Patterico's Pontifications

6/17/2010

Afghans AWOL in Texas

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 10:44 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The JAWA Report notes a Fox News exclusive that 17 members of the Afghan military studying English at Texas’ Lackland AFB have gone AWOL in the past 2 years:

“A nationwide alert has been issued for 17 members of the Afghan military who have gone AWOL from a Texas Air Force base where foreign military officers who are training to become pilots are taught English, FoxNews.com has learned.”

Some have been AWOL for as long as two years and we’re just hearing about it now? I assume these Afghans are security threats but I’m holding out hope they’re living the good life in America.

– DRJ

6/14/2010

Marine Leaders Need the Right Stuff

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 7:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended Gen. James Amos, an aviator and the current second-in-command, as the next Marine Corp Commandant:

“Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended that Gen. James Amos will be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, POLITICO has learned.
***
Amos, already the Corps’ No. 2 officer, would be the first aviator to lead the service. The selection of Amos is a huge upset since the choice was thought to be between two known infantry officers: Dunford, and Gen. James Mattis. Both men had long been considered frontrunners and brought to the job different reputations and backgrounds at a time when the Corps endeavors to re-establish its sea-service identity after more than eight years of fighting wars in largely landlocked regions.”

There is concern at the Pentagon that a commander with experience in ground wars is needed while the U.S. is fighting two ground-based wars. What qualities vaulted the aviator Amos over the others? It may be because he has the right attitude on budgets and gays in the military:

“Typically, the Corps’ second officer, known as the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, is an aviator who never rises to the top job. But the choice of Amos, considered a reserved senior officer not known for the force of his personality, may be the result of a combination of factors. Those likely include his thinking on how and if gays and lesbians should serve openly in the Marine Corps, as well as potentially being open to cancelling the EFV, a multibillion-dollar program that is behind schedule and over budget. Gates appears to have the vehicle in his budgetary cross-hairs.”

“Not known for the force of his personality”? I guess that’s why his nickname is Tamer Amos.

– DRJ

6/12/2010

A New Era in U.S.-Afghan Relations, Take 3

Filed under: International,Obama,War — DRJ @ 12:23 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Barack Obama promised to renew and rebuild America’s alliances throughout the world. Now, 18 months after he took office, our relationship with Afghanistan has never looked worse because of his deteriorating relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai:

“The president [Hamid Karzi] has lost his confidence in the capability of either the coalition or his own government to protect this country,” Mr. Saleh said in an interview at his home. “President Karzai has never announced that NATO will lose, but the way that he does not proudly own the campaign shows that he doesn’t trust it is working.”

Wars and allies are sometimes thrust upon us. Like him or not, Karzai’s support is vital to winning in Afghanistan but Obama has alienated him and is now stuck trying to climb back to where he began 18 months ago. Meanwhile, the war in Afghanistan has become the longest-ever war America has fought and its monthly costs outpace the War in Iraq. It’s worth it if our leaders are committed to winning but it’s not clear they are.

It’s also interesting to watch President Obama repeatedly try to harange, intimidate and cajole foreign leaders into doing what he wants. It worked domestically. It’s not working as well outside the U.S.

– DRJ

6/9/2010

The Definition of a Dirty War

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 2:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Sun reports on the despicable Taliban tactics in Afghanistan:

“TALIBAN fighters are burying dirty needles with their bombs in a bid to infect British troops with HIV, The Sun can reveal.
Hypodermic syringes are hidden below the surface pointing upwards to prick bomb squad experts as they hunt for devices.

The heroin needles are feared to be contaminated with hepatitis and HIV. And if the bomb goes off, the needles become deadly flying shrapnel.”

I doubt the Taliban leaders waste their time pondering the ethics of Guantanamo or waterboarding. With adversaries like this, I don’t understand why our leaders do, either.

H/T Drudge Report.

