October 9, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 10/09/2007

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
GOP Hits Hillary's 'Baby Bonds'- Republican strategists say Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton"s call for giving every newborn $5,000 for education is the first major mistake in her front-running campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. (READ MORE)

Israelis Wary of New Talks - Israeli opposition leaders are stepping up their criticism in the face of the first real negotiations with the Palestinians in nearly seven years and government steps to prepare the public for "difficult decisions" ahead. (READ MORE)

Bush Focus on Taxes Seen Winning Conservatives - President Bush has little to show so far from his attempt to rally conservatives over a budget battle, but Republicans think a focus on spending and taxes will eventually pay off. (READ MORE)

Alexandria Ready to Serve Illegals - The city of Alexandria, Va., is expected to pass a resolution tonight renewing its commitment to extend public services to illegal aliens. (READ MORE)

For Thompson, It's Showtime - In his month-old quest for the White House, Fred D. Thompson has already endured withering criticism from evangelical leader James Dobson, who observed that the former "Law & Order" star and onetime senator from Tennessee "has no passion, no zeal and no apparent 'want-to.'” (READ MORE)

Leak Severed a Link to Al-Qaeda's Secrets - A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release. (READ MORE)

Swiss Fury at Foreigners Boiling Over - At 1:30 a.m., Antonio da Costa heard a knock at the back entrance of the McDonald's restaurant where he worked as a janitor after-hours. He opened the door, he recalled in an interview. There stood two men, each gripping a chain saw. One yanked the cord on his saw, stepped toward da Costa and shouted above the roaring machine: "We don't need Africans in our country. We're here to kill you!" (READ MORE)

Myanmar Junta Names Liaison to Suu Kyi - YANGON, Myanmar -- The ruling junta appointed a Cabinet official Monday to coordinate contacts with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a move that comes with Myanmar under intense international pressure to enter talks with the democracy movement. Deputy Labor Minister Aung Kyi, a retired major general, was named to the post of "liaison minister," state radio and television said Monday night. (READ MORE)

Britain to Cut Troops in Iraq to 2,500 by Spring, Brown Says - LONDON, Oct. 8 -- Britain will cut its troop strength in Iraq by half in the coming months, from just over 5,000 now to 2,500 next spring, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Monday. Speaking in the House of Commons on the opening day of Parliament's fall session, Brown said the reduction was possible because of improving security in Iraq, particularly what he called a "calmer" situation around Basra, the southern city where British troops are based. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
American Ranger: War is Hell - My current life of bouncing around from fort to camp to fort isn’t really bad, but you are still not home. It’s a life of fast food, microwave meals and no chance to have dinner with the wife. This old soldier must endure his nights in air conditioning, in America with no mortars, rockets or improvised explosive devices. A little sweat during the day, but a chance to cool off at night and watch “Survivorman”. Poor baby…. Then I get out with the soldiers - the officers, the sergeants and the troops who are living in a temporary “forward operating base” as they train for their mission at war. As often happens in the Army, training changes, events are postponed or some crisis makes the soldiers’ days more difficult and challenging. (READ MORE)

Outlaw 13: Cynical Reporter Visits AUSA - The Association of the United States Army, is a professional organization that produces Army Magazine and lobbies congress on Army issues. Its annual convention is being held in Washington DC right now. Bettina Chavanne who blogs at Ares, visited the convention and reports on a presentation by Secretary of the Army, U.S. Army Secretary Pete Gerren who opened the convention by giving a speech to the assembled members and guests. Here's a short bit of what she wrote: “...But no matter how much family support he offers (how he would fund his ‘Army Family Covenant’ program was not discussed), it doesn't change the fact that not only have troops been in Iraq for six years, but that from the sound of it, they're going to be there for a very long time to come...” (READ MORE)

From an Anthropological Perspective: Sectarian Violence is Not Abstract - Sometimes I get the feeling that internet and print-based discussions of sectarian violence, who Shia are, who Sunni are abstract concepts or categories to debate for debate’s sake. Yesterday I had an experience that drives home the fact that sectarian violence and religiosity are not simply abstract points for academic and journalistic debate. While interviewing a man about his views on how political parties are vying for power and helping or hurting people in various neighborhoods, his cell phone rang. I could tell something was very wrong. His voice had turned raspy. (READ MORE)

Fighting 6th Marine's: Lima 3/3 taking it to the people in Karmah (VIDEO LINK)

