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Thursday, March 31, 2005

First Medal of Honor in 12 Years

Valor in Iraq earns Medal of Honor

Via USA Today

Written by Deborah Sharp
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith of Tampa left his wife and two children to go to the war in Iraq. At 33, he came to think of the soldiers he led as his "boys." Many were younger than him by a decade or more.

Smith wrote to his family that he was prepared to give everything he had to make sure "all my boys make it home." In a battle near the airport in Baghdad two years ago, he kept that promise. But in doing so he died, the only member of his platoon lost that day, April 4, 2003.

At a White House ceremony Monday, exactly two years after his death, Smith's family will receive his Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for battlefield valor. It's a rare honor.

More than 1 million U.S. men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, but Smith is the first to receive the Medal of Honor. It will be the first such medal issued in 12 years, when two soldiers were given it posthumously for actions in Somalia in 1993. Their battle was recounted in the book and film Black Hawk Down.

More than 42 million Americans have served in U.S. wars, but only 3,459 Medals of Honor have been awarded since the Civil War.

Full Story

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rumsfeld on NPR

From the inbox:
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Steve Inskeep
Tuesday, March 29, 2005

NPR: I want to start, Mr. Secretary, with something you said recently. You were at a meeting with troops, taking questions from troops. You talked about measuring progress in Iraq. Metrics as you called them, that were important to you. And you said what you measure improves.

How are some ways that you are measuring progress in defeating insurgents in Iraq?

RUMSFELD: Well, we've got literally dozens of ways we do it. We have a room here, the Iraq Room where we track a whole series of metrics. Some of them are inputs and some of them are outputs, results, and obviously the inputs are easier to do and less important, and the outputs are vastly more important and more difficult to do.

We track, for example, the numbers of attacks by area. We track the types of attacks by area. And what we're seeing, for example, and one metric is presented graphically and it shows that we had spiked up during the sovereignty pass to the Iraqi people and spiked up again during the election, and are now back down to the pre-sovereignty levels which are considerably lower.

NPR: Fifty-some attacks a day or something like that?

RUMSFELD: I don't know what the number is, I don't have it in front of me. But we track a number of reports of intimidation, attempts at intimidation or assassination of government officials, for example. We track the extent to which people are supplying intelligence to our people so that they can go in and actually track down and capture or kill insurgents. We try to desegregate the people we've captured and look at what they are. Are they foreign fighters, Jihadist types? Are they criminals who were paid money to go do something like that? Are they former regime elements, Ba'athists? And we try to keep track of what those numbers are in terms of detainees and people that are processed in that way.

So there are a lot of different ways to do it. What you aren't able to do is keep track of how many there are. The reason for that is they don't have roll call in the morning. They don't have a roster that we can capture, for example. Or you can't photograph them and know how many there are.

NPR: It seems that might be a problem with a lot of these numbers. Like, for example, number of attacks per day. It might go down for a day or a week, you don't know if it's going to go up next month. Is there a number that you track that makes you feel confident that you have made progress against the insurgents? That you are winning militarily?

RUMSFELD: No one number is determinative, and the answer is no. We probably look at 50, 60, 70 different types of metrics, and come away with them with an impression. It's impressionistic more than determinative.

NPR: There are some military officers, both serving and former, who have said in different ways that with this insurgency or any insurgency really, it is not possible to defeat the insurgents militarily. Do you think that's true?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I think it certainly is reasonable to say that the coalition is not going to defeat the insurgency. The Iraqi people will moderate the insurgency and eventually defeat it. Insurgencies eventually end one way or another, but clearly in this instance it strikes me that it will be the Iraqi people who will have to do this. And they'll do it because of progress in the political area which legitimizes the government and delegitimizes the people opposing the government.

It will happen because of economic progress and fewer people will be attracted to it because of that. It will be defeated because of the success of the Iraqi security forces as they develop skill sets and are better equipped and have much better situational awareness than coalition forces would, for example. They know the language; their relatives live in those areas; they have a desire to live in a peaceful environment. So it will be all of those things over time that will do it, but it will basically be the Iraqi people.

NPR: It has to be a political solution is what you're saying.

RUMSFELD: It is. It's a mixture of security -- I mean look at the United States. We have security forces. We have National Guard. We have police. We have border patrols. We have a whole lot of things. You can say we're a peaceful nation and yet how many hundreds get killed at every major city in America every year?

You're not going to go down to zero violence in any country, particularly not a violent part of the world like that. But clearly, you'll get down to a level of activity that you could say that people are able to basically go about their business, and it will be a combination of political, economic, and security. Policemen are important. That's why we have them. That's why we pay them in perpetuity in every city in America.

