Friday, September 02, 2005

A Modest Proposal For Victory

Here’s a positive suggestion for winning the war in Iraq. Stop letting the enemy go free. The overlapping systems, American and Iraqi, that are responsible for justice in Iraq today, are not much more than a set of revolving doors. Low level operatives and leaders alike are processed through a catch and release program like so many undersize fish.

An email from the commander in Iraq, whose company took over from mine, reveals that of the hundreds of enemy detained in our AO, almost all have been released. This isn’t just soldiers, or operatives. Some pretty scary people are walking the streets of that city again.

Ad Dujayl, also written Dujail is a city of 50,000, or so. It is now infamous for the 150 murders in 1982 that make up the first count on Saddam Hussein’s bill of indictment. My company patrolled the town from March to December of 2004. In early July, we conducted a multi part raid that led to the case against Hussein.

It took those first four months to develop the intelligence that led us to Sheik Abdullah Raweed and his Sunni cleric sidekick Abu Omar. In a predawn raid with US special forces, and Iraqi National Guard troops operating alongside our regular infantry soldiers, we assaulted Abu Omar’s mosque complex, and the Raweed family compound. Along with my company commander, and the battalion commander I watched as a SOCCOM Humvee crashed through the gate of the mosque. ING soldiers poured out of a five ton truck and entered the mosque, which was off limits to American troops.

A few blocks away our third platoon had opened the Raweed compound gate in a similar manner. Suddenly, as soldiers prepared to enter a figure appeared on the roof there. An AK-47 pointed towards the Sgt leading his team through the breach. His battle buddy, seeing the weapon, threw himself into his leader, knocking them both into the outer wall. As the weakened wall collapsed around them, AK rounds sprayed into the empty gateway.
Half a mile away, I heard the shots, and the answering staccato of three machine guns. A radio inquiry assured us that everyone was OK. The heavy machine fire convinced the lone gunmen to cease, and a few minutes later third platoon had one Sheik Abdullah Raweed in custody. At the same time the ING was dragging Abu Omar out of his mosque.

Abdullah Raweed had crossed our radar, as a former regime loyalist who was supporting the insurgents. Abu Omar was a new Imam in town, a wahabist preaching anti-American sermons, and an ally of Raweed’s. The command soon developed enough intel to warrant the simultaneous raid on both of them. The removal of these two from public life resulted in a curious coincidence of two apparently opposite reactions.

Publicly community leaders, sheiks, muktars imams and council members, immediately began petitioning the Colonel for the release of the two men. In visits to our Base and at city council meetings they proclaimed the honor and uprightness of our detainees. Privately they assured us that these men were terrible and dangerous and begged us to hold them. And then witnesses began to come forth.

Within a month we had a fairly complete picture of Abdullah Raweed’s role as the local point man in the 1982 revenge murders, numbering closer to 450 than 150. The lower number consists of the best documented, and was deemed enough to get Saddam the death penalty. With the city free from their influence, we developed that case. Meanwhile up at the detention facility at Brassfield Mora Abu Omar was bragging to a jailhouse snitch about his ties to Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Saddam’s trial. Both Abu Omar and Abdullah Raweed are again free men in Ad Dujail, one in his family compound, the other in his walled Mosque. To be sure A Co 1-128th In., now consider them persons of interest. And a trial may yet await Abdullah Raweed, the local Baath party. This man was so favored by Saddam that he was given a Lexus paid for with oil for food money.
This is by no means an unusual case. A combination of factors has combined to create this untenable and unacceptable situation. The US military is not set up to arrest and process suspects. The desire to win hearts and minds has created a presumption of innocence and a burden of proof that would make William Kuntsler blush. Press scrutiny and our avowed commitment to democracy play a role. Confusion over constantly changing rule sets due to changes in military and civilian leadership, and in jurisdiction hasn’t helped.