Eighty Deuce On The Loose In Iraq: The sky is falling!!! - Well, after almost 6 months (sorry I'm not exactly sure of the last day this happened) a miraculous event has happened, it finally "rained" again. Now, I wouldn't quite call it a rain, but there were definately water droplets falling from the sky. Everyone was excited to finally see some rain again. After the months of dry, dusty weather; suffering through 120+ degree days, this rain on top of the cooler weather is the final sign that we have survived the brutal summer here. Fall is quickly approaching and along with it, beautiful weather. (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: Long Hours of Boredom… - I just don’t seem to be that motivated to write anything lately. I don’t know if its the fact that not much new is going on, or whether I just don’t have energy anymore. I read other milblogs for ideas, but new material is hard to come by here. Its basically the same routines everyday. People think the war here is a lot of shooting, blowing things up, and IEDs every day. The media portrays Iraq as this long never-ending battle where US Soldiers are always engaged or about to be engaged, but thats just not it at all. Its long hours of boredom punctuated by short periods of terror (I think I read that somewhere), and I guess that’s the crux. The long hours of boredom are just that and I find them worth writing about as much as readers find worth in reading them. However, since this is a sort of “realtime memoir,” I will do my best to continue to recount my experiences in this wasteland. (READ MORE)

Badger 6: The Story of a HET and Two Hercs - Part I - I arrived in Ar Ramadi, Iraq in the early morning hours of 2 October 2006 on a United States Marine Corps CH-53 Sea Stallion. My chariot out would be far less glamorous. With the Relief in Place well underway and most of the Company in Falluja I had already said good bye to the Company. I left a few days before the Transfer of Authority because schedules had been changed and my new orders already called for me to be at my new assignment before then. I sought out Pathfinder 6 and thanked him for the job. We shook hands and bid adieu. My leave taken, I reported to the staging area; I was leaving Ramadi on one of the many Convoy Logistic Patrols that were carrying Task Force Pathfinders gear to TQ. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: General Petraeus: Iran's ambassador to Iraq "is a Qods force member" - The war of words between the US military and Iran over Iran's involvement in terrorist activity in Iraq heated up on Sunday after General David Petraeus, the commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, said the Iranian ambassador was an Iranian intelligence agent. "The ambassador is a Qods force member," Petraeus told a group of reporters near the Iranian border in Diyala province. Ambassador Hassan Kazemi-Qomi's rank in Qods Force was not disclosed. Qods Force is the covert foreign wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which has set up and supported terrorist groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and several terrorist entities in northern and eastern Africa. While many nations have and continue to use diplomatic cover for intelligence activities, Iran has appointed an intelligence officer to the most senior diplomatic position in Iraq. "Now he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject (to arrest)," Petraeus said. "He is acting as a diplomat." (READ MORE)

Jason's Iraq Vacation: rain o'er me - As we were sitting there finishing our lunch, several loud booms shook the dining facility, which got suddenly quiet. A couple people I was eating with glanced around nervously until I said "Relax guys. It's just thunder." They both laughed disbelievingly. After all, we hadn't seen anything other then blue skies and sun since we got here in late April. Sure enough, though, when we walked outside it was actually raining. (READ MORE)

Jack Army: Home Sweet Home - light blogging will continue as I get reaquainted with the most beautiful woman on the planet and the best girls a father could have. thanks for your well wishes and I'll be back soon. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Syria Behind the Scenes - So I hear the Syrians are supporting Iraqi Baathists' efforts to return to power. Smart move, Bashar. You can be sure that Izzat (Abouethelij) Douri will continue to clash with rival Muhammad Younis Ahmed, and they will get nowhere. And you might not look so good. But I must admit that not everyone agrees. The NYT quotes an optimistic journalist from a newspaper known for its, um, analysis. He seems to see it your way: (READ MORE)

Bill Ardolino: Shuffling paperwork to victory: The Evolution of the Fallujah Police Department - In January the correctional process in Fallujah was a two-room jail at police headquarters and an anonymous investigative judge “who wrote in green [ink],” according to former Police Transition Team (PiTT) Executive Officer Tad Scott. As IPs began to conduct mass roll-ups of suspected insurgents, the jail became nightmarishly crowded and the broken judicial system would spit out detainees for lack of trial or evidence, if they were not summarily executed by vigilantes and dumped in the river, something known euphemistically as “a trip to the Euphrates hospital.” Fixing these systems was an imperative. (READ MORE)

