Patterico's Pontifications


Questions about Trump’s Account of Iran Attack

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 8:32 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Trump’s Account Of Iran Attack Plan Facing Scrutiny:

Early in the day, the president said he called off the attack at the last minute because it would have killed 150 people in retaliation for the downing of the drone. “We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die,” he tweeted.

But administration officials said Trump was told earlier Thursday how many casualties could occur if a strike on Iran were carried out and that he had given the green light that morning to prepare the operation.

Related: Trump: Iran ‘very wise’ not to shoot down manned plane:

President Trump said Saturday Iran was “very wise” not to shoot down a manned plane when it decided to down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone.

“There was a plane with 38 people yesterday, did you see that? I think that’s a big story. They had it in their sights and they didn’t shoot it down. I think they were very wise not to do that. And we appreciate that they didn’t do that. I think that was a very wise decision,” Trump told reporters Saturday.



LAW & CRIME: The Julian Assange Superseding Indictment

Filed under: Crime,Law,War — DRJ @ 3:12 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Law & Crime: Top Legal Takeaways on the Implications of the Julian Assange Superseding Indictment

Conversation and commentary immediately centered on the First Amendment implications of the charges. Since it is true that there has “never previously been a successful prosecution of a third party (as opposed to the leaker)” under the Espionage Act, the case is shaping up to be a “major test case of whether the First Amendment protects the right to publish,” University of Texas Law Prof. Steve Vladeck explained.

As Vladeck noted, the issue here–and this is why there are plenty of journalists sounding the alarm–is that the Espionage Act “doesn’t distinguish between what Assange allegedly did and what mainstream outlets sometimes do, even if the underlying facts/motives are radically different.”
National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss told Law&Crime that if the DOJ actually prosecutes Assange and gets a conviction the chilling effect on media outlets will be very real.



Choosing to Lose in Iraq [updated with image]

Filed under: General,Obama,War — JVW @ 9:19 am

[guest post by JVW]

Today’s New York Times — that beacon of right-wing propaganda — carries an article telling us that the Obama Administration declined the Iraqi government’s request for support in combatting insurgents with airstrikes prior to Tuesday”s capture of Mosul. Why would we refuse to help a putative ally? According to the Times, it is simply because we do not want to get more heavily involved in a conflict that “President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces. . . in 2011.”

In other words, Obama’s wishful thinking and political calculations are allowed to override the safety and protection of the Iraqi people and the hard fought gains made by U.S. forces during the surge of 2007-08. How spooked is the Obama brain trust about angering its left flank by continuing to be involved in Iraq? President Drone Strike has even ruled out his favorite method of engagement with the enemy:

The Obama administration has carried out drone strikes against militants in Yemen and Pakistan, where it fears terrorists have been hatching plans to attack the United States. But despite the fact that Sunni militants have been making steady advances and may be carving out new havens from which they could carry out attacks against the West, administration spokesmen have insisted that the United States is not actively considering using warplanes or armed drones to strike them.

It’s one thing to decide that military re-engagement in Iraq is not worthwhile, but why on earth would we be announcing that fact to friend and foe alike? I get the administration having a quiet, unspoken policy that we are done in Iraq and I can understand the need to let Prime Minister al-Maliki know this, but the only possible reason I can think of announcing it to the public at large is to let the anti-war left know that you are still under their thumb so that they do not stage demonstrations against you right at the moment when everything else your administration has touched is turning to poo.

Joe Lieberman had it absolutely right almost six years ago.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker at Powerline created this great image and has invited everyone to share it.




Wikileaks Documents Indicate Pakistan Supports the Taliban (Updated)

Filed under: International,War — DRJ @ 5:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

According to the New York Times:

“The documents, made available by an organization called WikiLeaks, suggest that Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.”

This is one reason why many experts think America can never win in Afghanistan, but I doubt the New York Times would have published this without the knowledge or even the approval of the Obama Administration — so this may signal the government/military is finally willing to do something about Pakistan.


UPDATE: The White House condemned the release of documents by Wikileaks.


WaPo to Publish Leaked National Intelligence Information?

Filed under: Media Bias,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 2:00 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Quin Hillyer at the Washington Times passes along a notice from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that the Washington Post plans to publish a “compendium of government agencies and contractors allegedly conducting Top Secret work,” including the type of work performed and the location of facilities. The publication may be a series of reports beginning Monday.



RNC Chairman Steele: Afghanistan Can’t Be Won

Filed under: Politics,War — DRJ @ 2:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will spend the Independence Day weekend doing damage control because of this statement:

“Steele was fending off calls for his resignation from conservative commentators for his comment that the Afghanistan war was not a conflict the United States wanted to engage in. Steele at a Thursday fundraiser questioned why President Barack Obama did not understand that “one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan.”

