarymagazine.com/archive/digitalarchive.aspx?st=advanced&By=Norman%20Podhoretz <http://www.commentarymagazine.com/archive/digitalarchive.aspx?st=advanced&amp;By=Norman%20Podhoretz>
 

ENDNOTES :

1 Hard as it is to believe, let alone to reconcile with his general position, Joseph C. Wilson, IV, in a speech he delivered three months after the invasion at the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, offhandedly made the following remark: “I remain of the view that we will find biological and chemical weapons and we may well find something that indicates that Saddam’s regime maintained an interest in nuclear weapons.”

2 Fuller versions of these and similar statements can be found at http://www.theconversationcafe.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-3134.htmland. Another source is http://www.rightwingnews.com/quotes/demsonwmds.php.

3 These and numerous other such quotations were assembled by Robert Kagan in a piece published in the Washington Post on October 25, 2005.

4 Whereas both John Edwards, later to become John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, and Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, actually did use the word in describing the threat posed by Saddam.

5 In early November, the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who last year gave their unanimous assent to its report, were suddenly mounting a last-ditch effort to take it back on this issue (and others). But to judge from the material they had already begun leaking by November 7, when this article was going to press, the newest “Bush lied” case is as empty and dishonest as the one they themselves previously rejected.

6 Here is how he put it in a piece in the Los Angeles Times written in late October of this year to celebrate the indictment of Libby: “I knew that the statement in Bush’s speech . . . was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa. . . . And I knew that the White House knew it.”

7 More extensive citations of the relevant passages from the Butler report can be found in postings by Daniel McKivergan at www.worldwidestandard.com I have also drawn throughout on materials cited by the invaluable Stephen F. Hayes in the Weekly Standard.

SUNDAY and MONDAY, November 13 and 14, 2005

If I had the opportunity to ask Senator Harry Reid (and also a lot of his Democratic gang) one question, it would be this: 'HAVE YOU NO SHAME, SIR?'    This, in response to their continuing accusations that...not only did both this administration and this Congress get much of pre-war Iraq intelligence wrong...but that the President intentionally lied to the American people and to the world about our reasons for going to war there.  There is absolutely no proof for that accusation.  If there were to be found proof, that would be an impeachable offense.  Meanwhile, there is absolutely no proof.  Under these circumstances, Senators Reid, Kennedy, and company are being totally irresponsible.  Fair-minded Americans should remember that for a long time to come.  Meanwhile, all we saw in the liberal media about President Bush's Veterans' Day reply to such charges was a one-sentence comment and a recurring re-hash of the now dog-eared "poll" showing the President's ratings to be low.  In the interest of fairness, there follows the full text of that speech.  Please read it...and then reserve judgment until the facts are in.

George Bush’s Veterans’ Day Speech
November 11, 2005
Transcript
Bush's Speech on Iraq and Terrorism

Following is a text of a Veterans Day speech by President Bush on the fight against terrorism at Wilkes-Barre, Pa., as transcribed by the Federal News Service.

Thank you all for coming, please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm glad to be back in Pennsylvania, and I'm proud to be the first sitting president to visit Monroe County -- especially pleased to see so many military veterans with us today. Those who have risked their lives for our freedom have the respect and gratitude of our nation on Veterans Day and on every day.

Tobyhanna is a fitting place to commemorate Veterans Day. For the better part of a century, this facility has provided critical services for our armed forces. Around the clock and around the world, personnel from here maintain technology that our troops use to take the fight to the enemy. From Afghanistan to Kuwait to Baghdad International Airport, technicians from Tobyhanna are carrying out dangerous missions with bravery and skill. I know you're proud of them and so is the commander in chief.

Tobyhanna is also home to a thriving community of military families. Your support for those who wear the uniform and your support of each other through difficult times brings great pride to our country. The American people stand with our military families.

I want to thank Colonel Ellis for allowing me to come and give you this speech today, and thank you for your service to our country, Colonel Ellis. I want to thank Senator Specter and Congressman Kanjorski and Congressman Sherwood for joining us today.

It's good to have them on Air Force One. I appreciate their service to our country. I want to thank all the state and local officials and I want to thank all the veterans.

