The Iraqi-al Qaeda Connection

In a news conference following Bush's announcement of his plan for Victory in Iraq, Sen. Richard Lugar said:

It is not an option simply to say that Iraq doesn't matter. Iraq does matter because, in the worst of cases, not only would there be civil war but there would be intervention by other countries, the possibility for training ground for al Qaeda or others and we've recycled Afghanistan from another time and another place into a very dangerous predicament. And we are in this predicament because we were attacked here in Washington and in New York. The world did not leave us alone.

Sorry, but who didn't leave us alone? All those Iraqi hijackers? Oh, wait, they weren't Iraqi. Most were Saudi; not a single one was Iraqi. (Nor were any of the hijackers Iranian. Or Syrian. How again is it that Saudi Arabia isn't a member of the Axis of Evil? But I digress.)

Point is, it is astonishing that respected members of Congress are still making these logical leaps from Sept. 11 to Saddam Hussein. That's in spite of the fact that it was more than two years ago that President Bush himself admitted there was no evidence of a connection between the attack on America and the little pismire in Baghdad.

Just a few months after Bush made this decidedly unstartling admission, U.S. Rep. Mac Collins again conflated Iraq and 9/11. In the Chatanooga Times Free Press in December of 2000, he asserted:

We are at war in Iraq because it is a major step in our effort to defeat the radical group of Islamic militants that killed more than 3,000 innocent Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. We didn't start this war; the Islamic militants did because they are fundamentally opposed to the very idea of freedom and against those who hold up freedom's banner: the United States of America.

The tendency of war supporters to relate Saddam Hussein to 9/11 has left some Debaters expressing exasperation that resources were diverted from Afghanistan -- a haven for terrorists -- to Iraq, which only became a haven for terrorists after the invasion.

"Like most bullies, Bush picked the weakest opponent he possibly could find," Debater Left Angle offers.

"That the War On Terror suddenly became all about Iraq and little to do with Osama Bin Laden has always baffled me," reflects Debater ErrinF. "Bin Laden was behind 9/11, and yet Saddam Hussein got put on the top of the hit list instead of Osama because of 9/11 and Bush's manipulation thereof. Could capture Saddam; Couldn't capture Osama. If that's all that Bush can claim by the end of his presidency, then he will have done the American people a great disservice."

By Emily Messner |  December 6, 2005; 12:45 PM ET  | Category:  Beltway Perspectives
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Sorry to burst the Leftist bubble, but there were terrorists in Iraq before the invasion. There are terorists all over the world. This is a global war on terror. Iraq was just one of the first stops because their leader was a tyrant. Hussein was the bully. We were the jock that Left Angle always hoped would come save him from bullies but never did. Anyone heard the latest news from the ground? We're still winning. We were never losing. What we're trying to do their takes time. It's not like WWII when all we had to do was kill everybody. This is a whole new ballgame and it's not going to happen overnight. Have some resolve.
Hussein was the worst kind of terrorist. He butchered his own people. Go join his defense team.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 01:07 PM

To Emily: Is there such a thing as a big pismire? (Love the word, keep sneaking them in!) Canada is also a possibile training ground for al Qaeda. Let's add them to the Axis of Evil. But the Axis is getting big. How about a Wheel of Evil?

To Hammy Alex: We didn't just kill everybody in WWII, you're forgetting about the Marshall Plan, which took years. I would talk about the Rumsfeld Plan, but there isn't one. You're worried about Americans showing resolve. I think Bush factored anti-war sentiment into his pre-war calculations. He's the one who needs to show some resolve - sending Condoleeza to mollify Europe. I thought terrorism justifies any response? He used to say that.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 01:26 PM

Alex, no there were no terrorists in Iraq when America took over. It was a country ruled by a dictator, there was no opposition. It was a country cowed by a leader who terrorized everyone. But no terrorists, they came later when the Americans came, drawn by America. Do your research, the information is out there.
Don't believe the propaganda, you have to research everything, assume nothing.
The big question is why Bush has no interest in Osama anymore. I saw him interviewed in 2002, and he said he wasn't interested in Osama anymore. It appears Osama gave him a pretext to follow his own agenda. Is that because his brother Salem (Osama's) has been the bucks behind Bush for a long time. This war is only smoke and mirrors for a big oil agenda.

Posted by: Gael | December 6, 2005 01:45 PM

Gael - I'm a government employee for the Army. Trust me, terrorists were in Iraq before the invasion. The research was done. Just because the government doesn't tell the public something doesn't mean it's not happening. Believe it or not, sometimes it's in the best inetrest of the United States as a whole not to know every little detail. That's how the enemy gets the upper hand - freedom of information.
Turnabout - I didn't realize Canada was a possible training ground for terrorists. If that's the case and there's evidence to back it up (like there was for Iraq), then we should look into it. If you're just being a smartass because you're a leftist pig and can't come with anything with merit, quit writing.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 02:13 PM

To Hammy: Trust me, terrorists were in Canada before the invasion. The research was done. Just because the government doesn't tell the public something doesn't mean it's not happening. LOL!

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 02:28 PM

Alex - Government employee for the Army? It seems to me then that you are either talking out of your hole or are divulging classified information. I prefer to believe the former. Hussein ran one of the most secular regimes in the entire middle-east. He fought a bloody war with Iran precisly to keep the Islamic revolution out of Iraq. If there were any terrorists in Iraq (pre-invasion) they would have been hiding in fear of their lives. While I disagree the administration's purpose behind the invasion of Iraq was in oil company interests (I think Chaney and Rumsfeld talked him into it), the invasion still cannot be justified by the events of 9/11.

Posted by: Ken | December 6, 2005 02:43 PM

Alex Ham:

I AM a jock and never had a problem with bullies because I could always take care of myself, believe me. I always thought and it has been proven that bullies are basically cowards, that back down when you stand up to them.

Maybe you need to reread Ms. Messners original post. She is talking about the non-connection between Iraq & Al Qaeda.
A connection President Bush and the Republicans are convinced that exist and
have promoted since the before the beggining of the Iraqi war.

Face it Mr. Ham. Sadaam Hussien was no "imminent threat" to the U.S., There were no "hughe caches of wmd's or a reconsituted nuclear program" in Iraq,
the U.S. isnt "safer" with the removal of
Sadaam Hussien from power and the "real"
architects of 9-11-01 Osama bin Laden and
Al Qaeda have reorganized and are wreaking havoc on western interest abroad. In the meantime President Bush dawdles on about "staying the course"& "spreading democracy in Iraq".

How do YOU define "winning" in Iraq. please explain.

Oh by the way just for your information:

The FBI and CIA testified before congress last year that terrorist cells are established in the U.S. as we speak.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 6, 2005 02:43 PM

Turnabout - I'm glad something like terrorism is a big joke to you. Speaks a lot towards your character. Then again, what can I expect from the Left?
Truth is it doesn't matter what you know or believe. Thankfully, you're not calling the shots or gathering intelligence. We'd all be over in Osama's lap planting flowers and singing.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 02:45 PM

Ken - I know the difference between what's classified and what isn't. If you look in the right places, you can find the info I stated to you.
Left Angle - Just because someone isn't an imminent threat to the U.S. doesn't mean we should sit back and allow evil to thrive. Also, what's the point about the existence of terrorist cells in the U.S.? Have there been any attacks? Do you feel unsafe? Then someone is doing something right.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 02:53 PM

Alex Ham-

Do you think we should invade Saudi Arabia (legitimate question)?

Posted by: Will | December 6, 2005 02:54 PM

Will - First of all, thanks for being serious?
To answer your question, no. Right now our hands are full and the military is stretched too thin. However, once Iraqi troops are defending their nation by themselves, invading Saudi Arabia is definitely a possibility. Terrorism is rampant and it's got to be stopped. It's extremely sad that the United States has to go after this with very little assistance. Then on top of that, our troops can't even do their jobs without having to wonder why Americans can't see the big picture. There are multiple countries who need to be prepared for U.S. intervention. Actually probably not because the mass will elect some Democrat pansy because they think Bush caused 9/11 and Katrina.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 03:03 PM

Alex Ham:

I just dont believe in starting unprovoked wars based off of false claims and exaggerated threats. There is no evidence that pre-emptive attacks work. That Bush doctrine is in direct conflict with how the U.S. has always operated militarily.
I believe it causes more problems than it solves.

The point about terrorist cells in the U.S. as we speak?

The point is that removing Sadaam Hussien has made the U.S. safer as claimed by Bush and the republicans is b.s. propaganda for his brainwashed followers.

No there havent been any further attacks but i most definitely believe one is in the works sometime in the near future.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 6, 2005 03:05 PM

Alex-

I share your concern that an invasion of Saudi Arabia isn't realistic right now because it would be a gross overextension of resources.

I also think aggressively pursuing terrorism internationally is important for our national security.

My issue, and it reflects more towards the core of my question, is this: Afghanistan was emminently justifiable as an act of defense. I feel like it's at least possible that we could have been finished there within 4 years had Iraq not occurred.

This is not to say that Iraq is unjustified, but rather why was Iraq the 2nd most justified target to Afghanistan?

You clearly think that invading Iraq was a defense priority for the United States at some point, and perhaps you have a point. Do you think Iraq is more of a haven for terrorists than Saudi Arabia is? Do you think Iraq was more of a haven for terrorists in 2002 than Saudi Arabia? Late 2001?

Given what we know about Iran and its nuclear program, do you think Iran might have been a better defense-oriented target than Iraq? In 2002? In 2001?

Given that we know now how Saddam felt about radical Islamic factions, which is to say not very higly, do you think we made the right move outing an evil man who also happened to be highly effective at keeping terrorists under wraps at home?

There are many justifications for war in Iraq. You've chosen one that seems to have as much support as any other. I think stabilizing countries in the Middle East and pushing them towards democracy could be a good thing, but what we are seeing now in Iraq is that the democracy that pops up might not be the kind of government who is concerned with the safety of America. What teleological defense end will have been met if Iraq is democratically ruled by American hating Islamic militants?

I will ask a further question: Would you have done things differently pre-Iraq war knowing then what you know now? Would you have moved on Saudi Arabia (or any other non-Iraq entity) and, if so, how would you sell that war to the electorate? Thanks.

Posted by: Will | December 6, 2005 03:14 PM

Will - Unfortunately, I think Iraq was the first move due to special circumstances. It's no coincidence that the father/son issue arises. Herbert Walker looked like a failure at the end of his term because he didn't end Hussein's regime. Acting on his behalf had a lot to do with Iraq being the second target.
I do believe that Afghanistan should have been the priority, but it's too late for that now. The situation in Iraq is too sensitive to make Afghanistan the main focus.
We must remember that Saddam is sneaky and conniving and may only be saying all the right things now. Iran or Saudi Arabia would both have been viable targets, but the tyranny taking place in Iraq was too great to be ignored any longer.
Knowing what I know now, I ofcourse wouldn't have said I wanted to invade Iraq because of WMD's. Though I still believe this was a major concern for Bush, average people don't know enough about politics or global relations to see that it doesn't matter anymore. All they believe is what they're told by the media. If Tim Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Maher, and Dave Matthews all oppose the war, then I should too.
Consequently, there could have been WMD's in Iraq. Saddam had ample warning we were coming and thus pplenty of time to move what he had. It's no secret he had great interest in acquiring serious weaponry, and he would have used it willingly and thoughtlessly given the chance. As far as I'm concerned we took that chance away.
Osama is probably dead. At first I thought he was the answer but he's not. There will always be an Osama bin Laden, no matter how many we take out of power or kill. The main goal is to change the thought process of the people in the Middle East. Opening up the doorway to democracy is the best option.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 04:27 PM

otherside123.blogspot.com

Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq

by Max Fuller

November 10, 2005
GlobalResearch.ca

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Abstract


The phenomenon of death squads operating in Iraq has become generally accepted over recent months. However, in its treatment of the issue, the mainstream media has zealously followed a line of attributing extrajudicial killings to unaccountable Shia militias who have risen to prominence with the electoral victory of Ibramhim Jafaari's Shia-led government in January. The following article examines both the way in which the information has been widely presented and whether that presentation has any actual basis in fact. Concluding that the attribution to Shia militias is unsustainable, the article considers who the intellectual authors of these crimes against humanity are and what purpose they serve in the context of the ongoing occupation of the country.

Shortly before dawn on 14 September 2005, just hours before a huge bomb exploded in Baghdad killing 88 labourers, around 50 men in army uniforms arrived at the village of Taji 16km north of Baghdad in military vehicles, bearing military identification. After searching the village, they seized 17 local men, described by one witness as vegetable sellers, ice sellers and taxi drivers. Handcuffed and blindfolded, the men were led from their homes before being shot in the head in the main square (Newsday, Al Jazeera, Juan Cole).

Such killings represent a pattern of violence as frightening as and perhaps more systematic than the steady wave of bombings targeting civilians in occupied Iraq. Whilst the pattern of death-squad-style executions is broadly recognised, it remains badly understood and, in its representation, deeply distorted.

The appearance of death squads was first highlighted in May this year, when over a 10-day period dozens of bodies were found casually disposed of in rubbish dumps and vacant areas around Baghdad. All of the victims had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and many of them also showed signs of having been brutally tortured. On 5 May 15 bodies were discovered in an industrial area called Kasra-Wa-Atash and subsequently identified as belonging to a group of farmers seized from a Baghdad market. The bodies revealed such torture marks as broken skulls, burning, beatings and right eyeballs removed. Witnesses claimed the men had been arrested by members of the security forces (BBC, Guardian). Less than two weeks later, 15 more bodies were found at two sites (KUNA). According to the chairman of the Sunni Waqf court, Adnan Muhammad Salman, the victims were Sunnis who had been arrested at their homes or at mosques (ArabicNews.com).

The evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni organisation, to issue public statements in which they accused the security forces attached to the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the killings. They also accused the Ministry of the Interior of conducting state terrorism (Financial Times).

Since then, a steady stream of the victims of extrajudicial killings has flowed through the Baghdad morgue. Characteristically, the victims' hands are tied or handcuffed behind their backs and they have been blindfolded. In most cases they also appear to have been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death, often with single bullets to the head. Yasser Salihee, a journalist for Knight Ridder investigating the bodies, wrote that eyewitnesses claimed many of the victims were seized by men wearing commando uniforms in white Toyota Land Cruisers with police markings. (Knight Ridder). Salihee's last article was published on 27 June, three days after he was fatally shot by a US sniper at a routine checkpoint.

It is impossible to know exactly how many people are being killed in this way. Salihee reported that more than 30 examples occurred in less than a week, while Faik Baqr, director of Baghdad's central morgue, states that before the occupation of Iraq, the morgue handled 200 to 250 suspicious deaths a month, of which perhaps 16 had firearm injuries. Now the figure is between 700 and 800, with some 500 firearm wounds (op. cit.). The Independent's Robert Fisk adds that there are so many bodies that human remains are stacked on top of each other and unidentified bodies are rapidly disposed of (Robert Fisk).

The killings have not been confined to Baghdad. For example, on 24 June six farmers were taken from the village of Hashmiyat 15km west of Baquba by men in army uniform; their decapitated bodies were found soon afterwards a mile from their homes (Associated Press). More recently, on 8 September, 18 people were abducted from the town of Iskandriyah 40km south of the capital by men in National Guard Uniforms and executed in isolated open land (Xinhuanet). These few examples represent the tip of a rapidly expanding iceberg, with the majority of extrajudicial-style killings seriously under-investigated and underreported.

In response to the accusations of police involvement, drawing on eyewitness accounts, Iraq's new Ministry of the Interior claims that it is easy to get hold of police uniforms and that the killings are the work of 'insurgents' masquerading as security forces in order to create sectarian divisions (BBC). Such denials are echoed by US special advisor to the ministry Steven Casteel, who has stated that, 'The small numbers that we've investigated we've found to be either rumor or innuendo' (Salihee, op. cit.).

Despite such denials, few journalists have been able to dismiss what the Observer's foreign editor Peter Beaumont describes as the 'extraordinary sense of impunity with which these abductions and killings take place' as mere innuendo (Observer), or the consistent eye-witness accounts of the kidnappers appearing with expensive foreign equipment issued to the security forces, such as the Toyota Land Cruisers and the Glock 9mm pistols, as simply rumour (Salihee, op. cit.). The Interior Ministry's explanation of large, heavily armed groups of resistance fighters moving freely about the capital becomes even less plausible when one considers that many of the killings took place following the onset of Operation Lightning/Thunder in late May. This divisional-size operation saw the deployment of 40,000 Iraqi troops, who sealed Baghdad and installed 675 checkpoints around the city (Associated Press). Hundreds of arrests followed as the security forces began to 'hunt down insurgents' (BBC). According to the AMS, in one instance, on 13 July, dozens of Interior Ministry commandos stormed several houses in northern Baghdad and detained 13 people, before torturing and killing them in a nearby apartment (Gulf Daily News).

However, instead of placing the blame squarely on the apparatus of the new Iraqi state, the mainstream media has almost exclusively chosen to shift the emphasis away, resorting to a number of standardised literary devices. The first device is to frame extrajudicial killings in the context of a wider panoply of supposed retaliatory sectarian violence. For example, Francis Curta of the Associated French Press writes that 'A series of tit-for-tat killings has raised sectarian tension to boiling points' (eg. Mail&Guardian Online), Mohamad Bazzi writing for Newsday refers to a 'wave of retaliatory killings' (Newsday), and James Hider of the London Times believes that 'the only certainty is that once [the bodies] are identified, someone will want revenge' (Times Online). The second device is to state or imply that the security forces are closely associated with largely unaccountable Shia militias, especially the Badr Brigade. For instance, Patrick Cockburn of the UK Independent writes that 'Some carrying out the attacks appear to belong to the 12,000-strong paramilitary police commandos', while, in almost the same breath he adds that 'Fear of Shia death squads, perhaps secretly controlled by the Badr Brigade, the leading Shia militia, frightens the Sunni' (Independent); in a similar vein, the BBC claims that 'Angry mourners at a funeral for some of those killed said they had died at the hands of police and Shia militiamen' (BBC).

Most importantly, reports variously stress that the government, Interior Ministry and police are under sectarian Shia control. Hence, Samir Haddad, a correspondent for Islam Online, refers to the 'dominant-Shiite newly-formed security forces' (Islam Online), the Chicago Tribune's Liz Sly states that Sunnis 'accused Iraq's security forces, now controlled by the Shiite-led government' (Chicago Tribune), Tom Lasseter, writing for the Inquirer, claims that 'Badr members have gained unprecedented authority' and that the Interior Minister, who controls the nation's police and commando forces, is a former Supreme Council official with close ties to Badr' (Philadelphia Inquirer), the Observer's Beaumont writes that 'Accountability has also become more opaque since the formation of the Shia-dominated government' (op. cit.), the BBC's Richard Galpin states that the 'Sunni community in particular claims it is being targeted by the Shia-dominated police force' (BBC), Anthony Loyd for the London Times talks of 'allegations of extensive extra-judicial killings of Sunnis by the Shia-dominated Iraqi security forces' (Times Online) and Sinan Salaheddin of the Associated Press, states 'The grisly finds have led Sunnis to believe that Shiite Muslims who dominate the government and the Interior Ministry are waging a quiet, deadly campaign against them' (eg. Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Other devices include mentioning the Interior Ministry's claims of insurgents donning police or commando uniforms or implying that if the security forces are involved in torture and murder it is a reflection of the fact that it is composed of reconstituted members of the former state who know only a culture of violence and intimidation; this is clearly at odds with those reports that regard the security forces as entirely Shia dominated. Wilder devices talk about security forces' frustration or blame Zarqawi for attempting to inflame sectarian tensions. Whilst all of these devices are employed in various combinations, notably absent from every account is any serious examination of the new Iraqi state or, assiduously avoided, the role of the occupying powers, leaving the most thoughtful of journalist to wonder with Beaumont whether the Iraqi state is 'stumbling towards a policy of institutionalised torture' or whether human-rights abuses are conducted by 'rogue elements' within the security apparatus (Salihee's investigation represents the one exception, with the emphasis placed firmly on the organs of the state, supported by solid primary evidence).


Police Commandos and Disinformation Brigades

An instructive starting point for an examination of the prevailing media consensus is to consider some of the forces of the Iraqi state most closely associated with allegations of serious human rights abuses.

The majority of accusations are general. Journalists refer to the police, security forces, the National Guard or to poorly identified police commandos, but specific accusations have been made against a unit known as the Wolf Brigade. The identification of the Wolf Brigade with cases of abduction, torture and execution in Baghdad was first made on 16 May, when Mothana Harith Al-Dari, a spokesman for the AMS, stated that 'The mass killings and the crackdown and detention campaigns in north-eastern Baghdad over the past two days by members of the Iraqi police or by an Interior Ministry special force, known as the Wolf Brigade, are part of a state terror policy', in relation to the discoveries of the victims of extrajudicial executions noted above (Islam Online).

Within days a Knight Ridder journalist, Hannah Allam, had published under a variety of titles an article about the Wolf Brigade, highlighting their maverick tough-guy image and presenting their leader, who goes by the nom de guerre of Abul Waleed, as a devout Shiite, 'complete with a photo of Imam Ali and religious chants programmed into his constantly ringing cell phone.' (Knight Ridder). Allam informed readers that Waleed regarded the AMS as infidels and tossed their accusations of torture and murder into the bin. Additionally, readers learned that the unit was formed as the brainchild of Waleed in October 2004, saw its first action in Mosul after nearly two months' training with US forces, and is behind the inhuman television programme Terrorists in the Grip of Justice, in which tortured detainees are forced to confess to a lurid array of crimes (Associated Press). However, whilst belittling charges of horrendous human-rights violations as 'the usual complaints', Allam made no reference to the Wolf Brigade being a special forces unit attached to the Interior Ministry.

On 9 June rightwing US think tank the Council for Foreign Relations published a paper devoted to Iraqi militias (CFR), simultaneously repeated in the New York Times. In a series of FAQ-type entries, the report reiterated many of Allam's insights about the Wolf Brigade, as well as offering some additional tidbits:

What is the Wolf Brigade?

The most feared and effective commando unit in Iraq, experts say. Formed last October by a former three-star Shiite general and SCIRI member who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Walid, the Wolf Brigade is composed of roughly 2,000 fighters, mostly young, poor Shiites from Sadr City.

However, the paper went further in emphasising the units' sectarian Shiite character, stating that 'One of Badr's recent offshoots is a feared, elite commando unit linked to the Iraqi Interior Ministry called the Wolf Brigade', and spelling out the distinction between it and other, Sunni militia-style units.

Are there any Sunni-led commando units?

Yes. At least one counterinsurgency unit is headed by a former officer of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The Special Police Commandos, like the Wolf Brigade, have a reputation for brutality, but the group is also considered one of Iraq's most effective and well-disciplined counterinsurgency units.

Those familiar with Peter Maas's article 'The Way of the Commandos', published by The New York Times Magazine just six weeks earlier, will recognise that, in fact, the Wolf Brigade bears a striking similarity to the unit he identifies as the Special Police Commandos. The Police Commandos, too, were formed in autumn 2004 and saw one of their first major commitments in Mosul in November; like the Wolf Brigade, their leader also founded an unspeakably vile television show called Terrorism in the Grip of Justice.

But there are fundamental distinctions between these units as well. The Police Commandos were founded on the initiative of then Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib, the son of a former Iraqi Chief of Staff, believed by many to have been a major CIA asset (National Review Online), under the command of his uncle, an ex-Baathist, Sunni military intelligence officer and CIA coup-plotter called Adnan Thabit. Its recruits are drawn from former members of the special forces and Republican Guard, with mixed ethnic and religious background (Washington Post), while its chain of command is said to be largely Sunni. Most importantly, the Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units (Reuters, National Review Online).

A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army special forces operative who cut his teeth in Vietnam before moving on to direct the US military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country's civil war. Steele was responsible for selecting and training the small units (or death squads) who were boasted to have inflicted 60% of the casualties caused in that 'counterinsurgency' campaign (Manwaring, El Salvador at War, 1988, p 306-8). Principally, the tens of thousands of victims were civilians.

Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as 'rumor and innuendo'. Like Steele, Casteel gained considerable experience in Latin America, in his case participating in the hunt for the cocaine baron Pablo Escobar in Colombia's Drugs Wars of the 1990s, as well as working alongside local forces in Peru and Bolivia (Maas op. cit.). Whilst Casteel's background is said to be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the operation against Escobar was a joint intelligence effort, involving the CIA, DEA, Delta Force and a top-secret military intelligence surveillance unit knows as Centra Spike (Marihemp, SpecWarNet). The operation had no impact on Colombia's position as the world's major source of cocaine (which, incidentally or not, owed much to the CIA, who had became heavily involved in the trade as part of their secret funding of Nicaragua's Contra mercenary army; for a detailed account, read the series Dark Alliance, originally published by the San Jose Mercury News), with the centre of gravity ultimately shifting to dozens of micro cartels (Houston Chronicle). However, the operation did lead to the formation of a death squad known as Los Pepes, which was to form the nucleus for Colombia's present paramilitary death-squad umbrella organisation, the AUC, responsible for over 80 percent of the country's most serious human-rights abuses (Colombia Journal). Whilst no official connection was ever admitted, Los Pepes relied on the intelligence data held in the fifth-floor steel vault at the US Embassy in Bogota that served as the operation's nerve centre. Lists of the death squad's victims rapidly came to mirror those of Escobar's associates collated at the embassy headquarters (Cocaine.org, Cannabis News).

Casteel's background is significant because this kind of intelligence-gathering support role and the production of death lists are characteristic of US involvement in counterinsurgency programs and constitute the underlying thread in what can appear to be random, disjointed killing sprees. Probably the best-attested example of such an operation is Indonesia during the early years of the Suharto dictatorship, when CIA officers provided the names of thousands of people, many of them members of the Indonesian Communist Party, to the army, who dutifully slaughtered them (Kathy Kadane). Similar cases can be made for the CIA supplying death lists and/or overseeing operations in Vietnam (OC Weekly), Guatemala, where death lists are known to have been compiled but were supposedly never acted upon (The Consortium), and El Salvador, where former killers have come forward to describe sharing desk space with US advisors who collected the 'intelligence' from 'heavy interrogation' but were spared details of the subsequent murders (Covert Action Quarterly). For an extensive list of countries in which the CIA has supported death squads, see the database compiled by Ralph McGehee (Serendipity).

Such centrally planned genocides are entirely consistent with what is taking place in Iraq today under the auspices of crackdowns like Operation Lightning, which make use of so-called Rapid Intrusion Brigades to make widespread, well orchestrated arrests (Financial Times). It is also consistent with what little we know about the Special Police Commandos, which was tailored to provide the Interior Ministry with a special-forces strike capability (US Department of Defense). In keeping with such a role, the Police Commando headquarters has become the hub of a nationwide command, control, communications, computer and intelligence operations centre, courtesy of the US (Defend America). Interestingly, supplying a state-of-the-art communications network to coordinate mass murder was part of the plan in Indonesia as well (Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, p 30); it is doubtless common practice.

Finally, we know that by 30 January of this year, the Police Commandos had six functioning brigades and in early April the Al-Nimr (Tiger) Brigade took over from the Al-Dhib (Wolf) Brigade in Mosul (UNAMI). Interestingly, one of the Police Commandos' first Brigade commanders was a Shiite, apparently called Rashid al-Halafi, but Maas noted that 'he was regarded warily by other Shiites because he held senior intelligence posts under Saddam Hussein'.

Untangling the Web

Clearly, the Wolf Brigade, though commonly treated in media reports as an autonomous entity, is actually one component of the Interior Ministry's Special Police Commandos. Abu Walid, identified occasionally as Brig. Gen. Mohammed Qureishi, is the brigade commander, under overall command of Adnan Thabit. Another figure linked with both the Wolf Brigade and Police Commandos is Major General Rashid Flayyih, variously identified as commander of the brigade or the whole formation. If he can be identified with the brigade commander Rashid al-Halafi identified by Maas, it can be surmised that he has either been promoted or is another incarnation of Abu Walid.

Incredibly, I have not been able to find a single report written since accusations started to be made about the Wolf Brigade's involvement in the Baghdad killings that makes their identification with the Police Commandos clear, with journalists content to loosely refer to the unit as police commandos, as though there might be all sorts of police commando units. Though this might at first seem pedantic, the lack of clarity becomes even more incredible in the case of the 10 bricklayers suffocated in the back of a police van on 10 July (San Diego Union Tribune). To my knowledge, this remains the only case in which members of the security forces have been securely identified, with a survivor who had feigned death able to provide first-hand testimony. The unit responsible was the Wolf Brigade, but this information must be deduced from a reference in one article to the victims being taken to a police station at al Nisour Square (Knight Ridder) and Beaumont's mention that the Wolf Brigade is accused of running an interrogation centre as its Nissor Square headquarters (op. cit.). It seems that a nebulous Wolf Brigade linked to Badr, full of vengeful Shiite militiamen serves as a useful foil for allegations of 'state terrorism', but that when the accusations are sufficiently well-grounded, it is easier to keep it out of the spotlight for fear that a pattern of gross and systematic violations of human rights might start to emerge. The significance of this lies far beyond merely being able to expose sloppy journalistic practices, but actually reveals key characteristics of both the US imperial war machine and of the nature of their current occupation of Iraq.

With the finger of responsibility increasingly and inevitably pointing at well-organised counterinsurgency units operating from the Interior Ministry, one line of defence remains before intellectual authorship must be placed at the hands of the occupying powers. Since the election of 30 January and the transfer of office from the interim government of Ayad Allawi to the transitional one of Ibrahim Jafari in May, the mainstream media has unanimously chorused that power has fallen into the hands of Iraq's Shia majority. Most specifically, it is repeatedly claimed that the Interior Ministry and its security forces have come under the control of SCIRI and even that the Badr Brigades now wield considerable power within the ministry, with the new Interior Minister, Bayan Jabor, described as a former Badr member. The manifestation of this control lies in the policy of de-Baathification, a process that was halted under the interim government of Ayad Allawi, but that was considered fundamental by the incoming government. The policy was actively opposed by the US administration, which feared that experienced personnel (for which, read Washington's favourites) might be lost, especially within the security forces and intelligence apparatus (Washington Post).

According to Firas al-Nakib, a legal advisor at the Interior Ministry and a Sunni, 160 senior members of the Interior Ministry staff were rapidly dismissed and many police commanders were replaced with Shiites loyal to the Shiite bloc that won the elections (Knight Ridder). Yet, after speaking with Jabor, General Flayyih was reported to be reassured, with the former Badr member not only promising to support the Police Commandos (Financial Times), but calling for their rapid and more extensive deployment (Los Angeles Times). Flayyih's continuing tenure is particularly noteworthy, as, though a Shiite himself, Flayyih was in charge of the suppression of the Shia uprising in Nasiriya following the first Gulf War, and is, as such, a frontrunner in any serious Shia-led policy of de-Baathification. Like Flayyih, Adnan Thabit has retained a senior position, commanding all of the Interior Ministry's special forces (Multi-National Force - Iraq).

The issue of de-Baathification was recently addressed by Jabor, who explained that the discharge of personnel was handled by a general inspector and that recruitment was not influenced by sect (Al Mendhar). Backing up his statements, he pointed out that many senior security posts within the ministry were held by Sunnis, including that of deputy minister for intelligence affairs (also leader of the Interior Ministry's spy service), currently held by General Hussain Kamal.

In fact, the entire intelligence establishment is a creation of the Anglo-American secret services (Los Angeles Times), which began building at least as early as the beginning of the occupation (Detroit Free Press), although it may be suspected that the process was conceived long before. The new Iraqi establishment was staffed by long-term CIA assets, such as General Mohammad Shahwani, who had been nurtured by the CIA since the late 1980s (Asia Times Online) and became director of the new National Intelligence Service (the Mukhabarat). Like Thabit and Flayyih, other old CIA hands, Shahwani had participated in attempted coups against the government of Iraq. Further agents (presumably existing intelligence assets for the most part) were recruited from Iraq's main political groups, consisting of SCIRI, the Dawa Party, the two main Kurdish parties, the Iraqi National Congress and the Iraqi National Accord. These agents became the Collection, Management and Analysis Directorate (CMAD), whose principal job was to 'turn raw intelligence into targets that could be used in operations' (Detroit Free Press, op. cit.). Initially, 'operations' were carried out by a paramilitary unit composed of militia from the five main parties, who, under the supervision of US commanders, worked with US special forces to track down 'insurgents' (Washington Post). As the new Iraqi state apparatus developed, CMAD was split between the ministries of Defence and Interior, with an 'elite corps' creamed off to form the National Intelligence Service (Detroit Free Press, op. cit.). To oversee all three bodies, the National Intelligence Coordination Committee was established, headed, as National Security Advisor (appointed in April 2004), by Mowaffak Rubaie. This 'leading Shiite moderate' had been a spokesman for the Dawa Party in the 1980s when it was a serious terrorist organisation targeting Iraq, before moving on to help coordinate the Iraqi opposition from London (Asia Times Online, op. cit.). In London he worked with the Khoei Foundation, a pro-US charitable organisation that has distributed money for the CIA and is linked with the National Endowment for Democracy through Prime minister Jaafari's advisor Laith Kuba, another long-term CIA asset (Village Voice).

These new intelligence agencies supply the data for the Interior Ministry to make arrests. A graphic and harrowing account of such arrests on 27 June 2004 was provided by UPI's P. Mitchell Prothero, in what he describes as the 'welcome arrival of frontier-style law enforcement'. Prothero described how local residents 'seemed shocked' as their doors were broken in and 'men were dragged from their homes dishevelled and screaming' by members of a SWAT team in central Baghdad. The raid had been planned for months by General Kamal's intelligence agency within the Interior Ministry and the names of more than 100 detainees were checked against prepared lists (Washington Times). Prothero witnessed many of those detainees 'worked over' with metal batons and lengths of hose in the backs of vans, but the most serious abuse came later, within the Interior Ministry compound. On 29 June members of the Oregon National Guard swept into the grounds of the Interior Ministry and disarmed plain-clothed Iraqi policemen whom they had observed beating bound and blindfolded prisoners (Oregonian). The US soldiers began to administer first aid to the prisoners, who had also been starved of food and water for three days; many were clearly in a very serious condition. Steven Casteel was called to help deal with the situation (Boston Globe). After hours of negotiations, the soldiers unwillingly withdrew, leaving the victims in the hands of their torturers. Perhaps their ultimate fate will never be known, but as Casteel commented, 'There's always a pendulum between freedom and security'.

Like Thabit and Flayyih, Shahwani has retained his position under the transitional government and continues to report directly to the CIA (Seattle Times). Clearly, however, the purpose of stating or implying that unaccountable militias are behind the extrajudicial executions and/or that sectarian rivalries, especially Shia control of the Interior Ministry (which, as Beaumont correctly points out, is the centre of the horror), are to blame, is to distance the US from the almost unthinkable ongoing crimes against humanity. Comparable disinformation strategies have been employed in every counterinsurgency conflict with which the US has been involved; it is known as establishing 'plausible deniability'. For example, in Colombia, where the US as been deeply involved for decades, paramilitary death squads are invariably described in the media as a third force in the armed conflict, despite the fact that their victims are typically civilian opponents of the government, their members are drawn directly from serving members of the armed forces and they are only able to operate with the active complicity of the army (Human Rights Watch: The "Sixth Division"). In reality, they function as part of a shadow state, which exists to implement policies that must remain unaccountable.

More specifically, in the case of Iraq, this disinformation strategy not only seems to be designed to mask the real intellectual authors of genocidal crimes, but also, increasingly, appears to be directed towards creating the very sectarian divisions that it hides behind.

Towards Balkanisation

In every country where US-backed counter insurgency operations have taken place with their attendant massacres and death squads, the conflict has existed as one dimension in a strategy of neo-colonisation. In Indonesia the communists were exterminated as part of the corporate takeover of the economy, setting the stage for the globalisation of Asia (Pilger, op. cit. p 15-44); in Colombia today, brutal death-squad massacres and the assassination of popular leaders exist to safeguard and extend the investments of foreign multinationals in oil and mining as well as as part of an ongoing process of privatisation.

In this respect, Iraq is no different. Over and above the desire to control Iraq's massive oil reserves, the country is being subjected to enforced neo-liberal shock therapy, with wages slashed and the extensive state sector rapidly offered up for sale. Corresponding with this, is a catastrophic level of unemployment and the abandonment of service provision for the majority of the population, in short a return to typical Third World conditions (The New Standard). Such a process of economic devastation is not only unpopular, it is intolerable and there can be no doubt that most people in Iraq will oppose cuts and sell-offs and demand a restoration of employment and services. This is not a sectarian issue. To the extent to which opposition becomes effective, the leaders and activists of the movement are likely to become military targets for the state death squads, whatever guise they take.

It is hard to know exactly who the victims of the present wave of assassinations are. Certainly they have included some trade union leaders (Iraqi Federation of Workers' Trade Unions), while in the period up to March 2004 more than 1000 leading professionals and intellectuals had already been killed and thousands more had fled the country (Al Jazeera). Many of these people would have been members of the Baath party and their murders are very likely to be part of the policy of de-Baathification, which, insofar as it exists, has not targeted CIA collaborators, but will undoubtedly have included those seen as potential opponents of the new state. In passing, it is worth noting that while thousands of former teachers have been sacked, thousands more are being recruited from outside Iraq (Al Mendhar), presumably because they are either cheaper to employ (denied by the Iraqi government) or because they are more malleable to the new educational regime, which works closely with the World Bank and provides lucrative contracts to the Washington-based Creative Associates Inc (Education News). Iraq's 30,000 new teachers have received just five days' training and must teach religion and a history that portrays Iraq's occupiers as saviours, rather than the former 'anti-Western propaganda' that might have served Iraqis better. Other victims of the death squads may be communists, the commentator Juan Cole noting that the Communist Party is so alarmed by the course of events that it is considering going underground; though he does not spell out the events that would force the party into hiding, they are not difficult to surmise (Juan Cole).

A further possibility, however, in addition to defeating a popularly backed resistance, is that the monstrous intelligence nexus created by the US in Iraq is orchestrating a strategy of ethnic cleansing as part of an effort to partition a country that might otherwise remain a regional pretender. Most of the military assaults have resulted in substantial civilian displacement (eg Washington Times), but, more worryingly, reports of families uprooting as the result of perceived sectarian violence are starting to become common. For example, in July, Mariam Fam of the Associated Press reported dozens of Shiites abandoned their homes in a poor farming community on the edge of Baghdad after receiving threats from Sunni militants that appeared in the form of typewritten flyers scattered on streets and doorsteps; prior to the Anglo-American invasion these people had shared their poverty, labour, food and intermarried with their Sunni neighbours (North Country Times). Similarly, Hala Jaber writing for the Sunday Times describes how Sunni families have fled Baghdad's majority-Shiite Iskan neighbourhood after the killings of 22 young Sunni men, taken away by men in police uniform who arrived in vehicles bearing police markings (Times Online). A similar situation is described in Baghdad's Ghalaliya district, where a spate of seemingly motiveless murders accelerated sharply over the summer, leaving more than 30 people, Sunnis and Shiites, dead (Los Angeles Times). The report claims that minority families there and elsewhere are selling their homes and moving to areas where they are in the majority. A similar picture is starting to emerge from other parts of the country. Jaber notes that thousands of Shiites have fled the predominantly Sunni towns of Ramadi, Falluja and Latafiya, while, according to Juan Cole, Sunnis are leaving Iraq's deep south and Arabs, presumably of both denominations, are being forced from the Kurdish district of Kirkuk (Juan Cole).

While many in the mainstream media and Iraq's puppet government have argued that insurgents linked to Abu Musab Zarqawi and al-Qaida are behind much of the violence, deliberately hoping to inflame sectarian divisions and incite a civil war (eg. News Day), it is interesting to note how closely their dangerous schemes correspond with the avowed aims of one of the most powerful figures in present-day Iraq. Mowaffak Rubaie, the US-installed national security advisor, promotes a vision that he calls 'democratic regionalism', by which Iraq would be dismembered into a loose federal system of four to six distinct provinces, with at least two Shiite provinces to the south and Baghdad as a separate district as well as the seat of federal government, nominally responsible for national defence (Newsweek). Coincidentally, such a plan is well catered for by Iraq's new constitution (NPR), but would amount to the disintegration of the Iraqi state. A de facto civil war would undoubtedly advance this process.

The parallels with the break up of Yugoslavia are obvious. Ed Joseph of the highly establishment Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars notes that 'the likelihood of civil war increases if, after attacks targeting a community, other members of the minority population flee', in turn persecuting minorities in the area to which they fled (Los Angeles Times, op. cit.). However, where he sees the situation in Iraq as comparable to Bosnia, in many ways the pattern is closer to that of Kosovo, where widespread ethnic cleansing against Serbs took places under the noses of NATO observers after the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces (World Socialist Website).

In view of mounting evidence of Anglo-American involvement in the bombing campaigns targeting Iraqi civilians, notably the brief arrest of two British SAS men found with a car packed with explosives (William Bowles), it is worth speculating a little on the implementation of their wider strategy. Discounting Al-Qaida and Zarqawi in Iraq as fabrications designed for easy media consumption (Centre for Research on Globalisation), we are left with a situation in which someone is targeting Shias, mainly through the planting of bombs around mosques and at religious ceremonies, and someone is targeting Sunnis, mainly through extrajudicial executions carried out by parties that look a lot like the police but have become linked with the Shiite Badr Brigade in the popular imagination. It is impossible that the Iraqi resistance could account for this pandemic of fratricidal violence, whatever Adnan Thabit might say about insurgents in police uniforms. It is equally impossible that SCIRI and the Badr Brigade could account for much of it in a milieu dominated by CIA assets and US military forces. What is possible is that both sides of the apparent sectarian violence are run as part of a huge CIA-lead intelligence operation designed to split Iraq at the seams. I tentatively suggest that the intelligence apparatus at the Interior Ministry is contriving attacks on Sunnis and that British and US special forces in conjunction with the intelligence apparatus at the Iraqi Defence Ministry are fabricating insurgent bombings of Shias. Overseeing the entire operation is the 'cream' of CMAD under the direction of top-level US intelligence asset Mowaffak Rubaie, a man already experienced at participating in bombing campaigns, undoubtedly working hand in glove with the CIA and the National Security Council in the US.

False Flags, Semiotics and Vulgar Marxists

The French theorist Jean Baudrillard famously once stated that the first Gulf War did not take place. By this he did not mean that nothing happened, but that its presentation in the media consisted of an overwhelming barrage of the signs of War, which bore essentially no relationship to the annihilation of a Third World army by the most advanced military power in history. In short it was a simulation of war. This was perhaps the most extreme example of what Baudrilliard referred to as the 'ecstacy of communication', that in our Information Age, concepts spin at such a rate that their outlines become lost and their original meanings are replaced with empty alternatives.

Fifteen years later, the same charges can be levelled against the recent Iraq 'War' and the country's subsequent occupation. Most importantly, I believe that a process akin to that Baudrillard highlighted is being actively employed to simulate a civil war in Iraq. False-flag intelligence operations are aimed at sowing seeds of a sectarian strife that was largely non-existent prior to the invasion. Thus, even many Sunni Iraqis are coming to believe that the well-organised death squads run from the CIA-controlled intelligence hub are actually the Badr Brigade they often claim to be; and thus British SAS men in Arab disguise plant bombs at Shia religious festivals to be blamed on fanatical Wahabi Sunni 'insurgents'.

Whether such tactics succeed in provoking further, autonomous acts of violence directed against the civilian population is much less significant than the impact they are able to exert within the media. This Anglo-American intelligence operation acts as a factory churning out the signs of Civil War: a 'wave of tit-for-tat sectarian violence' and the consequent ethnic cleansing. The signs are produced to be picked up by the media and spun and spun until nothing is left but a nebulous Civil War with no internal logic or structure, with the occupying forces as powerless to intervene as they were in the Balkans while Iraq splits into Rubiae's desired four to six autonomous provinces. Those few journalists, like Yasser Salihee and Steven Vincent, who break the mould and start to investigate the actual authorship of extrajudicial killings themselves become victims.

When one former CIA operative candidly claimed that 'Intelligence services are the heart and soul of a new country' (Washington Post)), they were inadvertently expressing a position that Noam Chomsky might call 'vulgar Marxist'. What they were actually confessing is that the essence of a state is the organisation of violence as the ultimate coercive measure and that the intelligence apparatus functions as its brain. Little wonder then that the US is so closely involved with intelligence services the world over, or that both coup d'├ętats and savage repressions of sectors of the population deemed opposed to US interests have emanated from the offices of these same services.

To penetrate the media smokescreen of spontaneous, uncontrollable violence and understand the role of intelligence operations in the creation of a beholden, occupied client state or series of statelets is fundamental to understanding the processes in Iraq today. It is also fundamental to recognising that the presence of Anglo-American forces in Iraq does not merely exacerbate the present violence; in Iraq we are the violence.

Max Fuller is the author of 'For Iraq, the Salvador Option Become Reality' published by the Centre for Research on Globalisation. He can be contacted at Max.Fuller@talktalk.net.

Posted by: Che | December 6, 2005 04:42 PM

I am a U.S. Marine combat infantryman, a trained terrorist killer, and I would like to take a few minutes to try to pound some sense into some liberal heads, if it is possible. First, I have yet to meet a liberal who has any concept of what the global war on terror entails. Maybe you libs don't know it, but we live in a phenomenon known as globalization, where terrorism anywhere can and does effect every person everywhere. Second, the author seems to be totally oblivious to who is running the insurgency in Iraq. Zarqawi is Jordanian, and just last week Iraqi forces recongized and killed three insurgents who were dressed as women, two were Saudi and the other, if I recall, was from Qatar. That is just an example of the fact that this insurgency is significantly composed of non-Iraqis. Also, if the author follows current events at all, it would be evident that most attacks are aimed at Iraqis. If the U.S. were to withdraw immediately, the killing would not stop until Iraq had degenerated into an all-too-familiar Taliban-like Muslim state that would only breed more terror.
Thirdly, having no clue how intricately involved the details of the war on terror and foreign policy are with each other, the author fails to realize that Iraq has become the key to the war on terror, whether it was planned that way or not. An insurgent operating in Iraq can't operate elsewhere, and I would much rather fight this war in Baghdad than in Boston.
Authors like the author of this article are the best weapon in the terrorist arsenal, and the terrorists know it and are using lib authors to the best of their considerable ability. They know that the only way they can win this war is if they defeat the hearts and minds of the American people, and this author is doing a very good and very un-American and un-patriotic job of it, too!
They say that people who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Maybe this author should re-read the history books from WWI and WWII, if a text can be found that actually teaches real history and not just a bunch of ignorant, liberal, propaganda. Maybe then the author would realize what happens when you try to be isolated in this world of globalization. The truth is that WWII could have been prevented if the leaders of the West would have had the guts to oppose instead of appease. With the modernity that we have achieved since WWII the world could get so much worse, and it will if we follow the advice of the libs and bury our heads in the sand. I refuse to let it happen on my watch. As a Marine I have sworn a solemn oath to defend freedom, but I have to constantly remind myself that I am fighting for American values, not necessarily Americans, because I do not think that libs who do not appreciate freedom are worth dying for.

Posted by: Daniel | December 6, 2005 04:42 PM

Mr. Ham:

Do you believe Saddam Hussein was the architect of 9/11? Do you have proof? I am all for destroying the enemies of our United States, but I would hope that such destruction would be linked to actual responsibility. Was Saddam responsible for 9/11?

Posted by: Just an average American | December 6, 2005 04:53 PM

Can we please do something about Che? Force him to post links? Please?

Alex-

You note that "Iraq was the first move due to special circumstances" and than you explain one of them (right?) that the President's father was emberrased by the leader of Iraq many years prior. Do you think fraternal vengence is a good reason for a country to go to war? Does this "special circumstance" strike you as kind of frustrating? It strikes me as damaging to national security for two reasons. 1) There is no national security interest in securing any individual's fraternal revenge against a country and 2) If in doing so it shifts troops from places where they could do more to further the national security interest than it makes us less safe. Let me know if you disagree with 1), 2), or anything else I've said above.