NPR: General Jack Keane, a retired U.S. Army --

RUMSFELD: Good man.

NPR: -- Lieutenant General who's continued to be brought in to advise or assess what's happening in Iraq, says that as he understands it the insurgents think that if they can hold out four or five years they'll win. This country will eventually give up. The political price here would be too high if they can keep up the violence for five years. General Keane thinks that might be about right.

Do you think in a sense the clock is running for the United States,
even if it is a relatively long-running clock?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness. General Keane is a very talented, fine person. I would have to hear entirely what he said to comment on it, but my recollection is looking at four or five insurgencies in the last century that the average age of those was six, seven, eight years. And they ended up ending. So it's not for me to say -- There were some at the low end of that and there were some at the high end of that.

In terms of the United States and the coalition, our purpose is not to stay there for five years or ten years. Our purpose is to help the Iraqi people develop the security forces that will enable them to provide for the security of the country and we're making good progress on it.

The Iraqi security forces are increasingly demonstrating greater and greater capability. Election day they provided 5,000 polling places with an inner perimeter and an outer perimeter. Within the last week they undertook an independent operation without U.S. or coalition assistance and were highly successful, some of them.

NPR: To be clear, since you know, him, I don't want any misunderstanding to be there. General Keane said that "if" they hold out for five years that they could defeat the United States. He did not think that was going to happen. He was relatively optimistic about the situation.


NPR: Just looking at the timeframe - you mentioned the training of Iraqi forces. You have used a figure of more than 140,000 Iraqis trained. The Government Accountability Office looked at that number. They said well, maybe more than 140,000 have been trained but tens of thousands have walked off the job.

It appeared there was nowhere near that number actually defending Iraq. Is that
the case?

RUMSFELD: Actually, I've not read the Government Accountability Office [report], but we spend a lot of time on this and we know what we're talking about. We come out with a weekly report. What we report is that the Ministry of Defense numbers subtract anyone that is AWOL, absent without leave. The Ministry of Interior figures do not. We specify that right in there.

NPR: It said this was according to DoD. That's true.

RUMSFELD: And second, we do not include the non-Ministry of Defense and non-Ministry of Interior security forces, the site protection forces, which are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 at any given time. So since we don't even count them one would think that the presentation we make with the footnotes, with the explanation, is pretty good.

Now we don't subtract from the United States military the number of people who may be in jail or who may be AWOL or whatever.

NPR: It probably isn't tens of thousands though, I --

RUMSFELD: What we present is accurate and the figures currently are excluding site protection people and if you want to, you have to eventually subtract out anyone who's on leave or AWOL or whatever the reason they're not currently active. That's fair enough. But the number's something over 140,000. That's just a fact. That's what General Petraeus is reporting to us, and General Casey, and General Abizaid.

Now, it's less than that by some margin, but it's gone from zero up to that. And people can fly speck it and say this or say that, but the fact remains that you didn't have successful elections on January 30th with the Iraqi security forces providing overwhelmingly the security for the elections by accident. These people are not -- They're not ghost payrolls. These are people who did something on January 30th. They did something enormously impressive.

NPR: It does raise the question of how many forces are really ready to take over for the United States.

RUMSFELD: Of course. That's the critical question. And how skilled -- I think the whole debate over numbers is nonsensical, frankly. Quantity is important. Quality is really important.

You give me a unit of 500 people that is highly mobile, well-led, battle-hardened, well-equipped, and stack it up against 5,000 people who are fresh out of boot camp, trained and equipped to be sure, but fresh out of boot camp, not battle-hardened and don't have mobility, don't have sustainability, aren't well led -- the 500, I'd take them in a fight any day in the world just like nothing.

So quantity's only part of the question. Quality, leadership, command and control, sustainability, mobility, all of those things are important.

NPR: And the fact that you just mentioned leadership, command and control, mobility -- Those are things the United States is still having to provide for these trained Iraqi troops. Correct?

RUMSFELD: In some instances we provide the mobility and the sustainability, true. In some instances we don't. And in most instances we don't provide the leadership. The leadership is uneven, obviously, with units that are just brought together and just out for the first time, and every month that goes by they get better at it, just like you do in your job or anyone else does.

NPR: I hope so. I don't know, we'll see. [Laughter].

A couple of other things then we're done, and I really appreciate your
taking the time.

