Saturday, December 17, 2005

Defining Victory ... Down

Bush, on TV, Says Iraq Vote Won't End Violence
President Bush acknowledged that the elections in Iraq were "not going to stop violence" there, and that "we're behind" on the training of capable Iraqi police forces.

"I think if we have a policy of zero violence, it won't be met," Mr. Bush said in the PBS interview.

Asked if defining victory in terms that allowed violence to continue was an unusual definition of winning wars, he answered, "Yes."

"The elections won't say, O.K., the security situation has, you know, changed dramatically, because there are still people out there that are going to try to affect the political outcome, the political debate, with violence," he said.

"More Iraqis are in the lead on operations, more territory is controlled by the Iraqis," he said. "However, as General Casey said, we're behind when it comes to training the police forces, and one of the real challenges is to make sure that the police force does not become a haven for militia" controlled by political parties. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. of the Army is the American commander in Iraq.

"I think if we have a policy of zero violence, it won't be met," Mr. Bush said in the PBS interview.

Asked if defining victory in terms that allowed violence to continue was an unusual definition of winning wars, he answered, "Yes."

Published: December 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - The Fourth Infantry Division returns to Iraq next month for a complex, yearlong tour that illustrates the risks and goals of the American military's postelection mission across Iraq.

The more than 20,000 troops in the division, about 15 percent of the 138,000-strong American commitment scheduled to remain in Iraq at least through the early part of the year, will be responsible for security across a swath of central and south-central Iraq that is much larger than previous commands have tried to cover there.
So remember … War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength…


The expanded mission includes more than a hope, but a requirement, that Iraqi security forces take over the security mission in larger areas of their own country. The planning is also driven by a cold reality that many of the allied troops - including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy and possibly even Poland - seem likely to leave Iraq over coming months.

So, like American troops all across Iraq, the Fourth Infantry Division, from its headquarters in Baghdad, will have no choice but to rely on increasing numbers of Iraqi troops, testing as never before the American and Iraqi forces - and the new government to be assembled after Thursday's vote.

The Americans are planning to turn over bases to Iraqis, and more significantly plan to turn over a much larger share of the battle space to Iraqis, with the goal to minimize a visible American presence that alienates many Iraqis and provides a target for the insurgency. When possible, the American military will remain in a stand-back role, available to rush in if Iraqi forces need assistance.

American commanders make it no secret that the coming Iraqi government, with its sovereign stature and a full, four-year tenure, means they will be operating in new political terrain. Mounting pressures in the United States - and a new Iraqi government all but certain to assert its authority in coming months - will require that the American military demonstrate some kind of success and then withdraw as many troops as quickly and as safely as possible.

The goal is to make Iraqi patrols the norm, with stability no longer dependent on the large foreign force that has so constantly enraged Iraqis. That goal has become every bit as important as quelling the insurgency, if not more so. The new mission for the Fourth Infantry Division is planned around that new goal.

"It is very much a laboratory for the overall mission, linked not just to the development of the Iraqi armed forces but to efforts to make the special security forces act like national police forces," and not loyal only to local religious or ethnic leaders, said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"How much of the battle space can the Iraqi forces take over, and who is actually doing the fighting - those are the key measurements," Mr. Cordesman said.

"The measure cannot be the elimination of the insurgency, as desirable as that would be," he said. "You cannot eliminate all of the bombings."

In a strong indication of the tenor of the coming months, several of the incoming commanders are also returning veterans of the Iraq mission, and come from a school of thought that balances both the rebuilding of Iraq's economy and civil institutions and the contest of arms against the insurgents.

Still, the American reliance on overwhelming firepower will remain central.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Radical Militant Librarians Kick FBI Around?

"While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. "This should be an OIPR priority!!!"

“Publicly, the debate over the law known as the USA Patriot Act has focused on concerns from civil rights advocates that the F.B.I. has gained too much power to use expanded investigative tools to go on what could amount to fishing expeditions.