"I do believe that Afghanistan should have been the priority, but it's too late for that now. The situation in Iraq is too sensitive to make Afghanistan the main focus."

You've admitted previously that we can't engage other potential enemies, like Saudi Arabia, because we are stretched thin. Here you seem to admit that we shouldn't have invaded Iraq until we took care of Afghanistan. From this can I assume that you would support one front wars on terror? Secure one front before we move to another?

"Iran or Saudi Arabia would both have been viable targets, but the tyranny taking place in Iraq was too great to be ignored any longer."

I recognized both as viable targets but I was more interested in a personal response from you. If you were making the case to invade Saudi Arabie in 2002, how would you have presented it to the American public? Followup: do you think that rationale would have garnered much public support?

I think your comments about liberal celebrities is a little misplaced but I will accept it as sincere. Assuming that Americans might be ignorant about politics or by into what they hear on the telivision, do you think that, in a democracy, people at least have the right to do so? My concern is not merely that the reasons given for Iraq were not the reasons later adopted, but rather that the reasons given were given because they were far more palpatable to the American public than the reasons adopted later. I tend to think that Democracies require the consent of their constituencies to engage in warfare. If the reasons given are done so insincerely (or at worst deceptively at best miscalculated) than it feels like a disservice to that constituency.

"The main goal is to change the thought process of the people in the Middle East. Opening up the doorway to democracy is the best option."

The democracy argument works for me often times because I agree that people who have a stake in their current government are less likely to be insurgents against that government. I think employing people goes a long way towards disenfranchising terrorism as an option.

But why the assumption that democracy in the Middle East is going to imitate democracy in the west? Don't you think there are fundamental idealogical differences between, say, Saudi Arabians (who prohibit women from driving because of Islamic law, for example) and Americans? If these idealogical differences are pervasive enough on a national scale, who is to say that the democracies we ensure in the Middle East will be the kind who are concerned with freedoms, secularization, or the American national security interest?

Posted by: Will | December 6, 2005 05:12 PM

To Daniel: Maybe what we should've learned from WWII is that you must deal with the devil in order to have peace. Just as the Soviet Union ended up with half of Germany, maybe we should offer Iran half of Iraq?

I thought in the Marine oath you swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to defend freedom.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 05:13 PM

Did you understand at all what I was trying to say, Turnabout? The point of WWII was that we learned not to try to appease. Yes, I swore to defend the Constitution, but what is the Constitution, what does it mean to Americans? Ah, maybe now you see that I am not defending an ancient piece of paper, but the freedom that it provides. You libs dodged all the points I made and resorted to nit-picking as usual.

Posted by: Daniel | December 6, 2005 05:18 PM

Turnabout, Offer half of Iraq to Iran? You must be completely out of your mind. Iraqis are Arabs, Iranians are Persians, they speak different languages. I thought you want peace, but this would mean more war, and how in the world would that have any impact on peace in the region?

Posted by: Daniel | December 6, 2005 05:22 PM

To Daniel: What was the end of WWII but an appeasement? The Soviet Union was more evil than Iran or Iraq. I was nitpicking that you were speaking with your moral authority as a U.S. Marine combat infantryman, but you've forgotten that you swore to protect all Americans, not just the ones you like.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 05:24 PM

On the other hand, defending the Constitution doesn't necessarily imply protecting anyone (everyone could be treasonous), so maybe I'm wrong.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 05:28 PM

There may have been some "accidental wisdom" in invading Iraq. By drawing Islamic Militants to fight our troops in another country, we are avoiding fighting them in a country that may join in their defense. I am not sure this was intentional, but the actual wisdom of the invasion of Iraq will not be evident for several years; perhaps decades. Note to Mr. Ham: You and your party's childish resort to name calling (pansy?)is one of the reasons you put people on the defensive when you express your ideas. Not all peace-loving people are pansies. We are just not convinced that killing people should be a pre-emptive action-only a last resort.

Posted by: ksgt | December 6, 2005 05:30 PM

A topic for a future debate is the Supreme Court ruling on military recruiting on college campuses. I see good arguments on both sides.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 05:32 PM

Turnabout: WWII, if I recall, ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan. USSR was our ally, so why are you talking about appeasing them? WWII was not an appeasement. It ended in complete surrender of the enemy.

Posted by: Daniel | December 6, 2005 05:33 PM

To Daniel: You are thinking 1945, USSR is our ally, I am thinking 1946, USSR is our enemy.

Appeasement: "The policy of granting concessions to potential enemies to maintain peace". Instead of defending the freedom of eastern Europe, we let the Commies keep it. Politics ain't pretty.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 05:43 PM

What part of "War on Terror" do people not understand?

As far back as the State of the Union Address in Jan 2002, (Remember Sept 11, 2001?) Bush said that we are going after all terrorists and sponsors of terrorism and 85% of the country said, "Give 'em Hell, George" (the other 15% were Post subscribers, I guess).

Unfortunately, I think it is time to go to war at home on the political front. The enemies of America have no shame in denigrating the mission and calling for our defeat just so they can say that Bush screwed up.

It is time to urge all politicians and media to prove their idiotic allegations of "misleading" and "incompetence" or shut the hell up.

John Kerry, Backbone of Steel, said that American troops are "terrorizing" Iraqi women and children.

Howard Dean, reknowned military strategist, says that the War can't be won.

Chuck Schumer, noted patriot, says that America is "imposing" an election on the Iraqis.

Folks, we've got to fight the home front psychops war with the same fervency and dedication as the brave men and women who are fighting the real war.

They will never lose.

If we don't rise up and fight for what's right, we who are at home will be responsible for losing the War on Terror. We must stand up to the Blame America Crowd and their willing accomplices in the Media.

We cannot depend on our politicians to do what is right. With a few notable exceptions, they will sell us out to the latest polls and whatever Wolf Blitzer thinks. We have to make sure that they hear our voices day and night. We must make our fellow citizens see through the lies of the left.

God Bless America and love to all.
Salt

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 05:56 PM

right wing idiots fools

Posted by: paul | December 6, 2005 05:56 PM

Good comment, Paul. Pithy. Shows the depth of your understanding.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 06:00 PM

Salt: Blaming the media for losing the "War on Terror" is like blaming the crowd for not making enough noise during a football game. Put your faith in our troops. They will never lose. God Bless America.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 6, 2005 06:07 PM

You're right, Turnabout.

Let me clarify the process:

Anti-Bushies deliver a drumbeat of negativity and lies about Bush and the WoT.

The MSM pick up the drumbeat WITHOUT seiously challenging the allegations.

The MSM do NOT report on any good news about Iraq or the WoT.

People who do not pay close attention pick up the drumbeat and assume that things are going to hell.

Politicans with wet finger aloft see polls that say Americans think things are going to hell and they defund and withdraw troops before the job is done.

Zarqawi et al celebrate and thank the Democratic Party for their assistance in overtaking Iraq.

25 million Iraqis suffer.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 06:15 PM

I agree with Salt. If a soldier in Iraq were to read the debate on this blog he would be completely demoralized.

We need to show them that we will stand with them & form a united front to combat the terrorists.

Dead or Alive.

Posted by: Dune | December 6, 2005 06:31 PM

Emily Messner - omits one detail on the 15 Saudis involved in 9/11. The Saudis were brought in as muscle and told they would be doing a political hijacking where the planes would be seized and threatened to be destroyed if the US did not withdraw its forces from KSA and Palestinian political prisoners not seized. Bin Laden joked about the 15 Saudis in a video saying they were to be martyrs and would proably be happy to be martyrs, but why risk telling them?? 9/11 Mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Binalshibh both said the addition of the Saudis vs. using Bosnian, Sudanese, or Pak thugs available was Bin Laden's move -- a last minute insertion into the Plot intended on embarassing the Saudi monarchy which Binnie hates more than Jews themselves. That along with the attacks in KSA in 2002, 2003 have backfired because it got the Saudis serious about radical Islamists as a threat to them and they have been the reason why Al Qaeda is getting it's funding from private Saudi donors dried up. All Saudi charities are now tightly scrutinized and the word is out that even a Prince or Princess will be tossed in jail and forgotten if caught giving money or other support to Al Qaeda or even the Pal terrorists...

In a strange world, we see the 2 strongest counterterror efforts, besides America's, are France's and Saudi Arabia's (since 2003), while the UK lags due to obsessions over civil liberties of unlawful Islamist combatants.

Saddam Hussein, despite liberal protestations to the contrary, was neck-deep in working with terrorists. He provided safe passage for terrorists transiting between the ME and Afghanistan. He shielded certain terrorists like Abu Nidal. He funded Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and paid out a 25,000 dollar bounty to families of suicide bombers that killed at least one Jew in an attack. In recent years, he was active in moving Iraq from being secular to being more Islamist. Alone of world leaders, he refused to condemn the 9/11 attacks, saying the death of Americans pleased him.

The Lefty solution is even more bizarre. THEIR war strategy is the 2,000 soldiers they loved so much (snort!) were murdered by the Bush-Hitler and we should have gone after the one Mastermind whose capture and trial would have ended Islamic terrorism, even if we had to invade Pakistan and go to war with that nation to get him. Which ignores that Pakistan was on the verge of nuclear war with India in 2002, that taking on Pak military would have generated a staggering number of American and Pak casualties and led to Binnie's official sheltering and sanctuary in that country as an act of defiance against invading US forces. Fucking Brilliant Strategists, Huh???

Thank God the Left will never be trusted again to defend America, nor any Democrat inordinately beholden to the Lefties.

Kerry is back to his old ways saying Americans are "terrorizing" Iraqis by going into their homes and searching for IEDs and weapons (just like the Ghengis Khan evil Amricans did in Vietnam!!). Dean is saying it's Vietnam all over again, and having used up all Kerry's "war hero" milage - they will trot out their latest "war hero convert", Murtha - to rebut Bush's major speech Wednesday.

We know from Ayman al-Zawahiri's letter to Zarqawi that Al Qaeda leadership considers Iraq the central front and that the main objectives are for the Americans to withdraw, democracy to fail in favor of rule by Jihadi elite. Al-Zawahiri also said to avoid attacks on Shia heretics for now, and to be cognizant that Al Qaeda counts on the media to be the place where half the war is fought.

http://www.dni.gov/release_letter_101105.html

The letter omits any gratitude for the efforts of the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, and Dana Priest - but one can only expect so much from al-Zawahiri, not hand over gifts like Kerry, the ACLU, Rather, Mapes, and Chip Sulzburger do so freely.

What we are getting is Jihadis streaming into Iraq rather than work on furthering their domestic organization or serving in sleeper cells. The radical Islamics we are seeing come into Iraq have actually been radicals predating the American-led regime change, not for the most part new radicals, and by coming into Iraq, they are blowing network after network when they get captured or when we find their IDs or computer/cell phone traffic after we kill them. The networks are blown when we follow the Jihadi trails back to France, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, Belgium, and other nations quite happy to learn who are the enemy in their midst..Less so with nations like the UK, Canada obsessed with terrorist civil liberties and less so with the Sudanese and Syrians who are currently not concerned with going after the radical Islamists....but we do know that Syria has made up extensive lists of them and the Ba'athists --and may soon be willing to trade with us for help with the Golan and getting off their backs...

And of course every insurgent Saddam loyalist we kill or capture is a plus.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 6, 2005 07:01 PM

Grunts like Daniel are trained to obey orders & respect authority...I grant him his ignorance because he is a Marine.

Lets switch this debate to one of the pocketbook:

9 billion dollars a month are being spent in our ongoing effort in Iraq.

At a time of cuts in education & health to help balance our budget...I wanna know that I am getting my money's worth for this war. To my disappointment, all I see are slick politicians spinning facts, bad news, and no real clearly defined goals. So, what am I getting for my money? What are we getting for passing budgets that leave poor people in this country worse off and with even less access to education.

Posted by: Holmes | December 6, 2005 07:09 PM

Great post, Chris Ford.

The maddening part of this debate is that everything Chris Ford related is true and easily verified.

I thought that was the journalist's role: To investigate and report the Truth.

The MSM will not do their job, but thank God for alternative media and thinking Americans.

I pity Bush haters whose antipathy for American power lead them to root for our defeat.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 07:15 PM

Holmes,

Let's NOT switch this debate to one of pocketbook.

I want my kids safe and I don't care what it costs.

I want to see you tell Daniel you "grant him his ignorance" to his face.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 07:18 PM

@ Daniel

Not only "libs" have problems with the american "concept of what the global war on terror entails", so do most european citicens. In Europe we always wonder why the bush administration do ... well almost every thing.

Why stopping the search for Bin Laden?
Why attacking Iraq instead?
(Just to name the two questions concerning the original debate theme).

The bush administration never gives satisfying answers to the questions which Europeans poses. (Europeans might not agree, but at least we want to hear some good reasoning.)

So I wish you were in the Bush administration, doing the PR ...

Your post gives some good points which are understandable. (It's not perfect though: there are insults in; and there is the obvious contradiction between the thought that terrorists from different places can act on different places and the idea that terrorists are pinpointed in Iraq; and there is the flaw that you don't make clear which article and author you are refering at.)
In Europe we want to hear reasonable words like that. They are a much better as explanation as the unserious answers which we hear from the US-government.

I hope to read some real debate over your post.


But I'm wondering about something else. (You are in Iraq, btw., I understand that correct?)

You admit to be a KILLER? You admit to be trained to kill terrorists? Are you also trained to do something else?

I'm wondering, shouldn't you ARREST terrorists, if possible, and use deadly force only if there's no other way?

Do you believe that the best possibility to bring peace to the country Iraq is that Killers from an occupational force shoot people? Or do you also see a good chance for order if Iraqi police (official, from the country, speaking the language, knowing the culture) would instead succeed in arresting criminals and to bring them properly for a judge?

Posted by: rockmysoul67 | December 6, 2005 07:30 PM

Hey Holmes, if we are talking ignorance, let me start by saying that you haven't a clue of what it takes to be a combat operator, to think on your feet under fire, to make command decisions. I will go up against you academically or intellectually any day of the week, and my college records prove it. You don't really think, you just swallow the brainwashing you get on a regular basis, garbage-in-garbage-out. Far be it from any of you liberals to ever let the facts get in the way of your opinion, and then you go off making mouthy comments about the intelligence of the people who protect the freedom that you probably don't deserve. That is a steroetype and they taught me in college that stereotypes are ignorant, backward, and just generally not acceptable for a diverse society. As far as if the war is getting won, when is the last time you spoke to a vet who was there, instead of just believing what the media tells you. The truth is that operators who have been in country have a totally different outlook on the war. With your mindset, the war is already lost. It is a good thing a few of us "ignorant" Marines actually know what is going on over there and realize that insurgency and terror are themselves a sign of defeat. And do you really think that "cut-and-run" would be a good strategy? Name a time in history when it has worked, because right now I can't remember any. And don't get me wrong, I don't approve of everything that has been done in conducting this war. I think that we have been fighting too politically correct. We could have steam-rolled through Fallujah the first time instead of hesitating.

Posted by: Daniel | December 6, 2005 07:38 PM

Hey Rockmysoul, if you think we are not still looking for bin Laden, you're wrong. Just because you are not privy to every classified op doesn't mean they aren't taking place. As for Europe's opinion, I don't feel that we need to pass a global test, and besides, Europe is fairly well represented in the coalition. Yeah, we arrest terrorists, but usually war means you fight, not act like a county constable. Another part of our mission that I guess you haven't picked up on even though it is all over the news is that we are training and gradually turning more of the ops over to the Iraqi forces. Bottom line is they know the culture and who is good/who is bad better than we do, they are just not warriors yet, and it will take time to impart the warrior mentality to a people that have been oppressed for so long. Also, I can't believe that you keep on insisting that these guys can be arrested and tried like a shoplifter or something. The mentality of terror is such that the best solution is elimination, but I guess we soon forget the lessons of terror, don't we.

Posted by: Daniel | December 6, 2005 07:52 PM

Rockmysoul67:

Arrest terrorists for a fair trial?

There you go, folks. That is the sort of naivete we are dealing with.

These are people who want to cut off your head, Mr. European.

Keep killing them, Daniel. And another great post replying to Holmes!)

Semper Fi.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 07:55 PM

"if you think we are not still looking for bin Laden, you're wrong."

I hope I'm wrong.

"As for Europe's opinion, I don't feel that we need to pass a global test"

You don't feel so, I do. The US is very active in other countries, so the world is watching and asking questions.

"we are training and gradually turning more of the ops over to the Iraqi forces" ... "it will take time"

I accept your point and stand corrected. In Europe we disagree often with the ways those things are happening, but I take your view as a military person at the place as more relevant.

"can't believe that you keep on insisting that these guys can be arrested and tried like a shoplifter or something. The mentality of terror is such that the best solution is elimination"

I have not insisted before, but I do now. Elimination is not the way to go. Killing (if it can avoided!) is the wrong way. Law is the way to go.

Posted by: | December 6, 2005 08:17 PM

BTW, Daniel,

Thank you for your service to our country. I believe you have helped to protect my children.

Over the holiday, I spent some time in airports and everytime I saw someone in uniform I made it a point to extend my hand and say, "Thank you." Everyone I thanked knew why I was thanking them and they all said,"You're welcome." And every time, as I made my way back to my seat, I became choked up with gratitude and tears of pride began to well up in my eyes.

I understand liberalism. I happen to disagree with most of it.

I will never understand the anger and defeatism associated with those who do not seem to appreciate what out freedom is all about and what it takes to keep our freedom secure.

Thanks again.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 08:29 PM

Oh Alex Ham, you talk out of both sides of your mouth so well.

"I do believe that Afghanistan should have been the priority, but it's too late for that now.
Knowing what I know now, I ofcourse wouldn't have said I wanted to invade Iraq because of WMD's."

But you know that by now, that our government knew Curveball was a liar, we knew the yellowcake forgeries showed that the 500 tons of yellowcake sale wasn't even plausible, we knew the weapons inspectors weren't finding anything worrisome, etc etc etc. Yeah, I've heard it before - we couldn't risk not being certain....its a load of bull. the Senate report is quite clear it wasn't the intelligence that was bad, it was the conclusions drawn from it that "either overstated or were not supported by the undelying intelligence". So, really, what justification was there for abandoning the fight in Afghainstan? NONE!

It is absolutely astounding that you can justify doing a "cut and run" from Afghanistan rather than do the hard work of finding BinLaden. He went to pakistan? But if Pakistan has WMD, harbors terrorists, teaches their children to hate and kill America in the midrassas and isn't giving us instant access to our troops to look for the tyrant who really attacked us on 9-11, doesn't your logic say we have to invade now or look weak and open ourselves up to future terrorist attacks? We can't risk waiting for a coup that will put their WMD in the hands of terrorists! Now in Afghanistan the Taliban are back, and this time they're armed for bear. You pretend to be for the troops buy how many will die because we cut and ran from Afghanistan before finishing our mission when we have to back and finally secure the country. Or is it OK to declare victory and leave Afghanistan in civil war but not OK for Iraq? Maybe Afghanistan doesn't have enough oil to bother with?

"The main goal is to change the thought process of the people in the Middle East." Well now, that's something I can agree with. Killing twice as innocent civilians in the shock and awe campaign in Baghdad as died on 9-11 wasn't such a great way to start winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Remember how you felt on 9-11 when you watched 3000 of your innocent countrymen die? They were supposed to feel differently watching 6000 die?

I'd suggest taking the 223 billion we've appropriated for Iraq and using it to develop energy independence, and then they can blow themselves up from here till kingdom come for all I care. I mean, really, did we care about Idi Amin? Do we care about Rwanda? Do we care about Myanmar? NO, because they do not have oil or some strategic interest for us or ethnic or religious ties. Did Ethiopia or Rwanda or Myanmar attack us? NO, because we are not part of their world. Of course Israel will continue to be a problem, but if we had any credibility left in the world we might have continued to work on that problem that predated the US by a millenia and will continue when we are a backwater owned by China. (And that, Ken, is why this war is about OIL. Evil dictators are only a problem for the US if they sit on oil reserves or nuclear bombs. Otherwise as a nation we couldn't give a shit about how many people are dying in Myanmar)

I think Bin Laden hasn't attacked us again yet - I say yet - because we appeased him by pulling our troops out of Saudi ARabia to move them into Iraq, and then let him escape into Pakistan where he knew we did not have the balls to pursue him.

Posted by: | December 6, 2005 08:37 PM

But ....but...Rockmysoul67 will argue that you can kill people in uniform, but we are somehow obligated to give enemy who refuses to wear a uniform and abide by ANY law of war MORE rights than a soldier whose conduct is legitimate under Hague and Geneva. Can't shoot them even if they are seeking to kill you soldiers or innocent civilians, but must capture them or let them go. Presumed innocent, sacred right to ACLU lawyers, and liberal Democrats to coddle them, full due process....tasty halal delicacies...Current lawsuits terrorists have filed from GITMO in Federal Court (thanks to morons like Breyer, Souter, Ginzburg, and O'Connor)are for family visits, Internet access, Jihad DVDs to watch, full access to musical and scientific instruments per Geneva, and a ban on female American soldiers who refuse to wear cover or walk properly behind a devout Muslim man...

This of course --- is the Lefties way of discouraging people from fighting like Al Qaeda out of uniform, committing atrocities, and going after civilians. More give them rights!

Fucking brilliant!

Turnabout writes: "I was nitpicking that you were speaking with your moral authority as a U.S. Marine combat infantryman, but you've forgotten that you swore to protect all Americans, not just the ones you like."

No, Turnabout, the military takes an oath to defend the Constitution starting with the Preamble, not the 1st Amendment to the Constitution as many Lefties presume. Furthermore, every military or person elected to high office also vows in the oath to defend America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Which is why domestic enemies were arrested by police or soldiers for sedition or rebellion in the War of 1812, Mexican war, Civil War, WWI, and WWII.

Defending America does include all Americans - except for the ones the Commander in Chief or Congress designate as domestic enemies in a national emergency. The right to be a pro-Confederacy Copperhead, a Nazi Germany advocate, sit as gunner in a N. Vietnamese AAA emplacement and express your support and solidarity with the enemy - does not count as "constitutionally protected speech" in wartime.

Something to reflect on the next time you see Lefties with a "Go, Zarqawi" poster -or "Support American Troops - those who Kill Officers or Republicans"

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 6, 2005 08:39 PM

Wow, do all of these commentaries descend into name calling?

Each vet I've spoken to is upset at Bush for getting us into the war in Iraq. However, we should stick around to avert an Iraqi civil war and to ensure a commitment to some form of representative government that provides sufficient economic opportunity for Iraqi citizens. (A steady job seems to keep most people too distracted or content to resort to crime).

The War in Iraq has left Iraq an advanced training ground for terrorists, and the American presence there attracts young (mostly unemployed) men who have grown up with a disdain for the USA. These guys are then put to work against the US.

Chris Ford's premise that terrorist presence in and commitment to violence in Iraq allows the revealing of international networks has at least two faults:
1. that the terrorist attacks in Iraq are part of a cohesive and closely organized series of actions; and
2. there are a fixed number of terrorists in the world.

The implication of his premise's second fault is that the war on terror is a war of attrition and that American presence in Iraq does not encourage commitment to violence by people who, prior to the Iraq War, had no real opportunity to do so.

Attacking the mainstream media is similar to calling someone a liar: anything done to refute the attack can just be dismissed as a lie, or in this case, another instance of propaganda.

Where has the mainstream media, in non-editorial settings, called for any policy? The idea that the mainstream media, as a whole and in non-editorial settings, is a fallacy. I'll grant you that Fox is a little right wing and its anchors make a lot of unsubstantiated claims, and Air America broadcasts from a left wing point of view (though Air America admits this viewpoint).

Posted by: Michael | December 6, 2005 08:42 PM

rockmysoul67: "I'm wondering, shouldn't you ARREST terrorists, if possible, and use deadly force only if there's no other way?"

LOL!!!!

