December 5, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 12/05/2007

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

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Justices Weigh Courts' Role in Detainee Cases - When the Supreme Court hears arguments today about the rights of suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, the role of the courts in the fight against terrorism will be as much an issue as the fate of the prisoners. (READ MORE)

Lessons of Iraq Aided Intelligence On Iran - The starkly different view of Iran's nuclear program that emerged from U.S. spy agencies this week was the product of a surge in clandestine intelligence-gathering in Iran as well as radical changes in the way the intelligence community analyzes information. (READ MORE)

After House, Senate Votes 77 to 18 for Peru Trade Bill - The Senate gave decisive backing yesterday to a U.S.-Peru free-trade agreement, opening the way for expanded economic ties with the Andean nation and giving the administration a boost in its quest to shore up relations with Latin America. (READ MORE)

The USDA's Losing Effort - Under a program to create jobs in rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture guaranteed $1.6 million in loans to Aztec Environmental Inc., an asbestos-removal company in Panama City, Fla. Aztec did create jobs -- for hundreds of workers from Guatemala. "Locals didn't want the work," said Debbie Livingston, one of the owners. (READ MORE)

'High Confidence' Games - In his press conference yesterday, President Bush went out of his way to praise the "good work" of the intelligence community, whose latest National Intelligence Estimate claims the mullahs of Iran abandoned their nuclear weapons program in 2003. "This is heartening news," Mr. Bush said. "To me, it's a way for us to rally our partners." (READ MORE)

Iran Still Dangerous, Bush Says - President Bush yesterday said that Iran is a threat to the rest of the world and must be stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons, one day after a new intelligence report disclosed that Iran had a covert weapons program but shut it down in 2003. (READ MORE)

Israel Challenges Report on Nukes - Israeli officials yesterday disputed the conclusions of Monday's surprise U.S. assessment of Iran's nuclear program, citing "clear and solid intelligence" that Iran is continuing to develop nuclear weapons to threaten Israel and Europe. (READ MORE)

Hillary Fights Slippage in Iowa - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has gone from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to battling for every vote. One explanation for the tumble: She peaked too early. (READ MORE)

Appeals Court Considers 'God' in Pledge - A federal appeals court in San Francisco yesterday heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by a Sacramento, Calif., man who says the words "under God" should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance because they are unconstitutional. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
1romad: Random Thoughts on Old Man Winterstan - Since my last Thanksgiving post I have had a number of interesting experiences. However, they don't really fall neatly into one narrative, so I guess I will just spill them out more or less chronologically: I woke up still full from our Thanksgiving dinner, and headed out to overwatch a "routine" patrol. Spotted some bad guys, and three of us (sniper, local, and myself) reconned out about 200m to ensure they were not observing or maneuvering on us. Worked with fixed and rotary wing aircraft when our main element reported troops in contact. Good fireworks. Everyone safe. On our way out one soldier took a tumble so we got to ride home in some toyotas. And made it back in time for dinner.....with stories to tell! (READ MORE)

all expenses paid afghan vacation: first snow - We had our first rain in over 2 months which left a good sight on the surrounding mountains in the valley, snow…a sign we’re that much closer to leaving. When we first arrived in April there was still snow on the caps of the mountains, and with the recent drop in temperatures I imagine the snowfall from a couple days ago will be there until next spring. And…I had my first in combat zone injury…non combat related. (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Arrival - The plane touched down almost exactly on time. Instead of preparing to follow some Crew Chief out the side of a UH60 Blackhawk or down the ramp of a C-130 Hercules, I was stretched out in the exit row of an MD-80. My cell phone, inactive for the previous 8 months 12 days flips on with the rest of my fellow passengers, acquires the network and syncs up the date from 6 March 2007 to 22 November 2007. The bars appear and I hit speed dial. "Hello?" "Household 6 this is Badger 6; Badger 6 RP S-T-L, time now." "I can see your plane." "OK. I'll see you in a minute." (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 4 December - Yesterday I woke up late—missed my normal Monday meeting…oh well, it was probably better to sleep for that hour than listen to random issues that do not affect me in any way…there was an IED/landmine or something found under one of the bridges we use …the EOD team went out and got it before anything happened…so we know the bad guys are still around doing the same old shit…winter doesn’t seem to be slowing anything down… (READ MORE)

Eighty Deuce On The Loose In Iraq: Never forget SPC Matthew K Reece... - A soldier based at Fort Bragg has been killed in Iraq. The military confirmed Monday that Army Spc. Matthew K. Reece of Harrison, Ark., died Saturday from wounds sustained when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Reece was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. He joined the Army in 2005 and arrived at the 82nd Airborne the
following year. (READ MORE)

