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January 29, 2004

So that's it!

e-Claire has found out why Sean Penn, Babs Streisand, Martin Sheen, and Wes Clark, et.al., think I should think their opinion on every facet of life, the universe, and everything is more accurate than.... 42. Which it ain't.

Seek help, not office.

I love my blog-pals. I get more from surfing the 'roll than I get from the news!

Of course, I spend too much time at it, too. And I know exactly where their biases lay. No pretendiing to be balanced and fair around here!

Butter her up, she's on a roll!

Jen Martinez is always a good visit - but she's got her gatling's on full speed today.

First, there's the note from the Vietnam Era POW regarding John Kerry.

Then there is the story about the limits of authority (and judgement) of officers.

Then there is the takedown of a commenter who just got on her wrong side.

I don't often find myself in agreement with the editorial board of the NYT

...and I understand the political risks involved, US intelligence has been too dicked up for too long to continue in the old way. And it's going to take outsiders to dig into it.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Sucessive Congresses meddling and hamstringing. Successive Presidents of both parties failing to act decisively with summary bureaucratic executions. The intel community protecting itself by using the fact that any investigation is going to jeopardize sources as a reason to forestall any objective examination of the problem at all.

It's time to poke in the nooks and crannies. And clean it up. And it would be a colossal example of leadership to do so. Mr. Truman was able to recognize that disestablishing the OSS was a bad idea - and he stood up the CIA. Maybe it's time to shake 'em up again. Mr. President - the ability to admit to failure and to fix the problem is a defining characteristic of leadership. Mr. Clinton wasn't up to it. Ms. Reno wasn't up to it - naming two people who 'took responsibility' but took no action.

Mr. President, we're waiting, are you up to it?

New York Times January 29, 2004

George Bush, In Denial


While Tony Blair was cooperating with a British investigation into his handling of the lead-up to the Iraqi invasion, the Bush White House continued to follow its strategy of spin and evade. Because Mr. Blair was compelled to take the risk that objective investigators would find that he had acted honorably and honestly, Britain is now able to move on to the next logical step — finding out why its intelligence was so completely wrong. Americans, however, are still stuck in stage one. President Bush needs to move things forward by starting — or allowing Congress to start — an independent investigation that goes beyond the British inquiry and looks into all aspects of the apparent intelligence failures on Iraq.

Mr. Bush, whose aides had been plotting a war against Iraq practically since Inauguration Day, has dodged questions about why the American intelligence about Iraq was just as wrong as Britain's intelligence. Vice President Dick Cheney continues to make outsized claims about Iraq's prewar weapons programs, and the administration's allies continue to grasp at straws. It was painful yesterday morning to watch John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, trying to drag some positive nuggets from David Kay, the former chief weapons inspector. After Dr. Kay said he had found no evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and concluded that none would be found, Mr. Warner pounced on the idea that Dr. Kay said he had accounted for "only" 85 percent of Iraq's military programs. So that, Mr. Warner said triumphantly, leaves 15 percent. Yes, and in a few months it will be 10 percent, and months after that 5 percent, and the answers will almost certainly be the same: Iraq destroyed its weapons and weapons programs long ago under the pressure of the same United Nations inspectors that Mr. Bush and his aides vilified in the months leading up to the war. American intelligence was wrong in concluding that weapons existed, and that robust programs to develop more were continuing.

Dr. Kay has repeatedly told the administration just that. It has responded by trying to edit the rhetoric. Rather than addressing the alarming failures of American intelligence, Mr. Bush and his aides have gone from talking about weapons to talking about weapons programs, and then, in the State of the Union address, "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities." It is time to stop refining the spin and make a serious attempt to find out where and how American intelligence went wrong. The public also needs to know, as authoritatively as possible, whether the administration made ambiguous intelligence seem certain for political reasons or, worse, whether analysts were pressured to exaggerate their intelligence.

It is easy to understand, tactically, why Mr. Bush is reluctant to do that in an election year. No matter how he and his aides try to change the subject to how tyrannical Saddam Hussein was, it was the presence of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq that Mr. Bush gave as his justification for rushing into a war without real international backing. Dr. Kay said yesterday that he had seen no evidence of politically twisted intelligence reporting before the war. But he put it well when he said that "it's important to acknowledge failure." Only an independent panel can be trusted at this point to find out what went wrong in Iraq and give the public some hope that another big intelligence failure can be prevented in the future.