What are you suggesting here?

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 6, 2005 08:44 PM

Chris Ford-

What's going on. I dissent more than agree with you, but you can put an argument together well enough and I appreciate it. It's much less troubling to read an intelligent rant that I disagree with, like yours, than one strung together, like Salty does.

That said...

I'm not going to comment on your attacks against democratic leaders because I can't speak to them. I want to focus merely on the content of the Zawahiri/Zarqawi letter which I think is far more interesting and revealing than anyone in the MSM has given it credit for, and which I think has been largely ignored by both political camps.

Zawahiri recognizes the REASON Iraq is the central front of the war is because of the American presence there. The American presence, by his own words, precipitated Iraq's status as the central war on terror.

In (3) at the bottom of page 4 he concedes that the reason the insurgency has gained popular support is because the masses only rally "against an outside occupying enemy, especially is the enemy is firstly Jewish and secondly American." I feel confident that you disagree with the withdrawal of American troops, yet according to Zawahiri, American withdrawal is precisely the type of action that could eliminate popular support for the insurgency. Thoughts?

We need not think that just because action y is central to his strategy that we should avoid y at all costs. The letter acknowledges that lack of "governance participation" (which some people call democratic participation) was a shortcoming of the Taliban (top of page 6). This doesn't mean we should fear governance participation in Iraq (though I think it's possible we should, if they represent the constituency)

The point is, just because Zawahiri makes the expulsion of American troops a central goal of his movement doesn't mean we should keep troops in Iraq unconditionally.

Having read the letter it is clear that they have a sophisticated understanding of the media and its effect on warfare, but I think your immediate mention of the liberal media after making this legitimate point is a cheap shot. Nowhere in the letter is the American media mentioned. Their focus on public opinion is entirely centered on the public perception of Muslims in Iraq. Zawahiri does not want bombings in Mosques against common people, for example, because it might disenfranchise the public.

As you said, if Zawahiri was appreciative of the American media, he made no mention of it. I think it is in poor form for you to assume that the American media is supporting Zawahiri. I do not see the connection. It feels more like an attempt at painting the dissenting view as a cospirator of Zawahiri which we certainly can't extrapolate from the letter alone. If I've misjudged your point, let me know.

Cheers.

Posted by: Will | December 6, 2005 09:00 PM

Michael,

Talk to more vets. 75% of them voted for Bush in 2004.

The MSM is (are?) an unspoken conspiracy of ideas by people who believe in similar underlying assumptions ("America is too powerful and arrogant", "Republicans are for the rich, Democrats are for the little guy", " Tax cuts cause deficits" "Christians are dangerous" etc.)

Polls show over and over that more than 90% of professional journalists vote Democratic.

Why do they only report bad news from Iraq?

Why do they not hold Dems accountable for their Iraq votes instead of letting them say over and over "Bush misled us". Are all those Democratic Congressmen so stupid and gullible that a moron like Bush fooled them all?

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 09:08 PM

Michael wrote: However, we should stick around to avert an Iraqi civil war and to ensure a commitment to some form of representative government that provides sufficient economic opportunity for Iraqi citizens. (A steady job seems to keep most people too distracted or content to resort to crime).

Well, Michael, I daresay you've hit the bloody nail on the head. We're not happy with how we got there, we're not happy with how the war was botched, we're not happy that our world credibility as a leader in human rights is in shreds.... but we really don't want to see Iraq become the real imminent threat that it was't before. Creating a west iran wouldn't be such a good thing.

But for God's sake, we started from scratch, built an army, and turned the tide of WWII and nearly achieved victory on TWO fronts on opposite sides of the globe in less time than we've been in Iraq. The Marshall Plan only took 4 years to reconstruct it.

This leadership is incompetent. I don't know if McCain is right that we need to escalate the war and try to flatten the terrorists once and for all (interesting strategy coming from a Vietnam vet where we learned that didn't work when the S Vietnamese were so sympathetic to the North), or if Murtha is right that we should pull into Kuwait and see what happens - the foreign terrorists go somewhere else (I predict back to Afghanistan, hopefully not to Palestine) and the Iraqis figure it out... or something worse, in which we have to step back in and do the McCain thing.

But one thing I KNOW. If in 3 years we've trained only a few battalions, not put the disenfranchised young men to work with money in their pocket and goods to buy with it, not gotten the lights on, and not gotten the oil running, this is not a course to be stayed. We got Europe on its feet in 4 years, we can't keep the lights on in Iraq?

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 6, 2005 09:13 PM

Will,

I'm too old, tired and don't type well enough to put together intelligent arguments. I'll let Chris Ford and Daniel do it for me. They are both very gifted in that area and I appreciate them.

Just because I'm slow doesn't mean I'm wrong.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 09:13 PM

Who gives a rat's ass what Zawahiri "wants." Since when do we consider any desires or demands from these asses?

It might be that there was not much of an al-Qaeda - Iraq connection before the invasion, but there certainly is now. We are directly confronting all they can muster. Let's face this monster. Senator McCain is correct. We need to escalate this in a big way.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 6, 2005 09:27 PM

will and kgst

I think your comments about liberal celebrities is a little misplaced but I will accept it as sincere.

Note to Mr. Ham: You and your party's childish resort to name calling (pansy?)is one of the reasons you put people on the defensive when you express your ideas.

It is not sincere. It is a carefully cultivated technique to keep people from thinking critically. Kathleen Parker just inadvertently "outed" it in a column on the death penalty last week - she "finally" realized that when she examined her own conscience she is against the death penalty, but she was having a terrible time accepting that she could share a moral principle with godless amoral unpatriotic America haters in Hollywood. Just tell Middle America "you think like us, differently from "them," and you can go a long way toward keeping them from examining their own thoughts too carefully...at least for for a while. How do you think an administration could get away with convincing middle America that our biggest problems were gay marriage and evolution, and get away with saying "I don't think about Bin Laden" after botching the search for the man who really did inflict 9-11 on us, failing to protect our ports, failing to protect our borders, and running up a debt to China that truly is the greatest risk to our national security on the planet. It works great and you shouln't believe for a minute that it is sincere.

And, yes, Alex Ham deliberately makes people defensive. Its an old debters trick. When someone questions you just publicly call them ignorant. Inexperienced debaters will be stung enought to back off and be kept on the defensive. You can choose whether or not you let him get away with it.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 6, 2005 09:30 PM

Mr. Patriot, it seems that you also "name-call", you just do it in a more sophisticated way, like saying that the 50 million Americans who voted for Bush don't examine their thoughts and are easily manipulated.

Help me, again, how does an moron like Bush keep deceiving so many smart people? Is he an incompetent idiot or an evil genius? Please make up your mind.

You also change the subject over and over to avoid answering the points that Iraq and Al-Queda are two slices of the same pie.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 09:41 PM

Johnny wrote- "Who gives a rat's ass what Zawahiri "wants." Since when do we consider any desires or demands from these asses?"

I'm not sure who you were addressing this, me or Chris Ford. I never said we should aquiesce to Zawahiri, I said just because Zawahiri wants something doesn't mean we should want the opposite. This is consistent with what you've just said.

We consider the demands from those asses, so to speak, because understanding an enemy might help us understand how to defeat them. For example, if we know that Zawahiri thinks the battle should be shifted from lopped off heads to the hearts and minds of Muslims in Iraq, we might decide to aggressively meet him in that battle. Making sure Iraqis have running water and electricity would go a long way in winning that fight, because I'm fairly certain the Zawahiri cannot offer the same.

"It might be that there was not much of an al-Qaeda - Iraq connection before the invasion, but there certainly is now. We are directly confronting all they can muster. Let's face this monster. Senator McCain is correct. We need to escalate this in a big way."

Maybe you are right. I'd rather use the above statement to segue into a broader question. I agree with you that there now exists a large terrorist following in Iraq where previously there was not one.

Open question to all debaters: What were the thousands of insurgents in Iraq doing in 2002?

Posted by: Will | December 6, 2005 10:02 PM

The homegrown terroists in Iraq were busy "governing" the Iraqi population, by whatever means necessary to keep them under their thumb.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 6, 2005 10:16 PM

Will,

It's not the right question because the insurgents are not attacking the Americans as much as they are attacking fellow Iraqis.

It seems that many insurgents were in Saddam's Army or elsewhere in the gov't.

Many were in the Syrian or Iranian Armies.

Many were Sunnis (20% of the population)who were protected by Saddam but fear the American presence and Shiite dominance.

They fear that the new government will do to them what they did to Shiites and Kurds under Saddam. It seems that we are actually protecting them until they join in the political process and claim a stake in the new Iraq.

But blaming Bush for creating terrorists is like blaming children for creating pedophiles. Where were the thousands of pedophiles before the Internet made child porn so accessible? Don't blame the victims for the crimes of the perpetrators.

What was Al-Queda doing between the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the WTC?

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 6, 2005 10:18 PM

Yes, the truth is that there were terrorist training camps in Iraq before the war - but they were in Northern Iraq, a section of the country that Saddam didn't control. But co-incidently, they were in an area that the US conducted regular fly-overs at will.

Why weren't they bombed? Maybe Bush didn't want to get rid of an excuse for war...

Posted by: jm | December 6, 2005 10:45 PM

Neocons in this debate claim that liberals ("libs"(!) How about: "Libby lib libs? That's even funnier), claim that the war is already lost and that this demoralizes our troops.

Truth is, what we're fighting for isin't worth all the blood we'll have to spill to get it (once we figure out what "it" is). There are no objectives. There is no prize.

An apt analogy would be two people fighting over a bannana peel. After a few minutes, the smarter of the two realizes that he doesn't have the time to fuck around with this conflict any longer and lets his end go. He doesn't loose, because it's only a bannana peel. The other lucky bastard (the "winner") gets a bananna peel all for himself.

We're not talking about loosing, but we are talking about cutting our losses so that we can face the real terrorist threats and other real world problems.

Neocons: Get some frickin' logical priorities.

P.S:
Alex Ham:

"I'm a government employee for the Army. Trust me, terrorists were in Iraq before the invasion. The research was done. Just because the government doesn't tell the public something doesn't mean it's not happening. Believe it or not..."

Man, you preface a lot of posts with this inane bullshit about being a govt. employee, yadda, yadda...

If you're so freekin' important and privy to the kinds of info you allude to, how do you have so much time to post here? I'm willing to bet that if you even work for the FedGov, you're not more than an admin level and that you have no security clearences other than those that get you into the building you work in.

Everybody has an opinion here - you don't need credentials.

My spleen aches!

Posted by: my bleedin' spleen | December 6, 2005 10:46 PM

Spleen, were you close to any of the 2001 attacks on the US? Did you know anyone who was killed in this act of war? You think this is equivalent to a fighting over a bananna peel? Please answer.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 6, 2005 10:57 PM

There's a reason that scorn has been so carefully cultivated against the academics these past five years. They might be able to get people to realize the emperor has no clothes. Every repressive regime from the the time scholarship became mainstream has needed to control academia in order to keep control of the message - from the Catholic Church and Galileo to the modern day Taliban, and yes, even the Bush regime. Critical thought is indeed politically dangerous.

Yes, in answer to your question, I do believe millions of decent God fearing Americans were suckered by an administration they trusted into accepting the dichotomy of "either you're with us moral people or you're with those godless commie America hating elites/Hollywoods/mediawhores. Orwell and Ayn Rand understood it well and America would be better served if our citizens actually read them instead of buying the "Cliff's notes" talking points. Atlas Shrugged is the book that made me understand why they burn books.

How could a mass delusion snare so many people? Some of it is laziness, some of it is poor schools, but I think most of it is an honest desire to trust our leaders and an honest desire to fill one's life with a regular paycheck, food on the table, gas in the car, heat in the house, and yes, with luck and hard work college tuition so your kids can have the advantage of critical thought, if there's any of it left in this country by then. Such mass delusions rarely take hold in time of peace and economic prosperity.

I did not say George Bush dreamed up this plan. He was chosen to execute it, and has played his part faithfully. Do you think Bush asks to be sheltered into such carefully crafted speaking arrangements or limited circle of his own accord?

It is not so hard to accept such a mass delusion that is in the long run against the best intersts of those who hold it. Let me ask you this - if Hitler was so evil, how did he get all those people to Heil him so enthusiastically? Years before the SS had a gun in their back. Sadly, its not that hard...for a while.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 6, 2005 11:10 PM

Chris Ford wrote:
"Saddam Hussein, despite liberal protestations to the contrary, was neck-deep in working with terrorists. He provided safe passage for terrorists transiting between the ME and Afghanistan. "

Truth, Saddam had less control of Iraq's borders then the US currently does (even its own borders). He was unable to control his northern borders because of no fly zones and Kurdish forces.


" He funded Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and paid out a 25,000 dollar bounty to families of suicide bombers that killed at least one Jew in an attack. "

To make up for Isreal buldozing their family homes. Bottom line, Saddam was funding one side of the Palestine/Isreal conflict while the US was funding the other.

One wonders why wasn't this used as an excuse for the war? Might be because it would have had everyone else in the Middle East side with Saddam on that issue.


"In recent years, he was active in moving Iraq from being secular to being more Islamist."

And the US has inadvertantly accellerated that even more. But what does it matter if that is what Iraqis want?

" Alone of world leaders, he refused to condemn the 9/11 attacks, saying the death of Americans pleased him"

So, Saddam was guilty of not shedding crocodile tears like the rest of the Arab leaders? Let us not forget the dancing happening in the Arab streets.....

If Bush really wanted to improve security and America's image in the Middle East, he should have driven a just and equitable solution to the Palestine/Isreal stalemate. The lesson that the US failed to learn on 9/11 is just how much leaving that conflict unresolved for 40+ years is dangerous to America's national security.

Posted by: JM | December 6, 2005 11:15 PM

Yes. I did. I knew a lovely, successful, young Irish stockbroker. I had dinner with her in Manhattan a couple of months before 9/11. I didn't know she had died until several months later. It was very sad (not knowing of her death until months later was another distinct blow from that I felt on 9/11).

Alright! Listen Up, johnnyg! You freekin' moron. 9/11 and Iraq are NOT related. Pick your priorities. Use your head. A country didn't attack us - an ideological movement did. Why are we in Iraq? Can any of you neocon nerds answer that one, once and for all?

My spleen is about to BURST!

Posted by: my bleedin' spleen | December 6, 2005 11:21 PM

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... wake me when all the boring Bushbots are gone.

Posted by: ErrinF | December 6, 2005 11:29 PM

Spleen, please read my previous post, which states: "It might be that there was not much of an al-Qaeda - Iraq connection before the invasion, but there certainly is now. We are directly confronting all they can muster. Let's face this monster. Senator McCain is correct. We need to escalate this in a big way."

So screw you.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 6, 2005 11:35 PM

I didn't realize I referred to anyone on here as a pansy. I'm no longer name-calling because it doesn't solve anything.
Spleen, I preface my statements with that to try to make others realize the info they've been given is incorrect. I don't care what or where you think I work. I don't have to prove myself to you or anyone else. I bet I know more than you'll ever know about what's going on. I just wish that those who oppose the war would just stop talking about it because it's not going to bring the troops home any earlier. Bush isn't going to be impeached, he's the Commander-in-Chief, he's calling the shots. Let them accomplish their goals.
It was obvious we weren't any closer to finding Osama than we were when we first went in to Afghanistan. We decided to take out another bad guy we knew we could immediately bring down.
Whether you're on the left, the right, or the middle, the best thing for all of us to do is give our full support to our government in this time of need. The terrorists want us to bicker like this. Even after this Iraqi deal is finished, our troops will be somewhere else battling terrorism.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 11:36 PM

What did everyone go to bed? It's only 2pm where I am.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 6, 2005 11:44 PM

If our troops can't handle the fact that our citizens have the passion for their country to exercise the free speech guaranteed in the Constitution they are there to defend, we are indeed in trouble.

OK Alex Ham. We're there. We've been there almost as long as it took us to end a World War on 2 fronts, and have been at "major hostilities are ended" for well over half as long as it took us to execute the Marshall Plan on the whole of Western Europe. So how should I give my government my full support - pat them on the head and tell them it doesn't matter that we lost our moral leadership in the world and that we have taught the terrorists that a few Davids with IED's can tangle up Goliath?

You are exactly right that when Iraq is over our troops will be somewhere else fighting terrorism. The way to win the war on Islamic fundamentalist terror is to become energy independent. If we have no interests to defend in their country we'll be off their radar screen and no longer dependent on foreign powers for energy. Saddam was no less evil than the terrorizing regime in Myamnar. What exactly have we done to free the people suffering under the terrible regime in Myanmar? What have we done about the terrible human rights abuses in Rwanda? If they don't have oil, the answer will be NOTHING. Get rid of oil dependence, voila no terrorist wars over oil. That 223 billion we've appropriated for Iraq sure would come in handy.

Oh, the oil thing again. Did you see your leader step in after 9-11 to remind us that the dramatic increase in imported oil was making us more dependent on Arab oil, not less so? Did he ask Detroit to make more fuel efficient cars and ask Americans to buy them? Did he restructure his tax credits for middle class people to use to offset the cost of scrapping their SUV and buying a hybrid? No, he promised you hydrogen technology that MIGHT pay off in a few decades (and under current technology requires OIL to make) and smiled indulgently as he watched oil imports rise, the price skyrocket, and the bank balances of friends and family follow.

No, I do not support this administration.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 6, 2005 11:59 PM

patriot 1957, I completely agree with your energy related issues. However, even if we were to embark on such a path, it would take many, many years before we would become independent from ME oil. While the present administration is avoiding serious mandates for reasons that are painfully clear, I do not agree with your general analogy of the WWII time frame.

None of our allies are fighting with the might that had developed over the course of that war. The US citizens will not foot the bill, both monetary and manpower, for prosecution even near type of scale. I think we should.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 7, 2005 12:26 AM

johhnyg I thought only "lefties" were pessimists

You are right that we cannot become completely energy independent for some time. But its worth a look at the landscape. We import 60% of our oil. 40% of oil is used for cars, about 7% for power/heat, about 12% for trucks, about 6% for jet fuel, and alas the rest for industry, plastics, etc.

We can't get rid of the jet fuel and industrial uses in the near future, so a large part of our oil use is fixed and will stop us from complete energy indepencence for a while. But that 40% that we use in cars and the 12% in trucks, that's a noodle we can work with. The average fuel efficiency for passenger cars in this country is less than 20mpg. If half of SUV driving Americans traded to a true hybrid SUV and went from 12-18 mpg to 35-40 mpg we could cut their fuel use in half or even by 2/3. If the other half traded in cars getting 20-25 mpg for hybrid cars getting 60 mpg, we could cut their gas use in half or even 2/3. Let's see, 2/3 of 40%. Thats a big drop in imports. Detroit would be booming and OPEC might be thinking about teaching their children to be nice to the customer so they don't get any more wild hair ideas about independence. And what the taxes on all those new cars would do for the deficit, and the pension problems (and the tax breaks for scrapping your SUV)! Its a win-win proposition. What was needed was a leader who would call upon Americans to do the patriotic thing and conserve - to tell us when you drive alone you drive with Osama. Hah! Fat chance.
And we really could convert that 7% we use for heating/power to coal or nuclear or wind or solar or a combination of hte above.

So, we could make a very significant dent in our oil imports if we had the national will. From there it would require the kind of national will and capital that put together the Manhattan Project to find alternatives to oil in industrial plastics etc, and to make hydrogen cells out of water without using more energy than you get back from the cell.

People forget that when Kennedy decided to send men to the moon the technology to do it hadn't been invented yet. When we started the Human Genome Project in 1991 the technology hadn't been invented to finish it yet - but we finished early. And in that vein, just because we lack the current technology to become energy independent now is no reason not to start trying. It just takes leadership and money. Maybe a better investment than spending it in Iraq.

Posted by: patriot 1957 | December 7, 2005 01:12 AM

Will -

If you move past WMD, there were plenty of reasons to go to war with Iraq. Some I listed in my letter. Others included defiance of 17 UN Security Council Resolutions which involved over 3 years of Saddam actively trying to kill pilots enforcing the No-Fly zone, his rejection of the ultimatum, and his non-cooperation with WMD inspectors other than suffering their presence - and that only changed when the US and allies assembled an invasion force on his Border.

The lesson from 9/11 was not to bring the 20 people within Al Qaeda with actual knowledge of the Plot to justice - it was to not wait on gathering danger. And no matter how hard the Democrats try to give the public amnesia on their actual stance - in 2002 and 2003 they agreed with Bill Clinton starting the move towards liberating Iraq and Bush's actual use of force.

While the invasion went well, many of us that want this war on radical Islam to proceed have plenty of criticisms - but we are definitely not in the "cut and run" appeasers and retreaters and YES America-haters Camp. Here are some:

1. Bush failed for 4 years to cogently say who the enemy was - radical Islam. For a while he, and some silly liberals still believe - it is all about some White Whale fantasy of bringing the single Evil One to justice. After which radical Islam, centrally directed by this one Evildoer - will collapse and we can all be happy happy!

2. Bush and his people have failed to move past military solutions. Europe has failed to move past their idiotic concern over enemy civil liberties and their prediliction to America-bash and Bush-bash - which makes it difficult to get any consensus on diplomacy with Muslim countries - which themselves are the insane, paranoid remnants of a decayed civilization that refuse to define what a terrorist is and blame their God-given squalor and backwardness on Jews, Americans, anyone but themselves.

3. The invasion went great and showed the Islamoids what would happen to their homelands if they really pissed America off - and we pulled our punches - we could have completely destroyed their infrastructure of any functioning 20th or 19th century system - something any Iranian or Syrian general woth his pay could readily see. But I blame Tommy Franks, the neocons, Cheney, Bush, and especially Rumsfeld for the completely cavilier approach they took for the Occupation. And blame Cheney, William Slocombe, Rumsfeld, the neocons, and especially Paul Bremer for the greatest mistake - dismissing the Iraq military and Ba'ath Party members rather than use them (under supervision) to safeguard the ammo dumps and tasked with maintaining basic order in certain locales and even shoot looters - which created anarchy and a power vacuum the insurgents and Al Qaeda filled. But in every war major fuckups happen and bad decisions made that cost lives. WWII had spectacular ones, WWI worse ones, and our fuckups in Korea, the Revolutionary War and Vietnam less noteworthy because they were smaller wars. Shit happens in war. So do lies. FDR lied his ass off about certain things prewar and in the middle of it, like how ADM King had the Nazi wolfpacks under control and the 3,200 dead lost in a practice D-Day run, kept secret to avoid embarassment.

4. And since things went sour, a disappointing lack of leadership and focus by Bush, and an even more irresponsible lack of honest criticism by the Democrats and slimey Euro nations sucking up to the Left.

Some feedback on your letter:

"I dissent more than agree with you, but you can put an argument together well enough and I appreciate it."

Thanks.

"I want to focus merely on the content of the Zawahiri/Zarqawi letter which I think is far more interesting and revealing than anyone in the MSM has given it credit for, and which I think has been largely ignored by both political camps.

Zawahiri recognizes the REASON Iraq is the central front of the war is because of the American presence there."

No, if you look at his letter more closely, you will see that the ultimate goal is the creation of an Arab Caliphate backed by broad popular support, which Ayman al-Zawahiri openly worries again and again that Zarqawi is blowing by his brutal tactics. Getting rid of the Americans is only step 1 of 4.

"The American presence, by his own words, precipitated Iraq's status as the central war on terror."

The observation he made was it is hard to unify Arabs except against the Jew, or if not Jews - when America is seen as the occupier. Be it all the troops we once had in Saudi Arabia to safeguard it from Saddam, or now the Iraq forces. There is worry in al-Zawahiri's message. The Taliban blew it, and trends are looking bad in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and they hate the Iranian heretics. Pakistan is mellowing. Iraq is their hope and fear because of the Shia and Kurds take over and America leaves, they lose many of the arguments the Left has given radical Islam that America will stay and siphon the riches of Iraq for themselves....

"I feel confident that you disagree with the withdrawal of American troops, yet according to Zawahiri, American withdrawal is precisely the type of action that could eliminate popular support for the insurgency. Thoughts?"