Coming back to the political question here, the question of a political
solution. Do you know of any Sunni leader among those who are trying in Iraq, who
has sufficient influence to actually reign in insurgents at this time? Does that
person exist? Or does he still have to be found?

RUMSFELD: I think that in a country like Iraq looking for a single person, it would be a mistake. You've got tribes and regions. No, I wouldn't think there would be a single person.

NPR: Do you have any group of people?

RUMSFELD: Sure. The Shia and the Kurds that participated fully in the elections had been reaching out to the Sunnis which is a very positive thing. Second, the Sunnis I think – well, who knows, I can't speak for all the Sunnis.

But if you dropped a plumb line through all the intelligence I've seen, the Sunni leadership that I've read about is reasonably well-convinced that they made a terrible mistake by not participating in the election and they're leaning forward right now and talking and discussing and trying to figure out how they can play in the process that will take place going forward to fashion a constitution and then elect a permanent government. I don't think they'll make that mistake again.

NPR: Does the intelligence you see also suggest that the Sunni leaders who seem to be leaning forward, as you put it, they can also bring along the insurgent fighters? They could actually end the conflict?

RUMSFELD: I think very likely what -- People tend not to move from being a terrorist or an insurgent fighter all the way over to support for the government.

What they do is they become less of a fighter or less of an insurgent, and the fellow who was less of one already becomes neutral, and the person who was neutral becomes kind of positive. And you move across that spectrum. And it's generally characterized as a tipping process.

What causes it to tip? Answer. Political, economic, and security. Another thing that causes it to tip -- tip meaning that the mass of people in that country, more of them support the government than oppose it -- favorable tipping or vice versa, it can tip.

It's manifested in a lot of different ways. It's manifested in the number of people signing up to serve in the security forces. It's manifested in the number of people who voted, over eight million. It's manifested by the hundreds who put their name on the ballot and were threatened to be killed. It's manifested by all the people who walked past those signs saying “you vote, you die.” It's manifested by the number of tips we get and intelligence information. And most of those indicators are improving. So it's improving, the situation.

NPR: Given that it is a political battle in large degree, is it a disadvantage, whether it's right or wrong, is it a disadvantage that no senior military official has been disciplined, fired or prosecuted for the allegations of abuse and torture in Iraq and elsewhere? Abuse and torture in Iraq and elsewhere?

RUMSFELD: Well, how can anyone answer that question? I mean I think the fact that the United States has had over nine or ten or eleven different investigations, there have been over 300 investigations or prosecutions, in some cases convictions. Not 300 convictions. But there have been people of varying ranks that have been punished for wrongdoing.

NPR: Mostly lower ranks.

RUMSFELD: The Inspector General of the Army still has the obligation of looking at the people in the more senior ranks and making a judgment and recommendation or not recommendation to his superiors and that process is yet to play out.

I think that that's a hard question to answer. Because you know, that's a violent part of the world. Saddam Hussein filled mass graves by the hundreds of thousands. And the change, the fact that you've got tens of thousands of American servicepeople over there building hospitals and schools and putting generators in and helping people.

The United States taxpayers have voted billions of dollars to assist those people in fixing their infrastructure. We've gone out and raised money from other countries to help out. I think that any fair-minded person -- There's no question but that al-Jazeera, some of the opposition television or journalists, will try to lie about what's been done and suggest that it was a matter of policy, and there's not any indication it was a matter of policy or anything systemic.

But I think that any fair-minded people look at it and see what the United States has done and what the coalition has done. And we have no self-interest over there other than making sure that people don't kill Americans.

NPR: Does Larry standing up mean I've burned my time?

Can I ask one more question that you might actually enjoy answering? [inaudible] -- decline to answer.

You had been criticized for using the phrase "old Europe" to refer to U.S. allies who declined to go along in the war on Iraq. You told a joke about that in February when you went to Europe and referred to the fact that perhaps those disputes of the past were the "old Rumsfeld".

I was amused by that. I was interested, is there a new Rumsfeld, and in what way?

RUMSFELD: That was said in good humor. [Laughter]. I'm afraid that Rumsfeld's Rumsfeld.

NPR: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.
I am still hoping Rummy will run in 08. Keep your fingers crossed folks.

Voter Intimidation

From the Inbox:
Dear Ken,

Election after election, Democrats have cried Republican voter intimidation as one of their campaign tactics.

But like so many other Democrat claims, this falsehood is shattered by the truth.

2004 saw Democrats at their worst. From tire slashings in Wisconsin to a union thug literally breaking the arm of a Republican staffer in Florida, we have seen the true perpetrators of voter intimidation and fraud, Democrats and their allies.