From the LA Times.

It looks like OEF may start figuring more prominently in the news.

U.S. Troops Gear Up For Bin Laden

Spring operation will aim to capture or kill Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters leaving winter bivouacs in Pakistani border region.

By Josh Meyer and John Hendren, Times Staff Writers. Times staff writer Paul Richter contributed to this report.


WASHINGTON — Determined to capture or kill Osama bin Laden after two years of fruitless searching, U.S. troops are mustering for a spring offensive along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, Defense Department and other officials said Wednesday. The new operation comes as the Bush administration debates whether to press Pakistan harder to allow the U.S. to take the fight into its territory.

Fruitless in that we haven't landed Bin Laden or produced his corpse, perhaps. In terms of capturing bad guys, blowing up materiel, and gathering intel and refining our techniques for gathering it... not fruitless.


Two administration officials said some senior Pentagon officials were pushing for an aggressive hunt for Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, while some officials at the State Department and in the National Security Council argued that Musharraf's already fragile regime, under growing pressure from Islamic hard-liners, would be further destabilized if he allowed foreign troops to operate on Pakistani soil.

Musharraf survived two assassination attempts in recent weeks and has said he suspected the Al Qaeda terrorist network was behind the attacks. As fundamentalist factions continue to gain support in Pakistan, Bush administration officials fear another attempt or a coup could lead to a new regime more hostile to American interests and more supportive of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

This looks like another area where we can debate military approaches or police approaches. The Paks have been trying police. Mebbe it's time to shift. Simple reality is, the Pak government doesn't rule all of Pakistan. A good chunk of the province of Waziristan is more akin to the Wild Wild West before the arrival of the Army than it is an integrated member of the polity.

U.S. officials stressed Wednesday that no military operations would be carried out inside Pakistan without Musharraf's approval. At a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week, the Pakistani president ruled out such operations.

"No sir, that is not a possibility at all. It's a very sensitive issue," Musharraf said when asked if he would consider allowing U.S. troops to search for Bin Laden in Pakistan. "There is no room for any foreign elements coming and assisting us, we don't need any assistance."

One U.S. official said Pakistan was by far the most important country in the U.S. effort to find Bin Laden and several top aides.

"In our list of the top 10 countries who can help us in this," the official said, "eight of them are Pakistan."

All of which points out the very fragile nature of our ally. I don't know the answer - but we'd better play it right, 'cuz there's nukes in them thar hills.

Officials said Wednesday that the capture in December of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had freed resources to press the hunt for Bin Laden and his fighters.

"There's an obvious ability now to refocus human assets on a far grander scale," the U.S. official said. "It's logical that the hunter-killer types would now be turned loose to deal with this more aggressively."

Let's hope they can do the job. We're getting better at it.

I can relate...

...not that I commanded at the aircraft carrier (06) level.

But I can relate from moving from command to a cubicle.

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Heck, I moved from a cubicle to working in a run-down tourist trap with outdoor plumbing and a zoo. Where I had to feed the animals. And this is on a stateside military installation, Fort Sam Houston, not some dreary overseas location.

That's when you realize you are Never, Ever, going to be a General.


Hat tip to Robin G.

UPDATE: I've discovered these can be had online, so I better credit 'em, eh?

Jeff Bacon at Military.com

Here's something I missed.

Forwarded to me by my mole in the Canadian Forces, CAPT H:

The Deputy Commanding General, III (US) Corps and Fort Hood.

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Here's a Canadian Brigadier who found himself a home with a Corps as big as his Army. That's one way to get your senior guys some experience they can't get at home.

Cool. Can I get a job with the Canadians, out at NAMAO in Edmonton, mebbe? I like the cold and snow, and I'd just be a sim geek in the big hangar they use for their sim-driven exercises.

When I was a simulations geek developing entity-level training simulations at the National Simulation Center I worked for Australian exchange officers. I almost got to go be the US exchange officer in Sydney, but career timings killed that, dang it! That was back when the Aussie army still had a headquarters overlooking Sydney harbor, before it moved to Puckapunyal, the Ozzie environmental equivalent of moving from the Presidio of San Francisco to Fort Irwin, Ca.

Memo to SGT Hook

Make sure your GIFs (Guys In Front) can fly like these guys.

This was one of the 4/3rd ACR birds shot up a week ago.

Apache takes a licking and brings the boys home. Neither pilot was hurt and they made a successful, if stressful, landing. Note the pilot's canopy blown out!