Some commanders are unschooled in the complexities of Arab tribal culture, and mistake the public requests for leniency as genuine, rather than the posturing they are. For most of my deployment, the maximum detention period, for all but the most red handed detainees, was 30 days. That’s 30 days for attempted murder against US soldiers. That’s like a violation, not even a misdemeanor. Finally and I will talk more about this another time, the Iraqi courts are still primarily in the hands of Baathists.

So what’s an Army to do? The best suggestion I’ve heard comes from my CO, who prosecutes mobsters in real life. Let’s go back to basics. The Army needs to build a big prison in the desert. Allah knows there’s room and materiel out there. Then we start treating these detainees as POWs, EPWs, or whatever term for wartime prisoners you prefer.

The president has assured us that what is taking place in Iraq is not only a war, but part of a larger conflict. Great! I’ve believed him since day one. Don Rumsfeld now needs to tell the Army leadership. Treat these detainees as POWs. Lock them up. Give them full Geneva and Hague convention rights. Give them free Korans. Call the Red Cross and invite them to leave a permanent party. Abu Ghraib notwithstanding, the vast majority of detainees in Iraq have been treated well so this will not be a problem. But keep these enemy combatants locked up out there in the desert until we’re done. We can give the keys to the Iraqis along with a set of dossiers when we’re leaving.

If this is a war, then let’s use the techniques that have worked in the past. When we capture enemy forces we lock them up until the war is over. It worked in WWI, II, and Korea. And in those cases where there is real reason to doubt the complicity of a detainee lets track his progress. If attacks stop in an area when an individual is detained and begin again when he is released that’s it he stays in the next time he’s caught.

If we are serious about winning this war, and I know I am, we need to get this done. The catch and release policy just returns enemy fighters back to the battlefield. They get a nice rest, and a bellyful of high calorie American rations. How can we beat the insurgents if we keep letting them go free? This puts soldiers life at risk. Make no mistake hundreds of soldiers are dead because of this catch and release policy. Think about it, at the very least, an indicted co-conspirator of Saddam’s and a self described al-Quaeda preacher are walking free in Iraq. Isn’t it time to get serious about winning in Iraq?

Thanks To:

Froggy Ruminations

Right Wing News

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A referral.

In an article for the Weekly Standard, Christophr Hitchens writes an amazingly cogent answer to the anti-war hacks. It's beautifully written and concieved. And it should be required reading for anyone who wants to discuss this war in public.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Few Quick Notes

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a response to the silliness of the story about headstones. The words Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are engraved on headstones of the fallen from those operations at Arlington. This led some of the loonies on the left to object that this was political. Here's what the VA says.

The Associated Press account of gravestone inscriptions that appeared in The Post Aug. 24 suggested that the government is inscribing "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on the headstones of service members for political purposes.

The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for providing headstones for veterans, always has inscribed the names of wars on the headstones of veterans. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is the official name for the current conflict in Iraq. Inscriptions are requested in writing by families and signed by their representative. The families decide what is on their loved one's headstone, not the government.
No doubt, if the government refused to inscribe "Operation Iraqi Freedom" on those headstones, we would be charged with trying to cover up casualties. Let's be fair. And let's end silly reporting.

Scott Hogenson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington

Good Idea Scott! I can hear the howls from the left over this next item. President Bush compared our fight in Iraq to WWII yesterday. Hey I got no problem with that. On my second day in Iraq after driving from Kuwait to the middle of the Sunni triangle my company commander turned to me and said.

"This was an evil regime."

We had seen enough in 48 hours to back that up. Ten months just re-inforced that sense. Investigating he Dujail murders, seeing the sumptuous palaces of Saddam and his sons amid the poverty of a nation, being thanked by countless Iraqis for removing their oppressor convinced me that we had done the right thing.

The president had some remarks that should really give pause to the anti-war protesters. It was at the behest of their ilk, that we left Vietnam. An act that damaged US credibility and prestige, elements of soft power for decades. The aftermath of Vietnam included the election of Jimmy Carter and the disasters in Iran. Without those events the war in Iraq may never have come to pass. Think about that when you consider the president and his SecDef's words from Tuesday.