Today our nation pays tribute to those veterans, 25 million veterans, who have worn the uniform of the United States of America. Each of these men and women took an oath to defend America, and they upheld that oath with honor and decency. Through the generations, they have humbled dictators and liberated continents and set a standard of courage and idealism for the entire world.

This year 3-1/2 million veterans celebrate the 60th anniversary of freedom's great victory in World War II. A handful of veterans who live among us in 2005 stood in uniform when World War I ended 87 years ago today. These men are more than a hundred years old. Many of their lives have touched three different centuries. And they can all know that America will be proud of their service.

On Veterans Day we also remember the troops who left America's shores but did not live to be thanked as veterans. On this Veterans Day, we honor the courage of those who were lost in our current struggle. We think of the families who lost a loved one. We pray for their comfort. And we remember the men and women in uniform whose fate is still undetermined -- our prisoners of war and those missing in action. America must never forget their courage, and we will not stop searching until we have accounted for every soldier and sailor and airman and Marine missing in the line of duty.

All of America's veterans have placed the nation's security before their own lives. Their sacrifice creates a debt that America can never fully repay. Yet there are certain things the government can do. My administration remains firmly committed to serving America's veterans.

Since I took office, my administration has increased spending for veterans by $24 billion, an increase of 53 percent. In the first four years as president, we increased spending for veterans more than twice as much as the previous administration did in eight years. And I want to thank the members of the Congress and the Senate for joining me in the efforts to support our veterans.

We've increased the VA's medical care budget by 51 percent, increased total outpatient visits, increased the number of prescriptions filled and reduced the backlog of disability claims. We've committed more than $1.5 billion to modernizing and expanding VA facilities, so that veterans can get better care closer to home.

We've expanded grants to help homeless veterans in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, because we strongly believe no veteran who served in the blazing heat or bitter cold of foreign lands should have to live without shelter in our own country.

I've joined with the veterans' groups to call on Congress to protect the flag of the United States in the Constitution of the United States. In June the House of Representatives voted for a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. I urge the United States Senate to pass this important amendment.

At this hour, a new generation of Americans is defending our flag and our freedom in the first war of the 21st century. The war came to our shores on September the 11th, 2001. That morning we saw the destruction that terrorists intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again, and our nation has made a clear choice. We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity.

We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won.

In the four years since September the 11th, the evil that reached our shores has reappeared on other days in other places -- in Mombasa and Casablanca and Riyadh and Jakarta and Istanbul and Madrid and Beslan and Taba and Netanya and Baghdad and elsewhere. In the past few months, we have seen a new terror offensive with attacks on London and Sharm el-Sheikh, another deadly strike in Bali; and this week, a series of bombings in Amman, Jordan, that killed dozens of innocent Jordanians and their guests. All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random, isolated acts of madness. Innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train or worked in the wrong building or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet, while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil but not insane. Some call this evil "Islamic radicalism," others "militant jihadism" and still others "Islamofacism." Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision -- the establishment by terrorism, subversion and insurgency of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews and against Muslims themselves who do not share their radical vision.

Many militants are part of a global, borderless terrorist organization like al Qaeda, which spreads propaganda and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations, like the attacks of September the 11th. Other militants are found in regional groups often associated with al Qaeda -- paramilitary insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Chechnya, Kashmir and Algeria.

Still others spring up in local cells, inspired by Islamic radicalism, but not centrally directed.

Islamic radicalism is more like a loose network with many branches than an army under a single command. Yet these operatives fighting on scattered battlefields share a similar ideology and vision for our world. We know the vision of the radicals because they have openly stated it in videos, in audiotapes, in letters, in declarations and on websites.

First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions.

Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, has called on Muslims to dedicate, quote, "their resources, their sons and money to driving the infidels out of our lands."

The tactics of al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists have been consistent for a quarter of a century. They hit us, and they expect us to run. Last month the world learned of a letter written by al Qaeda's number-two man, a guy named Zawahiri. And he wrote this letter to his chief deputy in Iraq, the terrorist Zarqawi. In it, Zawahiri points to the Vietnam War as a model for al Qaeda. This is what he said. "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents is noteworthy."

The terrorists witnessed a similar response after the attacks of (sic) American troops in Beirut in 1983 and Mogadishu in 1993. They believe that America can be made to run again, only this time on a larger scale, with greater consequences.