Don't you know his ears were ringing??? And enquiring minds want to know what was up the the ALQ-144? Note: the rotors have been removed prior to shipping this aircraft back to the states for repair. The Apache is good - but not that good!

Hat tip to Mike L.

January 28, 2004

Okay, let's do some math.

Here's a nice little picture and caption I got from the Democratic Underground via the Bejus Pundit who braves the depths.

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500 pairs of Army boots stand empty in Federal Plaza to symbolize war dead---Bush lied, our Soldiers die!

Okay. Bush lied. Hmmm. I can't accept that premise. Based on the stuff coming out this last week from David Kay and the Hutton report in England, I can accept that the President took poor intelligence and read into it what he wanted to read into it - but didn't knowingly lie. Bad intelligence shared by Britain, France, Germany, and others. The administration may have chosen to interpret the poor intelligence to fit their prejudices, but examples of that are legion, starting with the Clinton Administration and moving back. The test of the President is: Will he do something about it? The test of Congress is: Will they let him - or will they hobble his efforts as previous Congresses hobbled the intelligence community?

One thing is certain. The intel community cannot be relied upon to fix themselves. And when will someone get the bureaucratic equivalent of a summary execution by either being fired or resigning over these failures to adapt? Anyone? Anyone?

The other current that underlies the DU'ers and the picture above is mirrored in this little gem:

Rights Group Disputes Iraq War Claim

By Michael McDonough, Associated Press

LONDON, Jan. 26 -- The war in Iraq should not be justified as a defense of human rights even though it brought down a brutal government, Human Rights Watch said Monday, dismissing one of the Bush administration's main arguments for the invasion.

While ousted president Saddam Hussein had an atrocious human rights record and life has improved for Iraqis since his removal, his worst actions occurred long before the war, the advocacy group said in its annual report. It said there was no ongoing or imminent mass killing in Iraq when the conflict began.

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair cited the threat from Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction as their primary reason for attacking Iraq. But both leaders have also highlighted the brutality of the Hussein era when justifying military intervention.

Human Rights Watch rejected such claims.

"The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair," said Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director.

Atrocities such as the mass killing of Kurds would have justified humanitarian intervention, Roth said.

"But such interventions should be reserved for stopping an imminent or ongoing slaughter," he said. "They shouldn't be used belatedly to address atrocities that were ignored in the past."

By this logic, if the germans had dismantled the extermination camps before we and the Russians overran them... they should have gotten a pass. And we probably would have been criticized for invading. Hmmmm.

The group's 407-page World Report 2004 also said the U.S. government was applying "war rules" to the struggle against global terrorism and denying suspects their rights. It suggested that "police rules" of law enforcement should be applied in such cases instead.

"In times of war you can detain someone summarily until the end of the war and you can shoot to kill. And those are two powers that the Bush administration wants to have globally," Roth said. "I think that's very dangerous."

Human Rights Watch criticized the United States for detaining 660 "enemy combatants" without charges at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Most of the detainees were captured in Afghanistan.

Well, number one, the police approach hadn't been terribly effective in the 10 years previous. The body count just kept climbing and the attacks more spectacular. Strikes me the war approach works.

Number Two - progress! Human Rights Watch just admitted that what we are doing in Guantanamo is legal. To wit, Human Rights Watch agrees:

"In times of war you can detain someone summarily until the end of the war and you can shoot to kill. And those are two powers that the Bush administration wants to have globally," Roth said. "I think that's very dangerous."

Human Rights Watch says we can do what we are doing at Camp X-Ray. Thanks, guys. WE say it's a war. You may quibble with that, but that is how we are portraying our actions and you just agreed we can do what we are doing. It would be nice if the President would ask Congress for a Declaration of War, just to tidy that little bit up - but there is plenty of precedent that the current resolutions authorizing the President to use force fulfill that legal nicety.

So, shut up on that issue please. You just took away that prop.

Back to the boots... against your 500 pairs of boots I put:

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Hmmm. Looks a little familiar, doesn't it? And who do we see helping with this? GIs. Blow me, DU. Can anyone find an example of any horrible thing that Human Rights Watch has prevented? Or, failing that, helped clean up? Anything other than be a scold?

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Send Blackfive after 'em! Better yet - send Bejus and Blackfive!

From a fellow Blogs for Bush member Lisa of Right Voices, comes this link:

Saddam Bribed Chirac.