"If the United States were to lose in Iraq,' Bush added, 'terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi would win strength -- and precious oil supplies. "If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq," he said, "they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks, they'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions, they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

"The goal in this war is not complicated. It is victory," Rumsfeld said, later vowing to stay in the fight. "And let there be no doubt: We will prevail."

These are not idle words. These are facts. We began this operation to remove a dangerous tyrant from power. Whether you agreed with that or not, whether we were right or wrong about WMD, these things no longer matter. We have an enemy, and we chose to engage this foe. To have begun the battle and then surrender the field to the enemy, when we can win is the height of folly.

I am not against peace. No soldier who has seen the tragedies of war up close is against peace, if he is sane. But merely choosing not to engage an enemey does not mean peace. Not when that enemy has his will intact. Not when that enemy is bent upon our destruction. I want peace, and I, unlike those who speak the word so carelessly, am prepared to sacrifice so that we can have peace.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Code Pink Sinks To New Low!

This is HOT NEWS. Demonstrating that they have absolutely no shame, decency, morals or contact with reality the Code Pink Movement is now blaming infiltrators along with conservatives and counterprotesters for recent bad press. CNS is running the full story.

Code Pink is claiming that they have been "targeted" for right wing attacks. They have claimed that the most provocative signs such as the Maimed for a Lie" sign, have been brought in by outsiders, provocateurs.

While some members of the group now claim that such signs are disruptive to what was meant to be a vigil, others are sticking to there guns.

Laura Costas, a Code Pink spokeswoman, insisted that such signs as "Maimed for a Lie," were appropriate.

"If that's how somebody feels about it, they're entitled to that," Costas said during an appearance on the Fox News Channel program, "Hannity and Colmes."

This demonstrates just how despicable and how stupid these people really are. After spending the Summer harassing families and provoking the wounded heroes laid up inside Walter Reed, they are surprised to find that no one finds their publicity stunt attractive.

So in the tradtion of liberals every where when challenged they do two things. They blame a right wing conspiracy, and they lie. Of course this was never described as a vigil, until the scrutiny of CNS and bloggers brought the story into focus.

But lets be realistic. Was it an agent provacateur or co-founder Jodie Evans who spoke up and offered support for Iraqi insurgents, before she ever said a kind word about our troops? Was it an interloper or her partner in slime Medea Benjamin who said that the Viet Cong weren't such bad guys either and we should sympathize with our enemies?

The leadership of this organization is about as morally bankrupt as an American citizen can be. They are slaves to the blame America first syndrome. Victims of a deep self loathing, they see good only in distant intangible movements. They cannot connect with the essential goodness of America or Americans, because they are at war with themselves.

Now when faced with the reality that their message is out of touch, they are back pedaling, denying. And re-labeling too, how Orwellian. They are now blaming the right for calling negative attention too their obscene little picket line. A Vigil!? Please when have any of you ever prayed in Vigil? For American Soldiers? For anyone?

Why would we believe that the anti-soldier signs are the work of infiltrators? Traitors yes, at least in spirit. Because that is the spirit of this group. It was founded by a group of obvious socialists. Another leader Kevin McCarron is a contributor to the Socialist Review.

Wake up lefties. You are the infiltrators. You are the conspirators. We, on the right are only telling the truth. Here to call BS on the constant shell games you try to run on the American people.

I know you won't give up. You're too stubborn and too stupid. You have invested your entire self worth, what there is of it, in an obsolete banrupt ideology. But do us all a favor and give up at least, on this little nasty protest. Go home! Give those Kids in the hospital a break. Give their families a rest too.

For Related stories or just good blogging see:
Betsy's Page

Froggy Ruminations

Right Wing News
Right Wing Nuthouse

Monday, August 29, 2005

Measures of Effectiveness.