Secondly, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments.

Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal for a time in Afghanistan, and now they've set their sights on Iraq. In his recent letter, Zawahiri writes that al Qaeda views Iraq as, quote, "the place of the greatest battle." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. We must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war against the terrorists.

Third, these militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all modern governments in the region and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. Zawahiri writes that the terrorists, quote, "must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq." He goes on to say the jihad requires several incremental goals -- expel the Americans from Iraq, establish an Islamic authority over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq. End quote.

With the greater economic and military and political power they seek, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda -- to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people and to blackmail our government into isolation.

Some might be tempted to dismiss these goals as fanatical or extreme. They are fanatical and extreme, but they should not be dismissed. Our enemy is utterly committed. As Zarqawi has vowed: We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life. And a civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history -- from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot -- consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history.

Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously, and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.

Beating the militant network's difficult because it thrives like a parasite on the suffering and frustration of others. The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentment and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as pawns of terror.

And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power. Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb or fire a rocket-propelled grenade. And this further spreads the threat of violence even within peaceful democratic societies.

The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They've been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Iran and Syria, that share the goal of hurting America and modern Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West, on America and on the Jews.

This week the government of Syria took two disturbing steps. First, it arrested Dr. Kamal Labwani for serving as an advocate for democratic reform. Then President Assad delivered a strident speech that attacked both the Lebanese government and the integrity of the Mehlis investigation into the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister.

The government of Syria must do what the international community has demanded -- cooperate fully with the Mehlis investigation and stop trying to intimidate and destabilize the Lebanese government. The government of Syria must stop exporting violence and starting importing democracy.

The radicals depend on front operations such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. They are strengthened by those who aggressively fund the spread of radical intolerant versions of Islam into unstable parts of the world. The militants are aided as well by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American war on Islam with seldom a word about American action to protect Muslims in Afghanistan and Bosnia and Somalia and Kosovo and Kuwait and Iraq, or seldom a word about our generous assistance to Muslims recovering from natural disasters in places like Indonesia and Pakistan.

Some have also argued that extremists have been strengthened by our actions in Iraq claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals. I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001. The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse. The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more then 150 Russian school children in Beslan. Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence: the Israeli presence on the West Bank, the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, the defeat of the Taliban or the Crusades of a thousand years ago.

In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of killers, and no concession, bribe or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder. On the contrary, they target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence. Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response -- we will never back down, we will never give in, we will never accept anything less than complete victory! The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, "What is good for them and what is not." What this man, who grew up in wealth and privilege, considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that this road to -- that this is the road to paradise -- though he never offers to go along for the ride. Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life.

We have seen it in the murders of Daniel Pearl and Nicholas Berg and Margaret Hanson (sic; means Hassan) and so many others.

In a courtroom in the Netherlands, the killer of Theo van Gogh turned to the victim's grieving mother and said, "I don't feel your pain, because I believe you're an infidel."

And in spite of this veneer of religious rhetoric, most of the victims claimed by the militants are fellow Muslims.

Recently in the town of Howaider, Iraq, a terrorist detonated a pickup truck parked along a busy street lined with restaurants and shops, just as residents were gathering to break the day-long fast observed during Ramadan. The explosion killed at least 25 people and wounded 34.

When unsuspecting Muslims breaking their Ramadan fast are targeted for death, or 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, this is murder, pure and simple, the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion.

These militants are not just the enemies of America or the enemies of Iraq. They are the enemies of Islam, and they're the enemies of humanity.

And we have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags, the Cultural Revolution and the killing fields. Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy pursues totalitarian aims. Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth, they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books and desecrated historical monuments and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, to control every aspect of life, to rule the soul itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing a future of oppression and misery.

Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy is dismissive of free peoples, claiming that men and women who live in liberty are weak and decadent. Zarqawi has said that Americans are, quote, "the most cowardly of God's creatures." But let us be clear, it is cowardice that seeks to kill children and the elderly with car bombs, and cuts the throat of a bound captive, and targets worshipers leaving a mosque. It is courage that liberated more than 50 million people from tyranny. It is courage that keeps an untiring vigil against the enemies of rising democracies. And it is courage in the cause of freedom that will once again destroy the enemies of freedom!