– DRJ

6/7/2010

Hacker Turns in Army Leaker

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 12:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A hacker has turned in an Army analyst who reportedly bragged about leaking voluminous intelligence information, including an Iraq War video made famous on Wikileaks:

“[Former high-profile hacker Adrian] Lamo says that he was responsible for reporting Specialist (SPC) Brad Manning to the military authorities after the analyst boasted to him that he had handed over thousands of classified documents and classified military video to whistle-blower site Wikileaks.

Lamo feared being arrested himself and was concerned about the impact of the leaks on national security. As noted in the linked article, he also struggled with his decision to turn Manning in.

If this is true, I blame Manning for what he did. Period. But there may also be some blame for a Watergate media that has romanticized whistleblowers and an educational system that puts individuality and “marching to your own drummer” above responsibility. There is a place for whistleblowers and individuality but they don’t always trump loyalty.

– DRJ

6/6/2010

Tracing Iraq’s WMDs

Filed under: Government,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 12:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

One of the side effects of President Obama’s nomination of General James Clapper to be his Director of National Intelligence is that it has revived discussion of whether Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). Clapper reportedly believes he did, and PJ Media’s Ryan Mauro reviews evidence that indicates Saddam’s WMDs went to Syria. This section of Mauro’s report both interests and disappoints me:

“I also asked [the Iraq Survey Group's head WMD investigator Charles] Duelfer if he was aware of the intelligence provided by the Ukrainians and other sources that the Russians were in Iraq helping to cleanse the country shortly before the invasion. His facial expressions before I even finished the question showed he genuinely had never even heard of this.

As explained in detail in Ken Timmerman’s book Shadow Warriors, high-level meetings were held on February 10-12, 2004, involving officials from the U.S., the UK, and Ukraine. Among the attendees were Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John A. Shaw, the head of MI6, and the head of Ukrainian intelligence, Ihor Smeshko. The Ukrainians provided all the details of the Russian effort, including the dates and locations of meetings to plan the intervention and even the names of the Russian Spetsnaz officers involved. Shaw also worked with a British source that ran an intelligence network in the region and provided substantiation and additional details.

The former head of Romanian intelligence during the Cold War, Ion Pacepa, has provided supporting testimony. He says that he had personal knowledge of a Soviet plan called “Operation Sarindar” where the Russians would cleanse a rogue state ally of any traces of illicit activity if threatened with Western attack. The plan’s purpose was to deny the West of any evidence incriminating Russia or its ally. The presence of Russian advisors in Iraq shortly before the invasion, some of whom received medals from Saddam Hussein, is a strong indication that this plan was followed.

Dave Gaubatz, who was the first civilian federal agent deployed to Iraq, told me that he saw intelligence that “suggested that some WMD had been moved to Syria with the help of Russian intelligence.” Iraqis personally confirmed to him that there was a Russian presence before the American soldiers arrived.

Amazingly, Duelfer seems to have never been informed of this intelligence. “This does not mean … that it was not passed on to ISG [Iraq Survey Group],” he said to me later. The fact that the head of the WMD search was never even made aware of this indicates something went seriously wrong. In Timmerman’s book, Shaw says that Smeshko complained about the CIA’s station chief in Kiev not being cooperative. Timmerman researched the station and chief and found that he was very close with other people in the intelligence community who were doing their best to fight Bush administration policies.”

If this is true, shame on the so-called intelligence community.

H/T Red County Pete.

– DRJ

Remembering D-Day

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 12:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

D-Day is not one of the major holidays like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day that commemorate American military valor and sacrifice. But part of what makes D-Day so memorable is that it commemorates a specific time, a specific place, and a specific War.

Today’s D-Day ceremonies spanned the continents from Normandy to Bedford, Virginia, the home of the National D-Day Memorial. The American Battle Monuments Commission is the guardian of America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries and memorials. It operates 25 cemeteries throughout the world, including the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial:

“The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 and the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its ½ mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,387 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.”

Over 215,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded between D-Day and when the Allies took control at Normandy. Most of them went home to their lives or to be laid to rest, but over 10,000 did not. We remember all of them today.