Those Wacky Iraqis: Whose God? - I have fallen back in the Iraq groove. That means everything sand colored except the ACUs the soldiers wear. I don't see how these things are good for cammo except for hiding in river rock which we have in abundance. The new USAF cammies are even worse. Digital Tiger Stripe. It looks terrible and the horizontal stripes make them all look fat. For now my photo opportunities are very limited. I finally got my DSLR out of the shop and it is working fine but I just can't carry it around here as I walk everywhere. I'm glad I finally bought a pocket camera for myself. (READ MORE)

LTC Richard Phillips: Be Proud and Support These Fellow Americans . . . - It’s been a month now at FOB Salerno. There have been good days and bad days. The worst day by far was the day of a “Fallen Hero”. He was one of ours. Maybe a brother, father, husband; but definitely a son and a Hero. All day long all I could do was think about the pain that his loves must have gone through. It was just one year ago that I was at Balad, Iraq working in the ICU. I saw so many injured. Before leaving for Iraq I knew from watching the news, we (the military) were doing an awesome job. But there was also injuries and casualties. After seeing first hand and up close, the picture was 90% bigger. (READ MORE)

Nathaniel R. Helms: Al Qaeda in Haditha: The Battle the Media Ignored - October 6, 2007 – Buried in the mountain of exhibits attached to the once secret Haditha, Iraq murder inquiry prepared by US Army Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell is an obscure Marine Corps intelligence summary (see pdf) that says the deadly encounter was an intentional propaganda ploy planned and paid for by Al Qaeda foreign fighters. Veteran military defense attorney Gary Meyers said he never understood why the Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agents leading the Haditha criminal investigation didn’t “examine the linkage” between Al Qaeda, the local insurgency and the events at Haditha. Meyers was an attorney on the defense team that successfully defended Justin Sharratt, a Marine infantryman accused of multiple murders at Haditha. (READ MORE)

Northern Disclosure: "AIM HIGH" and I'll SHOOT on the LOW! - Since being here a short period of time I have had the pleasure and displeasure of working with a broad spectrum of people. I have worked for females, transportation people, supply people and now I have worked for the Air Force. Knowing upfront that I was going to have to work for them I was very prejudicial. A former member of Bad Voo Doo was kicked out of the Platoon partly for his conduct while working with the Air Force. I had also heard horror stories from others that had worked with them and decided to head the mission myself so that some of these issues would be directed toward me and my rank more than my guys. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Under Distant Stars - October 9, 2007: In his book, Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield offers the following translation of the epitaph engraved on a commemorative stone placed on top of the burial mound of the Spartans at Thermopylae: Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by / that here, obedient to their laws, we lie. He was shot; four months ago—nearly to the day—in a stinging attack that caught the American soldiers driving Humvees through Mosul. But Command Sergeant Major James Pippin realized they were in a “nearside ambush,” and ordered his driver to assault directly into the RPG and machine gun fire. (READ MORE)

Michael Totten: The Best Police Force in Iraq - In late July when I visited a police station in the town of Mushadah just north of Baghdad I worried that Iraq was doomed to become the next Gaza. As many as half the police officers, according to most of the American Military Police who worked as their trainers, were Al Qaeda sympathizers or agents. The rest were corrupt lazy cowards, according to every American I talked to but one. No one tried to spin Mushadah into a success story. By itself this doesn't mean the country is doomed. How important is Mushadah, anyway? I hadn't even heard of it until the day before I went there myself. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
John Yoo: The Real Clarence Thomas - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas again finds himself in the crosshairs of liberals. After 16 years of diligently avoiding the press, he has written a memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," that describes his life story--from birth into poverty and an upbringing by a grandfather descended from slaves to the tough confirmation battle that brought him to the Supreme Court. The book honestly and openly denies his former employee Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment, which almost derailed his appointment to the nation's highest bench. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: So Be It? - It all but goes without saying that torture, properly defined and in nearly every circumstance, is wrong. But what do you make of the following statement, from a recent editorial in the Economist: "Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavory practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it"? (READ MORE)

WSJ Review & Outlook: Tortured Arguments - On current course, U.S. warfighting doctrine will be as tame as a church social. Over the weekend, Condi Rice announced that Iraq convoys protected by military contractors will also have State Department minders onboard vehicles equipped with video cameras. Now comes the latest flap over "torture" techniques during terrorist interrogations, well on their way to becoming little more than a friendly chat. Post-Abu Ghraib, opponents of terrorist interrogations got the Bush Administration to repudiate a 2003 Justice Department memo said to be overbroad. (READ MORE)

