Archive: Washington Follies

A Sordid Sea Tale

A rising Navy officer serving as a military aide to President George H.W. Bush has an adulterous affair, lying to his wife that his various absences are mission-related and to his mistress that he is a widower. When he gets...

By William M. Arkin | May 21, 2008; 09:40 AM ET | Comments (6)

Support the Troops, Burn Money

It was a big day for apologies to the troops yesterday. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates apologized once again for the sub-standard treatment the war wounded receive, security rules are being modified to avoid the stigma that mental health treatment...

By William M. Arkin | May 2, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (48)

Commander's Resignation Shows a New Era of Micromanagement

The story behind William Fallon's resignation is complicated.

By William M. Arkin | March 12, 2008; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (169)

In Iraq, Where Does All Our Money Go?

We're spending $246 million a day in Iraq. So why are military efforts so strapped for cash?

By William M. Arkin | November 20, 2007; 09:59 AM ET | Comments (26)

Don't Believe the Desertions Story

Statistics about Army desertions are complicated and don't necessarily support the views of either pro-military or anti-war activists.

By William M. Arkin | November 19, 2007; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (10)

A Counterterrorism Celebration

While this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting has gained a lot of press, another Asian confab, celebrating cooperation of a different sort, has gone under the radar.

By William M. Arkin | September 7, 2007; 06:59 AM ET | Comments (9)

Washington to Maliki: Help!

Oust Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki? By criticizing him, Washington will just make him more popular than ever.

By William M. Arkin | August 21, 2007; 08:09 AM ET | Comments (53)

Partisan Warfare

As Congress and the American public prepare for the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus on the progress of the surge in Iraq, we'll hear a lot about the value of 'professional' military advice. But top military officers are also political partisans.

By William M. Arkin | August 14, 2007; 08:43 AM ET | Comments (13)

Boykin Released After Four Years in Captivity

After almost four years in captivity, Lt. Gen. William G. ("Jerry") Boykin, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence for intelligence and warfighting support, is being released from his Pentagon confinement and will retire from the Army. In October 2003, I...

By William M. Arkin | May 23, 2007; 07:13 AM ET | Comments (17)

Is Giuliani Another World Trade Center Casualty?

Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, medal of whatever recipient and knucklehead U.S. commander four years ago in Iraq, continues to make a killing on the speaking circuit. The only threat to Franks' future is Rudy Giuliani, a 9/11 icon who has...

By William M. Arkin | April 10, 2007; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (1016)

An Admiral Takes the Helm in the Middle East

Adm. William J. Fallon takes over as Commander of U.S. Central Command today, with headquarters in Tampa, Florida. I've written a couple of articles about Fallon, about his views on Iran and his legacy in Asia as U.S. Pacific commander....

By William M. Arkin | March 16, 2007; 08:21 AM ET | Comments (10)

It's Time to See the Army like FEMA

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is synonymous with disaster. When ever it in the news, of course you know some disaster has occurred. And we're pretty sure as well that part of that disaster is FEMA itself: relief checks...

By William M. Arkin | March 12, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

Our Money Problem and Walter Reed

Despite an admirable numbers of firings in the Walter Reed scandal and a tidal wave of commissions, reviews and investigations, are the powers-that-be latching on to the explanation that the military's problem in caring for America's war-injured is one of...

By William M. Arkin | March 8, 2007; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (59)

Libby as Metaphor for Washington Dining, Whining and Slithering

The partisan anti-Bush interpretation of the guilty verdict for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is that the president and vice president would equally be found guilty of perjury in a court of law for the "lies" they told the American people...

By William M. Arkin | March 7, 2007; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (76)

America Needs a Few Good Civilians

The White House announcement last week that it was nominating Dell L. Dailey of South Dakota to be the State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism immediately caught my attention. Dailey, who is hardly a household figure, is famous in the world...

By William M. Arkin | February 20, 2007; 08:38 AM ET | Comments (41)

Congress, and the American People vs. The Troops

President Bush travels to Ft. Benning, Georgia, on Thursday to begin his PR effort to sell his Iraq plan. The troops there are just background: The target is the Democratic Congress. The only way the President will get what he...

By William M. Arkin | January 9, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (93)

The American Military Cleans Up Again

A Red Line abandoned, an Admiral looking to the future, the smartest general around who's going to save the day. The change in American military leadership, from Rumsfeld on down, is also meant to put maximum pressure on the Democratic...

By William M. Arkin | January 8, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

The New Extremists

Extremist-in-chief George W. Bush yesterday continued along his merry way, going over the heads of the wise men and defying Washington moderation and the glories of bipartisan centrism to remind the American public that he is also the protector. "The...