From an Anthropological Perspective: Window on a War - I’ve been trying to shake a chest cold brought on by the dramatic fluctuation in temperature from mid day to mid dawn in Baghdad. Since I don’t want to share my germs in a humvee, I am largely reading and thinking about our effort. I re-read some of Gerry Hickey’s Window on a War: an Anthropologist in the Vietnam Conflict. I was struck by the parallel I see between the war here and the war back then and how some things just don’t change. "As the Vietnam War intensified it concomitantly was increasingly Americanized...An agency called the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support (CORDS) was formed to direct civil affairs..." (READ MORE)

Iraq the Model: How to eat an elephant? - Most people would say it’s impossible. No one could eat an elephant. Others would argue that one actually could eat an elephant—with patience, one bite at a time. The government cracked down on the Association of Muslim Scholars, an organization of Sunni clerics sympathetic to al-Qaeda and believed to have even been involved in leading, funding and hosting insurgent groups that have been responsible for countless attacks against Iraqis and Americans alike. Unlike previous operations, this one is different in that the troops were sent following a request submitted to the government by the department of Sunni endowment, an entity in charge of overseeing Sunni mosques and other religious activities. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Poor Predictions - The New York Times tells us that the mission in Iraq is not accomplished. "The reduced violence in Iraq in recent months stems from three significant developments, but the clock is running on all of them, Iraqi officials and analysts warn." The reporter interviewed Iraqis who said peace is not a done deal. My question is, what did you expect them to say? "It’s more a cease-fire than a peace,” said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, a Kurd, in words that were repeated by Qassim Daoud, a Shiite member of Parliament." (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Sheik Twitty al Ameriki - American combat leaders ranging from young corporals to veteran colonels like COL Stephen Twitty are cracking the code on Iraq. Twitty commands US operations in Ninevah and his brigade has kept control here with what amounts to a skeleton crew. We’ve had only one battalion in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, all year. In other words, less than 1% of our combat power has held one of the most challenging cities in Iraq for an entire year. And now, as Colonel Twitty takes his soldiers home, it seems few outside this area will ever know what they’ve done. I’ll do my best in the weeks and months ahead to explain how the 2-7 Cav has been operating like a giant Special Forces A-team for most of the past year. (READ MORE)

Richard's Deployment to Afghanistan: Deployed Holidays - There’s something bitter-sweet about holidays when you are deployed. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Christmas is just around the corner. Holiday lights and Christmas trees decorate the hospital and offices and hootches, alongside weapons and body armor, patients, medical equipment and supplies. Thanksgiving on FOB Salerno was just like any other day, except for the meal. The Dining Facility went all-out, and did a great job. The lines were long for turkey, roast beef, stuffing, candied yams, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, ice cream, coffee, tea, soda or water. But before and after, there was still work to do. The patients still come, holiday or not, and for a hospital the mission never stops. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Told you so - I'm not one to gloat when I'm right. (Don't ask my wife if that's true or not.) After my interview with The Thunder Run blog recently, I received some e-mails from people who felt I'm too optimistic about the state of things in Afghanistan. They said I should be more realistic about the complex problems facing this country. They suggested there is greater support here for the Taliban than I believe and the people of this country are too impatient to wait for the kind of change the current government is promising. One person said Afghanistan is a lost cause and the international community should pack up and leave. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Keith Burgess-Jackson: The Logic of Torture - During the past few years, in the wake of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, much has been written about torture, almost none of it, regrettably, philosophically edifying. May I help? The most important thing to keep in mind as you reflect on torture is that there are different types of question one can ask about it. Different types of question call for different types of answer (and therefore different types of expertise). First, there are conceptual questions. (READ MORE)

Holman W. Jenkins Jr.: The Science of Gore's Nobel - The Nobel Committee might as well have called it Al Gore's Inner Peace Prize, given the way it seems designed to help him disown his lifelong ambition to become president in favor of a higher calling, as savior of a planet. The media will be tempted to blur the fact that his medal, which Mr. Gore will collect on Monday in Oslo, isn't for "science." In fact, a Nobel has never been awarded for the science of global warming. Even Svante Arrhenius, who first described the "greenhouse" effect, won his for something else in 1903. Yet now one has been awarded for promoting belief in manmade global warming as a crisis. (READ MORE)