Sunday morning on Meet The Press, retired army General Wayne Downing criticized the way most media reports the war. Merely as a list of US casualties. He cited this as a major factor eroding public support for the war.

Downing pointed out that the Army isn’t taking casualties just for the sake of patrolling the roads. Troops patrol those roads to achieve important goals. Political and economic objectives, that are the key to ending the casualties and bringing our troops home.

The president’s recent initiative at re-building support for the war is a response to this bias. For much of the last two years war reporting has generally been negative. Casualties are the most common stories. But casualties are far from the only stories in Iraq.

A Company 2-108th Infantry spent ten months in Iraq, much of it in a city called Ad Dujail. Prior to our final move into Iraq, our commander summed up the entire mission in Ad Dujail, in three points.

First, help the citizens of Ad Dujail. Second capture or kill enemy forces. Finally protect everyone else. Despite our casualties A co. managed these tasks well.

According to the company commanders mission summary we conducted hundreds of patrols. And scores of raids. We contributed to our battalion’s success in keeping a fifteen mile stretch of Highway One open and secure. We denied the enemy sanctuary in Ad Dujail. We protected all of our city’s key leaders during our deployment. In ten months we captured hundreds of enemy personnel. Without seriously injuring bystanders, or worse. All prisoners were treated with dignity and respect.

We conducted hundreds security missions supporting civil affairs missions sometimes participating directly in those efforts. All the local schools were renovated. Numerous civil construction projects were completed. And our security efforts allowed the Bechtel Corporation to rebuild the water purification system.

Most importantly we trained “the most effective Iraqi National Guard force in the Salah Ad Din province.” Our soldiers put in hundreds of hours training Iraqi soldiers and recruits. With realistic and challenging training, we created fit, competent warriors, who we were comfortable fighting alongside.

The company captured one important member of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Sheik Abdullah Raweed. This Sheik was a participant in the now infamous 1982 murders in Ad Dujail. His capture allowed us to initiate an investigation into those murders. This resulted in the prosecution of Baath party leaders including Saddam Hussein for involvement in these crimes.

We treated hundreds of Iraqis for various medical problems. From household burns to bullet wounds we gave first aid and more. Twice, I provided first aid to gunshot victims of Iraqi hijackers.

Our most rewarding medical mission was the story of Abul Jabar, a seven year old who lived near Ad Dujail. While treating him for burns, our battalion surgeon discovered the boy’s potentially fatal heart condition.

The unit in a combined effort with charities, families and doctors sent Abul to a Tampa area hospital for treatment. One soldier’s parents even visited him in the hospital, bringing a soccer ball, the preferred toy of all Iraqi kids.
We did suffer casualties. The worst was the death of Spc Segun Fredrick Akintade on 28 Oct 2004. He died when ambushed by the enemy while returning from a mission in the desert region west of Ad Dujail.

Segun 34, a Nigerian immigrant, businessman, CCNY student, and a new citizen was the most sympathetic soldier we had, to the Iraqi people. His background might be why he truly believed in our mission.

His story, like so many other casualties has been told. The hundreds of successes our company achieved in ten months have taken longer to come out. This is what General Downing was talking about.

This is also what President Bush has been saying. But the opponents of the war, and their liberal allies in the media would rather tell you about casualties then successes. Those casualties occur on missions with a purpose. One company’s success is duplicated many times over. From one city’s fresh water, to elections and a new constitution, hundreds of stories are left to tell.