With each day that goes by, more and more fraud and intimidation are uncovered.

Now, in a new report presented to the House Administration Committee, the American Center for Voting Rights uncovers and documents massive amounts of voter intimidation by Democrats and their third-party allies, as reported in numerous talk radio programs and blogs including Ankle Biting Pundits.

Check out the documented Democrat intimidation tactics at

Mike DuHaime
RNC Political Director

Monday, March 28, 2005

Mother Arrested

"Mother arrested for attempting to intervene in her 14-year old's decision to have abortion"

Via the Illinois Leader. Heard by way of Quinn in the Morning.

A Sothern Illinois woman was arrested last week (March 17) after trying to intervene on behalf of her 14-year old daughter's effort to have an abortion. The girl was allegedly taken to an abortion clinic by the mother of the man allegedly to have impregnated the 14-year old.

According to the girl's mother, her 14-year old daughter was called off from school in Madison County by a woman posing as the girl's "grandmother." The woman took the girl from her home only minutes before the girl’s mother returned home from work.


When the parents were notified their pregnant daughter was not at school, they suspected she had been taken to the Hope Abortion Clinic in Granite City. The parents and grandfather were the only persons authorized to request school absence for the fourteen year old female.

"My husband and I rushed to the abortion clinic where we saw our daughter’s name on the roster and the time she had checked in," the mother said. She then went into the clinic and searched a room filled with young women awaiting abortions but did not see her daughter.

She took a seat near the main desk and said, "I was told I could not prove my daughter was there so I began calling her name. A medical tech at the clinic told me , ‘It’s your daughter’s rights, it’s her body. You have no rights.’"

After continuing to call out her daughter’s name and telling her "don’t do it," authorities were called and the mother was arrested.

The 14-year old told her mother she could hear her but when she asked employees to give her mother a message, they came back to the room and told her that her mother had left.


Employees assured this girl on her departure, “No-one will ever know you were here, we’ll bury your records.”

In the meantime, the woman who had taken the girl for the abortion was slipped out the back door of the clinic.

The police in the community in which the family lives allegedly told the girl's mom that they couldn't intervene despite her making a charge that her daughter had been raped (by statute) because the charge was stale--7 weeks after the incident. They did tell the girl's mom that, while she had no right to stop the abortion, she did have a right to go into the clinic and speak to her daughter.

The parents are expected to file charges.

Read the Full Story

The "No Right Answer" Game

The "No Right Answer" Game
(Inspired by " The Wrong Army," by Jeff Edwards, USN, Ret., warrior and novelist)

America’s forces have won all their wars,
From Revolution to war in Iraq;
And Lefties don’t point to the Vietnam War,
Where you stabbed winning troops in the back.
No, the truth is we win; we win time and again;
Done it time after time after time.
Doesn’t matter to you, ‘cause whatever we do,
We’ve always somehow dropped the dime.

To Lefties our generals just have to be wrong,
Wrong tactics, wrong weapons, wrong forces;
We’re the gang who somehow can never shoot straight,
To hear the mainstream media sources.
Just look at their headlines, view every day’s news,
With their blistering barrages of blame.
To warriors out here at the point of the spear,
It’s those losers’ “No Right Answer,” game.

In this lugubrious game loved by Liberal elites,
There’s just but one rule to enforce:
Whatever we do, in whatever war,
Must naturally be wrong of course.
There is no right answer, no matter what,
Even when our warriors are winning;
There’s always the sly implication we lie,
In the splenetic stories they’re spinning.

In peacetime they charge our forces too large
During wartime they squall they’re too small;
In peacetime they whine we’re spending too much;
But in war, “Where’s the armor for all?”
With consummate confidence they know what’s best,
Puerile pundits so smug and so smarmy,
Pontificate loud to their Liberal crowd,
That we once again have the wrong Army.

Pick a war, any war, or a period of peace;
Field marshals of the media are spinning;
If generals of journalism are so in the know,
Why are genuine generals winning?
So here at the front, harsh home of the grunt,
We ignore their attempts to defame.
The troops know the score, know what this war's for;
They can stuff their “No Right Answer,” game.

SSGT Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-66

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Thousands of Idiots Gather, March

Thousands Protest Iraq War Across Europe

By JANELLE STECKLEIN, Associated Press Writer

LONDON - Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters demonstrated across Europe on Saturday to mark the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, with 45,000 marching from London's Hyde Park past the American Embassy.

In Istanbul, Turkey, about 15,000 people protested in the Kadikoy neighborhood against the U.S. presence in Iraq.