Bill Steigerwald: Welcome to the Nanny State-- An Interview - With his book “Nanny State,” Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi has thrown a conservative-libertarian rope around a disturbing political and cultural trend -- the nannification of America by moral busybodies and nitpicking maternalists who use government power to micromanage our personal lives and protect us from ourselves. Whether it’s outlawing trans fats in New York City or tag on school playgrounds, Harsanyi says the “nannyists” among us are not only creating a new culture of dependency on government but also eroding what’s left of our individual freedoms. (READ MORE)

Bill Murchison: A Tale Of Two Tongues - Vamos a ver, as we say down at Bo's Hardware Store. According to an ABC News "Good Morning America" poll, two thirds of Americans don't mind hearing Spanish spoken as a matter of course right here in the United States. I doubt this rather seriously, given the tendency of poll respondents to avoid saying anything that might make a polltaker say under his breath, "Racist, racist!" But the poll does bring to the fore a significant question: How much sense does it make for the United States to accommodate the widespread speaking of a tongue other than English in a nation where English is supposedly the universal and semi-official language? (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: The Same God? - Whatever else his critics say of him, no one can fault President Bush for failing to go the extra mile in his efforts to show that neither he, nor the United States, is opposed to the Islamic faith, or to Muslim nations. Last week, the president and Mrs. Bush hosted their seventh Iftaar Dinner, the celebration that breaks the Muslim fast during Ramadan. Immediately after 9/11, the president visited a Washington, D.C., mosque and proclaimed Islam a "religion of peace." He has frequently said that terrorists are not real Muslims, anymore than people who proclaim to be Christian and engage in violence are genuine Christians. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Clarence Thomas - It would be hard to think of anyone whose portrayal in the media differs more radically from the reality than that of Justice Clarence Thomas. His recent appearances on "60 Minutes," the Rush Limbaugh program, and other media outlets provide the general public with their first in-depth look at the real Clarence Thomas. These media appearances are part of the promotion of his riveting new memoir, titled "My Grandfather's Son." Otherwise, Justice Thomas would probably have continued to confine himself to doing his work at the Supreme Court, without worrying about what was being said about him in the media. (READ MORE)

Rich Lowry: The Lonely War - BAGHDAD -- A war has probably never been so debated and so little understood as the one in Iraq. "The domestic political debate has nothing to do with what we're doing here," says one U.S. officer, in a representative comment offered not in a spirit of bitterness, but of cold fact. This is the lonely war. No one cares about it as much or understands it as well as the men and women here on the ground, who feel -- understandably -- that they are the only ones even remotely engaged in the fight. (READ MORE)

Carrie Lukas: Answering Media Matters: A Real Time-Line of the "Phony Soldiers" Controversy - Media Matters has criticized me for my recent comments about Rush Limbaugh’s so-called “phony soldier” statement. On the Fox News Channel, I said that “about 30 seconds” after Rush used the term “phony soldier” he began talking about Jesse MacBeth (the war critic who lied about his military record). According to Media Matters, it is actually one minute and fifty seconds later: I was off by eighty seconds. This hardly seems a critical distinction. If it wasn’t completely clear who Rush was referring to when he used the initial phrase, it became clear shortly thereafter. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: How Goes the War? - How’s the war going? It all depends on who’s talking — or writing. Do you go with the doubters-at-a-distance who’ve been saying the war was lost even before it began? Or with the separate but equally sure experts who’ve been assuring us we’re on the verge of victory — for years now. Do we finally admit all is lost when the next IED or car bomb takes its toll? Not just on the ground but in the spirit. It’s tempting. Enough has been more than enough. And yet not enough for Americans to accept defeat. We’ve been here before. (READ MORE)

Soldierswife: Remembering - Today I was reading a book that brought back some memories of Husbands deployment. It was talking about soldiers going to the showers after an explosion near the base had woken everyone up. I remember AS telling me how he would shower every few days. I would joke with him about how gross that sounded. And he would assure me he was using extra deodorant in between those days. Or the times when we got to see each other on vid cam. I would watch him pack his gear before a mission. Or unpack afterwards. (READ MORE)