And Islamic radicalism, like the ideology of communism, contains inherent contradictions that doom it to failure. By fearing freedom, by distrusting human creativity, and punishing change, and limiting the contributions of half a population, this ideology undermines the very qualities that make human progress possible and human societies successful. The only thing modern about the militants' vision is the weapons they want to use against us. The rest of their grim vision is defined by a warped image of the past, a declaration of war on the idea of progress itself. And whatever lies ahead in the war against this ideology, the outcome is not in doubt. Those who despise freedom and progress have condemned themselves to isolation and decline and collapse. Because free peoples believe in the future, free peoples will own the future.

We didn't ask for this global struggle, but we're answering history's call with confidence and with a comprehensive strategy. Defeating a broad and adaptive network requires patience, constant pressure, and strong partners in Europe and in the Middle East and North Africa and Asia and beyond. Working with these partners, we're disrupting militant conspiracies, we're destroying their ability to make war, and we're working to give millions in a troubled region a hopeful alternative to resentment and violence.

First, we're determined to prevent attacks of the terrorist networks before they occur. We are reorganizing our government to give this nation a broad and coordinated homeland defense. We're reforming our intelligence agencies for the incredibly difficult task of tracking enemy activity, based on information that often comes in small fragments from widely scattered sources both here and abroad. And we're acting along with governments from other countries to destroy the terrorist networks and incapacitate their leadership.

Together with our partners, we've disrupted a number of serious al Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including several plots to attack inside the United States. Our coalition against terror has killed or captured nearly all those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks. We've captured or killed several of bin Laden's most serious deputies, al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda's operations in the Persian Gulf; the mastermind of the bombings in Jakarta and Bali; a senior Zarqawi terrorist planner who was planning attacks in Turkey; and many of their senior leaders in Saudi Arabia.

Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded. But the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders are held to account for their murder!

Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation. The United States, working with Great Britain and Pakistan and other nations, has exposed and disrupted a major black-market operation in nuclear technology led by A.Q. Khan. Libya has abandoned its chemical and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its long-range ballistic missiles. And in the past year, America and our partners in the Proliferation Security Initiative have stopped more than dozen shipments of suspect weapons technology, including equipment for Iran's ballistic missile program.

This progress has reduced the danger to free nations, but it has not removed it. Evil men who want to use horrendous weapons against us are working in deadly earnest to gain them, and we're working urgently to keep the weapons of mass murder out of the hands of the fanatics.

Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them because they're equally guilty of murder.

Fourth, we're determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use a home base and a launching pad for terror. This mission has brought new and urgent responsibilities to our armed forces. American troops are fighting beside Afghan partners and against remnants of the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies. We're working with President Musharraf to oppose and isolate the militants in Pakistan. We're fighting regime remnants and terrorists in Iraq.

The terrorists' goal is to overthrow a rising democracy, claim a strategic country as a haven for terror, destabilize the Middle East and strike America and other free nations with increasing violence.

Our goal is to defeat the terrorists and their allies at the heart of their power, so we will defeat the enemy in Iraq.

Our coalition along with our Iraqi allies is moving forward with a comprehensive plan. Our strategy is to clear, hold and build. We're working to clear areas from terrorist control, to hold those areas securely and to build lasting democratic Iraqi institutions to an increasingly inclusive political process.

In recent weeks, American and Iraqi troops have conducted several major assaults to clear out enemy fighters in Baghdad and parts of Iraq.

Two weeks ago, in Operation Clean Sweep, Iraq and coalition forces raided 350 houses south of Baghdad, capturing more than 40 of the terrorist killers. Acting on tips from local citizens, our forces have recently launched airstrikes against terrorist safe houses in and around the towns of Obeidi and Husaybah. We brought to justice two key senior al Qaeda terrorist leaders. And in Mosul, coalition forces killed an al Qaeda cell leader named Musslit, who was personally involved in at least three videotaped beheadings. We're on the hunt. We're keeping pressure on the enemy.