But the rallies were nowhere near as big as those in February 2003, just before the war, when millions marched in cities around the world to urge President Bush and his allies not to attack Iraq.

With international forces still facing violent opposition in Iraq, protesters were divided about what to demand from leaders now. While some wanted a full troop withdrawal, others argued that would leave Iraqis in a worse position than before the invasion.

"We got the Iraqis into this mess, we need to help them out of it," said Kit MacLean, 29, waiting near Hyde Park's Speakers' Corner before the London march began.

Police estimated about 45,000 demonstrators marched from the park past the American Embassy and on to Trafalgar Square.

Some worried Bush might be planning another war in the Middle East or elsewhere.

"After Iraq: Iran? Syria? Cuba?" read one placard. "Stop This Man" said another, alongside a picture showing Bush with devil's horns.

One man carried fake bombs with American flags painted on them and a dartboard map of the world showed a U.S. missile sticking out of Iraq.

Security was heavy as the demonstrators moved past the U.S. Embassy. Cement barricades and metal fences blocked the building, as they have since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Two former British soldiers placed a cardboard coffin bearing the words "100,000 dead" outside the embassy.

"George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam," marchers chanted.

At the demonstration in Istanbul, two marchers dressed like U.S. soldiers pretended to rough up another, who was dressed as a detainee with a sack on his head, in a mimed criticism of prisoner abuse cases.

"Murderer Bush, get out," read one sign.

In the southern city of Adana, home to a Turkish military base used by American forces, protesters laid a black wreath in front of the U.S. Consulate to protest the war, the Anatolia news agency reported.

In Athens, Greece, about 3,000 protesters brought the city center to a standstill for three hours and painted outlines of bodies outside the U.S. Embassy.

Hundreds also turned out in Sweden and Norway.

"I think it's important to show that we still care about this," said Linn Majuri, 15, a member of the environmental organization Green Youth in Stockholm, Sweden. "People have become apathetic about this, it's no longer something they walk around thinking about every day."

With music and banners, marchers in Rome demanded the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq. "Iraq to the Iraqis!" read one banner.

Demonstrations also were planned in nine Spanish cities including Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque seaside resort of San Sebastian.

British elections expected in May added a charge to the London protest. Prime Minister Tony Blair has been Bush's staunchest ally in Iraq, despite strong domestic opposition to the war, especially among members of his Labour Party.

Some at the London protest said they could not support Blair but did not know whom else to vote for. The opposition Conservatives strongly backed the war while the third-largest party, the Liberal Democrats, opposed it. Several smaller parties are fielding anti-war candidates in hopes of loosening Blair's hold on power.

"I think it's outrageous what Blair and Bush think they can get away with," said retiree John Salway, 59. "I'd like to think we can put a dent in their arrogance."
How dare America and Britain bring freedom to the oppressed! How dare the Coalition Forces fight islamo-fascists and end the inhumane treatment of women, children, jews, and christians! How dare the US military fight to bring democracy and freedom to people who have been enslaved for thousands of years?

I am amazed that these thousands of people who marched through the streets of Europe last week demanding that Iraq be turned over to the Iraqis, demanding and that the Coalition Forces withdraw immeadiately, did not also march in the streets when Saddam gassed thousands of his people. Why is it wrong for America to fight for the downtrodden's liberty but it is ok for dictators to commit genocide against there own people?

Then again, the protestors never were all that bright to begin with...

Wolfowitz Kowtowing to America Haters?

Wolfowitz Says He Won't Impose U.S. Agenda on World Bank
By Carol Giacomo and Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After helping lead the United States to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz is fighting a different kind of fight -- to secure approval as the next World Bank president by portraying himself as a consensus builder.

From his spacious but cluttered office, the Pentagon's No. 2 official this week waged a campaign to ease fears in Europe and elsewhere that he would change policies at the bank to reflect the conservative Bush administration's foreign and social priorities.

Wolfowitz telephoned U2 rock star-turned-debt relief advocate Bono, a potentially key ally; cheerfully endured interviews by major media, especially those with European audiences; and courted key finance and political officials from around the world.

His message was clear as he sought to win the hearts and minds of a new, more global constituency:

He is more multidimensional than his hard-line, conservative image as deputy defense secretary suggests.

He will aim to be a consensus builder as he seeks to improve the institution.

He cares passionately about the poor and is committed to reducing poverty, especially in Africa.

Moreover, he is convinced he can turn his critics around once they get to know him.

