For years, the private terror-hunters at the SITE Institute have been infiltrating jihadist chat rooms, and spying on the extremists congregating online. Now, the group its digital cover has been blown — and Al-Qaeda online communications channels have gone dark — thanks to a ham-handed move by the Bush administration, it seems. “Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,” SITE’s Rita Katz told the Washington Post.
More here and here. “To make the accusation that the intelligence community leaked this to the media is totally false,” intelligence office spokesman Ross Feinstein said. I’d never assume the intel community leaked anything. That’s something politicians do.
U.S. military deaths in July of each of the past five years, in Iraq:
July 2003: 48
July 2004: 54
July 2005: 54
July 2006: 43
July 2007: 80
U.S. military deaths in Iraq, this year, with 2006 figures in parens:
January: 83 (62)
February: 81 (55)
March: 81 (31)
April: 104 (76)
May: 126 (69)
June: 101 (61)
July: 80 (43)
So, exactly how is the surge working? Michael O’Hanlon of the “liberal” Brookings Institution said, “I think we have reduced the amount of violence overall.” Um…Maybe he doesn’t understand numbers so good. If you want to say that the violence decreased in July, you may have a point, but the violence always decreases in July in the Mideast – it’s a jillion degrees there, and even psychos with bombs get heat stroke.
Iraqi citizens also had an increase in month-to-month and year-to-year casualties, of approximately 25% in both cases. So, while U.S. military casualties in July went down from June, the Iraqi casualties actually increased. But the surge is working.
* for some values of “working” that can’t be measured
From my local elected representative:
Democrats in Congress are once again attempting to take on the role of Commander in Chief and make the irrational decision to pull out of Iraq without any sort of post-pull out strategy.
This implies that the Republicans made a rational decision to a) invade, b) occupy, c) de-Baathify, d) disband the Iraqi military, e) Everything Else. You can’t bitch about your opponent being irrational if you have no rational response. By the way, why does nobody in the media seem to bring up the 1993 Congressional vote to defund and withdraw from Somalia, as a comparison? We forget even recent history, it seems. The Republicans want to portray the desire to get the heck out of Iraq as something unprecedented, when it is actually very precedented. For that matter, why has Congress completely abdicated its responsibility for declaring war? We haven’t had an actual declared war since 1945, yet we’ve been shooting at other people almost every day since then. Separation of powers? That Constitution sure is a pesky thing.
This photo essay points out a few of the problems I have with the pro-war movement. They trust the central government and they love the flag, and they believe that patriots love war.
The pro-war group equates being anti-war with being anti-soldier. Considering how many soldiers and veterans are anti-war, that seems unlikely. Although we were trained to go to war, no sane person yearns for it. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
The trust of a strong central government goes against the themes we see in the Constitution. You might have heard of the Constitution; it’s what helps define the rights of the citizenry and what powers we, the people, allow the central government to have. If you’ve ever actually read the thing, you may have noticed a strong distrust of elected representatives, and particularly a distrust of a strong executive officer.
And the co-option of the American flag as being a symbol of war and something which no anti-war demonstrator is permitted to hold is just shameful. Not only is it shameful that the pro-war folks believe that the flag is something to hide behind while you kill people, it’s shameful that the anti-war folks don’t have the guts to use the flag themselves. We the people not only have the right but the duty to question our elected representatives. The decisions made in Washington are our decisions, as a country. And when we disagree with those decisions, it is our job to make our employees account for themselves. Those people in DC are not better than us, they are not superior to us, they work for us. When we willingly bow to them and say their decisions cannot be questioned, we invite them to do what they will in all things. When the Iraq War has over 70% disapproval from the citizens of this country, if we didn’t see people calling for a pullout, we’d be telling the people inside the Beltway that they can run roughshod over all the less important opinions as well.
Playing with the geotag feature of Flickr, I came across this strange picture from my old stomping grounds at Fort Ord. This paint can apparently was left behind when the Army pulled out of the post in 1993. The photo was taken 13 years later, and the spill still has the illusion of freshness. Strange as heck.
Originally uploaded by A.p.K..
General Schoomaker says the Army ‘will break’ without more troops. He also wants to use the Guard and Reserves as just more active duty troops. And people wondered why I didn’t join the Reserves when I separated from the Army. Why get out if you’re not getting out?
Contract drivers being killed by insurgents in Iraq. The military escort drove off while the convoy was under fire, leaving at least three cargo trucks to fend for themselves with no weapons or defenses of any kind. The Army says they conducted an investigation, but can’t find the results of that investigation so they have no comment.