I don't know anything about the Interest Alert website - but we can sure have fun with this one if it turns out to be true!

As Sandy sez in her comment to the post: "Hey Lucy...u got some 'plainin' to do"

New gun p0rn.

Next up for your viewing pleasure is Friedrich Langenhan’s masterpiece*, the “Langenhan Army Model.”

This is a simple blowback-operated semi-auto chambered for the 7.65mm Auto pistol cartridge. It has a four inch barrel and a magazine capacity of 8 rounds. As you can see from the photos (behind the curtain, in the extended post), the barrel is not where we are used to seeing it. The recoil spring lays above the barrel, opposite most semi-auto pistols with which we are familiar. This layout is driven by the way Langenhan handled the breech of his weapon. I don’t know if he used this approach to avoid patent issues, or to simplify some aspects of production (though certainly not the overall complexity).

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by John on Jan 28, 2004 | Pistols

January 27, 2004

Now I wish I'd never left San Antonio

Because I sure as hell would have crashed this party!

And helped hunt the Texas Bowling Pin in the wild!

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by John on Jan 27, 2004 | Gun Rights

A dip of the Colors to Her Majesty's Forces of the Great White North.

Suicide Bomber Kills Canadian Soldier

By Times Wire Reports

A suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed one Canadian soldier and wounded three others, officials said. Nine civilians were hurt.

Ali Jan Askaryar, head of police in the western district of Kabul, where the blast occurred, said the Canadians were part of a three-vehicle patrol and "a terrorist jumped on one of the vehicles and blew himself up."

As I have taken pains to do in the past - Operation Enduring Freedom (Operation Athena for Canada) has been overshadowed in the US media by OIF, and based on the casualty rate, personnel involved, etc, well it should.

Nonetheless, we should note that Canada is doing a 'stand-to' with us in Afghanistan, and has suffered casualties in so doing.

The latest being:

Dead:
Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, 26, Conception Harbour, Nfld.

Wounded:
Lt. Jason Matthew Feyko, 30, Peterborough, Ont.
Cpl. Richard Michael Newman, 23, Burnt Island, Nfld.
Cpl, Jeremy Gerald MacDonald, 28, Hartland, N.B.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! where we dance In Memoriam.

This sounds ominous. Anyone got any good intel?

Tacoma News Tribune January 27, 2004

Platoon Detects Radiation On Four Trucks

By Michael Gilbert, The News Tribune

The Stryker brigade's nuclear, chemical and biological reconnaissance platoon detected high levels of radiation on four trucks attempting to cross the Iraq-Turkey border, officials said Monday.

The trucks emitted radiation signatures of more than 100 centigrade per hour, which could be dangerous depending on how the measurement was taken.

Brigade officials said the platoon, from the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, was sent to the Habur Gate border crossing Monday after Turkish authorities called for U.S. military assistance. Officials said they had no information about why the Turks were suspicious of the vehicles.

Anybody have any experience in this arena? I know that scrapyards routinely come up with hotspots, many times from scrapping old medical equipment, so this could be as innocent as that - except that the Turks thought something was up with 'em.

Well, this will go one of three ways.

1. This is the end of the story.

2. It leads to something big and we score a coup.

3. Something BAD happens, and this little bit of info becomes obvious after the fact.

The trucks were quarantined on the Iraqi side of the border, brigade officials said. The platoon also was inspecting other vehicles and a nearby scrap metal yard, they said.

A team from Iraq Survey Group, the Pentagon organization searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction, was expected to arrive at the scene in the next day or so, officials said.

Dave Kopel on looming gun rights stuff.

Go take a gander at what Dave Kopel has to say in his piece on NRO today.

Some good stuff in there, especially for us haters of the "Some Guns Are Ugly" ban. Gotta keep an eye on the ball folks, and pressure on the right people, which includes this President.

by John on Jan 27, 2004 | Gun Rights

This Day in History

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Today in 1967, NASA tested it's metal. Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in flames (every pilot's nightmare) in the capsule fire during the checkout of the Apollo 1 spacecraft. 10 missions later, Neil Armstrong stepped from the LEM to the Moon. Yes, doubters. I believe that, too.

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Click on the picture for the list of casualties of the US Space Program.

Today was a rough day in history...

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Today, in 1945, the Red Army liberated Konzentrationslager Auschwitz, near Oswiecim, Poland. Hat tip to the Nazis for being able to create something so despicable that it made liberation by the Red Army a Good Thing. Nie Wieder!