And thousands of Iraqi forces have been participating in these operations. And even more Iraqis are joining the fight. Last month, nearly 3,000 Iraqi police officers graduated from 10 weeks of basic training. They'll now take their places along other brave Iraqis who are taking the fight to the terrorists across their own country. Iraqi police and security forces are helping to clear terrorists from their strongholds, helping to hold on to areas that we've cleared. They're working to prevent the enemy from returning. Iraqi forces are using their local expertise to maintain security and to build political and economic institutions that will help improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

At the same time, the Iraqis are making inspiring progress toward building a democracy. Last month, millions of Iraqis turned out to vote, and they approved a new constitution that guarantees fundamental freedoms and lays the foundation for lasting democracy. Many more Sunnis participated in this vote than in January's historic elections, and the level of violence was lower. Now Iraqis are gearing up for December 15th elections, when they will go to the polls to choose a government under the new constitution. The new government will serve a four-year term, and it will represent all Iraqis. Even those who voted against the constitution are now organizing and preparing for the December elections. Multiple Sunni-Arab parties have submitted a list of candidates, and several prominent Sunni politicians are running on other slates. With two successful elections completed and a third coming up next month, the Iraqi people are proving their determination to build a democracy united against extremism and violence.

The work ahead involves great risk for Iraqis and for American and coalition forces. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in this war on terror.

Each of these men and women left grieving families and left loved ones at home. Each of these patriots left a legacy that will allow generations of fellow Americans to enjoy the blessings of liberty. Each loss of life is heartbreaking, and the best way to honor the sacrifice of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and to lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

The terrorists are as brutal an enemy as we've ever faced, unconstrained by any notion of our common humanity or by the rules of warfare. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight. Some observers look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism. It is not justified. With every random bombing, with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fighters; they're murderers at war with the Iraqi people themselves.

In contrast, the elected leaders of Iraq are proving to be strong and steadfast. By any standard or precedent of history, Iraq has made incredible political progress -- from tyranny to liberation to national elections to the ratification of a constitution in the space of two and a half years. I have said, as Iraqis stand up, Americans will stand down. And with our help, the Iraqi military is gaining new capabilities and new confidence with each passing month. At the time of our Fallujah operations a year ago, there were only a few Iraqi army battalions in combat. Today there are nearly 90 Iraqi army battalions fighting the terrorists alongside our forces.

General David Petraeus says Iraqis are in the fight. They're fighting and dying for their country, and they're fighting increasingly well.

This progress is not easy, but it is steady. And no fair-minded person should ignore, deny or dismiss the achievements of the Iraqi people.

And our debate at home must also be fair-minded. One of the hallmarks of a free society and what makes our country strong is that our political leaders can discuss their differences openly, even in times of war.

When I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, Congress approved it with strong bipartisan support. I also recognize that some of our fellow citizens and elected officials didn't support the liberation of Iraq, and that is their right, and I respect it. As president and commander in chief, I (accept ?) the responsibilities and the criticisms and the consequences that come with such a solemn decision. While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.

Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons programs. They also know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hand is a threat and a grave threat to our security."

That's why more then a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate, who had access to the same intelligence, voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power.

The stakes in the global war on terror are too high, and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges. These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops and to an enemy that is questioning America's will. As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders who voted to send to them to war continue to stand behind them. Our troops deserve to know that this support will remain firm when the going gets tough. And our troops deserve to know that when -- whatever our differences in Washington, our will is strong, our nation is united, and we will settle for nothing less then victory.

The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East.

This is difficult and it's a long-term project, yet there's no alternative to it. Our future and the future of the region are linked. If the broader Middle East is left to grow in bitterness, if countries remain in misery while radicals stir the resentment of millions, then that part of the world will be a source of endless conflict and mounting danger in our generation and for the next.

If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny and advance by their own energy and participation of free men and women, then the extremists will be marginalized and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end. By standing for hope and freedom of others, we make our own freedom more secure.

America is making this stand in practical ways. We're encouraging our friends in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to take the path of reform, to strengthen their own societies in the fight against terror by respecting the rights and choices of their own people. We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self- determination and the rule of law and religious freedom and equal rights for women, beliefs that are right and true in every land and in every culture.

And as we do our part to confront radicalism and to protect the United Sates, we know that a lot of vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself. And the work's beginning. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing Chapter 5, Verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all humanity.