Halliburton fired the one surviving driver, because he was injured on the job. That’s company policy.
The Army is mandating Trusted Computing for their new machine purchases. Of course, Trusted Computing only works with Microsoft Vista, which is vapor at this time. And, doesn’t having to trust Microsoft instead of you users imply that you believe the soldiers you have trained are less responsible than a large faceless blameless corporation?
I watch the military system administrators and their contract counterparts struggle with Windows 2000 and XP on a daily basis. Our unclassified computers currently have at least two errors popping up every time we log into them. They also reset the internet homepage and proxy settings seemingly at random. The standard response to almost any error on Windows is, “we don’t know why it’s doing that. Reboot it.” I can just imagine when the SysAds are no longer even capable of doing anything on the machines that Microsoft hasn’t previously approved…We’re doomed.
Exactly why is it that nobody in The Unit wears a uniform while in garrison? Sure, when they’re in the field, they wear a mishmash of military and civilian attire. But, when they’re supposedly doing their homebase training, they hang out in t-shirts and jeans. Yeah, right. Well, there is one guy who stays in BDUs (the Colonel), but he doesn’t wear insignia of any kind, name tapes, patches, nothing.
Some of you may say, “But the US Code says that you can’t wear an accurate uniform.” That is actually not true for actors. Oh, it was true once, but it’s not true now and hasn’t been for years.
Kristol is on the Daily Show. It’s nice to see Jon Stewart actually harassing someone for a change – when he had Bill O’Reilly on, it seemed like he was over solicitious, which the audience didn’t appreciate. C’mon, you got a conservative to come on the Daily Show – hit him!
Anyway, Bill Kristol seems like a thoughtful man, but he kept saying the phrase which drives me crazy when discussing Iraq: Weapons of Mass Destruction. Look, chemical weapons are bad; biological weapons are bad. But neither of those categories are weapons of mass destruction – that would be a nuke or a firebomb or napalm, you know: things which destroy stuff. Chem/Bio weapons are weapons of mass denial or weapons of mass casualties. To keep calling chem and bio WMDs is to make people confuse what Saddam didn’t actually have (but wanted to have again someday soon, admittedly) with the towers falling. It seems so transparent, to make people associate our own domestic mass destruction with Saddam’s regime in every possible way.
OK, rant off.
I recently ordered a Rio Karma, which the nice young Airman at the Security Office said would be just fine to bring into work, so long as I stopped off in his office and got a little orange sticker that said just that first.
So, the marvelous device arrived last night, I put about 8 gigs of music on it, and brought it to work this morning. The civilian leader of the Physical Security Office said he saw no reason it wouldn’t be allowed in. But, just to be careful, he asked a Master Sergeant that works down the hall from him, who said it’s not on his list so I can’t have it.
Well, it has no recording ability, which is prohibited in the building. It has no wireless communications ability, so that’s ok. What’s wrong with it, I ask…
It has a communications port to hook up to a computer, he replies.
How do I know that?
The same way you know that my coworker with the Palm Tungsten E won’t – have me sign a sworn statement and assume I’m not a shit.
Thank you so much for allowing me to waste 180 dollars and thanks for ensuring that everyone is working from the same set of standards. I appreciate all that you do here. Have a great day.
Everyone has prejudices. We all have certain groups of people we don’t like to interact with. My particular bias is against stupid people. Sadly, the association with military personnel affords me too many opportunities to interact with stupid people.
US troops take shots at a vehicle driven by the Italian Secret Service, killing one of the agents that was escorting newly freed journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the airport.
Eason Jordan quit over his comments that suggested anything like this happens over there.
The Democrats introduced an amendment to a bill sponsored by shills for MBNA; the amendment would prevent poor military members from being screwed over by being forced into bankruptcy when they’re deployed and can’t handle their bills properly because they’re being shot at. The Republicans (wrapped in flags at the time, no doubt) shot the amendment down.
Way to support our troops.
Ya know, when I was in the Army, things like this never happened anywhere near me. Nobody ever invites me to these things!
Iran’s Defense Minister says Iran can block any attack by the U.S.
bq. “We are able to say that we have strength such that no country can attack us because they do not have precise information about our military capabilities due to our ability to implement flexible strategies,” the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Shamkhani as saying.
Um, yeah. Right. Heard of satellite imagery?
I love how the SecDef is able to twist things so he sounds like he’s on top of stuff.
bq. I have directed that in the future I sign each letter.