Any Holocaust Deniers, don't bother - I'll just delete the comment. I've seen the camps, the documents, the artifacts. I believe. And I don't believe the Allies were capable of creating a myth whole cloth like that. Just don't waste your time, move on. Any Holocaust Celebrators - leave any traceable data and I'll forward it to the Mossad. Of course, in my experience, most people like that don't have the courage of their convictions.

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UPDATE: DC over at Brainstorming has some more thoughts on the subject. Of course, this begs a philosophical question... is it wrong to trackback to a post that trackbacks to this post? Will the world implode due to the 'do loop' thus created...?

January 26, 2004

More pics of the DHL cargo plane.

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Some old pictures, some new ones. More on the damage, and pictures of the landing, as well.

Get your shot-up plane fix here.

It's a Powerpoint Show, so you'll need Powerpoint or the viewer.

First Fleet Day

Welcome to all my visitors "coming from a land Down Under" on First Fleet Day. There have been 362 of you so far this month. Well, visits. Could be that I've got just one really obsessive visitor with multiple IPs...

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Chronology of the First Fleet: Reference: from Mollie Gillen, p. 536

1776 The American War of Independence begins. The former American colonies refuse to accept British convicts.

I'd say "Sorry," guys, since you could have been Americans otherwise... except I think that would get my butt kicked!

1781-2 Two attemps to establish a convict colony in west Africa end in disaster with most of the convicts dying from disease and privation or escaping.

1783 August Peace with America prompts the despatch of the Swift transport. The convicts mutiny in the Channel and many escape at Rye, Sussex. The remainder are sent on to Maryland.

1784 March The Mercury sails for America with 179 convicts. A mutiny again takes place and many escape at Torbay, Devon. Those remaining on board are sent on to America and eventually landed on the Mosquito Coast in Central America after being rejected by the newly independent United States.

Hmmm. I see a pattern here. No wonder the elites of Great Britain get grumpy with us Colonials. We.Just.Don't.Do.As.We're.Told! Of course, our own elites are getting grumpy about that too, eh?

1786 August 18 Lord Sydney writes to the Treasury requesting the provision of ships to carry convicts to New South Wales.

1787 January 6 The first group of convicts are embarked on Alexander at Woolwich, London.

May 13 First Fleet sails from Portsmouth, Hampshire.

June 3 Arrival at Madeira. Water and fresh supplies taken on board.

July 14 Fleet crosses equator.

August 6 Arrival at Rio de Janiero. Fleet undergoes repairs, takes on fresh water and supplies.

September 4 Fleet departs Rio.

October 14 Arrival at Cape of Good Hope. Fresh supplies and livestock taken on board.

November 12 Departure from the Cape. (Table Bay)

November 25 Captain Phillip divides the Fleet and sails ahead with the four fastest ships.

1788 January 3 Coast of Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) sighted.

Jan 18/19 The first division of the Fleet anchors at Botany Bay.

January 20 The remainder of the Fleet arrives.

January 26 All Fleet ships anchor in Sydney Cove, Port Jackson. Captain Phillip and officers go ashore, raise the flag and toast the new colony.

I suppose I should feature a Lithgow product today...

When it opened in 1912, the Lithgow Small Arms rifle factory was the most advanced industrial plant in Australia. No other factory, Government or private, had the capability or the need to produce large quantities of interacting metal parts to the exacting standards necessary for the chosen rifle – the British .303-inch, Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield. Not only had the parts of the rifle to be accurately made, but that same standard had to be maintained consistently over the projected life of the rifle design. Furthermore, it was required that any random combination of parts could be assembled into a satisfactory weapon and that all Australian-made parts would be interchangeable with parts made overseas. These requirements were beyond any Australian manufacturer prior to 1912.

January 25, 2004

Next gun in the hopper.

Is an obscure little german automatic from WWI.

by John on Jan 25, 2004 | Pistols
» Mind of Mog links with: More Linky Love

Like I said below, for some more than others... the ghosts drop in to check on you.

Some wonder, why, so many thought 'We were Soldiers' was a good
movie...well I guess you must
get drunk to understand a hangover....


MIDNIGHT MOVIE

A quiet night in the barracks,
around midnight he starts it again,
he's yelling about some damned ambush,
and calling some Viet woman's name.

He always yells out he's sorry,
so sorry for all of the pain,
but every night around midnight;
he kills her all over again.

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