See Also:
Right Wing news
Mudville Gazette
Betsy's Page

More Liberal Hypocrisy Re: Roberts

You would think that someone who has been the governor of a state like New York would know the difference in functions and role between the legislative and the judicial. But Mario Cuomo apparently can’t or won’t make the distinction. In an editorial from yesterday’s LA Times that ran in NY Newsday as well, NY’s former uber-liberal leader conflates the two branches responsibilities.
Cuomo in a pre-emptive strike, tries to place conservative supporters of Judge Roberts in an intellectual double bind. He describess what he sees as inconsistency in the treatment of Roberts versus such figures as Ted Kennedy, Geraldine Ferraro and John Kerry. All four worthies mentioned are public figures who happen to be Catholics.
Cuomo points out that conservatives and Catholic leaders have called out for some time, for the three Catholics legislators mentioned above to vote with Cathoilc consciences in regards to abortion. Cuomo seems to think that this creates some sort of muddle for conservatives, and Catholic supporters of Roberts, who must take an oath to uphold the constitution.
Cuomo asserts that the question of choosing to interpret law, for Roberts, may present a choice between his oath to the constitution, and his beliefs as a Catholic. This is a possibility, and one which Roberts has already said will result in his choosing the constitution, where it is clearly at odds with his belief. Cuomo seems to think that accepting this places conservatives in some sort of moral hypocrisy. We support Roberts in spite of his vow to choose the constitution over his conscience. We allow him a pass. But according to Cuomo we allow the legislators no such pass.
But this is because, as Cuomo well knows, the role of the legislature is constitutionally distinct from the judiciary. While both are bound to respect the law of the land as enshrined in law and in the constitution, they are free to act in different ways. The judiciary must respect law as embodied. They are free only to interpret the law, not to change it. The have the power to review the law comparing it to prior law, legal precedent and the constitution, but they are not free to alter it.
Legislators act under an entirely different set of precepts. They are there to make law, in effect to change the law of the land. In this role they are much freer to seek their own conscience for guidance. While they too are not free to place their conscience above the constitution in public matters, they are free to vote that conscience. A legislator may use his conscience in ways a judge may not. To change the law of the land. When an elected legislator follows his conscience to change the law he or she is not violating the constitution, nor an oath to support it. They are acting upon their oath.
Cuomo of course really does know all this. He is merely obfuscating in order cover up for liberal Catholic legislators. Why bother? To make conservatives stop pursuing a pro-life agenda. That’s not going to happen. Cuomo would better spend his time attacking the real hypocrisy of liberal Senators like Kennedy who are planning to challenge Roberts on personal beliefs in ways they never did to Clinton appointees Souter and Ginsberg. Come on Mario if your going cry hypocrisy it’s best to avoid it in your accusation.

See also Betsy's Page

For a look at how law schools lead to left leaning lawyers see NYGirl

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A Realistic Policy Discussion

This morning’s Meet the Press demonstrated exactly the kind of discussions the country needs to engage in about Iraq. First American Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, corrected some of the misperceptions that have been flying around the MSM, regarding the new Iraqi Constitution. When Host Tim Russert pointed out with concern that the new constitution calls for Islam to be the official state religion and a main source of law, Ambassador Khalizid pointed to other facts in rebuttal.

Khalizid: No. Those were exactly the same words that were in the constitution of Afghanistan which we celebrated. And also do not forget that immediately after what you just read, there are two other requirements that the draft mentions, one, that no law can be against the practices of democracy and also that no law can be in violation of the human rights enshrined in that constitution. What you have, Tim, is a new consensus between the universal principles of democracy and human rights and Iraqi traditions in Islam.

This, by the way is an awesome step for Iraq, for Islam, and for the mideast!

Russert also raised concerns about the constitutional issues regarding women’s rights under the new regime. He also expressed the widespread fear in Iraq and here in the US about the influence of Sharia, Islamic Law, and especially the constutional basis for seating clerics as Judges. Again the ambassador countered the mis-assertions of the media with the facts.

Khalizid:This constitution, this draft, recognizes equality between men and women before the law and disallows any discrimination. It also disallows violence in the family. It encourages women's political participation. And it grants a 25 percent minimum women's representation in the National Assembly. With regard to family law, which is a controversial article, it recognizes the freedom of choice, that people can choose which law, whether secular or religious, can--will govern their personal matters having to do with marriage, divorce, inheritance. This is no different than what is the case in Israel.