Um, who is he directing? Apparently he needs to tell himself to do things. The voices need to be assuaged somehow.
Realizing that the military (and veterans groups) leans about 70% Republican, you’d think I’d get used to the insane drivel that spews from them on a daily basis.
The offtopic chat room, after ten minutes of lurking, has already managed to annoy the piss out of me this morning. I don’t even know what the context is, but at least three (of eight) members of the room have comisserated about how horrible the New York Times is, that liberal media mouthpiece. I guess they forgot how the Times was used as the unofficial news outlet for every lie told by Ahmed Chalabi about the inevitability of finding WMDs in Iraq, or the various other ways that paper held up the Bush Doctrine of preemptive warfare as a good thing. These are the same people who use Rush Limbaugh the druguser and G. Gordon Liddy the convicted felon as news sources. How can any reasonably intelligent person (all M.I. guys here) actually believe that there is a liberal media, when Fox News is the highest-rated news channel and Air America is struggling to survive amid the Rush and Liddy radio waves?
I don’t like people who mindlessly parrot viewpoints formulated by wiser heads. I don’t like people who can hold such wildly contradictory beliefs to be self-evident as, “Bush is good for the country and he lowered my taxes.” Does anyone think that we can keep going with trillions of dollars in debt, while continuing to dig deeper? Hell, Cuba has told its citizens to stop using dollars. When our money isn’t even any good in that broke-ass country, what does that tell you about our economy?
Karl Rove and friends have done a fantastic job of snookering the American people. Many undecided voters (how can it be a week from Election Day and you be undecided?) are going to vote based on whether they think Dubya or Flippy is the more honest or agrees with their views on gay rights. Who gives a shit what your neighbor does in his bedroom? All I care about is what the impact on my bottom line is from the government. If I notice the inconveniences imposed by a shrinking set of civil liberties, that is a big deal to me. If I notice that my income is shrinking because of the government’s actions, that is a big deal to me. Social issues like abortion and gay rights are not the job of the government anyway, so how the candidate feels about each issue is completely irrelevent. Or it would be irrelevent in a sane world. We live in Bizarroworld.
Some soldiers at Third Brigade Combat Team have been told that they need to reenlist for present duty assignment or go to Iraq which means they’ll get stoplossed and their enlistments will be extended indefinitely anyway. Althought they aren’t literally being told this, it is implied.
bq. “There’s probably a lot of places on post where they could put those folks (who don’t re-enlist) until their time expires. But I don’t want to rule out the possibility that they could go to a unit that might deploy,” said Healy.
So, they just might get sent to Iraq, there’s just no way to be sure. But, hey, we’ve got an offer you can’t refuse. Reenlist for Third Brigade and you won’t have to go to Iraq (so far as we have planned right now). Then, when the global war on terror is over (surely in less than three years, right?), you’ll be free to get out with no more Stop Loss looming.
This Mackubin Thomas Owens article says things very clearly and cogently that the Swift Boat Veterans for Political Gain have missed. If Kerry is proud of his military service, why was he ashamed of it in 1971? If he thinks of his fellow veterans as a band of brothers, why did he call them war criminals in 1971? Was he cravenly attempting to curry favor with the Democratic party and the anti-war groups then, or is he trying to curry favor now? Which position is his true core belief?
Read the article – it’s good.
Come along and join the party.
Come along and have some fun.
We’re the guys from the US Army.
Dropping rounds on everyone.
Throw some candy to the children.
Wait until they gather round.
Lock and load your M-16.
And blow those little suckers down.
Walk up into their school house.
Wait until you hear the bell.
Pull a pin from a grenade
Send those bastards straight to hell.
Around her neck she wore a studded collar
She wore it in the springtime
In the merry month of May!
And if you asked her
Why the heck she wore it,
She wore it for that soldier
Who was into whips and chains.
Whip me beat me
I need love
Smack me in the face
With a stiff white glove
Bash me on the head
With a telephone
That’s the kind of shit
That turns me on.
I wish that all the ladies
Were bells in a tower
And I was the bellboy
I’d bang ’em every hour
I wish that all the ladies
Were pies on a shelf
And I was the baker
I’d eat ’em all myself
I wish that all the ladies
Were holes in a road
And I was the dumptruck
I’d fill ’em with my load
I wish that all the ladies
Were bricks in a pile
And I was the mason
I’d lay ’em all in style.
This has been your politically incorrect interlude for the day.