Iraq will hold elections in 9 days and America will begin a phased withdrawal at the invitation of the elected, sovereign Iraqi nation. Remember that al-Zawahiri cautioned of the danger of Iraq having a democratic state vs. being controlled by the Jihadis. The radical Islamists are losing credibility as alternatives in Muslim nations moving towards reform while also respecting the primacy of Islam. You notice I didn't list Egypt above. Mubarak is holding back and his reward is seeing the radical Islamist Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood gain fivefold in strength..

"The point is, just because Zawahiri makes the expulsion of American troops a central goal of his movement doesn't mean we should keep troops in Iraq unconditionally."

I agree we should not keep forces in Iraq unconditionally. When we leave is between us and the sovereign government of Iraq, however - not between Zarqawi and the "cut and run" crowd.

"Having read the letter it is clear that they have a sophisticated understanding of the media and its effect on warfare, but I think your immediate mention of the liberal media after making this legitimate point is a cheap shot..............you said, if Zawahiri was appreciative of the American media, he made no mention of it. I think it is in poor form for you to assume that the American media is supporting Zawahiri. I do not see the connection. It feels more like an attempt at painting the dissenting view as a cospirator of Zawahiri which we certainly can't extrapolate from the letter alone. If I've misjudged your point, let me know."

Zarqawi and radical Islamists think of Al-Jazeera and the Western media as among their greatest friends. How could they think otherwise? The NYTimes covered Abu Ghraib longer and more extensively than Al Jazeera did. The Times and Washington Post have done spendid work outing CIA operatives not named Plame - who have been involved in air transport and renditions. The Western media has transitioned their all-consuming Bush hatred into coverage that mainly focuses on elevating public fear and anxiety about the small number of deaths we have taken in a major conflict, soldiers committing "atrocities" at various incidents they the media gives the presumption of guilt on US soldiers, and of course the anti-war activists.

And they are helped along by seditious idiots like "torture is everywhere" Teddy and "our troops are like Hitler, Pol Pots, Stalin" Sen Dickhead Durbin.

And they love it when the Dems trot out a prominent Dem anti-war "war hero", given that they are rarer than gung-ho Black Republicans.

When this is over, I think the public will have a better picture of what happened in the war with radical Islam 2002-2006 and will be amazed at how far the liberal Democrats, their media allies, and the usual hate-America Left went out on a limb advocating and working for a major defeat of the military and America's vital interests - just so they could gain political points and have another Vietnam..

I think in historical retrospect, Bush will look inept and mediocre, but the Lefties, Dems, and MSM will look semi-treasonous. And, again, it is hard to see how they will ever again be credible in their claim that they can look out for America's security...

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 7, 2005 01:44 AM

You are preaching to the choir. I am not pessimistic about whether it is possible to develop alternatives. Rather, I believe the inertia is very great to maintain the status quo. As long as oil is available, and it is much cheaper energy than those technologies

(I don't mean to bust you on the hydrogen technology, but most of the first hydrogen cells would probably use methane-based fuels, such as natural gas and gasoline, from which hydrogen is obtained from reformers for the reaction with o2 intake. Of course, this would be relatively cheap, but it we still would be importing fuel for some time. Hydrogen per se is expensive to produce and bulky to store. Until oil prices approach the value per mile hydrogen costs, there would be little incentive for use of this fuel as an alternative.)

The whole economy is so easily affected by swings in energy prices that any president would be reluctant to radically shift our energy sources. I believe we should, however, move more quickly in this direction.

I also believe in conservation, but we would still import oil, just less of it. It does make me "feel good" to conserve (and save lots of money) when I use my scooter. Many models available now are powerful (some from 200-500 cc's), comfortable, and they get great mileage. I think I am the only Republican in this town driving one regularly. I do, however, quickly make up for it when I race my monster vintage v8 about on the weekends.

I think we discussed this in energy stuff in another "debate." It is a valid point and also an endeavor we should be taking on with vigor (use boston accent). It will not address the US's relations with Israel, as mentioned above, which also pisses the Arabs off to no end.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 7, 2005 01:50 AM

People like Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld continue to insist there is a connection between Al Qaeda and Hussein because to admit otherwise is to admit we waged war against the wrong target.

Zarqawi feeds their argument, but the reality is we're seeing fewer foreign fighters (jihadists) when we capture insurgents. Time had an excellent piece on suicide bombers and their handlers. The suicide bombers are all devout Sunnis from across the globe coming to Iraq on a holy mission to drive the U.S. and the apostatic Shiites out of power. The handler is none other than a former member of Saddam's military, a committed Baathist. The jihadists, the Koran, the illegitimacy of the Shiite led government are nothing but propoganda tools to further their cause which is to bring Hussein and the Baath party back to power.

We're not going to be victorious until we target the right enemy. Going after suicide bombers is like going after kamikaze pilots, necessary but it won't win you the war.

Read the article in last week's Post about the Marines meeting with the Sunni leadership in Ramadi. In the article the Sunnis give the impression they were there to accept our terms of surrender. They are certainly not acting like conquered or liberated people.

Posted by: Robert | December 7, 2005 05:22 AM

Alex Ham:
Yes, Terrorists are everywhere. So when do we invade Idaho to stamp out dangerous extremists who have sworn before their God to destroy our government?

Posted by: The Wanderer | December 7, 2005 06:56 AM

I am thinking that if our troops don't want to see any war criticism, then for gosh sakes they shouldn't be reading something called The Debate on The Washington Post. For morale purposes they should only watch FOX News, Sean Hannity, and listen to Rush Limbaugh. It won't keep them from wondering why their President never answers any questions.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 7, 2005 07:08 AM

There was and is no connection between Iraq and the Saudi-led attacks on Sept. 11. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There were no forthcoming "mushroom clouds" from Iraq.

Yet, the neocons and their apologists insist that this is a "just and noble" cause. They know that if they keep saying it, the dimmest of voters, who flock to the GOP like birds on a wire, will believe it.

America deserves the government of G.W. Bush because it hasn't the sense to think.

Posted by: Bling Bling | December 7, 2005 08:40 AM

Subject: CDC Warning:

The Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease. The disease is contracted through dangerous and high-risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim and pronounced "gonna re-elect him." Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past four years. Cognitive characteristics of individuals infected include: anti-social personality disorders, delusions of grandeur with messianic overtones, extreme cognitive dissonance, inability to incorporate new information, pronounced xenophobia and paranoia, inability to accept responsibility for own actions, cowardice masked by misplaced bravado, uncontrolled facial smirking, ignorance of geography and history, tendencies towards evangelical theocracy, categorical all-or-nothing behavior. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed at how this destructive disease originated only a few years ago from a bush found in Texas.

Posted by: Bling Bling | December 7, 2005 08:42 AM

I am just preplexed by anyone who supports the war in Iraq. This war started because we were told the Saddam had WMDs. Besides the fact that the CIA said that there were no WMDs nor was there a connection to Alqaeda, when exactly did Saddam have the opportunity to gather these weapons? Was it during the enforcement of the "no-fly zone" or during the imbargo for everything exept the "Food for Oil" program? If you remember, Powell spoke at the UN and showed satellite pictures of those "Mobile Labs" for chemical weapons - I am just curios, why didn't we destroy those as we were taking the pictures? For those who suggest that Saddam hid those WMD, could you elaborate on when he is planning to use them? Does anyone else besides him know where they are? Why can't we find them till now? The target of the war changed from finding the WMDs to finding Sadam to fighting the war in terror (which had nothing to do with Iraq before 2003).

As for the statement that we can win the war in Iraq, let's just break it down. Who exactly is the enemy in Iraq? Is it the insurgents? Is it the suiside bombers? Is it the Sunnis or the Sheites? Or is it Alzarqawy? All of the above are targeting not only Americans and foreigners, but also Iraqis. It is sad to say, but these things never existed in Iraq prior to the beginning of the war in 2003, but let's go passed that. We are trying to "win a war" where there is no defined enemy. The enemy, according to the US Government officials, has struck in Spain, Egypt, Jordan, England and Bali. So, are we proposing that we can stop this and rid the world or terrorism for good. Let's be a bit realistic. We can't even stop gang wars or domestic terrorism in our country so how can we be so certain that "we will win this war". We have spent billions of dollars so far on an illusion. This money could have been used for social security programs or education or environment. If we stay the course, we will be in Iraq for at least another 10 to 15 years spending billions more.

Just one more thing, for those who believe that the elections in Iraq were democratic elections, please brush up your knowledge about the middle east. Juat as an example, look at has been happening in Egypt for the last 3 weeks. People are beaten for wanting to vote in many cases forced to vote or bribed to vote for the ruling party and some are even jailed before election days. That is generally what happens in the middle east during elections. However, the news papers will praise the integrity and the democracy of the process. Is there an end to the comedy? For the sake of our troops, I hope so.

Posted by: Moe | December 7, 2005 08:56 AM

Ynuk Ynuk Moe, we sure as hell are fighting them now. They have been drawn to Iraq, whether by coincidence, brilliant thinking, or Forrest Gump luck. It is happening now. We should take advantage of this situation, no matter how we got there.

I have not heard that gangs like the crips and the bloods are planning our extinction. Those types usually stick to killing each other.

Also, remember that our country did not allow women to vote until the 19th century and allowed slavery to exist until mid 18th century. That is not very long ago. Do you really believe democracy can be tuned on light a light switch? It will take some time, maybe generations before they figure it out. However, none of this has meaning if democracy is not initiated at some point.

Posted by: johhnyg in NE DC | December 7, 2005 10:23 AM

Chris Ford-

I think there's enough common ground between us where I don't feel any special need to disagree strongly with anything in your above post. However, I want to be able to advocate a position that has American troops leaving a war zone that doesn't involve me being a coward or encouraging a cut and runs strategy.

I sincerely believe the presence of American troops in Iraq is a catalyst for violence. I do not think this alone is reason to leave, but if it is at all possible to insure our national security interests without being in Iraq (for example, the elections you mentioned) let's get it done as soon as reasonably possible.

I do not think the main or even an important purpose of war criticism is to further someone's political career, but just because those criticisms are made with that intention isn't reason enough to reject the criticism. We can evaluate what we did right and wrong in Iraq so that our next decision is better informed. You've mentioned some constructive criticism about the way the war in Iraq was handled. We know now that leaving a bunch of weapons caches unguarded is bad policy. Ok, we can move on from that. No one accused you of hating America for recognizing that mistake.

If the investigation of whether or not we were misled to war is hollow, let that investigation prove it. I, too, worry that a lie repeated enough becomes the truth but this is equally true for both parties. There is no substnatial propaganda difference between someone shouting at the top of their lungs "BUSH LIES BUSH LIES BUSH LIES" and someone shouting back "YOU HATE AMERICA YOU HATE AMERICA YOU HATE AMERICA". Both are counterproductive to the debate.

Often times you take positions that I thought I disagreed with but find out later weren't all that different from my own. What I take umbrage from in your posts is your insistence on conflating those who disagree with you to those who hate America when, most of the time, I don't see that to be the case. You put points together about as well as anyone here and often times they make sense. Your diatribes against liberals make you less -not more- convincing.

To my earlier question-

I don't ask what were the Iraqi insurgents doing in 2002 because I am categorically against preemptive strikes, I ask because it at least appears that they were less dangerous to American interests in 2002 than they are now. As a result of the war in Iraq those people who otherwise lacked the will or opportunity to blow themselves up, are now battle hardened individuals that we might see in other theatres around the Middle East. Even if we successfully pull out of Iraq in the next 2-3 years they might just move to Afghanistan.

Again, the point of criticism is not just rhetorical vengence against an administration one disagrees with. We can learn a valuable lesson from Iraq. The next time we move on an imminent threat we better make damn sure that threat is imminent. We better put some serious thought into what the lasting effect the insurgency might have. If we knew than what we know now, would our national security interests have driven us to invade Saddam or merely to bomb him? It's at least possible that our national security interests were better served with Saddam in power. Food for thought, maybe I'm crazy.

Let's keep in mind that someone can criticize a policy without criticizing their country (and can often times use language criticizing a country when their real issue is with a policy).

Posted by: Will | December 7, 2005 11:21 AM

Emily, I am reminded of a line from that classic television miniseries LONSOME DOVE wherein grizzled Texas Ranger Woodrow Call(played by Tommy Lee Jones) remarks: "Deets (played by Danny Glover) never was one to go bad on a garment.") referring comically to Deets' tattered old Rebel hat.

The supporters of the Iraq war are like Deets. They are reluctant to go bad on an old ideological garment--ie, that there was and is some connection between Iraq and 9-11. There are many such old, tattered ideological garments lying around that they continue to pick up and clothe themselves with. The notion that this is some long term global struggle similar to the cold war between us and the Soviet Union (they seem to hunger for those good old days); the notion that this is like any other war that can be won with victory parades, a march through where? Baghdad? Kabul? Fallujah? Been there, done that and we are still bogged down in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

I don't know. But I do know this. Any effort that depends on using language or rhetoric that is deceitful, conflationary and hopelessly optimistic to the point of ignoring harsh realities is doomed to failure.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 7, 2005 11:33 AM

I do not understand people who say they do not understand why we're in Iraq. The reasons have been the same since Jan 2002: (State of the Union address. It's available online. Look it up.)

Our mission is to take the fight to all terrorists and terrorist supporters everywhere until we win. It will take a long time, so get used to it or learn to speak Arabic and learn to say, "Please don't cut off my childrens' heads."

Here are some facts that are easy to understand if you want to:

Remember that Saddam lost Gulf War I?

Remember he had to let the UN monitor his weapons programs as part of the surrender terms?

Remember that he didn't co-operate and the UN passed 17 resolutions that Saddam ignored?

Remember the UN said that he had wmd's that he used on Kurds and Shia that UN inspectors could not account for?

Remember that Saddam had bought yellowcake uranium from Niger before Clinton bombed his nuclear facility?

Remember that the Clinton administration thought that Iraq's weapons programs was the greatest threat to America's security?

As for the link between Saddam and bin Ladin, the 9/11 Commission said that there was no collaboration on the 9/11 attacks. (No one ever claimed that there was.)

The Commission also said, "Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States." (p 66 of the Commission report)

Ask the Kurds why we are there. Check out their website: www.theotheriraq.com.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 12:13 PM

What's the difference between UMD and WMD?

Posted by: Turnabout | December 7, 2005 12:16 PM

What am I getting for my money?

No Daniel, your services, while admirable, are not worth our billions upon billions upon billions of dollars. The best you will be able to do is help prop up a weak Islamic consitutional based gov't in a country of little interest to me. This is not your fault...you have followed your orders...it is the fault of your superiors.

I am an American consumer...I want a Wal Mart deal!

Posted by: Dune | December 7, 2005 12:28 PM

Salt-

"I do not understand people who say they do not understand why we're in Iraq. The reasons have been the same since Jan 2002: (State of the Union address. It's available online. Look it up.)"

I decided to do so. Here is the only mention of Iraq in the President's state of the union addres on January 29th, 2002:

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens, leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world."

Please correct me if I am wrong, but the above reason to invade Iraq is because they are hiding weapons of mass destruction from us.

I didn't know there was still debate over the reasons for war in Iraq. They have changed. Do you still stand by the 2002 state of the union address as a landmark of consistency?

Posted by: Will | December 7, 2005 12:44 PM

Turnabout you sound like a propaganda machine. What is this God Bless America. Why does America only want God to Bless themselves? Why do you not hear Americans saying God Bless everyone in this world? It is irritating to hear this because it is only a reminder that Americans only care about themselves. Then I think, it makes sense. To Americans, America is the world. Everything else is a pink fuzzy void called, "Soon to be America."

Posted by: Gael | December 7, 2005 12:56 PM

The war on terror is a METAPHOR, people! With no interest in supporting Howard Dean's position, this war IS unwinnable, much as the war on drugs and war on poverty (or illiteracy, if u prefer) are unwinnable, metaphor wars. It should alarm some people to realize that every initiative by this buffoon president is a "war on" something.

But returning to the topic at hand, why is nobody debating the PRIORITIES of this "war on terror"? Obviously, Iraq was a diversion from our most dangerous enemies and the real perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. Of course, Iraq has become a rallying cry and factory for anti-western jihadists SINCE our illegal "liberation" of it from "tyrany", thereby adding credence after-the-fact to the Bush Iraq policy.

I agree with other posters that our affection and loyalty to Saudi Arabia are ill-placed, and why haven't we discussed stronger sanctions (i.e. missile strikes) against Yemen, Iran (seemingly talking, waffling and stalling their way to an advanced nuclear weapons program), Syria, NORTH KOREA (already possessing a nuke program)?

My 2 cents... Now, can we stay on topic?

Posted by: Lanlord | December 7, 2005 01:02 PM

Yeah, like the "war on rats" here in the city many years ago. That war did beat them down, but yes rats remain in the city.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 7, 2005 02:15 PM

To Gael: "Allah Bless Iraq" doesn't motivate me. How about "God Bless the War on Terror"?

One thing about the Iraqi war, Bush is spending all his time on a PR blitz. Every other morning he's talking in front of some august body. I forsee a time in the future when our President is nothing but a spinning, talking head, and the decisions are made elsewhere. President Pat Sajak anyone?

Posted by: Turnabout | December 7, 2005 02:44 PM

Sorry to burst Alex Ham's bubble, but if it is simply true that there are terrorists EVERYWHERE, then it makes sense to have a plan of attack because we can't be everywhere at the same time. There were far fewer terrorists in Iraq before the invasion than in Saudi Arabia, or Iran. This war is a sham that has brought us... not safety because the terrorists are STILL everywhere and in greater numbers, not security because those dispersed terrorists are still acting in places like London and Madrid, but only but grief for our military families. We are LESS safe today. Terrorists are fighting us (now) in Iraq, but Iraq is not their last stand. Only in Bush's infinite imagination does that exist. No matter when we leave Iraq, no matter what the state of Iraq or the so-called "insurgency" will be in when we do leave, global terrorism will be NO LESS DIMINISHED because Bush has no clue as to stop it's root causes. The terrorists will simpley make their stand somewhere else. The only thing that will have changed is the loss of over 2000 of our own to a foolish and LOST CAUSE.

Posted by: John | December 7, 2005 03:08 PM

If you've got a WMD, you have an offense.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 7, 2005 03:13 PM

"War on Terror" means nothing, it's just a way to keep Americans afraid of something. People who are afraid are easily manipulated.

Posted by: | December 7, 2005 03:25 PM

Okay, the war on terror means nothing. Lets take a defensive position and wait. We can really beef up the police and military presence everywhere in the US. Ahh, an eternal police state. Just what I dreamed of for my children.

Or, we can give the terrorists what they want. I will renouce God and adopt Allah, make my "wives" (that part doesn't sound too bad) walk 10 paces behind me like cousin IT, and memorize the Koran. We can also let Israel fend for itself. Would this be enough? No, America would have to become an Islamic state, with the mulla fkers calling all the shots. Is this enough? Probably not.

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 7, 2005 03:43 PM

Will - "What I take umbrage from in your posts is your insistence on conflating those who disagree with you to those who hate America when, most of the time, I don't see that to be the case. You put points together about as well as anyone here and often times they make sense. Your diatribes against liberals make you less -not more- convincing."

The problem IS that there is a real conflict within the Democratic Party on how far it accomodates an energized grassroots "hate-America" portion of their base. That constituency certainly exists. David Horowitz has written about the interlocking ex-Marxist and professional victimhood groups, institutions of power they still control, and their moneymen - who share a mindset of blaming America for most problems and how they seek to destroy American institutions they dislike, including the military. He calls it "THE NETWORK" and has done a pretty good job linking their activities, the money trail, and their agenda items. The Democrats know they pay a price, but so far, willingly cavort with the hate-America crowd.

So the problem is not conflating liberals, Lefties, and the true hate-America crowd - it is that they work together and the final product or policy Democrats push is sometimes a synthesis of the wishes and aspirations of all three groups. So barring recruiters from schools - a popular pastime in heavily "Blue" areas - is derived from those liberals who put gay rights over defense, Lefties that despise America's policies and use "gay rights" as a smokescreen, and hate-America people that simply wish the US military destroyed.

The Republicans have their own Base difficulties, but have been far more diligent in pushing back. Their version of Michael Moore is not feted in Presidential booths at the Party Convention, senior Republican statesmen do not show up in Chavez's arms, visiting Arafat unbidden, and serving as Saddam's lawyer. Overt racists are removed from positions of power, influence - unlike the Dems, who tolerate the likes of Dean, Kucinich, Carter, Sharpton, Kerry, McAufliffe cavorting with Code Pink, International ANSWER...The Republicans readily pushback on certain efforts of the Religious Right and openly lambaste Bush when he goes too Jesus freak on them. Now the latest struggle within the conservative ranks is over the corrupt rich wanting more pork and more government spending and who use equally corrupt Republican influence peddlers. But this is an open conversation - unlike the silence on the other side about Soros and Cynthia McKinney and the moneymen behind moveon.org.

But the Democrats, and other institutions of liberal coalition power such as universities, media, NGOs, Foundations, and bureaucracies still in their hands in the name of tolerance, tolerate no criticism of open America-haters and other extremists in their ranks.

That leaves the criticism to others, who happily point out what Democrat/liberal policies are influenced by hate-America elements, the extremists of the Democratic Party. And you can bet those critics are happy to lump honest liberals in with their 3rd Generation NYC Marxist pals..Guilt by association - is natural in American politics...

Lanlord -

"The war on terror is a METAPHOR, people! With no interest in supporting Howard Dean's position, this war IS unwinnable, much as the war on drugs and war on poverty (or illiteracy, if u prefer) are unwinnable, metaphor wars."

The War against radical Islam is no METAPHOR. It is as real and serious as the ideological wars fought with totalitarian fascism and totalitarian communism. If you frame it in the old mentality that shirked from PC that the enemy was actually a variant of the "Religion of Peace" and instead called it a War on (the tactic) of Terrorism - you might have a point - but no one is pretending any longer that it is..

"Obviously, Iraq was a diversion from our most dangerous enemies and the real perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks..."

20 people knew about 9/11. 4 of the 19 hijackers, and 16 senior Al Qaeda operatives. The 4 hijackers and 6 of the Plotters are dead. 5 of those in the loop including Binalshibh and the Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are in custody with Lefties blubbering for the last 2 years about KSM's treatment and morale in jail. 4 are left, including Binnie and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Do you honestly think the struggle with radical Islam ends when we "get" the remaining 4???

"our affection and loyalty to Saudi Arabia are ill-placed, and why haven't we discussed stronger sanctions (i.e. missile strikes) against Yemen, Iran (seemingly talking, waffling and stalling their way to an advanced nuclear weapons program), Syria, NORTH KOREA (already possessing a nuke program)?"

Lanlord --

1. Saudi Arabia is more ally than foe. Our biggest issue with them is not promotion of terrorism - they have gone 180 Deg on that and are among the greatest leaders in counterterrorism - but in their promotion of intolerant Wahabbism that helps to breed anger, resentment against non-Muslims that causes some to go a step beyond Whabbism into violent extremism. KSA's biggest problem with America is our tilt to Israel and reticence to fix final Borders in the Levant, which the Saudis accurately note stirs up shit all over the Islamic world.

2. Yemen is cooperative and is considered an ally. It is ill form to launch missile attacks against an ally.

3. N Korea is by far and away the most evil and oppressive nation on the planet. But it is a dangerous, rabid dog content to stay in it's cage for now....and we are content to work with the Chinese, Russians, Japanese, and S Koreans to contain it further and try to remove it's nuke threat and slowly try and bring the NORKs into the global community. But it is a bad idea to launch missiles on a country that even without using nukes, has the chem, bio, and HE missiles and artillery capacity to waste 500,000 S Korean civilians in two days.

4. Syria is a small player that generally does not support radical Islam but has NOT been a friend of Iraq or America in this Iraq war, and may rue their meddling once we are free of heavy involvement in Iraq and the troops get a breather.