By William M. Arkin | December 8, 2006; 09:20 AM ET | Comments (59)

Civil War: What's in a Name?

Now that Television has decided to label the fighting in Iraq a civil war, it's-a-civil-war pundits will wage battle against members of the it's-not-a-civil-war camp. I suppose there are some in the middle who argue without political intent that the...

By William M. Arkin | November 28, 2006; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (53)

World War II and Iraq: It's More Than Just Days That Are Different

Today's news that the Iraq war now exceeds World War II in number of days doesn't strike me as commentary on the failures of the Bush administration or Donald Rumsfeld. It strikes me first as a failure of official Washington,...

By William M. Arkin | November 27, 2006; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (27)

Threads that lead to a Turkey

The assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel yesterday and the inevitable connection to Syria and Hezbollah puts the kibosh of the dream of a grand regional solution to Iraq, a solution I questioned yesterday. Christian Gemayel was an outspoken...

By William M. Arkin | November 22, 2006; 09:35 AM ET | Comments (21)

The Fake Options Debate

By now, it should be clear to everyone that the options being bandied about for what to do in Iraq are all about the limitations of the United States military. As Tom Ricks reports today in The Post there may...

By William M. Arkin | November 20, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (112)

Second Chance Gates

"I'm open to any idea or suggestion that will help us achieve our goals of defeating the terrorists and ensuring that Iraq's democratic government succeeds," President Bush said yesterday. A Democratic majority and the purging of Secretary of Defense Donald...

By William M. Arkin | November 10, 2006; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (40)

The Democrats' Martial Plan

A solid majority of voting Americans, according to both exit polls and the results, disapprove of the Iraq war and President Bush's job performance, mostly due to his handling of national security. The Democrats and the administration now need to...

By William M. Arkin | November 8, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (56)

The Mandate on Rumsfeld

In the weekend before an election, everything is political. So when the Military Times newspapers revealed this weekend that they would be calling for President Bush to fire Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld in their upcoming November 13 issues,...

By William M. Arkin | November 6, 2006; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (22)

A Draft Might Help Us

Poor John Kerry. False debate and fake scandal. Here's my perspective on the fact that I got more than 100 comments on my John Kerry blog as well as dozens of e-mails, many decrying the media focus on this story:...

By William M. Arkin | November 2, 2006; 12:39 PM ET | Comments (79)

Sen. Kerry Gets Stuck in Iraq

If anyone is proof positive that a good education has nothing to do with being stuck in Iraq, it's John Kerry. The Massachusetts senator removed the silver spoon from his mouth just long enough to insert foot, bobbing and weaving...

By William M. Arkin | November 1, 2006; 08:25 AM ET | Comments (181)

A Tale of Two Budgets

I rarely have written about the defense budget, seeing it almost as a political side show to policy, with twists and turns requiring constant attention and special expertise to decipher. The budget, moreover, seems secondary to war itself, the domain...

By William M. Arkin | October 30, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (16)

America Spends To Keep the Military Away

The Air Force, which has been on a tear cutting positions in its uniformed ranks to save modernization money, has announced that it is cutting about 3,500 jobs from its Europe-based force. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England has meanwhile...

By William M. Arkin | October 26, 2006; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (19)

The Human Side of Civilian Casualties

Death is what it's all about in Iraq these days: The growing number of U.S. deaths confounds military commanders and exasperates the public; the Iraqi death spiral widens with no end in sight. It's not as though anyone is going...

By William M. Arkin | October 24, 2006; 10:43 AM ET | Comments (48)

Woodward v. Bush

I'll admit I haven't read Woodward's book yet, but like the rest of America, I'm enjoying the fracas.As for the substance of Woodward's four talking points -- attempts by some in the White House to fire Mr. Rumsfeld; the administration's...

By William M. Arkin | October 3, 2006; 02:33 PM ET | Comments (64)

The Final Verdict on Able Danger

Distrust of the White House and Congress has become so epidemic, vast numbers of Americans now accept conspiracy theories about September 11, 2001, including the most diabolical: that the U.S. government somehow was complicit and even responsible for the events.A...

By William M. Arkin | September 25, 2006; 09:19 AM ET | Comments (42)

Nuclear Gloom and Doom

The ultimate threat? Terrorists with weapons of mass destruction.  If such men ever get such weapons, they will almost certainly be deployed. When President Bush highlighted this near-universal truth yesterday, some complained it was merely a Republican campaign ploy....

By William M. Arkin | September 6, 2006; 09:22 AM ET | Comments (235)

Michael Brown: Go Away

Is it just me, or does former FEMA director Michael Brown bear a striking resemblance to JonBenet Ramsey fantasist and liar John Mark Karr? Both just can't get out of the news: Michael Brown is back blaming Secretary of...