Marine Historian: What next in Iraq? - The long-awaited reports by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to Congress have come and gone… what was their impact and where do we go next? The reports were a mixed bag but can generally be divided into military and political outcomes. Militarily, the surge has been effective in many parts of the country (most notably in Al Anbar, where they built upon ongoing success, and in Baghdad where they stemmed a rapidly deteriorating situation). The political outcome is another matter. We must recall the strategic goal of the surge, which was to enhance stability and security to give the Iraqi politicians “breathing room” to begin governing more effectively for all Iraqis. The opportunity was provided, but the good governance hasn’t followed. One of the more interesting side shows in this affair has been the infamous “General Betray Us” ads run by MoveOn.org. I have some insights which bear directly on this unfortunate event. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Surrender Surrender - What is this, some kind of Dembar Awakening? Dems Seem Ready to Extend Wire Tap Powers. Waving the white flag on surrender? “Congressional Democrats rode anti-war sentiment to victory last fall — but they are staking their success in the final months of this year’s calendar on more traditional domestic issues amid concern that the war may not be the potent political issue it once was by Election Day 2008.” (READ MORE)

Bryan Preston: (Video) NY Gov Eliot Spitzer’s licenses-for-illegals plan is illegal - CNN’s Lou Dobbs was on a tear last night. Allah posted his editorial excoriating Barack Obama for the flag lapel pin flap. In this segment, Dobbs and CNN reporter Kitty Pilgrim take a look at NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to allow illegal aliens to obtain state drivers licenses. They determine that the Spitzer plan is itself illegal. The report even swings briefly into the role that illegal immigration and drivers licenses played in facilitating 9-11. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: 'Eavesdropping’ works - The Pentagon calmly monitored al-Qaeda Intranet communications. And the Pentagon would have gotten away with it too — if not for those meddling reporters. The New York Sun reported al-Qaeda shut down its Intranet operations once it learned that Uncle Sam was listening in. And without a warrant from an open court. That’s so unfair. The Sun blamed an “intelligence blunder” in leaking Osama bin Laden’s latest videotape. Reported the Sun: (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Talking It To Death - Yesterday, the Boston Globe had yet another editorial arguing against the death penalty. Their conceit this time is that it is always cruel and unusual, but the current method in vogue -- lethal injection -- is especially so. This might come as a great surprise to many people, but I find myself disagreeing with the Boston Globe. (Shocking, isn't it?) I have a rather heretical attitude towards the United States Constitution. I believe that it was written for everyone, and written in clear language that everyone should be able to understand. (READ MORE)

Jim Addison: Obama's energy plan: shut down the economy? - Perhaps annoyed, but undeterred by the constant snickering over his naivety on foreign policy, Senator Barack Obama hastened to add energy policy to the list of subject areas on which he comes off as a sputtering buffoon, as Steve Holland reports for Reuters: “Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on Monday blamed America's energy problems on timid Washington politicians and said if elected he would pursue bold proposals to fight global warming.” Read the whole story at the link above. Now, Obama doesn't specify what magic wand he will use to "prompt" more fuel-efficient vehicles, but he gives a clue by criticizing those who "did not lead when they 'had the chance to stand up and require automakers to raise their fuel standards' . . . " It's a good thing he did well in Law School, because he'd flunk math and economics. (READ MORE)

McQ: The difference between reality and rhetoric - The difference between governing and petulant, partisan political complaining: “Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency. Administration officials say they are confident they will win approval of the broadened authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congress rushed toward recess. Some Democratic officials concede that they may not come up with enough votes to stop approval.” (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Why Myths Matter - In one of those coincidences that give texture to our existence, today is a day to celebrate two different men, with two different legacies. The way in which each has been used and abused by history is quite instructive. Today is Columbus Day, a day which used to be celebrated by Americans of all stripes and persuasions. Christopher Columbus discovered America and paved the way for the settlement of a New World; that New World eventually bequeathed us America. The myth of Christopher Columbus was of an intrepid explorer, sailing into the West, risking all to find a new world. The New York Times today has only one article about Christopher Columbus. Apparently, there remains some dispute over his provenance. The article, Seeking Columbus’s Origins, With a Swab is fairly straightforward, but mentions, almost as a gratuitous afterthought, the current mythology surrounding Columbus as translated by our leading bastion of liberalism. In the middle of a discussion of the utility of DNA testing to establish whose claims to Columbus are correct, there is this: (READ MORE)

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