MOREAllahpundit has more of the quote:

“Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in,” he said. “But it was the president who was trying to be cute by half by building a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?”

Time for a poll:

[Note: I moved the poll beneath the “MORE” prompt because loading is slowing down the website.]



Israeli Attack on Iran may be Imminent (Updated)

Filed under: International,War — DRJ @ 7:21 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There are reports Israel is preparing to attack Iran:

“Iran’s Fars News Agency said the Israeli military aircraft landed 10 days ago at the Saudi base near the city of Tabuk, located in northwest Saudi Arabia, one of the closest areas in the oil kingdom to Iran.

Fars said that the Tabuk base will be the central station for an Israeli attack on Iran. It quoted an Islamic news site that a commercial airline passenger said the airport in Tabuk was closed to all other traffic during the alleged Israeli landings. The passenger said that “no reasonable explanation” was given for shutting down the airport and those passengers were compensated financially and booked in four-star hotels.

“The relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel have become the talk of the town,” the passenger added. The chief authority in Tabuk, Prince Fahd ben Sultan, was reported be coordinating the cooperation with Israel.

Iran’s government-funded Press TV reported that the Revolutionary Guards began closely patrolling the Islamic Republic’s northwestern border after noticing the American forces, which Iran claimed also included Israeli troops. Azerbaijan’s independent Trend news site also reported on Wednesday that American armed forces are in the country, which is in an armed conflict with rebels.

Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Mehdi Moini said Tuesday that his forces are mobilized “due to the presence of American and Israeli forces on the western border.” The Guards reportedly have called in tanks and anti-aircraft units to the area in what amounts to a war alert.”

I didn’t think the U.S. was sending 12 warships including the Eisenhower and the Truman to the Middle East just to deal with the Gaza Flotilla.

Thanks to aunursa.


UPDATE— CIA Director Leon Panetta today on ABC’s This Week:

“CIA Director Leon Panetta says Iran probably has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons, but that it likely would take two years to build the bombs.

Panetta also says he is doubtful that recent U.N. penalties will put an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

A lot seems to be coming together at the same time and all of it is focused at Iran.

McChrystal’s Big Mistake

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 4:41 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Via Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion, The Independent reports President Obama didn’t sack General Stanley McChrystal solely because of the Rolling Stone article. McChrystal was replaced because things are going badly in Afghanistan and may damage Obama’s re-election chances.

If it’s “off-message” to lose a war, then everything really is political to this Administration.

It’s also interesting how the negative Obama news is coming from foreign news organizations, including left-leaning organizations like The Independent. Maybe the American reporters are too busy reorganizing Journolist.



AWOL Afghans Found?

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 6:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 17 Afghans who had gone AWOL from a Texas air force base have almost been located with help from Facebook. Rusty at the JAWA Report has good news and bad news:

“Heh. Some of them seemed to have skipped town to live the MTV version of the American dream … in Canada.

Others? Not so much.”

Read the rest.


Turning Things Around in Afghanistan

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 5:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Michael Yon is pleased to see General Petraeus take command in Afghanistan:

“Yon often writes about his private email communications with the former Iraq commander, the most recent of which was to congratulate him on being nominated to command Nato forces in Afghanistan. Afterwards, he posted this on his Facebook page to his 35,182 fans, many of whom serve in the US military:

Just got a nice response from General Petraeus.

This is going to be a long, long journey for the troops, for the General, and for me. Let’s turn this around!”

Will Yon be embedding now that McChrystal is out and Petraeus is in? It wounds sounds like it.

Speaking of changes, Petraeus may already be considering changes to the Afghanistan Rules of Engagement:

“Gen. David Petraeus is expected to modify the controversial rules of engagement aimed at preventing civilian casualties when he takes over as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Fox News Channel reported Friday, citing a military source close to Petraeus.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who resigned this week after his disparaging comments about Obama administration officials were revealed in a Rolling Stone article, implemented strict guidelines that restricted the use of air power and heavy weaponry in populated areas.

Figures suggest civilian casualties have declined since the guidelines went into effect, but troops on the ground and some military commanders have said the rules have handicapped military efforts, according to Fox News Channel.”

This may be more wishful thinking than definite, but some tweaking is to be expected when a new commander takes charge. Nevertheless, there is more support for changes to the ROE among the American military than the Afghan leadership. So will Petraeus opt for a middle ground, more of the same, or a new way?


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