Roy Innis: The Truth About "Alternative Energy" - Every week brings new claims that clean, free, inexhaustible renewable energy will soon replace the “dirty” fuels that sustain our economy today. A healthy dose of reality is needed. Over half of our electricity comes from coal. Gas and nuclear generate 36% of our electricity. Barely 1% comes from wind and solar. Coal-generated power typically costs less per kilowatt hour than alternatives – leaving families with more money for food, housing, transportation and healthcare. (READ MORE)

Austin Bay: Potholes Swallowing Martyrs - "You, America, the West must attack Iran," the Arab said. "Attack Iran how?" I asked him. "What targets?" "The mullahs," he replied. "Their nuclear program?" I asked. When he nodded emphatically, I asked: "Air attack? Ground attack? Special forces?" "Yes. And if you do not (show such willingness to use military force), Iran will become stronger. They with Hezbollah, their ally, already defeated the Israelis (in south Lebanon) in 2006. They say so." (READ MORE)

Walter E. Williams: Income Mobility - Listening to people like Lou Dobbs, John Edwards and Mike Huckabee lamenting the plight of America's middle class and poor, you'd have to conclude that things are going to hell in a handbasket. According to them, there's wage stagnation, while the rich are getting richer and the poor becoming poorer. There are a couple of updates that tell quite a different story. (READ MORE)

Ben Shapiro: Anonymity Kills - On October 15, 2006, 13-year-old Megan Meier received an e-mail from Josh Evans, a "cute" homeschooled 16-year-old she had met and befriended on MySpace. "I don't know if I want to be friends with you any longer because I hear you're not nice to your friends," Evans wrote in the e-mail. Josh Evans was not real. His profile was the invention of a neighborhood mother, Lori Drew, whose daughter had once been friends with Meier. Drew had originally devised Josh Evans in order to monitor what Meier was saying about her own daughter; eventually the Evans profile became a way of harassing Meier. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Bad Medicine: Hillarycare for the Housing Market - If you thought Hillary Clinton's government takeover plan for health care was bad, wait 'til you see what she has in store for the housing sector. As always with the Clintons, the market is the problem and Big Nanny is the solution. Unfortunately for taxpayers, Hillary has bipartisan company in the Bush administration on this issue. Their election season prescription? Rewarding bad behavior. Punishing responsible behavior. Doing more harm than good. (READ MORE)

Jonah Goldberg: Romney's JFK Moment - Washington is atwitter. Mitt Romney will give a "JFK speech" Thursday accounting for his Mormonism the way then-Sen. John F. Kennedy dealt with his Catholicism in 1960. Political junkies just love Kennedy nostalgia. So profound is the Kennedy cargo cult that Michael Dukakis - who was as much a reincarnation of JFK as Weird Al Yankovic is of Frank Sinatra - tapped Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as his 1988 running mate because he believed it would revive the "Boston-Austin" axis of the JFK-LBJ ticket. Recalling the electricity and verve of that Democratic ticket, who among us can deny Dukakis' wisdom? (READ MORE)

David Strom: Eliminate the Federal Gas Tax - The 18.4 cents a gallon Federal gas tax is perhaps the single worst influence on the development of rational transportation policies in the United States, and it should be eliminated. For many, even those on the right, those are fighting words. Gas taxes are usually portrayed as “user fees,” and there is no question that there is a legitimate Federal interest in fostering interstate commerce and ensuring a first-rate transportation infrastructure that serves as the backbone of our national economy. (READ MORE)

John McCaslin: Manhattan Memory - A commemorative plaque will be dedicated tomorrow in the "Old War Department" wing of the State Department once occupied by Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves when he directed the Manhattan Project, an enormous endeavor that led to the production of the world's first atomic weapon during World War II. A coinciding conference will feature historical accounts of the Manhattan Project, including discussion of the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence and U.S. security policy today, as well as peaceful applications of nuclear energy. (READ MORE)

Neal Boortz: Responding to still more absurd attacks on the FairTax - Last week during the Republican presidential debate televised by CNN there was a thunderous reaction from the crowd upon Governor Mike Huckabee’s mention of the FairTax. CNN, in fact, said that Huckabee’s mention of the FairTax during that debate brought the strongest positive audience reaction they’ve seen to this point. Many reasons have been cited for Mike Huckabee’s surprisingly strong showing in the polling ahead of the Iowa Caucus, among those reason’s being Huckabee’s endorsement of the FairTax. This comes as no huge surprise to either Congressman John Linder or me. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: "Qualified? You Oughta See Him With His Tonkas!" - Here's another story to show us how terribly tragic the decline of American unions is. A few years ago, some officers of the Boston local of the longshoreman's union figured out a great way to give their kids a leg up should they choose to enter the family business when they grew up. They started putting their kids on the public payroll when the kids were very young, very briefly. This didn't really add up to much (a few hours of payroll fraud), but it had an incredible long-term benefit -- it got the kids on the union rolls. So, when they grew up and got a longshoreman job when they were 18, they officially had well over a decade of seniority -- and a huge leg up on their peers. (READ MORE)