With regard to the role of the Supreme Court, I think your comments reflected an earlier draft. The current draft does not establish a separate constitution review court but gives the responsibility to the Supreme Court here and it doesn't call for Shariah judges. It calls for experts in law, which includes expertise in Islamic law, but also expertise with regard to democracy and human rights, to be represented in the Supreme Court and it allows the next parliament to legislate on that.
Finally the ambassador pointed out that like in America, the constitution is only the foundation.. It is the first step in a process to building a democracy. The participation of the citizenry in shaping it is the key to the future of the government.

This is a living document, as all constitutions are, Tim, and as Iraq evolves and changes, this constitution will also change and adapt to the circumstances. Our own Constitution, as you know, had to change in order to remain relevant. And this will be the case with Iraq as well, as it will be the case with other countries. Constitutions are not just one-time documents. To be relevant, they will have to adapt.

The second half of the show featured four retired US generals at least one of whom, Wesley Clark has been unabashed in declaring our involvement in Iraq a mistake. Unlike Chuck Hagel and the anti-war chorus on the left General Clark was able to talk lucidly about what he thinks our strategy and Goals should be.

Clark: Now, every one of us who serve in top positions knows that there has to be hand-in-glove teamwork between military force, diplomacy, economic power and informational power. This administration has relied excessively on the courage and skill of the men and women in uniform. It doesn't want to talk to the people in Iran. It doesn't want to talk to Syria. It doesn't want to do the hard work and heavy lifting of diplomacy because of domestic politics at home.

I'm talking about having something like a contact group which we set up in the Balkans at the diplomatic level, at the representational level, in public where you can get nations' interests out on the table, where you can talk about regional issues, including trade and travel, you know, tourism, visiting Najaf, where the airport are going to be. All of these are regional concerns, and they need to be dealt with in an open fashion.

This administration needs to bite the bullet and say, "Look, we're in a part of the world where there are going to be people that we wouldn't necessarily run their countries the way they're doing it. But they are the governments, and we're going to talk to them even if we don't agree with everything they say." It's up to us find areas of common interest and try to work this.

This is the way to criticize the administration. Find a spot where they realistically might try doing more. Or where there is different approach that has possibilities. While I understand the Bush teams reluctance to engage these nations, particularly Iran in public discussions about Iraq. It might actually be useful to get them to commit publicly to diplomatically agreed policies. At least Clark is making suggestions.

The other Generals were more optimistic and supportive. Wayne Downing, former snake eater in chief as head of USSOCOM, the special operations headquarters made some particularly useful points.

Downing: I think one of the problems that we're having is that the news media, the opposition to the war are framing this entire discussion in the terms of casualties and casualties only. I think what we don't have is a serious discussion about why you take those casualties.

We're not out there roaming the roads in Iraq and Afghanistan, looking for IEDs to blow up. Everything we're doing in a military campaign, both the U.S., the coalition and the Iraqi forces, are aimed at objectives. And those objectives are to promote the political process, number one, because what we're doing, Tim--for the last six weeks we've been doing this--we're preparing for the election in the middle of October--I mean, the referendum on the constitution and then the following one, the election in December to ratify it.

The other things we're doing is we're supporting the economic development of that country and the social development. That's why these military operations are going on. And I really think that it's incumbent upon you and the others and the responsible American press to put the casualties into these kind of context. In other words, what is it that they're accomplishing? I mean, can you imagine us and, you know, it's been quoted out there in the Web, judging the D-Day invasion of Normandy back in 1944 by the casualties that were suffered?

Amen to that Sir!

I can’t say I agree with everything that was said here. But again, at least this was the way to criticize. There were no shrill calls for cutting and running. General Clark the most critical of the guests, was critical by making positive suggestion, maybe not all of them workable, but at least demonstrating some reason aforethought. This is the kind of discussions America needs more of. Let’s look realistically at what’s happening in Iraq. And if we are going to Criticize policy let’s make sure we can suggest alternatives that make some kind of sense. The full transcript is available here

See also PoliPundit