"You do the job you have in front of you," he told Reuters in an interview late on Friday. He was explaining how he would segue to his new role from his Bush administration duties of combating terrorism, remaking the military and asserting American power to promote democracy, especially in the Middle East.

"I am not going to impose the U.S. agenda on the bank," he said. "I am ready to listen."

Why would he (Wolfowitz) not want a US agenda brought to the World Bank? Are we to take from this that a US Agenda would not be in the interests of the rest of the World? Is Wolfowitz implying that a US agenda is not what is best for the rest of the world? I understand he is kowtowing to all those across the world who hate America; but in doing so he seems to imply that perhaps America-haters have a right to hate us... that our policies and agenda's are somehow evil or unjust. Perhaps he just mispoke... but I am deeply concerned with Wolfowitz's approach to this matter.

Troop Levels In Iraq

The Defense Secretary made some interesting comments on the troop levels in Iraq; This particular answer was delivered on Friday in regards to a question involving the withdrawel of some coalition nations from Iraq...
... Now you ask the question of what about the total level of security forces, the total level of security forces are going up because the Iraqi security force are going up, and they're part of this coalition as well. Indeed, they're increasingly the most important part of the coalition, set aside the U.S. They're now up to, I believe, something like 145,000 -- I looked at it today -- trained and equipped of all types -- border patrol, policemen, army, special police commandoes, you name it -- and they're on a trajectory to continue to go up over 200,000.

Coalition forces will continue to pare down. We're now moving from 152(,000) at peak, I believe, where we overlapped, as you'll recall, during the election period. We're dropping down, I think, to something like 17 brigades over the coming month, maybe six weeks. We'll be down probably to 135(,000), 140,000 in that period. And as the Iraqi security forces go up and as the insurgency is dealt with over the period ahead, why, we ought to be able to adjust those levels. That will be a function of what General Abizaid recommends, General Casey recommends and what General Myers and General Pace and I recommend to the President. It's not possible to pinpoint a specific number, but we feel very good about the progress being made in the country.

And it's partly the security forces, it's partly their capabilities. And as we strengthen the command and control of the Iraqi forces, as they improve their sustainability and their mobility, their logistics capability, as they get a little battle-hardened -- some of them came right out of training. You know, you walk out of training and into a war zone, which is what they're in, a tough insurgency, that's not easy. But after six months, they get better at it, and that's what's happening. And the longer they're there, the better they're getting at it. And General Casey has been quite impressed with how they're doing.

So over the period ahead, we'll see some adjustments in numbers, but I would be the last person to think I'm smart enough to know what that rate at which their competence and capabilities will proceed relative to the intensity of the insurgency, because one of the other things that affects the insurgency is the extent to which the Iraqi people are willing to provide intelligence and tip in favor of their government.

And having had a successful election, they showed they've got courage. Their next task is to put in place this new government, transitional government. Then they're going to draft a constitution. Then they're going to vote on the constitution in October. Then they're going to have elections under the new constitution in December. And during that period, armed forces -- total, everybody's, coalition and Iraqi -- will undoubtedly bulge somewhat during those key election periods, but in the aggregate over time, one would think the non-Iraqi members of the coalition could adjust downward as the capabilities of the Iraqis increase.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rumsfeld on the Two Year Anniversary of the Liberation of Iraq

Delivered on March 18th, 2005.
Transcript from DoD News Briefing
Tomorrow, March 19th, will mark two years to the day since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I'd like to take a moment to talk about some of the changes in Iraq since that day and about the great sweep of freedom that is moving across that region and what it means for our country and the American people.

First let me say that the positive changes underway would certainly not have happened, they wouldn't have taken place without the hard work and the dedication of America's men and women in uniform, their families and indeed the efforts of all of you who have devoted your lives to our country's defense. I want you to know that we are grateful and your country is grateful to you for your able service.

And I might mention that a few weeks ago, a staff sergeant with the 1st Cavalry Division received a Silver Star for heroism. He had rescued some folks out of a trapped -- a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle. And at his medal ceremony, he asked the permission to kind of break tradition and see if he couldn't have his father, his proud father, pin his medal on. And his father was a DOD civilian employee also working in Iraq. The story is a useful reminder of the many civilian and military personnel who are risking their lives every day to help build a more peaceful future in Iraq as well as Afghanistan and to eliminate a threat to the civilized world.

I also want to mention our sorrow and condolences to the family of Officer Feltis, who was a member of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and who lost his life in the line of duty.