After the attacks on July 7th in London, an imam in the United Arab Emirates declared, "Whoever does such a thing is not a Muslim nor a religious person."

The time has come for responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends and defiles a noble faith.

Many people of the Muslim faith are proving their commitment at great personal risk. Everywhere we've engaged the fight against extremism, Muslim allies have stood up and joined the fight, becoming partners in this vital cause. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al Qaeda in their country. These brave citizens know the stakes: the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own region, the justice and humanity of their own tradition. And the United States of America is proud to stand beside them.

With the rise of a deadly enemy and the unfolding of a global ideological struggle, our time in history will be remembered for new challenges and unprecedented dangers. And yet this fight we have joined is also the current expression of an ancient struggle because those who put their faith in dictators and those who put their faith in the people. Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision, and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure, until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent, until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course of our own struggle will take or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice.

We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history, and we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

Thank you for coming. May God bless our veterans, may God bless our troops in harm's way, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

GS

SATURDAY, November 12, 2005

There is a severe threat now from a radicalized Islam, not main-stream but very powerful and growing daily, that can convert Europe to Eurabia and can be a greater threat to the U.S. than Hitler ever was.

There is no recognition of this today in the world.  Recent historical examples of this occurred in both the U.S. and in England before WW ll: denial, followed urgently by reversal, and then by restriction of civil rights for the benefit of civil defense.

What to do? 1) Declare war formally on Islamic Jihad, thereby providing the President to prepare and execute properly; 2) Utilize ethnic profiling; 3) Secure our borders...really! 4) Adopt national biometric identity cards; 5) Chart the progress of all this vs. complacency, and perform fact-based analyses; 6) take advantage of globalization to globalize the war effort.  Especially strengthen our alliance with Europe, the queen of denial; 7) Fight and win the culture war, for the sake of freedom and human rights.

GS

FRIDAY, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day.  This was always an important day for my father, who served in the Italian Army artillery at the age of 18.  We have had many such days since 1918; and we are currently working and fighting toward another at some time in the future.  Meanwhile, we are again at war, despite the harmful and futile efforts of many to deny the fact.  Nor is that a new reaction in this country.  This is an amorphous war, although no less deadly.  Afganistan, Iraq, Jordan, France, Australia, Egypt, Turkey...and of course both pre-and post- 9/11 America.  This is World War III.  As proposed by Tony Blankley in his fine book, "The West's Last Chance" (Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, 2005): "What we need is a clear congressional--as prescribed by the Constitution--declaration of war.  Congress should declare war on the Islamist jihadists." (p165).  Meanwhile, our war leaders President Bush and Prime Minister Blair continue to be attacked through all manner of inuendo...but no proof of intentional wrong-doing.  Only occasionally does anyone in position of power come to their defense.  That happened today in a speech by Senator John McCain.  Neither the Pentagon nor the U.S. State Department have been serving their Commander-in-Chief particularly well for some time; and this, while the country is at war.

GS

THURSDAY, November 10, 2005

You would never know it from reading and listening to big city media tripe, but there are still many good people in this country who appreciate America.

GS

From a circulated Internet email:

Don't know whether you heard about this but Denzel Washington and his family visited the troops at Brook Army Medical Center, in San Antonio,Texas  (BAMC)  the other day. This is where soldiers that have been evacuated from Germany come to be hospitalized in the States, especially burn victims.  They have buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a hotel where soldiers' families can stay, for little or no charge, while their soldier is staying in the hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base but as you can imagine, they are almost completely filled most of the time.

While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He took his check book out and wrote a check for the full amount right there on the spot.  The soldiers overseas were amazed to hear this story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it.

The question I have is why do Alec Baldwin, Madonna, Sean Penn and other Hollywood types make front page news with their anti-everything America crap and this doesn't even make page 3 in the Metro section of any newspapers except the base newspaper in San Antonio.

A true American and friend to all in uniform!

WEDNESDAY, November 9, 2005

Election Day, and the people have spoken.  "In a democracy, the people always get what they deserve".

GS

SATURDAY through TUESDAY, November 5 through 8, 2005

GS

FRIDAY, November 4, 2005

GS

THURSDAY, November 3, 2005

GS

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, November 1 and 2, 2005

GS
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