By William M. Arkin | August 29, 2006; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (66)

Paving the Way to War with Iran

U.S. intelligence -- duh -- lacks the ability to assess Iran's nuclear program and intentions, a House Intelligence Committee report says. The op-ed pages are filled with hard-line and dovish advice on what to do about Iran. President Bush...

By William M. Arkin | August 24, 2006; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (186)

Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?

News of an involuntary call-up of Marine Corps reservists and a Defense Department budget so out-of-control that even the Republican Senate Budget Committee chair speaks of Congress' failure of oversight, is music to my ears. Not because I'm some...

By William M. Arkin | August 23, 2006; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (152)

Follow the Liquids

There is only one interesting question to come from the busted airline plot in the United Kingdom, and the answer will make the American public boiling mad. No, it’s not whether this is al Qaeda or not. No, it’s...

By William M. Arkin | August 11, 2006; 08:09 AM ET | Comments (94)

On Iraq, the Military Shares Some Blame

In the post-Lieberman world, with the Iraq war declared little more than a looming electoral mandate, one group is left not just holding the bag but seems excused from judgment: the American military. Those on the ground in Iraq...

By William M. Arkin | August 10, 2006; 09:42 AM ET | Comments (33)

A Solution Lost to Bureaucracy

Israel has lost its current war against Hezbollah. Not because it hasn't achieved many of its military goals and isn't on the way to achieving more. Not because airpower and technology intrinsically are useless in fighting the "new" war....

By William M. Arkin | August 9, 2006; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (48)

Hezbollah's Strategy, and Ours

Yesterday was a big head-hunting day. Sen. Hillary Clinton went for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's head; Israel went for that of Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. Back at full-scale bombing after the 48 hour "suspension," Israel hopes to...

By William M. Arkin | August 4, 2006; 09:53 AM ET | Comments (243)

Dog Days at Homeland Security

This just in from the KG: The Department of Homeland Security has issued an update on National Preparedness Month, scheduled for September. Want to be particularly vigilant around the five year anniversary of 9/11 to prevent domestic terrorism? Celebrate...

By William M. Arkin | July 31, 2006; 07:08 AM ET | Comments (10)

Small Rewards in Afghanistan and Iraq

Quirky data begets quirky data. My Fenway post yesterday was seen by a bureaucrat in Iraq, who thought I might be interested in this factoid that crossed his desk. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) paid out $3.86 million to over...

By William M. Arkin | July 25, 2006; 01:41 PM ET | Comments (5)

The Department of Homeland Security's Unlimited "Priorities"

The Department of Homeland Security's "National Asset Database," described in yesterday's New York Times," is made for mocking. The government database lists among other critical infrastructure and key resources a Pennsylvania-based Amish popcorn company, the Groundhog Zoo; a kangaroo...

By William M. Arkin | July 13, 2006; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (38)

A Bumper-Sticker Thin Proposal

Jamie Rubin’s op-ed in The New York Times today couldn’t be more wrong-headed.  Rubin suggests a winning national security “strategy” for the Democratic Party in calling for withdrawal from Iraq and a renewal of vows on Afghanistan.  A call...

By William M. Arkin | July 7, 2006; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (35)

The Price of Homeland Security

Yet another task force has issued yet another failing report card to the federal government on homeland security. Nearly five years after 9/11, it says "we cannot count on the national government to perform one of its most basic...

By William M. Arkin | July 3, 2006; 08:28 AM ET | Comments (39)

The Hero of Guantanamo

"We can't be scared out of who we are." That statement by Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the military appointed defense attorney for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, is the real victory to build upon in the aftermath of the Supreme Court...

By William M. Arkin | June 30, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (95)

Defining WMD

Only an idiot would argue that, in 2003, Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein's government surely concealed whatever it could from U.N. inspectors, including items for which Baghdad and the U.N. had failed to account following...

By William M. Arkin | June 23, 2006; 09:08 AM ET | Comments (136)

WMD Prep in Washington

Code Name(s) of the Week: Marble Challenge, Focal Point North Korea prepares to test its missile, Iran stiff-arms the West by setting the pace of nuclear negotiations, terrorists obtain enough highly enriched uranium to build a 10-kiloton nuclear device, which...

By William M. Arkin | June 22, 2006; 09:41 AM ET | Comments (62)

More About THE PLAN

I've been going through correspondence on continuity of government coming in following up on my Outlook piece on Sunday. Thanks especially to the various government workers and former officials who have written to share their own experiences with continuity evacuation...

By William M. Arkin | June 6, 2006; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (28)


© 2007 The Washington Post Company