But the newly disclosed e-mail messages offer a competing view, showing that, privately, some F.B.I. agents have felt hamstrung by their inability to get approval for using new powers under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

One internal F.B.I. message, sent in October 2003, criticized the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Justice Department, which reviews and approves terrorist warrants, as regularly blocking requests from the F.B.I. to use a section of the antiterrorism law that gave the bureau broader authority to demand records from institutions like banks, Internet providers and libraries.

"While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. "This should be an OIPR priority!!!"

The bureau turned the e-mail messages over to the Electronic Privacy Information Center as part of a lawsuit brought by the group under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking material on the F.B.I.'s use of anti-terrorism powers. The group provided the material to The New York Times.

As part of the lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a federal court has ordered the F.B.I. to turn over 1,500 pages of material to the privacy information group every two weeks.

An earlier collection of F.B.I. documents, released by the group in October, showed numerous violations of internal procedure and sometimes federal law by the bureau in its handling of surveillance and investigative matters. In some cases, for instance, agents had extended surveillance operations and investigations for months without getting required approval from supervisors.

In the most recent batch of material, an F.B.I. memorandum sent in March 2004 said the process for getting the Justice Department to improve demands for business records would be "greatly improved" because of a change in procedure allowing the bureau to "bypass" the department's intelligence office, which normally reviews all such requests.

But officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. said they were unaware of any such change in procedure and that all bureau requests for business record were still reviewed and approved by the Justice Department.

A separate e-mail message, sent in May 2004 with the subject header "Miracles," mockingly celebrated the fact that the Justice Department had approved an F.B.I. request for records under the so-called library provision.

"We got our first business record order signed today!" the message said. "It only took two and a half years."

In its latest public accounting of its use of the library provision, which falls under Section 215 of the antiterrorism law, the Justice Department said in April that it had used the law 35 times since late 2003 to gain access to information on apartment leasing, driver's licenses, financial records and other data in intelligence investigations. ”

Here's a theory…

The FBI isn't being denied access to what they want because of bureaucratic timidity, but because as our unofficial secret police they've got a demonstrable tendency to demonize political dissenters while ignoring evidence of actual crimes.

I'll bet the loudest complainanta are the very people who saw no significance in a bunch of Saudi's, Egyptians, and Morrocans in flight schools, who disciplined the whistleblowers who pointed out lax security and conflict of interest in the FBI's analysis division. The people who think they know who the dangerous people are, the evidence be “damned.”

So here's a few kudos to the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, for not “embarrassing” the bureau and applying restraint to a law that goes too far.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What We Did Not Hear

“We did not hear that the war in Iraq, already one of the costliest wars in American history, is a running sore. We did not hear that it has taken more than 2,000 precious American lives and countless - because we do not count them - Iraqi civilian lives. We did not hear that the struggle has dragged on longer than our involvement in either World War I or the Spanish-American War, or that by next spring it will be even longer than the Korean War.

And we did not hear how or when the president plans to bring our forces back home - no facts, no numbers on America troop withdrawals, no dates, no reference to our dwindling coalition, no reversal of his disdain for the United Nations, whose help he still expects.…

Each month that America continues its occupation facilitates Al Qaeda's recruitment of young Islamic men and women as suicide bombers, the one weapon against which our open society has no sure defense. The president says we should support our troops by staying the course; but who is truly willing to support our troops by bringing them safely home?

The responsibility for devising an exit plan rests primarily not with the war's opponents, but with the president who hastily launched a pre-emptive invasion without enough troops to secure Iraq's borders and arsenals, without enough armor to protect our forces, without enough allied support and without adequate plans for either a secure occupation or a timely exit.”

Responsibility? There is no one more irresponsible than someone who can never admit a mistake.

Here's an apt cliché.

When you see light at the end of the tunnel, make sure you're not standing on rails.

Furthermore …

When you're heading the wrong way, turn around.

When you're in a hole, stop digging.

If you're going to make people disappear, or redefine torture to not include whatever abuse you're currently using. If you manipulate the press at home and abroad, then don't claim to be promoting ‘democracy.’

What Would J.F.K. Have Done?
con·cept: December 2005