5. Iran is a threat. A gathering danger. They have been exporters of terror, they do threaten Israel. They are the enemy of the US. The fortunate thing is their version of radical Islam is incompatable with Salafist radical Islam, which considers Shia heretics that must eventually be converted or killed, but always be subjugated to the will of the Sunni who are the Ummah's natural rulers. Currently, the Iranian rulers are in truce with the Salafists which include Al Qaeda - because they see America and it's allies as a greater threat...But with them going for nukes, we may be forced to militarily act on Iran before we are really ready and not go the subverting the Muslim Mullahs route that has been discussed as far more preferable. Time is a factor.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 7, 2005 03:59 PM

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On the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's assassination, imagine . . .

By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Contributing Writer


Dec 7, 2005, 01:08

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Imagine that the classic lone gunman could be Mark David Chapman. And if so, you may be as mind-controlled by system hype as he was that Monday night at 10:50 pm, December 8, 1980, just one month after Ronald Reagan was elected president.

Imagine that night John Lennon took four of five shots fired from a .38 caliber snub nose revolver: two in the left shoulder, two in the upper left side of the back, as he walked through the dark entryway of the Dakota at West 72nd Street and Central Park West. What's strange is that afterwards three bullet holes were found in the glass lobby doors.

Imagine that earlier that day, about 5:15 pm, when Lennon and Yoko were about to limo from their Dakota apartment to the Record Plant, Lennon had stopped in the walkway to autograph a copy of his Double Fantasy album for Chapman. He even spoke with him, asking if there was anything else he wanted. The photographed smile on Chapman's face seemed to be of a man who'd just gotten the keys to heaven.

Imagine at 10:50 that night, the wounded Lennon ran some 20 feet from Chapman towards the lobby stairs, staggering past the front desk in the main lobby. He fell facedown by the concierge stand. Yoko, who had preceded John by some 40 feet from their limo, screamed to the clerk to call the police, "John's been shot," and ran to cradle his head.

Imagine that Chapman called out, "Mr. Lennon," and when John turned, Mark squared off and fired five shots. But Chapman told a judge later at his sentencing hearing that he didn't say a word to Lennon. Nor did he run away. There is a subway station to descend maybe 60 feet away. But perhaps innocent (even if programmed) people don't run.

Imagine the doorman on duty, one Jose Perdomo, supposedly screamed "Leave! Get out of here!" Then he asked Chapman, "Do you know what you've done?" "I just shot John Lennon," Chapman said matter-of-factly. Then we're told, Chapman threw down his gun, took off his coat, folded it at his feet, and calmly started reading a paperback, Catcher in the Rye. Perdomo kicked the gun away. One wonders why Perdomo told him to leave, after reminding him of his crime. Perhaps Perdomo was the shooter and planted the gun.

Imagine, minutes later, Perdomo identified Chapman as the killer as the cops arrived. Patrolman Peter Cullen didn't believe it. He thought Chapman looked too straight. But Perdomo insisted and Officer Steven Spiro arrested Mark. The cops could also see that Lennon was dying. Instead of waiting for an ambulance, they lifted him into a patrol car and rushed him to nearby Roosevelt Hospital. But Lennon died in the emergency room.

Who Was Jose Perdomo?

Imagine Jose Joaquin Sanjenis Perdomo. According to Cuban Information Archives and Salvador Austucia, author of Rethinking John Lennon's Assassination, Perdomo was also known as "Joaquin Sanjenis," and "Sam Jenis." He was mostly known as an anti-Castro Cuban exile and a member of Brigade 2506 during the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961, a miserably failed CIA operation, which cost Company Head Allan Dulles his job, and maybe John F. Kennedy his life, also by a mythic lone gunman, who turned out to play patsy, too. In fact, during that evening, while Chapman waited hours for Lennon's return, Perdomo had spoken at length with him about the invasion and Cuban American politics. Strange topics for strangers, one waiting for a rock star.

Imagine Officer Cullen remained troubled with Perdomo's claim that Chapman was the killer. Cullen later told reporter James R. Gains of People Magazine in a Feb. 23, 1987, piece, "The Man Who Shot Lennon" that: "He [Chapman] looked like a guy who worked in a bank, an office. Not a loser or anything, just a guy out there trying to earn a living. I remember taking a look at him and saying, 'Why? What did you do here?' He really had no answer for it. He did say several times, 'I'm sorry I gave you guys so much trouble.'"

Imagine Perdomo had reason to insist Mark was the man. Perdomo, aka Sanjenis, had worked side by side, ah yes, with convicted and now deceased Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis for about a decade on the CIA payroll. Sturgis misleadingly claimed Joaquin Sanjenis died of natural causes in 1974. He claimed it was the Company's way of keeping Sanjenis' anonymity. His family wasn't even notified of his supposed death till after the funeral. In fact, Sanjenis/Perdomo may still be alive, plumbing in some near or far outpost. There's always work for anonymous men who know how to do what needs to be done and vanish. Ole!

Imagine Perdomo was so invisible that he wasn't identified by name for more than six years after Lennon's murder. He was mistakenly referred to first as Jay Hastings, the bearded, burly desk clerk who worked in the lobby, and was on duty the night Lennon was killed. In fact, Lennon ran from the shooter, and collapsed before Hastings and Yoko. This information is mentioned in the book, The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles, written by one of the group's management team, Peter Brown -- along with Steven Gains.

Imagine from the book, The Fish is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro, by Warren Hinckle and William Turner, these descriptions of Sanjenis/Perdomo:

"Sanjenis was an opportunistic little man who managed to punch a CIA meal ticket the rest of his life. When he met [Frank] Sturgis he was filling a bucket or rotten eggs, which would become Operation 40 -- the secret police of the Cuban invasion force. The ultrasecret Operation 40 included some nonpolitical, conservative exile businessmen, but its hard core was made up of dice players at the foot of the cross -- informers, assassins-for-hire, and mob henchmen whose sworn goal was to make the counterrevolution safe for the comfortable ways of the old Cuba. They were the elite troops of the old guard within the exile movement, who made effective alliance with CIA right-wingers against CIA liberals . . .

"Sanjenis got Sturgis a CIA maildrop and gave him the right phone numbers, and Sturgis agreed to coordinate his own operations with Sanjenis and work on a contract basis on special agency assignments . . .

"Sanjenis had launched scores of ships and planes on clandestine raids against Cuba and had sent hundreds of men on missions from which there had been no return. . . . There were no official missing-in-action reports in the Secret War against Cuba. It was Joaquin Sanjenis' job to keep his troops, as himself, faceless." And so he was, and lived up to his character references.

The Entry Wounds on the Left Side of Lennon's Body

Imagine the theory we've been told: that Lennon had walked past Chapman, who was to the right and then rear of him in the dark entryway. If Chapman had called out, "Mr. Lennon," and John stopped and turned, it was possible though difficult for him to hit Lennon in the left shoulder, and then as Lennon turned to flee, to hit him in the upper left back. Yet Chapman told Judge Dennis Edwards at a sentencing hearing that he didn't say anything to Lennon, just that he fired.

Imagine a second theory: Perdomo or another operative fired from the doorway leading to the service elevator, which was at the left of the walkway and in front of Lennon. There are two series of two shots. First, two shots hit the left shoulder. As Lennon runs towards the lobby stairway, two other shots hit his upper left back. Shooting from that doorway seems a more plausible way to make those hits. Since the autopsy was not made public, we don't know if three of the five shots exited, grazed or missed Lennon to hit the glass lobby door.

Imagine crime scene witnesses varied in their accounts of whether or not Chapman called to Lennon. No convincing evidence was presented that Chapman had caused Lennon to turn. Also, this wasn't a trial since Chapman had already confessed. It was simply a sentencing hearing. There was no official testimony or any witnesses. The case was declared closed on the night of the murder, and the police report is lacking in any substantive detail. Yet what it does say is that Chapman was carrying $2,201.76 in cash when arrested and declared himself unemployed. You wonder why eyes didn't open at that, and a complete inquiry wasn't made into the death of a figure like John Lennon. Could it possibly be a cover-up? Had assassinations liked this ever happened before?

Imagine author Salvador Astucia's somewhat offbeat scenario: "As Lennon passes Chapman, a member of the FBI's assassination squad somehow transmits an audible message to Chapman . . . which places him in a semi-hypnotic trance . . ." Perhaps Jose Perdomo simply whispered in his ear something that had been programmed into Chapman's psyche earlier: "Kill Lennon." Chapman had claimed he heard a voice, although Astucia believes he is clearly not psychotic. I don't agree, and will address that point in a moment. The message, however delivered, does trigger Mark's mind to think he is about to kill Lennon. And so for me, we have a classic patsy on autopilot.

Who Was Chapman and How Did He Get to Be a Patsy?

Imagine as British author Fenton Bresler reports in his book -- Who Killed John Lennon? -- that from 1950 the CIA had begun work on mind control, and specifically called it PROJECT BLUEBIRD. In two years it turned into a larger PROJECT ARTICHOKE, no joke. And it was noted in a Company memorandum . . ."To exploit operational lines, scientific methods and knowledge that can be utilized in altering the attitudes, beliefs, thought processes and behavior patterns of agent personnel. This will include the application of tested psychiatric and psychological techniques, including the use of hypnosis in conjunction with drugs."

Given the 30 years the Agency had to refine these techniques, neither their reality, use, nor effectiveness would be surprising. Certainly, Mark Chapman had all the credentials for a very "special agent." And here's where I disagree with Salvador Astucia about Mark's state of being.

Imagine as Fred McGunagle did in his article for Court TV's Crime Library, Mark David Chapman: The Man Who Killed John Lennon, that Chapman was vulnerable and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He had been seeing "little people" from his boyhood, some encouraging him to do good and some to do bad things. They lived first in the walls of his house, then in the deepest recesses of his brain, maturing into full-blown demons, causing Mark to have several nervous breakdowns and attempt suicide twice by the time he was 24.

Imagine how Mark had become increasingly fixated on Holden Caulfied, the fictional hero of J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, a confused teenager, upset by the discovery that the world seems to be made up of phonies. Mark's other fixation was rock superstar John Lennon, whom he alternately admired and hated, the latter for John's quip that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Lennon offended the Jesus freak in Mark.

Imagine, on an equally dark note, Mark White in his political comic strip, Dead Silence in the Brain, reports that as a young man Mark Chapman began working at a Laotian refugee camp. The camp was run by World Vision, an evangelical charity which runs refugee camps worldwide. It has assisted in numerous CIA operations. Its camps along the Honduran border, for instance, were used to recruit the death squads of El Salvador . . . Researcher John Judge writes, "World Vision appears to be an elaborate cover for the recruitment, training and placement of assassins worldwide." So I don't think Chapman was picked from a hat from the general population. I think he had had intense behavioral conditioning for the Lennon assassination, though I don't think he was the triggerman. I believe he was too much of a risk as a Manchurian Candidate, even at close range. So Perdomo & Associates lent a helping hand.

Imagine, as Bresler tells us, Chapman buying a .38 Special revolver from J&S Enterprises, a gun shop in midtown Honolulu, the city where Chapman lived. Bresler gives the serial number as 577570, yet no one at the NYPD mentions if that is the number on the .38 used in the crime. That is an amazing oversight. Serial numbers are put on guns for crime-tracking or theft. Then too, this wasn't the first time Chapman had been to New York to peruse Lennon. Chapman made two trips to New York City, one from October 29, 1980, through November 10, 1980. Another on December 6, 1980.

Imagine that on the first trip Chapman must have carried the aforementioned .38 revolver with him. In fact, Bresler describes in detail how Chapman brought the gun to NYC on October 29 but forgot to bring bullets. And so he flew to Atlanta to get hollow-point bullets from a policeman friend, Dana Reeves (aka, Gene Scott). He went to Atlanta because NYC forbids the purchase of ammunition by anyone not living in New York State. Bresler also mentions at some point that Chapman told his wife Gloria, "that it was time he grew up. He was a married man now and ought to be able to support a family. What he needed to do first, however, was to go off by himself for awhile, to think things over. He had decided to return to New York. She needn't fear that he would do anything wrong. He had thrown the gun and bullets into the ocean."

Imagine why Bresler doesn't challenge that last statement, so we know if it's a fact or a convenient lie for Chapman to cover his tracks with his wife. And perhaps Reeves, aka Scott, was not just a cop, but an FBI or CIA handler involved in shaping Chapman's plan of action and behavior. Mark then goes back to New York, supposedly via a stop in Chicago to see his grandmother, a sidebar that goes nowhere. Bresler also presents the notion that Chapman has repressed homosexual tendencies. The gay theme also kind of comes out of and goes nowhere, except to guarantee that post-prosecution Chapman would never give Bresler a personal interview. Chapman seriously resented Bresler's "gay" insinuations about him.

What Is the Motive for All This?

Imagine even though it was the Nixon White House that originally panicked, i.e., that Lennon might join a "Drop Nixon" series of concerts (an untrue rumor that Lennon blamed Jerry Rubin for spreading), how it proved to be the beginning of trouble for Lennon. FBI kingpin J. Edgar Hoover got wind of it and opened a file on Lennon. The INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) began deportation proceedings against Lennon. His political activism was curtailed over the next few years as he fought legal battles to stay in the US. In 1975, after the Watergate scandal, which some say was actually engineered to dump Nixon, Lennon won his green card. But he was worn out from the battles, retired from public life, and put his love and energy into his home life. Luckily, during this time the Carter administration kept the intelligence bow-wows at bay.

Imagine how in 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan as president, it was a whole new story. But then, too, John had gotten his energy back and was in the studio recording and making plans to resume his activism. I believe it was then that the Great Communicator plus VP, former CIA Head and operative George H. W. Bush & Company, put together a preemptive strike against Lennon. As usual, they needed a certified nut, conceivably capable of a random act of violence, and so they put their MK-ULTRA to work putting it together. Rock music was an enormously powerful force, then as now. I would imagine that Reagan and friends feared Lennon might interfere with their vicious policies in South and Central America, not to mention Iran, Russia, and America. Alley-oop, he had to go.

Imagine how tragic it is that the man who wrote "Give Peace A Chance" had to die at the hands of assassins. But imagine John Kennedy trying to stop the "Bay of Pigs" incident and trying to pull back on "Vietnam" -- or RFK trying to battle organized crime, Martin Luther King trying to non-violently integrate the south. All were gunned down supposedly by lone crazies, when in reality the assassinations were carefully orchestrated ops involving many people.

Imagine that was the case right down to Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt (only three months after Lennon's assassination) by John Hinckley, Jr., the son of John Hinckley, Sr., an old Texas oilman crony of George H. W. Bush. The two families had a history, going back to the1960s in Texas, when Bush and John Hinckley, Sr., got filthy rich together in the oil business and both circulated in the same elegantly greasy circles. Rumor has it the older Hinckley son, Scott, was scheduled to have dinner with Neil Bush on the night Reagan was shot. What some have called a Bushwhack occurred at about 2:30 in the afternoon of March 30, 1981, as Reagan was leaving the Washington Hilton, after making a speech. Bush was conveniently out of town.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Imagine how John Hinckley, Jr., stepped from the press corps, crouched on the sidewalk, and called out, "Mr. President, look over here." With both hands leveling his .22-caliber pistol, he opened fire on Reagan. In the melee that ensued, the sixth slug found its mark. The shot as it was originally reported, ricocheted off the armored sedan's fender into Reagan's armpit and punctured his lung. A slightly more direct hit and Bush would have stepped into the presidency, forgoing eight more years of being number two. Ah life.

Imagine the troubled Hinckley, Jr., patterned himself after Robert DeNiro's Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. Failing at killing a presidential candidate, in search of a just cause in what he felt was a corrupt world, Bickle later shoots the oppressive pimp of a young prostitute played by Jody Foster, with whom the young Hinckley had become totally obsessed. Hinckley had seen the film at least 15 times. Like Chapman with Catcher in the Rye, Hinckley, Jr., read and reread the book it was based on. He also listened to the film soundtrack for hours on end. His ego was totally immersed in the Bickle/DeNiro character. Some would say, given his shaky mental state, Hinckley was fresh meat to be programmed by some of Bush's former spooks to seek out and destroy the Gipper, this time a la The Manchurian Candidate, that is, he was the shooter/patsy, and even mission failure could be considered a successful warning to play ball.

Imagine the correspondent Judy Woodruff appearing on NBC Special Reports that ran right after the shooting. She said she saw at least one shot fired from the hotel overhang above Reagan's limo. She later added that a Secret Service agent had fired that shot. Could friendly fire have brought down Reagan? Or could it be one more second shooter? Was the Secret Service lax that day? In any case, Woodruff's observation helped piece together how a slug hit Reagan when his limo's bulletproof door stood between him and Hinckley.

Imagine that Hinckley, Jr., flew to Nashville in 1980 to stalk Jimmy Carter and kill him, a la Arthur Bremer with Nixon and Wallace. Bremer succeeded in paralyzing Wallace in an assassination attempt. But Hinckley was busted at the airport when authorities found three handguns in his suitcase. Yet, after being held for just five hours, he was fined and released. Nor did anyone bother to look in the journal that he carried, in which he spelled out his plans to kill Carter, as once Arthur Bremer, on whom Bickle's character was based, had scribbled in his journal just how he was going to off Nixon or Wallace. What we have here is a line of "patsies" and assassinations.

Imagine the capper, that John Hinckley, Jr., was present on that rainy Sunday, December 14, 1980, in Central Park, when a hushed crowd of about 100,000, including myself and my wife, gathered near the bandshell. At Yoko's request we "prayed for John's soul" during 10 minutes of silence. Weeks later, Hinckley spoke his thoughts of that day into a tape-recorder. "I just want to say goodbye to the old year, which was nothing -- total misery, total, death. John Lennon is dead, the world is over, forget it . . ." Three months later, the world would hear all about Hinckley, Jr., as well.

The Record Company, EMI, Invisible Hand in 1966 Anti-Lennon Campaign

Imagine the summer of 1966. Just before the Beatles decided to quit touring, they were working on the album Revolver. For some reason Paul McCartney grew angry and walked out of the studio. This left John with just one tune on the American version of the album, in which all the Beatles played and sang. That was "Tomorrow Never Knows." In the British EMI version of the album, John sang five songs. Three were scraped by EMI offshoot Capitol records, so Paul's decision to walk out on "She Said She Said" was a form of sabotaging his colleague's work.

Imagine Derek Larsson saying, "The sloppiness from McCartney in some of John's records is something that you can hear right on the record itself which is why I think Lennon's complaint is validated. The sloppiness is the 'sabotage' issue that Lennon was referring to."

Imagine the larger issue here, that even though EMI stands for Electrical and Musical Industries, the company was also a military contractor to the British War Office. So a high-ranking American official could make a call to a high-ranking British official and complain about this Lennon fellow ramping up American youth against government policy, especially given his comment that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. That one's still kicking around today.

Imagine this would give then EMI Chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood the impetus to pull Lennon tunes on the American (Capitol) version of Revolver, which in fact EMI did. In a June '66 release of the Yesterday And Today album, the famous "butcher block photo" was also on the cover, showing the Beatles surrounded by bloody baby dolls. The guys claimed they had no involvement with Yesterday and Today's weird album cover. Nevertheless it tainted the album.

Imagine the Beatles were booed and jeered on July 5, 1966, in the Manila, capital of the Philippines, when they were mistakenly accused of not showing up at a party thrown by Imelda Marcos, wife of the president. Perhaps they didn't have the right shoes to wear, but the Beatles say they never got an invitation. So their security was cancelled as they tried to leave the country. They were pushed around at the airport by about 30 armed thugs.

Imagine the "more popular than Jesus" story surfaced not so innocently from an interview in Datebook, an American magazine, and caused a furor. It was something worthy of today's neocons and swift-boaters.

Imagine, in August, Revolver was released in America and three of five of John's songs were gone. Paul was presented as the creative prime mover. None of his songs were cut from the original EMI British version. McCartney admitted he walked out of the session for "She Said She Said" and actually not playing or singing on the tune at all. So the Beatles as a quartet played on only one of John's songs on the American Revolver. Politics had managed to worm its ugly head even into the lives of four closely knit, world-famous musicians.

Imagine in August 19, 1966, a member of the audience in Memphis threw a firecracker on stage. When it exploded the entire Beatles' crew figured John Lennon had been shot. Writer Salvador Astucia discovered that no less than British Prime Minister Harold Wilson had called Sir Joseph Lockwood in 1965. Exactly what was said was speculative, but then Lennon, as Astucia suggests, "was more influential than any head of state in the world."

Imagine it turns out that RCA, our own multinational media corporation and conglomerate, which was headed by "General" David Sarnoff, was EMI's silent partner, and also active in military and space electronics and satellite communications. It was subsequently acquired by General Electric in 1986 for $6 billion, the largest non-oil company merger to that day. It was a classic example of what President Dwight Eisenhower would have called the "military industrial complex," producing even the rebellious Beatles for a buck, so long as the boys kept their place.

The Last Hanger-On and Suspect, Fred Seaman

Imagine Fred Seaman, a Lennon staffer and look-alike, who was convicted of stealing personal effects from the Lennon estate, which was in part entrusted to his care (1979-80). He did five years of probation and surfaced with contacts to writer Bob Rosen, to whom he gave information to write a book called Nowhere Man. Before that, Rosen wrote speeches for the secretary of the Air Force, Hans Mark, who served from 1979 to February 1981. Seamon also fed Lennon information to Albert Goldman, which Astucia calls, "one of the most well-known efforts of posthumous character assassination of Lennon." Hans Mark and his father, Herman Mark, go back to Edward Teller, inventor of the hydrogen bomb, and friend of Henry Kissinger and Theodor Herzl, the papa of Zionism, a crowd of assassins if ever there was one, exactly the kind of folks Lennon would have gone after had he lived.

Imagine Chapman, Perdomo and Jay Hastings are put aside and there are accounts of a "handyman" who could have been the shooter. Astucia believes it could have been Seaman. Seaman had complete access to the Lennon apartment and elevator, and could be seen as a "maintenance man" or "elevator man," and could have been present on the night of the assassination, shuffling back and forth at any time. It's ironic that officer Peter Cullen had originally said it was the "handyman" who shot Lennon. Was it indeed Seaman, hiding in the dark doorway to the service elevator who did it? He certainly had the low-life credentials. So it goes for now, the search to find justice, and how life is stranger almost than anything we can imagine.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer residing in Manhattan. Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net.

Posted by: Che | December 7, 2005 04:06 PM

The arguements by Republican Senators cited in the above article are often either misstated or oversimplified. The Iraq-al-Qaeda link is threefold. First, Middle Eastern terrorism stems from a rejection of modern cultural and political values. The Sunni jihadists who make up al-Qaeda simply want to cut off the Middle East from the rest of the world in order to create their own little 7th century paradise. We cant allow this both because instability in the Middle East would quickly spread to neighboring regions and because we need their oil (Yes, I know this sounds selfish, but please realize that if the Middle East stops exporting oil, Americans will pay higher prices for oil from somewhere else. Its all the poor people of the world that will face widespread economic collapse). The invasion of Iraq was an attempt to create the oft-mentioned "Big Bang" effect, wherein the rest of the Middle East would be forced to modernize by such an intervention. Given recent events in Lebanon, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, I dont think this reasoning can be quickly discounted.
Second, the Senators were arguing more for why Iraq is NOW a battleground in the war against al-Qaeda, and it is. The most viscious and highly publicized face of the insurgency is that of Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. It seems that the attention of Sunni radicals is currently focused on American troops. If our troops weren't there, that attention would be focused, at least in part, on the American people. I have friends over there and I hate the thought of them being in danger, but they are professionals and are far better able to handle it than American civilians. The total number of US casualties in the war in Iraq, after three years, is still one thousand less than those we lost in one day on 9/11.
Third, if the US were to withdraw now, there is at least a reasonable chance that Iraq will collapse, placing an Afghanistan style situation right in the center of the Middle East, radicalizing the whole region, just as Pakistan was radicalized by the prescence of the failed state of Afghanistan on its border.
It is an extremly dangerous idea to think that if we just withdrew from the Middle East, that its problems wouldnt follow us. The fact is is that we have been drawn their repeatedly for a reason, that region is important and we cant afford to let it gradually slide towards radicalism. As a final note, I will say that I have been very dissapointed with the handling of the post-war occupation, but that doesnt affect the validity of our reasons for going to war or our reasons for continuing to try to rebuild Iraq.

