Patterico's Pontifications


Milbloggers Weigh in on the Flawed L.A. Times Story on the “Airstrike” in Ramadi

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 pm

As I had hoped, some milbloggers are starting to weigh in on my post about that flawed L.A. Times story about an alleged airstrike in Ramadi. Several milbloggers have questioned the claim by the mysterious “Times correspondent in Ramadi” that 15 houses could have been “pulverized” in the alleged airstrike. They all seem to agree that an airstrike that large would be a massive operation that would be very hard for the military to deny.

Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette says:

I’d add that if it were true [that 15 houses were “pulverized”], this might be the largest air strike ever in Iraq, requiring multiple platforms to achieve that much devastation. A lot of other nearby structures must have been damaged too. It would be awfully gutsy of DoD to deny that any air strike occurred that day at all, since absolutely no one in the city (including the Reuters reporter Patterico cites who did not mention the incident – and every US military member there) would be unaware of it.

Neptunus Lex adds:

There’s no way to “pulverize” 15 structures with one conventional weapon, or even with one aircraft attacking, unless we’re doing urban CAS now with carpet bombing B-52’s or B-1’s, which I don’t believe to be true.

In that environment the bias is towards smaller weapons to reduce the collateral damage risks, and each target is scrutinized to ensure that the effects on surrounding non-targets are minimized.

“Pulverized” is a rather non-specific term, but I’ll take it to mean a target structure that is 80-100% destroyed since that’s the image it evokes. Assuming from a best case in terms of desired weapons effects that the target building was demolished and from the worst case that a nearby non-target was 50% reduced through CD, you’re still talking an airstrike of 21 weapons – 7 to 8 or so against principal targets and another 14 or so which somehow combined to “pulverize” the non-targets.

That’s at least a ten-plane strike for TACAIR – hard to plausibly deny from the military perspective.

A blogger called “Lightning” at says this:

As you read Patterico’s blog entry on this article, take note of the fact that the report is entirely based on the word of an Iraqi stringer employed by the Times. In military intelligence circles, this is known as “single-source reporting”, and is generally considered untrustworthy and unsuitable intelligence for launching an operation. Apparently, it is good enough for mass publication to the American public.

Unfortunately, there are a number of other holes I could blast in their story, but I would have to cross, or at least stray dangerously close to, the OPSEC line in order to do it. Suffice it to say that, as a military forward air controller who recently worked in Al Anbar province, and who read the airstrike summaries Coalition Air Operations Center’s (CAOC) webpage, an airstrike big enough to level 15 houses would require multiple sections of aircraft and enough ordnance to be highly unusual for any city in Iraq.

Add this to the body of evidence suggesting that no such event actually occurred.

UPDATE: Here is Lightning’s profile on his own blog:

I’m a Captain in the Marine Corps, on my fourth deployment since January of 2003. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a deployment aboard ship to the Persian Gulf. I’m an infantry officer by trade, having just completed a 3-year tour in an infantry battalion. In my current billet, I am a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) responsible for requesting and directing close air support in support of friendly ground units.

Just to give you a picture of who’s weighing in.

Meeting Captain Ed — And Many Others!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:14 pm

I had the pleasure of meeting Captain Ed yesterday at a lunch attended by several other bloggers, readers, and commenters, including N.Z. Bear, Mike Lief, Darleen Click, OC Chuck (whose account is here), commenter “Another Drew,” and many others. Ed’s account is here. I’m told Grumpy Old Man was there; unfortunately, I didn’t realize that, or I would have said hi.

It was great to meet Ed and the others. I spent a lot of time talking to his parents. I asked if he was always that smart; unsurprisingly, they said yes. They got notes from teachers about it on occasion. They also told me that they read my site, which of course endeared them to me forever.

By the way, Mike Lief has a new book out, which I purchased last night: The Devil’s Advocates: Greatest Closing Arguments in Criminal Law. I already own one of Mike’s other books: Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments In Modern Law. It’s excellent, and Mike’s latest one looks like a good one. I wish I’d gotten it earlier; I could have had it autographed yesterday!

Ed may have me on his radio show next week to discuss that Ramadi story. It’s not definite, but if it pans out, I’ll share details as they become available.

Hiltzik-Bashing from Mary K.