H/T redc1c4.

– DRJ

6/4/2010

Obama’s Secret Stick

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 10:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Bush Doctrine expressly authorized preemptive military action against America’s enemies and potential enemies, and President Bush was relentlessly pilloried by Democrats for his public stand. But now it turns out President Obama may talk sweetly but he’s using a bigger and more controversial preemptive secret stick:

“Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.”

The moral is President Obama gets to have his cake and eat it, too … at least until someone decides to call his bluff.

– DRJ

5/31/2010

Memorial Day 2010

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 9:48 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

G.M. Roper posts a Memorial Day Pictorial honoring those who died defending our Nation’s freedom and its values.

Flags

Please also join as a nation in recognizing a National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM local time on this Memorial Day.

[Animation from American Flags.]

– DRJ

5/30/2010

Gitmo Detainee Report Released

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 6:24 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

After his Inauguration, President Obama called for the closing of the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base — a decision that he has not been able to implement — as well as a comprehensive review of all detainees held there. The comprehensive review was completed in January 2010 but, as reported in the Washington Post, was not released to Congress until last week:

“About 10 percent of the 240 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when President Obama took office were “leaders, operatives and facilitators involved in plots against the United States,” but the majority were low-level fighters, according to a previously undisclosed government report. About 5 percent of the detainees could not be categorized at all.

The final report by the Guantanamo Review Task Force recommends that 126 of the detainees be transferred either to their homes or to a third country; that 36 be prosecuted in either federal court or a military commission; and that 48 be held indefinitely under the laws of war. A group of 30 Yemenis was approved for release if security conditions in their home country improve.

The report was completed in January but sent to select committees on Capitol Hill just this week. The administration sat on the report in the wake of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day because there was little public or congressional appetite for further discussion of its plan to close the military detention center.”

The New York Times covered the story here. As Thomas Joscelyn points out in the Weekly Standard, the Times and other media have erroneously described detainees (other than the Chinese Uighurs) as eligible for release:

“The Task Force distinguishes between detainee “releases” and “transfers.” Release “is used to mean release from confinement without the need for continuing security measures in the receiving country.” Transfer “is used to mean release from confinement subject to appropriate security measures.” The distinction is an important one.

None of the thirty Yemenis mentioned by the Times were placed in the approved for “release” category. All of them were placed in the approved for “transfer” category.

The chief reason the Task Force placed them in what it calls “conditional” detention is that Yemen cannot provide the “appropriate security measures” that are required to transfer them.

According to the Task Force, the 30 Yemeni detainees “are not approved for repatriation to Yemen at this time, but may be transferred to third countries, or repatriated to Yemen in the future if the current moratorium on transfers to Yemen is lifted and other security conditions are met.”

The Times’s misreporting on these 30 Yemeni detainees is not unique. The press continually gets this wrong. Virtually every time a detainee is transferred from Gitmo, the press reports that he has been “cleared for release.” (To be fair, I have mistakenly used this phrase in the past, although not in the same manner.) The implication of this phrasing is that the detainees in question are either innocent or no longer a threat. Neither implication is true.

The truth is, the Task Force made it clear that no detainees (other than the Uighurs) have been “approved for release.” The 156 total detainees who have been approved for transfer (126 approved for transfer, plus 30 Yemenis in “conditional” detention) are all considered to pose at least some risk.

As the Task Force explained, “It is important to emphasize that a decision to approve a detainee for transfer does not reflect a decision that the detainee poses no threat or no risk of recidivism.”

The head of the Task Force, Matthew Olsen, elaborated on this in an earlier interview with BBC News. “No decision about any of these detainees is without some risk,” Olsen said.

The detainees approved for transfer by the Obama administration are, quite simply, the ones they are willing to assume “some risk” on.”

In the legal world, Assumption of the Risk is a term used in tort law. I guess it has a new meaning now.

– DRJ

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