Posted by: Chris | December 7, 2005 04:12 PM

Just as a quick follow up. The following arguement drives me nuts. "Bush used WMD as the reason to invade Iraq...there were no WMD...therefore the entire war was immoral/unethical/fill-in-the-blank." Granted, Bush argued that WMD were a threat to US national security, but even so, do you arrest a serial murderer because he kills people or because he kills people with a gun. Just because Saddam didnt have WMD when we invaded doesnt make him any less odious. Leaders like him deserve to go, regardless of how they kill people.

Posted by: Chris | December 7, 2005 04:25 PM

isn't it a tad rud (if not actually blasphemous) to say "G-d Bless America"?

One should not issue a directive to the ultimate power of the universe.

How bout "May G-d Bless America" or perhaps "G-d, please bless America".

Actually, I'm not sure G-d is so into blessing nation states. I think G-d would be willing to bless humanity; If we could get our act together, respect each other, and at least try to maintain the rock, hurtling through space, on which we live .

Posted by: Peter in Berkeley | December 7, 2005 04:54 PM

Che - Do you know how to at least link off-topic SPAM, fuckhead? Spare us your cut 'n paste specials. Keep it at your own sorry ass blogspot. If there is any merit to the crap you rip off in toto from other writers in violation of copyright law, perhaps people might go visit you on your own Site that you constantly tout..

Chris - Two nice posts by you. Dead on truth!

From RCP, following up on the problem of Democrats and liberals being tainted by association with Lefties and hate-America sorts:

"In 2005 national Democrats' biggest obstacle to winning the Presidency is the left wing of their own party that has an ingrained hostility to the U.S. military, U.S. power and to U.S. interests in the world."

And their power is evident in their ability to marginalize the likes of Joe Lieberman and Jack Murtha (pre-conversion by Pelosi) from policy-making in the Democratic Party.

Now the Lefties and hate-America sorts are going after Hillary Clinton for supporting what Bill Clinton started with the Iraq Liberation Act, and trying to drag her back to the "mainstream" of the present Democratic Party (as Howard Dean is trying to construct it).

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 7, 2005 05:12 PM

1) Why the continued references to the "Axis of Evil", when correct formulations include only "Axes of Evil", "Axles of Weevils", and (when referring to neocons) "Axis of Weevils"?
2) ClueTown is still open. Lugar's "we've recycled Afghanistan" indicates his need to pop in and pick up a six-pack of basic facts. We've "hosed", "trashed", "poppified", or "Sovietized" Afghanistan. We've recycled only sophomoric rhetoric.

Posted by: Steve Conelley | December 7, 2005 05:35 PM

Will,

Sorry to take so long to respond, but I just got home from work.

Your quote from the State of the Union Address, January 29, 2002, was just one paragraph in the larger context of Bush's two main ideas: 1)to eliminate terrorist camps and to "bring terrorists to justice" and 2)to eliminate state sponsors of terrorism who may pass on wmd's to terrorists. Also note that Bush includes all terrorists, not just al-Qaeda.

The following full passage does,indeed, support my contention that Bush has been a model of consistency in pursuing the WoT.

(Sorry to insert such a long passage, but many people on this blog seem to have never heard the following thesis from Our President):

"Our nation will continue to be steadfast and patient and persistent in the pursuit of two great objectives. First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. And, second, we must prevent the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world. (Applause.)

"Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities.

"While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines, helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American, and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

"My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. (Applause.)

"But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will. (Applause.)

"Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

"Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

"Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

"We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

"We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

"Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

"We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight." (Applause.)

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 05:42 PM

Wow! Sorry, I haven't the attention span to read in their entirety let alone compete with the verbose likes of some posters here (looking at you Chris and Che :)

But Chris, despite reframing (re-summarizing and changing) nearly all of my assertions above, you STILL didn't "put me in my place". You think a war on radical Islam is winnable? How about a war on Communism? In our lifetimes?? I was never sure, but how exactly do you win a war on an ideology? Oh that's right, militarily implant democracy wherever possible and cross your fingers...

Saudi Arabia more ally than foe? How about more trade partner than ally? I think you contradicted yourself in the very breakdown of 9/11 attackers and their nation of origin. Yes, it was the Bush and Oil company-friendly but otherwise preachers of jihad...drumroll...Saudis. And I think you are being fooled by the KSA PR machine yourself, if you think their recent agressive front on terror is anything more than self-preservation with a happy "Go USA!" (and our buddy W) fake subtext. They still preach and teach more hatred of the west on a daily basis (yes, in their schools) than probably any other islamic nation.

Yemen would like to be an ally, but little has changed in that country since the USS Cole attack, and it's about as close to the "Wild West" as anywhere in the Middle East (save possibly those mountainous and lawless regions on the Afghan/Pakistan border)...

And lastly, North Korea... So, you argue that a rabid dog (even one with developed nukes) is acceptable as long as he's contained. Hmmm... You mean like Saddam??? Oh wait, he never actually had nukes, that's right. But he was rabid and contained.

I just want to know how Iraq rose to the status of 2nd leading threat with all of the other threats out there? Getting back to my original issue of priorities in this "war on terror", why Iraq and not 5-10 other REALLY threatening nations? I don't necessarily think Bush lied, but nobody can reasonably argue that he didn't FILTER the intelligence for whatever reason to take us into Iraq. If the qualifier is now nations with tyrants and a need for democracy, then I don't much like the looks of Castro and his country a mere hundred or so miles from our coast ;}

Now seriously Che, hasn't this thread gotten long enough without your pasting entire, rambling, OFF-TOPIC blogs? Sheesh!

Posted by: Lanlord | December 7, 2005 05:56 PM

Answer my points, Lanlord:(sorry to repeat myself but I'll keep it short:

Here are some facts that are easy to understand if you want to:

Remember that Saddam lost Gulf War I?

Remember he had to let the UN monitor his weapons programs as part of the surrender terms?

Remember that he didn't co-operate and the UN passed 17 resolutions that Saddam ignored?

Remember the UN said that he had wmd's that he used on Kurds and Shia that UN inspectors could not account for?

Remember that Saddam had bought yellowcake uranium from Niger before Clinton bombed his nuclear facility?

The UN legal structure was in place to halt Saddam's sponsor of terrorism. (see Al Capone and tax evasion.)

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 06:08 PM

Oh, Che,

I do not listen to Pacifica Radio's Marxist lies and distortions and I do not appreciate your pasting the same kind of merde in this reasonable and constructive blog.

I have never known a Marxist who is considerate and tolerant of others' ideas.

Love to all, even you Marxist fossils.

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 06:12 PM

Man, the posts are getting way too long. My head hurts.

Anyone heard any good jokes lately?

Posted by: Sonny | December 7, 2005 06:17 PM

Here's a good joke:

Howard Dean is the Head of the Democratic Party! Yeaaaaghhhh!

Ha! Ha! Ha! You're killing me!

Love to all

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 06:27 PM

Salt, you make some valid points. And outside of the context of the war on terror, he would have been an excellent choice for toppling through whatever means available. Although, in retrospect, the no-fly zones and inspectors were working pretty well, weren't they? The points you made however, do not make him involved in the 9/11 attacks or any imminent attacks on US interests.

Saddam was marginalized by the first Gulf War, and the only thing he desired was a return to sovereignty within his own country. How many other world leaders (particularly the ill-behaved ones) would accept the ever-changing terms of his surrender including all of those UN resolutions, no-fly zones, inspectors, etc? I'm not arguing that his invasion of Kuwait was not his fault alone, but we even left Khadafi (Quadaffi?) alone after Reagan's response to his terrorist involvement - save trade and diplomatic sanctions. I think we would presently be occupying Libya too if we pushed Khadafi the way we did Saddam and chose to believe machismo sabre-rattling rather than the majority of sound intelligence.

I've heard all of the Michael Moore arguments for why Bush had such "wood" for this guy, but I still don't buy it. Why Iraq and why now? Surely there were other more culpable nations after 9/11 in which to form the new "front in the war on terror". Are we all at least in agreement that Afghanistan was a good start?

Posted by: Lanlord | December 7, 2005 06:36 PM

Thanks, Lanlord.

Saddam kept shooting at our planes and kicking out the inspectors whenever they got near something. He showed his contempt for the civilized world like he now shows contempt for anyone who would dare hold him accountable for his genocide.

Khadafi turned over his wmd's after we deposed Saddam. A free bonus to our invasion.

Afghanistan was the perfect start. Iraq was the perfect 2nd for the following reasons:

The UN legal structure.

Saddam was a terrorist himself. (Ask the Kurds and Shia and anyone who dared to oppose him.)

The penchant Saddam had for helping other thugs, no matter what their name. He paid Hezbollah and Hamas suicide bombers' families $20,000 for each blow-up.

He allowed Ansar al-Islam to run a bona fide terrorist camp. (He's a suitor!)

He welcomed Zarqawi for medical treatment after he was wounded in Afghanistan. And that's only what I remember off the top of my head.

Iran will be 3rd if they do not cooperate like Khaddafi did.

North Korea has been only a seriuos threat to its own people, so far.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 06:57 PM

Be honest, we inspected practically every Iraqi point of interest over the years, and Saddam was playing a dangerous bluffing game so that his enemies and immediate neighbors would not realize how fully "disarmed" Gulf War I had left him.

Showing contempt for us has never been (and hopefully will never be) an indicator for invasion, although genocide is. Why then did it take decades for our response? And that hardly makes the case for not facing North Korea militarily, although secretly we all know why THAT'S off the table, right? See, nukes really CAN be a deterrent to war :)

Posted by: Lanlord | December 7, 2005 07:05 PM

Lanny,

To answer point by point:

The UN knew Saddam had wmd's. Hence the 17 resolutions and the inspectors.

Where did they go?

Showing contempt for civilized world by breach of contract viz a viz the terms of his surrender and supporting terrorists earned him an invasion and deposition.

It took decades because we were content to let sleeping dictators lie UNTIL 9/11. Everything changed. Remember?

If Fat Kim the Ill One were to associate with Islamic terrorists, he would get a cruise missle party.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 07:30 PM

Guess I'll have to cry "truce" or something similar in order to have some dinner here...

I question the UN "knowing" much of anything, but they suspected. And where DID those WMDs go? You know the largest intelligence agencies in the world have reviewed months and months of satellite (and all other kinds of) surveillance, and if they can't find a face-saving answer on those WMDs by now, you can probably give up on that component of your argument. Keep in mind, Iraq was the most scrutinized and flown-over of all our enemies.

And well, I guess you hit on the crux of my (still unanswered) question. We are still SELECTIVELY letting SOME sleeping dictators (and terrorist regimes) lie, and I just want to know how we are prioritizing our post-9/11 "pay-back" -- given that we have a finite military force and waning credibility among allies and the coalition of the coerced, er um... willing. Unfortunately, I think each subsequent "coalition" is going to be smaller than the last, since we kind of blew it in the UN and elsewhere on the whole Iraq thing. (see Downing St. Memo, Colin Powell's resignation, etc.)

See how I get when I don't get dinner on time?

Posted by: Lanlord | December 7, 2005 07:51 PM

Oh, and I almost forgot, how's an intercepted shipment of ballistic missiles, en route from North Korea to Yemen?? It happened, and I'm still waiting for that missile party u mentioned :)

Posted by: Lanlord | December 7, 2005 07:55 PM

Lanford:

Good point about NKorean missiles to Yemen.

According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative website(www.nti.org), an organization founded by Ted Turner and Sam Nunn:

"In December 2002, Spanish and American naval forces intercepted a North Korean ship loaded with Scud missiles bound for Yemen; however, the shipment was allowed to proceed to its destination."

We were in Afghanistan a year and preparing for a March invasion of Iraq.

The shipment was legal. The Bush administration did not violate international law.

The Yemeni government was fighting terrorism itself and helped US Special Forces kill Abu Ali al-Harithi, a Cole bombing thug, in Yemen, where there was an al-Qaeda presence in the north.

Also, believe it or not, Bush does pursue diplomacy whenever practical. We had been trying NOT to invade Iraq since GHW Bush left Dipshit in power in 1991.

Kim Dung Jung still is part of the Axis of Evil. He's still opressing and starving his people. I'm sure he is watching Iraq to see if the US backs up words with sustainable action or if we don't have the belly to really fight terrorist thugs.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 7, 2005 09:49 PM

Did you know that 47 countries have reestablished their embassies in
Iraq?

Did you know that the Iraqi government currently employs 1.2 million
Iraqi people?

Did you know that 3100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are
under rehabilitation, 263 schools are now under construction and 38
new schools have been built in Iraq?

Did you know that Iraq's higher educational structure consists of
20 Universities, 46 Institutes or colleges and 4 research centers, all
currently operating?

Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in
January 2005 for the reestablished Fulbright program?

Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational? They have 5-
100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.


Did you know that Iraq's Air Force consists of three operational
squadrons, which includes 9 reconnaissance and 3 US C-130 transport
aircraft (under Iraqi operational control) which operate day and
night, and will soon add 16 UH-1 helicopters and 4 Bell Jet Rangers?

Did you know that Iraq has a counter-terrorist unit and a Commando
Battalion?

Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully
trained and equipped police officers?

Did you know that there are 5 Police Academies in Iraq that produce
over 3500 new officers each 8 weeks?

Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in
Iraq? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83
railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69
electrical
facilities.

Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have
received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

Did you know that 4.3 million Iraqi children were enrolled in primary
school by mid October?

Did you know that there are 1,192,000 cell phone subscribers in Iraq
and phone use has gone up 158%?

Did you know that Iraq has an independent media that consists of 75
radio stations, 180 newspapers and 10 television stations?

Did you know that the Baghdad Stock Exchange opened in June of
2004?

Did you know that 2 candidates in the Iraqi presidential election had
a televised debate recently?


OF COURSE WE DIDN'T KNOW!

WHY DIDN'T WE KNOW? OUR MEDIA WOULDN'T TELL US!

Instead of reflecting our love for our country, we get photos of flag
burning incidents at Abu Ghraib and people throwing snowballs at the
presidential motorcades.

The lack of accentuating the positive in Iraq serves two purposes.
It is intended to undermine the world's perception of the United
States thus minimizing consequent support, and it is intended to
discourage American citizens.

---- Above facts are verifiable on the Department of Defense web
site.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 8, 2005 07:20 AM

Hey, Emily, how about a blog on why the media doesn't relate the good news about Iraq? Alex is right.

Posted by: Salt | December 8, 2005 08:57 AM

Nice try, Rummy! I'd recognize your blog-style any day, and I think I heard these stats at one of your press conferences recently.

And using a pseudonym like "Alex Ham - America's Hero"?? Tsk tsk! Shouldn't you spend more time winning this thing in Iraq and less time on the Washington Post?

Obviously you don't watch Fox news, or do you consider THEM liberal biased too?

Posted by: Lanlord | December 8, 2005 09:50 AM

How about the recent comments from our CIC re: "repairing infrastructure damaged by terrorists".. ?

Maybe he's right, but the terrorists mentioned aren't the insurgents. How many TONS of bombs fell on Iraq during the first gulf war? How many since the latest invasion?

All pinpoint munitions, of course. I thought the power system was destroyed (totally) on day 1 by US bombs. How many civilian dead? How were they any threat to US interests?

If Saddam was such a bad man, why was the US providing chemical weapons to him? Because he was our ally. He bombed his own people in the south after the first gulf war - the US permitted it by allowing his air force to do it.

Guilt by association is not innocence.

WoT is a political cover for eroding civil liberties here at home. It's real, it's happening.

Posted by: gonzo | December 8, 2005 10:31 AM

Bush's brains (Cheney and Rove) bombed their own people in order to control their people, silence them, control the media and grab the oil. America has always been corrupt and everytime Americans don't believe it, can't be bothered to even check it out. It is much easier to call people crazy. It allows you to be lazy and keep that brain sleeping.
Bush did it.

Posted by: SpeakupforDemocracy | December 8, 2005 10:59 AM

And there were Commies in Vietnam in the sixties so Democrat JFK sent "advisors" in. Democrat LBJ escalated things simply to show the Soviets how far we would go to stop the advance of socialism. (I guess war was not the answer there huh?!) They tried to micromanage the Vietnam War the same way they want to prosecute this war, from their chairs in DC. The Democrats in DC cost us 58,000 soldiers' lives. Republican Nixon put an end to it.

Today's debate is nothing more than Leftists projecting their guilt, their self loathing, onto those of us who know the right thing to do and how to do it right.

Kerry and Murtha are losers who can't stand it that they were and are on the wrong side politically and a victory in Iraq will expose their incompetence. Saying they want to see the plan just proves that if we let them do it their way, by managing the war from their Senate chairs, we would end up with another Vietnam.

They are so pathetic, so transparent, almost feel sorry for them - NO! - That's just the little bit of Liberal in me left over from the seventies.

We didn't start this war. We are just responding to the war that was being waged against us and Democrats like Clinton and Kerry chose to ignore until and even after 9/11.

Posted by: republius | December 8, 2005 11:07 AM

You know, it occurs to me that modern political debate is really not about politics at all. Its about personalities.

We in America focus too much of our energies on personalities like Bill Clinton or George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton or Tom Delay. The truth is that these are all transient personalities who in the judgement of history will probably not attain anywhere near the stature of say Lincoln or FDR or even JFK.

The hype-inspired era we live in tends to elevate the most pedestrian people into positions of power that are way beyond their intellectual talents and their personal temperaments. They are essentially products of this era where image is preferable to substance, where pr is preferable to competence and where success is measured in terms of political spin rather than any actual progress.

Bush is the end product, the epitome, if you will, of this era of pedestrianism. And more than anything else, he is the emblem, the symbol, the signal that America is now in full decline. The PNAC dream of a New American Century has turned into a nightmare which in all liklihood will see China as the center of all things at the end of the century.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 8, 2005 11:17 AM

Alex Ham:

If all that good news is going on in Iraq, then why do they need the U.S. there to
defend themselves in their OWN country?

So what are you implying? That if more so-called good news from Iraq is reported, it will cancel out the bad news from Iraq?

I think not. I believe after President Bush big built up about how Sadaam Hussien was a "imminent threat" to the U.S. turned out to be a major falsehood, the American people have turned against him and his war because they do not believe the price$$$ and human sacrifice of our soldiers lives is worth it. They are not buying into this "spreading democracy to the middle east to curtail terrorism against the U.S." theory. Besides they have come to the conclusion that Sadaam Hussien had nothing to do with connections to the events of 9-11-01 and Bush/Cheney/ Rove and the Republicans would have you believe. Sorry.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 8, 2005 11:21 AM

It is obscenely comical republius that you see Kerry and Murtha--both of whom answered the call and served in the actual arena--as "losers" yet, you see Bush and Cheney--both of whom used priviledge to keep themselves out of the arena, as heroes.

Where may I ask did you get this warped sense of how to define character? You do not have to accept the political views of these two men to recognize that at the very least they had qualities within their character that are sadly lacking in both Bush and Cheney.

I suggest that you judge the character of men in purely ideological terms as is evidenced by your laughable use of the old, obsolete rhetoric of the 50s. "Commies"? My God, haven't you Birchers ever goten beyond 1959?

Posted by: Jaxas | December 8, 2005 11:27 AM

Republius:

Can you please define what "Victory In Iraq is?

Can you tell us exactly what paramaters are you republicans using to define when and how the U.S. will be successful and
win the Iraq war?

Posted by: Left Angle | December 8, 2005 11:31 AM

General Abizaid (Commander, U. S. Central Command whose responsibilities include Iraq and Afghanistan) spoke to the Naval War College last week. The audience comprised primarily War College students who are mid-grade/senior military officers. The majority of these officers have served in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so there was a real understanding of the dynamics of the region... BS would not sell to this audience.

Here is a short summary of General Abizaid's comments, from contemporaneous

notes:

He is amazed as he goes around the country and testifies before the Congress how many of our countrymen do not know or understand what we are doing or how we are doing. There are very few members of Congress who have ever worn the uniform (of our Armed Forces). He said that the questions he gets from some in Congress convince him that they have the idea that we are about to pushed out of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is no relation between this and the reality on the ground.

As he goes around the region and talks to troops and junior officers he is very impressed by their morale and their achievements. They are confident that they are capable of defeating the enemy. You will never see a headline in this country about a school opening or a power station being built and coming on line, or a community doing well. Only the negative things will get coverage in the media. He told the mid-grade/senior officers to go to their local Lions Clubs when they go home and tell the people what they are doing. If they don't get the word out, the American people will not know what is really happening.

The insurgency is in four of 18 provinces in Iraq, not all 18. You do not hear about the 14 provinces where there is no insurgency and where things are going well. The insurgency in Afghanistan is primarily in Kandahar province (home of the Taliban) and in the mountain region on the Pakistani border. The rest of the country is doing well.

Iraq now has over 200,000 soldiers/police under arms and growing. They are starting to eclipse the US/coalition forces. Their casualty rate is more than double that of the US. There are more than 70,000 soldiers under the moderate government in Afghanistan and growing.

He predicted that the insurgencies in the four Sunni provinces in northern/central Iraq and in Southwestern Afghanistan will be there for the foreseeable future, but they will be stabilized and become small enough so the moderate governments will be able to keep them under control.

2006 will be a transition year in Iraq and that will see the Iraqi forces take much more of the mission from the US forces. This is necessary to bring stability to Iraq. We need to be fewer in numbers and less in the midst of the people for the moderate Iraqi government to succeed.

Our primary enemy is not the insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is al Qaida and their ideology. We are at a period now that is similar to the 1920s where Communism and Nazism had not taken hold in Russia and Germany.

The ideology of Al Qaida is out there and it has not taken hold in any country in the Middle East. We need to make sure that it does not and we are doing that, but it will be a long problem with a long commitment.

He said that we are focused on the things that we (Americans) have done wrong, like Abu Ghraib, and not talking about this enemy. We need to talk about this enemy. al Qaida is all over the world. Their goal is to get the US out of the region and come to power in the Islamic countries of the region. From there, their goal is to establish a Caliphate (under a single Islamic ruler) that goes from the Atlantic in North Africa to Indonesia in the Pacific. Fifty years after this happens, their goal is to rule the rest of the world.

Since Desert Storm in 1991, US forces have not lost any combat engagement in the region at the platoon-level or above. al Qaida has no beliefs that they can defeat us militarily. They see our center of gravity as being the will of the American People. That is influenced by the media and they are playing to that. They don't need to win any battles. Their plan is keep the casualties in front of the American people in the media for long enough that we become convinced that we cannot win and leave the region. This would be tragic for our country.

The battle against al Qaida will not be primarily military. It will be political, economic, and ideological. It will require the international community to fight too. We must not let al Qaida get hold in any country.

It will result in our worst nightmare. Picture life in Afghanistan under the Taliban, that is what Al Qaida's ideology has as a goal.

If you look at the geography (of al Qaida), there is no place to put a military solution. They are networked and they are all over the world.

They are a virtual organization connected by the Internet. They use it to proselytize, recruit, raise money, educate and organize. They have many pieces that we must focus on: the propaganda battle in the media, safe houses, front companies, sympathetic members of legitimate governments, human capital, fighters and leaders, technical expertise, weapons suppliers, ideologically sympathetic non-government organizations (charities), financers, smugglers, and facilitators. A lot of their money comes from drugs.

We are winning but we have got to maintain constant pressure over time with the international community and across the US government agencies. No one is afraid that we can't defeat the enemy. Our troops have the confidence, the courage, and the competence. We need the will of the American people to be sustained for the long haul.

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 8, 2005 11:33 AM

Look. All one has to do to ascertain whether the Iraq war was in our best interest is go back to the years preceding 2001 and read what was in the mind of Osama Bin Laden. He wanted to get rid of all secular leaders in the Islamic countries. He wanted to turn the Muslim and Arab world and everyone else against America. He wanted to establish another base of operations in the Middle East from where he could strike at his hated enemies in SDaudi Arabia, in Syria, in Egypt, in Spain, in Turkey, France Britain. He wanted to tarnish the reputation of America as a moral leader.