The men and women who serve are doing important work -- it's noble work. Indeed, when one thinks of Iraq today compared to what it was just two short years ago, the changes are truly remarkable. Think of what the coalition faced back then: Saddam Hussein and his vicious regime had twice invaded its neighbors; he was paying rewards to the families of suicide bombers; he defied 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions; was regularly firing -- weekly -- firing at U.S. and British aircraft and their air crews; and he had looted literally billions of dollars building lavish palaces while his people, the Iraqi people, suffered starvation.

The opponents of that regime were forced to whisper dissent, fearful of a midnight knock on the door from the Iraqi police service. Other Iraqis, who did receive those knocks on the doors that were so feared, were among the some 400,000 men, women and children who were callously put into the -- at the moment we believe hundreds of mass graves that have been discovered across that country.

Through an unprecedented combination of speed, precision and flexibility, U.S. forces, with coalition support, seized Baghdad, having marched farther and faster than any armed force in military history. And they did it while avoiding large numbers of civilian casualties, averted a refugee crisis, prevented Iraq from firing Scud missiles at neighboring countries, which could have ignited a region- wide war.

Since the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the coalition has engaged in a test of wills with an enemy determined to derail Iraq's progress. The extremists have beheaded aid workers, they have attacked symbols of hope, and they tried to make Iraq's election day one of bloodshed and terror. Their goal was to force the coalition into retreat, but their mission failed. The enemy sought to test America and the Iraqi people's will, and they found it firm. The Iraqi Security Forces successfully protected 5,000 polling places, providing the inner perimeter and the outer perimeter.

Millions of Iraqis -- the security forces showed courage, the people in the polling places showed a great deal of courage, and the voters showed courage. As they walked to vote they passed graffiti on the walls saying, "You vote, you die." But they voted.

And day by day the Iraqi people are building a future that safeguards the liberty that their citizens deserve, and on which the world's security increasingly depends.

History teaches that political and economic freedom go hand in hand. Today, unleashed from Ba'athist control, the Iraqi economy is growing, property values are rising, refugees are returning home, foreign investment is increasing. Indeed, in the hearts of the Middle East, Iraq is a country offering freedom and opportunity in place of what was a cauldron of tyranny and terror.

In the last two years, from Afghanistan and Iraq, to Ukraine and now the streets of Lebanon, we have seen again and again that the great sweep of human history is for freedom, and we are on freedom's side. We know that freedom and opportunity are the surest antidotes to extremism. Extremist ideologies suffer when governments such as in Afghanistan protect women and imprison terrorists instead of protecting terrorists and imprisoning women.

Extremist ideologies suffer when millions of Iraqis vote in defiance of a Zarqawi or a bin Laden. And the enemy's extremist ideology will meet its end when wider Middle East sheds itself of tyranny and of violence and extremism and carves out a future of tolerance.

As we join the Iraqi people in remembering this important anniversary, and it is an important anniversary, we might almost -- also take a moment to remember another anniversary. Sixty years ago this month, American forces fought on the island if Iwo Jima in one of the last and certainly one of the bloodiest of the Second World War. During one month of brutal fighting, some 25,000 Americans were killed or wounded. Those who fought in that conflict contributed to a great military victory, to be sure, but they also helped to unleash a wave of freedom that transformed tyrannies into democracies and enemies into friends.

Today America's men and women in uniform stand on the shoulders of those heroes who fought at Iwo Jima and in other great battles for freedom in World War II, and just as surely, tomorrow's heroes will stand on the shoulders of those who have helped free the people of Afghanistan and the people of Iraq, and those who are dealing crippling blows to the extremists who still threaten our people across the globe.

One day an accurate history of Operation Iraqi Freedom will be written. The early chapters of that history will properly tell of the great hardships -- and it has been hard and it still is hard -- but the final chapters will record historic achievements: the demise of a leading terrorist state and the spread of freedom throughout that region.

All of us in this department, gathered in this room or listening across the globe, carry on our mission in memory of all of those who have fallen in the cause of freedom; to the wounded, who demonstrate such great personal courage every day; and to all of their families who support our servicemen and women with their love and their encouragement. And we owe them our full commitment to their unfinished work, and we promise them that and more. May God bless them all.
I wish Rumsfeld would consider running for President in 08.

DoD Releases NDS and NMS

Department of Defense Releases the National Defense and the National Military Strategies

The Department of Defense (DoD) released its National Defense Strategy (NDS) and
National Military Strategy (NMS) today. These strategies outline an active,
layered approach to the defense of the nation and its interests. They seek to
create conditions conducive to respect for the sovereignty of nations and a secure
international order favorable to freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity. The
strategies promote close cooperation with others around the world who are committed
to these goals and address mature and emerging threats.