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Hiltzik — Patterico @ 1:47 pm

On his L.A. Times-sponsored blog, Michael Hiltzik once described Mary Katharine Ham as “a twentysomething Georgia grad who received postgraduate training in vacuous sarcasm from the Heritage Foundation.” Hiltzik added, for good measure:

I don’t know if Ham grew up as a trust fund baby in North Carolina, but if not, she’s sure learned to talk the talk.

Mary K. is engaging in a little delayed schadenfreude today. I mean, “realism.”

UPDATE: Spelling of Mary K.’s middle name corrected. Thanks to jeff.

Dafydd ab Hugh on the Atlanta Incident with the 92-Year-Old Woman

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:31 pm

Dafydd ab Hugh has an excellent post on the incident in Atlanta in which a 92-year-old woman opened fire on three cops serving a search warrant on her house, and was killed in return gunfire.

Dafydd describes his reaction to a Daniel Weintraub post decrying the raid. Dafydd e-mailed Weintraub some links to my posts, thinking that, perhaps Weintraub didn’t have all the facts.

Daydd says:

Weintraub’s response confirmed what I thought originally: he e-mailed me that, since he opposed the entire drug war and supports legalization, the fact that the cops were serving a lawful search warrant when she opened fire did not change his mind at all: police shouldn’t break through doors (even after identifying themselves as police) to catch drug dealers. If they had to enforce such laws (Weintraub asks), why didn’t they just stake out the residence and arrest him outside?

Dafydd says that these sorts of opinions are why he worries for the future of libertarianism. As to the specifics of the Atlanta raid, Dafydd says:

The points about the shooting that Weintraub’s brief brief missed, which Patterico brought out, are these:

1. The police were attempting to search the premises on the basis of a legitimate search warrant — not the “wrong house” (as early reports claimed);

2. It was the old woman, not the cops, who began shooting;

3. She shot three officers before they returned fire;

4. Bullets fired by a 92 year old are just as deadly as bullets fired by a 22 year old;

5. The police have every legal right, and 95% of Americans would say moral right, to return fire when fired upon.

If you’re going to attack the cops’ actions, you must respond to these points; if not, the natural response of readers who have learnt them is to dismiss you as a crank, which I’m sure was not Weintraub’s intention.

(Emphasis in original.)

Dafydd also has some broader discussions of movement libertarianism in general, unrelated to the Atlanta incident. As is always the case with his posts, it’s well-written and engaging.

I have noticed that it’s easy for many of you to dismiss my comments about the Atlanta case, because I’m a prosecutor. You expect me to be authoritarian, and since most of you don’t read my blog regularly, it’s a convenient (if not quite accurate) stereotype you can use to peg me.

But Dafydd has had bad experiences with police officers. He has seen, with his own eyes, police do irresponsible and overbearing things.

Yet he still feels this way.

So go yap at him for a while, why dontcha.

P.S. Dafydd’s stories about police relate to a discussion over a February 2005 Radley Balko post in which Balko told about a police officer bursting into his house, gun drawn, over a misunderstanding. One wonders whether Balko’s focus on wrong-house police raids started with that incident. Certainly his category on paramilitary police raids begins with a post written several months later.

I’m not critical of that, of course; one’s personal experiences often play a legitimate role in how they see the world. And it does seem to me today (though it didn’t at the time) that the cop in Balko’s story overreacted. But all of this could explain part of why Balko seems to get so emotional about the topic of dynamic entries. Perhaps that emotion is what causes him to fire off so many ill-considered comments in my direction that misstate the facts. I’m guessing that whenever he reads about any search warrant in which the occupant fires back at police, he’s thinking about his own experience, in which he wished he’d owned a gun when the policeman came into his house.

Balko should keep in mind one difference between his own experience and the reported facts of the Atlanta case: the police in Atlanta had a valid warrant, and were, by all accounts, serving that warrant at the proper location. It’s not an insignificant distinction.

Beldar’s Second Post in Two Days — It’s a Good One

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:49 pm

The return of Beldar appears even more certain, as he has done his second post in as many days. Today’s post discusses the ethics of a mom representing her son in a criminal trial — and notes the awful (if comical) things that can go wrong when she does.

Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0766 secs.