Kingsley Browne: Co-ed Combat - Psychological Sex Differences - Yesterday’s post dealt with physical differences between the sexes. It produced a lot of good comments that I will try to get to today or tomorrow. This morning’s post will look at a number of psychological differences. Although measurable sex differences in most psychological traits related to combat tend to be smaller than physical differences – so there is more overlap between the sexes – they are still substantial. (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: Global Warming Hypocrites - So, if the worshipers of the Goracle really believe their own hype and think feel that people should be forced to make major lifestyle changes to prevent global warming, how do you explain this: “Tempo Interaktif reports that Angkasa Pura - the management of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport are concerned that the large number Gadditional private charter flights expected in Bali during the UN Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) December 3-15, 2007, will exceed the carrying capacity of apron areas. To meet the added demand for aircraft storage officials are allocating ‘parking space’ at other airports in Indonesia.” (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Heads Will Explode - Our democracy works primarily because when we sum our unconscious biases we tend to cancel out the most irrational; this is, unfortunately, not invariant and we have many times in our history paid a heavy price for irrationality. It is always easier to see contradictions in others. In the political arena, it is easier to see the contradictions in the ideology and policies of our political opponents than in ourselves (which is why I always hope for decent and specific critiques from those who disagree with me; I am usually disappointed, unfortunately.) Sometimes, however, the contradictions become so egregious and overt that they become unavoidable. We may well be reaching a point where the left has no choice but to notice their own contradictions and, in the act of observation, their carefully constructed world view will collapse. (READ MORE)

McQ: Israel: "We have no doubt" that Iran is developing nukes - Needless to say the most recent NIE has cause a bit of an uproar. And while I won't buy into to the conspiracy theories which claim a concerted effort to undermine this administration, I will say that the more I think about it the more I see a huge portion of CYA going on here. The Intel community has covered its rear - if the administration attacks Iran and nothing is discovered they can say "we told you so". If that attack were to uncover a covert nuclear arms program, they could say "we said it was possible". (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Senior Syrian al Qaeda leader confirmed killed - The regions around Samarra and Tarmiyah in Salahadin province continues to be a flashpoint for raids against senior al Qaeda operatives and propaganda cells. US forces have confirmed killing a senior Syrian al Qaeda leader near the city, and another media cell was dismantled in the city. As the US targets al Qaeda's media operations, al Furqan released two new products over the past several days, including a tape by Abu Omar al Baghdadi. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Bush-Bashing Is Fun - But here’s what you missed amid the Iranapalooza excitement. Some of the elusive and much sought-after political progress in Iraq: “KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — Sunni Arabs ended a yearlong political boycott Tuesday in Kirkuk — the hub of Iraq’s northern oil fields — under a cooperation pact that marked a bold attempt at unity before a planned referendum on control of the strategic region. The Sunni-Kurdish deal — urged by U.S. diplomats — could also move ahead other reconciliation bids demanded by Washington but stalled by disputes that include sharing oil wealth and compromising with Sunnis who backed Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Barackfire - Hillary’s silly kindergarten attack only deepens her woes. Jay Cost at Real Clear Politics today raised the question, “Is Clinton’s Negativity a Bad Idea?” Yes. He pointed out that Stephen Ansolabehere is wary of Hillary’s decision to attack Obama. Cost wrote, “Other scholars have found that negative campaigning can, in certain circumstances, have a real ‘backfire’ effect. Richard Lau and Gerald Pomper found the effect present in Senate campaigns. Namely, incumbent senators who attacked their challengers damaged themselves.” (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: Why "peak oil" is bullshit, and why the price of oil will collapse - A commenter at Tigerhawk put me onto this DOE document that is a Rand Corp report from the 2005 timeframe (its a PDF so you'll need Acrobat reader). If you take 1/4 of the US demand out of the world market, world oil prices would have to collapse to whatever OUR baseline production costs+profit are -- which would be fixed by petro engineering economics rather than the whim of dictators, Arabs, and various loons. Prices today are arbitrary and build in worry factors about supply. If we know we can produce and sell a barrel for say $50, and then do it, it compels the arbitrary pricers to meet our price or lose business. Worry factors for American/Canadian oil would be near zero - foreign wars, loony dictators, etc would have little effect on production and delivery capability from CONUS and Canadian facilities. (READ MORE)