Now, you look at the way events have traspired since 9-11 and tell me, who do you think has gotten the better end in this struggle?

Posted by: Jaxas | December 8, 2005 11:37 AM

Alex Ham:

Military People follow orders. Bush is commander in chief. What do you think would happen to soldiers who speak out
AGAINST the Bush doctrine in Iraq?

Posted by: Left Angle | December 8, 2005 11:37 AM

Lanlord - How I spend my time OFF work shouldn't concern you.

Posted by: Alex Ham - America's Hero | December 8, 2005 11:37 AM

The Iraq war will go down in history as one of the great strategic blunders. I do not know wheter Osama Bin Laden is living in a cave in Iraq or in a luxury suite in Iran. But wherever he is, he must be laughing at the uttr ineptitude of the American President.

He has gotten much of what he wanted back in the years preceding 9-11. He has gotten rid of an old secular rival in Iraq and now has a bse of operations there that can strike at othe hated Arab leaders. He has succeeded in besmirching America's vaunted moral standing by baiting our CIA and military into actions more properly carried out by the worst of tyrants. He has divided America from her allies in Europe and the Middle East. He has cost America an additional 2000 lives and untold billions, and he has done this at very little cost to himself.

I think it is not Osama Bin Laden who is a dark place now, bereft of friends, sullied in esteem and reviled in the world. Take a good, long objective look and tell me who you think fits that description?

Posted by: Jaxas | December 8, 2005 11:47 AM

Jaxas,

Lincoln, FDR, and KENNEDY?! Why Kennedy? He is precisely one of the "transient personalities" you were complaining about. I know many in the more nastalgic American Left still gush over "Camelot", but what did JFK accomplish (aside from the Bay of Pigs and Marilyn Monroe)? I grant you he was a good speaker, but historically speaking he was not a good president. Although he is the inspiration for the Right's economic philosophy:

"It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues too low and the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut taxes now."
- John F. Kennedy

Posted by: Jon M | December 8, 2005 01:02 PM

For all the rumour about there being no connection between Iraq and Al Quaeda, there has been an amazing, incredible number of Al Quaeda members being killed in Iraq lately.

Sun Tzu: "Always be the one that chooses the battlefield."

Al Quaeda chose New York and Washington DC. We chose Iraq. Since we have diverted the battlespace to Iraq, a lot more Al Quaeda and fewer US civilians have been killed.

There is more. This is a cold and grim calculation. Before and directly after 9-11, Muslim "condemnation" of terrorism was at best tepid, full of "buts" and "on the other handds." Now that muslims are the primary targets of Islamic Terrorism, the religion seems to have newly discovered the civilized prohibitions against mass murder of civilians.

Posted by: Larry Purviance | December 8, 2005 01:14 PM

Many on the Left seem to be under the mistaken impression that if Bin Laden was captured/killed the U.S. would suddenly be safe. This isn't a comic book or movie where you have a single masterminded villian you can topple to restore order. Osama Bin Laden is merely one of the more high profile and notorious killers that systematically targets innocent men, women, and children to achieve their desired ends.

And we will capture him. Before the end of the Bush term I would wager. I only wonder how the MSM will spin it when we do...

Posted by: Jon M | December 8, 2005 01:39 PM

I was going to return to this blog but I am saddened by the hate, bigotry and refusal of some to consider that there is truth that contradicts the lies and misrepresentations to which they stubbornly cling.

Gonzo, speakupfordemocracy,jaxas and leftangle do not seen to want a reasoned discussion of facts with respect for views of others. Each time an assertion of theirs is challenged, they just make more assertions.

I challenge anyone in the world to prove that Bush misrepresented anything. You can't do it, so you just keep spewing hate.

I love you anyway and pray for you.

Posted by: Salt | December 8, 2005 03:09 PM

Salt:

You are a very confused person. If there is anything that you want to discuss or ask
me, let's hear it. I am open to any discussion you want to have.

You have never challenged or questioned anything that I have said that I can remember.

I just want to say one thing on Iraq.

I keep reading where you republicans are charging that Bush is striking back at his democratic/anti Iraq war critics.

If i were republicans i wouldnt worry so much about what democrats say on this issue, Its the american public that they have to worry about. Once Bush loses public support for this war and he continues along a path that the majority of the country disagrees with he is doomed to failure as president by not respecting the will of the people.

The problem for President Bush and the republicans is that most, if not all of the major polls show that a majority of the U.S. public is turning against this Iraqi War, President Bush and the Republican led Congress.

The poll's are showing that most americans believe bush mislead the country into war and misrepresented the intelligence to do so.
they also give him increasingly low marks for honesty, integrity and job performance.

But like i said ignore all this if you want. I pray also that you will open your eyes to the truth and stop letting yourself be brainwashed by misleading Bush/Rove Propaganda.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 8, 2005 03:25 PM

OK jaxas (why create a name that sounds so much like jackass?) Looks like you made my point about Liberals projecting their guilt. You are doing it yourself. I didn't define the "character" you are being so defensive about. And you try to characterize me as a "Bircher" because I used the term "Commies" when I factually state that there were communists in Vietnam.

I have no problem with people who wanted to stay out of Vietnam.
I tried to avoid being drafted in '71-'72. I had no connections. Couldn't get out of it. I was picked #8 in the draft lottery. Pretty sick how Democrats ran things when they controlled the Executive and both Congressional branches. Imagine a friggin lottery to determine if you were to be sent to that meat grinder on the other side of the world. But Nixon ended the draft so I am alive today to oppose wars like Vietnam. But Iraq is no Vietnam and if I were young enough to join the military today I would.

If I were to judge Kerry's character it would be by the seditious, even treasonous, demonstrating he did after he got out of the Navy. And just because Murtha was a decorated hero in Vietnam, that doesn't make everything he says and does for the rest of his life "patriotic" or above reproach. He is wrong about getting out of Iraq and using, or allowing others to use, his patriotic service thirty years ago as a shield is pathetic but oh so typical of Liberals. They call Iraq the wrong war! Idiots! Still haven't gotten over Vietnam.

And as for you, Left Angle. The very fact that you think anybody should define victory for you is a sure sign that we would be wasting our breath in doing so. Pismire!

Posted by: republius | December 8, 2005 03:36 PM

Thanks, LeftA,

President Bush has walways had clear reasons for why we're in Iraq. The reasons have been the same since Jan 2002: (State of the Union address. It's available online. Look it up.)

Our mission is to take the fight to all terrorists and terrorist supporters everywhere until we win. It will take a long time, so get used to it or learn to speak Arabic and learn to say, "Please don't cut off my childrens' heads."

Here are some facts that are easy to understand if you want to:

Remember that Saddam lost Gulf War I?

Remember he had to let the UN monitor his weapons programs as part of the surrender terms?

Remember that he didn't co-operate and the UN passed 17 resolutions that Saddam ignored?

Remember the UN said that he had wmd's that he used on Kurds and Shia that UN inspectors could not account for?

Remember that Saddam had bought yellowcake uranium from Niger before Clinton bombed his nuclear facility?

Remember that the Clinton administration thought that Iraq's weapons programs was the greatest threat to America's security?

As for the link between Saddam and bin Ladin, the 9/11 Commission said that there was no collaboration on the 9/11 attacks. (No one ever claimed that there was.)

The Commission also said, "Iraqi officials offered Bin Ladin a safe haven in Iraq. Bin Ladin declined, apparently judging that his circumstances in Afghanistan remained more favorable than the Iraqi alternative. The reports describe friendly contacts and indicate some common themes in both sides' hatred of the United States." (p 66 of the Commission report)

Ask the Kurds why we are there. Check out their website: www.theotheriraq.com.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 8, 2005 03:37 PM

Hey Left Angle, you say: "Military People follow orders. Bush is commander in chief. What do you think would happen to soldiers who speak out
AGAINST the Bush doctrine in Iraq?"

Maybe they wouldn't speak out. Maybe they would just roll a grenade into their superior's tent... Oh yeh, that's been done.... By a guy who doesn't even have the excuse that he was drafted into a war that he was against as was the case in Vietnam. I wonder what drove him to it - what pushed him over the edge - maybe some of that anti-Bush, anti war, anti-American rhetoric that gets pumped into the overseas radio through NPR.

Ya know you lefties used to like calling real Americans "conspiracy theorists" every time we said the word "socialist" but you guys take the cake - yellow cake. I mean how friggin lame to try to make people believe that Bush made up a story about Sodaminsane trying to by uranium from Niger. At least you could have claimed that he hopped in an SST and flew over there to plant the evidence or - oh wait - you did make that one up before, about his father.

Look. If my father were targeted for assassination by a foreign dictator, as W's father was, I would take him down. You lefties can carp to all those poor ignorant Democratic voters that live in the blue counties and get them to believe that Bush sent us to war for whatever reason you want to make up but the fact is that most of us are not convinced that we have kicked enough ass yet.

Posted by: republius | December 8, 2005 04:07 PM

Republius:

Thanks for your response.

It's a funny thing but, from President Bush on down to grassroots repubs/cons such as yourself, you cannot get them to
come up with a clearcut definition of exactly what, how and when they think "victory" will be achieved in Iraq.

Here is a quote from a "conservative" pundit you ought to consider because i agree with him 100%(remember this wasnt written by a liberal):

"Exit Strategy"
by Bruce Fein

"The Bush administration trumpets a delusional exit strategy for Iraq: an orderly departure of troops after entrenching a democratic and unifed Iraq capable of suppressing a raging terrorist
insurgency. That utopian aim would keep U.S. troops in Iraq with mounting casualties for ages. The least bad earthbound departure plan for the post Sadaam quagmire would partition Iraq between Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi'ites. Partition would still make the Iraqi war a modest success, whereas President Bush's "stay the course" mantra promises a flaming disaster."

So if that is your definition of "victory"
as President Bush defines it, youre in for a really bad time. It's a recipe for failure..

As far as I am concerned if we leave now or leave 5 years from now. Iraq is going to dissolve into civil war whenever it happens. so why not set a reasonable time table to turn matters over to the Iraqis,
after all its THEIR country and if democracy matters that much to them let THEM fight for it.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 8, 2005 04:30 PM

Salt:

All that maybe true, however in my humble opinion:

Iraq was no imminent threat to the U.S.

The U.S. is not any safer with the removal of Sadaam Hussien.

The spread of democracy to the middle east will not stop terrorist attacks against the U.S.

Al Qaeda and O.bin laden have re-organized and are wreaking havoc upon western interest abroad.

terrorist cells exist inside of the U.S. as we speak according to testimony of the CIA & FBI before the U.S. Congress.

Posted by: Left Angle | December 8, 2005 04:36 PM

Larry, you are a genius:

"For all the rumour about there being no connection between Iraq and Al Quaeda, there has been an amazing, incredible number of Al Quaeda members being killed in Iraq lately.

Sun Tzu: "Always be the one that chooses the battlefield."

Al Quaeda chose New York and Washington DC. We chose Iraq. Since we have diverted the battlespace to Iraq, a lot more Al Quaeda and fewer US civilians have been killed. "

This is what I've been posting here for two days now! Of course, I too am a genius, but so is the guy who originally thought this up for the US!

Posted by: johnnyg in NE DC | December 8, 2005 05:08 PM

Thanks, LeftA, for a reasoned response.

I'll answer each point:

LA: Define victory.
S: When the Iraqi political situation is stable enough so that the freely elected Iraqi government asks us to leave.

LA: Iraq was no imminent threat to the U.S.
S: Bush never used the word "immanent". What he said was that the conclusions of all the world's intelligence agencies was that Saddam still had chem & bio and was seeking to reconstitute his nuclear program. Post 9/11, 85% of Americans agreed with Bush that we cannot wait for threats to fully materialize.

LA:The U.S. is not any safer with the removal of Sadaam Hussien.
S: That is, of course, an unverifiable opinion that I do not share. It is , however, undeniable that Shia and Kurds are safer without Saddam. Would you like to put him back in power?

LA:The spread of democracy to the middle east will not stop terrorist attacks against the U.S.
S: It seems reasonable that the spread of democracy will decrease terrorist attacks all over. Free and prosperous people rarely attack each other. Without state sponsors of terror, like Saddam and the Taliban, terrorists have to freelance and they are less successful.

LA:Al Qaeda and O.bin laden have re-organized and are wreaking havoc upon western interest abroad.
S: Maybe not just OBL & al-Qaeda. As Bush said in his Jan 2002 SOTU Address,

"Our military has put the terror training camps of Afghanistan out of business, yet camps still exist in at least a dozen countries. A terrorist underworld -- including groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-i-Mohammed -- operates in remote jungles and deserts, and hides in the centers of large cities.

"While the most visible military action is in Afghanistan, America is acting elsewhere. We now have troops in the Philippines, helping to train that country's armed forces to go after terrorist cells that have executed an American, and still hold hostages. Our soldiers, working with the Bosnian government, seized terrorists who were plotting to bomb our embassy. Our Navy is patrolling the coast of Africa to block the shipment of weapons and the establishment of terrorist camps in Somalia.

"My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own. Many nations are acting forcefully. Pakistan is now cracking down on terror, and I admire the strong leadership of President Musharraf. (Applause.)

"But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will." (Applause.)

LA:terrorist cells exist inside of the U.S. as we speak according to testimony of the CIA & FBI before the U.S. Congress.
S: Right, that's why we need the Patriot Act.

Love to all.

Posted by: Salt | December 8, 2005 05:08 PM

The Iranian strategy as I see it:

1. The US can't stay in Iraq forever, it's costly to keep the American Army overseas and the money will soon be required to pay for health care and retirement entitlements.

2. You can't beat the US. Keep up the pressure by sending (cheap) suicide bombers across the border.

3. When the US leaves, grab as much Iraqi territory as you can. You will be invited in by your Iraqi quislings.

4. When the US squawks, threaten to nuke Israel.

5. Israel will say "bring it on", but the US won't want to cause a nuclear war in the Middle East. The MSM (why does that look like MLM) won't want to repeat "Bush's War".

6. The US will negotiate a peace. As long as you keep the oil keep flowing, and squash terrorism (which is not in Iran's interest either), you will get to keep what you grabbed from Iraq.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 9, 2005 06:30 AM

NY Times article on how critical prewar intelligence on the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection was FABRICATED during torture to escape continued treatment. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/09/politics/09intel.html?ex=1291784400&en=13ec20f1ef8fa296&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

A slam dunk against Bush's war and torture team.

Posted by: John | December 9, 2005 08:46 AM

Abu Nidal was a member of the Baathist party - Saddam Hussein's Party - and a known terrorist. He was a terrorist mercenary, of sorts, that was hired by the PLO to carry out airline hijackings. Ms. Messner is 100% correct in saying that there were no Iraqis on the hijacked planes that hit New York and the Pentagon and that there is no direct connection between Iraq and the unfortunate attacks on 9/11.
However, she is sorely mistaken when she states that "...Iraq, which only became a haven for terrorists after the invasion." In August of 2002 Abu Nidal was "found" dead in Baghdad. The events surrounding his death were questionable as to whether or not he committed suiside or was murdered by the government. I thought Iraq didn't have any terrorists.
Syria, a known sponsor of terrorism, is also run by a Baathist regime. Syria has had a close relationship with the Baathists in Iraq for many years. One would have to completely ignore history to make an assertion that Iraq became a haven for terrorist only because of George Bush.

Posted by: Mateo | December 9, 2005 08:59 AM

where is bin laden? how come no one want the $50 million on his head the last 4 years? isn't he the most wanted person on the planet? why are the saudis our only major ally not helping track down information about 9/11 with facts that lead inside that counrty to it's citizens? why are more terrorists attacking everywhere around the world at will? didn't we hype bad guy saddam as the center against the war on terror in order to protect the oil fields, therefore and amazingly, the saudis who have horrible human rights history? why did we go there to defend the iraqi's in an area of the world that has absolutely nothing in common with america if not for oil? need proof? look at the oil company profits, the lack of refineries the oil companies are buiding from the profits. research how much more wealth has been created in the gulf states since 9/11. we are all being duped into believing the war on terror is the top of our priority list. it's about greed first. if you think this is all hype, then how come the saudis are making zero effort to bring pressure on bin ladens family to locate him and bring him to justice? need more proof? look at the recent 9/11 commission report card. these hard working and selfless americans who took seriouly the responsibility to protect us are mainly ignored by the administration. the same administration who publicly drapes themselves in 9/11 regularly to remind us they care about us. they don't care that 4 years after we were attacked there has been absolutely no effort by our leaders to make radio frequencies available to fire, police, and emergency service to communicate. this was a primary problem reported by emergency groups during 9/11. whether you're a lefty, righty or fair minded, we are all being duped. anyone taking sides on this issue doesn't get it. we are all in the same boat today like we were on 9/11. couldn't we have better used the $200 billion here for education, health care, economic stimulation while maintaing the THREAT of invading Iraq if Saddam showed any sign of terrorist involvement? Wouldn't this have kept our military options open instead of spread thin? folks, this adventure in iraq is banrupting our military as well as our finances. look at iraq. there hasn't yet been any reconstruction. where is the monsy going to come from until 2009 like cheney and rumsfeld say. this is nuts. i'm not supporting cut and run. i'm supporting a global war on terror using all resources at our disposal, not wasting them like we have for 4 years.

Posted by: zohar | December 9, 2005 09:08 AM

What frosts me about people who say there were terrorists in Iraq before the war is thay they're implying an invasion was also justified. One or two "terrorists" do not justify an American invasion and over 2000 combat deaths. Fact is, there was NO collusion between the Iraq government and Al Qaeda before 9/11 or before the Iraq war. There are terrorists all over the MidEast, are we going to invade them all? Messner is right. Saddam Hussein did us a grim favor-- he kept Al Qaeda at bay within Iraq. That there might have been terrorists, again like there are all over the region, floating through Iraq did not justify the invasion. This line of argument is just one of the many ways Bush lied to America in order to bolster public support for HIS war. He should resign or be impeached for that deception.

Posted by: John | December 9, 2005 09:19 AM

For the record republius, I am not a liberal. Nor am I a conservative. I am liberal on somethings and conservative on others. I am a pragmatist. A realist.

I believe that nations--just like individuals--ought to act in reasonable, responsible ways to protect their own citizens. I believe in both national and international laws. I believe that leaders who violate the trust of their people should be held to account.

I believe this war in Iraq is disgusting and immoral. Why? Because it was decided on reasons that had nothing to do with our national interests, but a great deal to do with the personal and political interests of George W. Bush and a handful of narrowminded ideologues who wanted to put their asinine, unrealistic foreign policy ideas into practice.

I believe that the only winner to come out of this war in Iraq is Osama Bin Laden and his orgainization. He has succeeded in dividing the West against itself, he has gotten the "Great Satan", the most powerful nation on earth to do his bidding and rid him of an old secular enemy, Sadaam Hussein and he has succeeded in effectively adding going on another 3000 dead inaddition to the 3000 killed on 9-11.

He was able to accomplish this because the American people gave themselves over to a self-worshipping, narcissistic, unintelligent fop who masqurades as some great military hero, but who in reality is a pedestrian dumbo being manipulated by far more sinister and devious men. He was able to accomplish this because we have an electorate that intellectually cannot find its collective ass with both hands and is far too willing to allow themselves to be led on by flag waving, hymnsinging, Bible thumping charlatans who have convinced them they are in some sort of fight-to-the-death culture war (a deceitful big lie to distract themn from an obscene political and religious movement that wants to return America to a Gilded Age domestically and a foreign policy based on a form of benevolent despotism).

The current attempt to intimidate the media is all part and parcel of a massive effort on the part of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their frothy, cultlike followers to rehabilatate the image of their failed, dumbass of a President.

Posted by: Jaxas | December 9, 2005 10:38 AM

Salt-

"S: Bush never used the word "immanent". What he said was that the conclusions of all the world's intelligence agencies was that Saddam still had chem & bio and was seeking to reconstitute his nuclear program. Post 9/11, 85% of Americans agreed with Bush that we cannot wait for threats to fully materialize."

It's funny that you would defend Bush's non-use of the word "imminent" in the same paragraph that you explain why Americans don't care about imminent threats. The fact of the matter is Bush said a LOT of things about Iraq and the threat it constituted. Both his press secretaries did. May 7th, 2003 press briefing (viewable here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/05/20030507-7.html)

Q: Well, we went to war, didn't we, to find these -- because we said that these weapons were a direct and imminent threat to the United States? Isn't that true?

Ari: Absolutely. One of the reasons that we went to war was because of their possession of weapons of mass destruction. And nothing has changed on that front at all. We said what we said because we meant it.

If the President's official spokesman is not referring to the President when he says "we" who exactly is he referring to Salt?

I agree with the 85% of Americans who think we cannot wait for a threat to become imminent before we attack them, but the facts show that Saddam Hussein was as much a threat to American interests as Australia. Do you think 85% of Americans believe Iraq was an imminent threat now? Think maybe that has somethign to do with the majority now thinking the war was a mistake?

If President Bush makes a mistake that doesn't mean you have to abandon your party or your values or your political ideals. You would be a joke if you did. One of the left's complaints about the right is its unwillingness to self-evaluate. You are a shining example of that.

Posted by: Will | December 9, 2005 11:08 AM

Excuse my first paragraph.

"It's funny that you would defend Bush's non-use of the word "imminent" in the same paragraph that you explain why Americans don't care about imminent threats."

Should read:

"It's funny that you would defend Bush's non-use of the word "imminent" in the same paragraph where you explain why Americans overwhelmingly support attacking "imminent" threats.

Posted by: Will | December 9, 2005 11:10 AM

Bin Laden is important because America can't leave Afghanistan until he's dead. Once he's gone, America can withdraw with honor.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 9, 2005 11:24 AM

Alex, Alex, Alex. Stick to ONE topic would you? Bush used iraq as a kick off point for the war on terror DUE TO 9/11. BUSH has ADMITTED no connection. Attacking Iraq was not to remove an evil dictator. Terrorism and WMD. Remember?

Why do I bother? Go back to Fox News Alex. Maybe you should do a piece on the War on Christmas now too. Loved O'Reilly using a year old Daily Show clip to enhance his story on how Christmas is being attacked this year.

Posted by: Larry | December 9, 2005 01:25 PM

Turnabout writes: "Bin Laden is important because America can't leave Afghanistan until he's dead. Once he's gone, America can withdraw with honor."

Bin Laden is in Pakistan, according to all intelligence sources, under deep cover in a tribal area and not in even routine communication with his henchmen.

So we don't leave Afghanistan until Moby Dick has been brought to justice in another country? Hmmmm, does Turnabout's prescription also apply to Iraq? We stay until our Quest for Binnie is over? Then, with the MIND that directs all terror and radical Islam dead or even better in some Lefties estimation - surrounded by Ramsey Clark, Jimmy Carter, and the ACLU's legal protection team from mean questioning - the war is over because all the radical Islamists and terrorists will fold??

Ayman al-Zawahiri is also fairly out of the loop, according to his letter, limited to snakelines of messengers and listening to whatever intelligence he can get from the NYTimes and Al Jazeera.

Posted by: Chris Ford | December 9, 2005 02:55 PM

To Chris Ford: There's only one white whale (Moby Osama), all the other whales (terrorists) are just common cephalopods. God Save the Pequod.

Posted by: Turnabout | December 9, 2005 05:13 PM

Hey Guys The Un agreed to attacking terriorists in Afganistan. The US admin trumpted up an excuse to Offset negotiations for OIL with the Saudi princes. A weak Iraq was easy pickens for protecting the "American way of Life" aka cheap & plentiful OIL supply. Dick Cheney only learned recently that Canada has a greater OIL reserve than Iraq. Seems you folks are not aware that Carl Rove does most of the thinking for the Administrtion.

Posted by: Dogface | December 11, 2005 02:46 PM

The Iraq war is a win-win for Iran. Saddam Hussein was a key in the control of Iran. Too bad someone disn't think about that before the invasion. Who is going to be the key now?

I bypass Che's postings. It's too much.

Posted by: Cabin | December 13, 2005 11:02 AM

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