Cassy Fiano: Worst Quotes from the Kostards for 2007 - 2007 is almost over, and John Hawkins brings us an early Christmas present (or maybe it's more along the lines of a lump of coal... you decide) in the worst quotes from Daily Kos of 2007. Now he's able to pick just ten insane quotes from Daily Kos, I don't know. There's so much moonbattery, idiocy, paranoia, hatred, anger, and all around lunacy over there that I know I wouldn't be able to narrow it down to such a small list. The website would be hilarious (unintentionally so, of course) if the Kwazy Kos Kids weren't taken so damn seriously. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Nothing to See Here, Folks... Time to Just Move On! - If you believe the Democrats, the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's nuclear-weapons program shows that there never was anything to worry about in the first place, so we must immediately stop all this "saber rattling" (Hillary's term) and tough talk -- and get down to the business of offering Iran incentives for promising to refrain in future from doing things that threaten us (which in civilian criminal terms is usually called "extortion"). In reality, a close look at the NIE -- if it's true and accurate -- demonstrates four points: (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Now you see it, now you don't - Matthew Yglesias quotes Barack Obama as saying: "By reporting that Iran halted its nuclear weapon development program four years ago because of international pressure, the new National Intelligence Estimate makes a compelling case for less saber-rattling and more direct diplomacy. The juxtaposition of this NIE with the president's suggestion of World War III serves as an important reminder of what we learned with the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: members of Congress must carefully read the intelligence before giving the President any justification to use military force." (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Missing the Target on the NIE - This is funny, just noticed I got linked from a "senior blogger" at HuffPo, some guy I've never heard from (and I've been at the blogging and writing online for more than a decade) - and he called me a "junior blogger" who's wrapped up in consistency issues. To wit: “The main line of response against the news from the U.S. intelligence community that Iran's nuclear weapon program is not fearful boils down to one word: Iraq. We overestimated on Iraq, therefore, we're probably underestimating on Iran. Check out Gabriel Schoenfeld at Commentary:” (READ MORE)

Laughing_Wolf: The Tipping of West Rasheed, Part Three - In many respects, the tipping of West Rasheed is the story of two E’s. One E is Combat Outpost Ellis, known to the world as COP Ellis. The other is Echo Company, Team Easy, a provisional company created by the Vanguards, Task Force 1-18, Second Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, the fabled Big Red One. Within that, it is a story of blood price paid, heroism, courage, and determination – on the part of the Soldiers and local Iraqis. COP Ellis deserves its own segment in this saga. While it can’t be said that West Rasheed would not have tipped without it, it can be stated that things would have gone very differently and at a very different pace. Positioned in the heart of the rural section, it provided not merely a base for the troops, but also a secure location for local interaction as well as a commitment to that process made tangible. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: The New/Old Democratic Strategy On Iraq - The Democrats have a new strategy on Iraq war funding that looks a lot like the old strategy: chaos. Unable to come up with a way to meddle with the successful strategy of General David Petraeus, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will attempt to punt on additional funding until January. At that point, they may try to dump withdrawal timetables for a series of short-term appropriations that may wind up keeping troops in Iraq longer than they promised: “House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is examining a new approach, releasing war funds in small increments, with further installments tied to specific performance measures for Iraq's politicians. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) also is searching for a new approach and has been briefed on the idea of more explicitly tying funds to political progress.” (READ MORE)

Right Truth: Something stinks about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran - Something stinks about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran. For years now the civilized world has worked diligently, both through the United Nations and independently, to stop Iran from producing nuclear weapons. Suddenly we are told there IS NO current nuclear weapons program and has not been since 2003. What gives here? Today Iran has welcomed the new U.S. intelligence estimate which suggests the Tehran government is not currently trying to develop nuclear weapons. No kidding Iran welcomes this news. (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: The Silence of the Artistic Lambs - Here is part of the opening chapter of Daniel Silva's new novel The Secret Servant: professor Solomon Rosner, a Dutch Jew and author of a study on "the Islamic conquest of the West," is making his way down the Staalstraat in Amsterdam, dawdling in the window of his favourite pastry shop, when he feels a tug at his sleeve: "He saw the gun only in the abstract. In the narrow street the shots reverberated like cannon fire. He collapsed onto the cobblestones and watched helplessly as his killer drew a long knife from the inside of his coveralls. The slaughter was ritual, just as the imams had decreed it should be. No one intervened - hardly surprising, thought Rosner, for intervention would have been intolerant - and no one thought to comfort him as he lay dying. Only the bells spoke to him." (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

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