“Since 9/11, the Department has updated its strategic thinking --
incorporating lessons learned from Iraq, Afghanistan and other operations,” said
Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for policy. “We now have a strategy
that positions us better to handle strategic uncertainty, recognizes the value of
measures to resolve problems before they become crises and crises before they
become wars, and emphasizes the importance of building partnership capacity to
address security problems.”

The NDS is issued periodically, and the NMS is updated every two years. These
documents outline how the Department supports the president’s National Security
Strategy and provide the strategic context for the ongoing Quadrennial Defense

The NDS defines DoD’s strategic objectives: securing the U.S. from direct attack;
securing strategic access and retaining freedom of action; strengthening alliances
and partnerships; and establishing security conditions conducive to a favorable
international order.

The NMS provides strategic guidance to the armed forces on how to support NDS
objectives. It sets forth three military objectives: protecting the U.S.;
preventing conflict and surprise attack; and prevailing against adversaries.

The preceeding was a NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense.

Naught’s Solved by War?

Naught’s Solved by War?

A flickering dawn lights Islam’s hills
A faint emerging light.
Can the torch of Lady Liberty
Flare away Medieval night?
How fitting our bold symbol
Of all that’s good and right
Eyewitness to the Jihad’s wrath,
Stands forefront in this fight.

Her torch is not mere sculpted bronze,
To those in Mullahs’ chains;
But a lamp held high against the sky
Showing them that hope remains.
Their feudal sheiks view us with scorn,
So obsessed with earthly pleasure;
But one thing they fear that we hold dear,
Is that Bill of Rights we treasure.

We drove a tyrant from his throne,
Brought his people free election.
Think it concerns them overmuch,
WMD’s escaped detection?
Just behold those blue-stained fingers,
Like the Lady’s torch, held high,
So proud of their brave turnout,
Putting Liberals to the lie.

How say you now nay Sayers?
What of your dire predictions?
Like fools you swore naught’s solved by war,
Another of your Liberal fictions.
But now you face a hard clear truth:
A truth that you forswore:
This aborning Bush Democracy
Was midwifed by his war.

Within the womb of Islam,
Freedom’s heart so feebly beats.
Is it up us to make it thrive,
To birth it their streets?
What say you disbelieving Libs,
How now shall this thing go?
Shall we execute your exit plan,
Or stay and help it grow?

Russ Vaughn

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Headlines That Caught My Eye

Here is some of what I have been reading today:

St. Patrick's Day feted worldwide with parades, parties and politics
DUBLIN (AFP) - Saint Patrick's Day, the feast day of Ireland's patron saint, brought out a dash of green and dozens of Irish politicians from Dublin to Tokyo, providing a little-needed excuse for parties, parades and some politics, too.

Up to half a million people were expected for the flagship parade through the Irish capital, while hundreds of thousands more across the country were to stage similar celebrations on their national holiday.
I think I could use a drink... too bad I am working late tonight.

Wolfowitz Picked for World Bank
President Bush said yesterday that he has chosen Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, as the U.S. nominee to head the World Bank.

The announcement was an aggressive move to put the administration's stamp on the World Bank, the largest source of aid to developing countries, by installing at the bank's helm a leading advocate of the U.S. campaign to spur democracy in the Middle East. But it risked a new rift with countries critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, especially since it came so soon after Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton, another prominent hawk, as ambassador to the United Nations.
Ever notice how the press labels any action by the President as being agressive, controversial, and warlike?

51-49 Senate Vote Backs Arctic Oil Drilling
A closely divided Senate yesterday voted in favor of opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, bringing a long-sought goal of the Bush administration within striking distance of being realized.

The action marks the first time the Senate has signaled its support for drilling in the ecologically sensitive area since President Bush took office. And while hurdles remain, drilling advocates said they are close to achieving their decades-long drive to tap billions of barrels of oil beneath the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain.
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge... A.K.A. that barren wasteland chock full of oil and practically devoid of any life whatsoever. Have you ever seen photo's of where they plan to dig? Moonscapes appear more lush and vibrant.

GOP boards up the 'town hall'
A nice little article for those who only read the headlines. Sheesh.

Recruiting Goals Are in Harm's Way
WASHINGTON — The Army is unlikely to meet its 2005 recruiting goals for the National Guard and Reserves, with the prospect of lengthy deployments in Iraq scaring away potential recruits for the Army's active and reserve ranks, senior Defense officials said Wednesday.

The Pentagon is struggling for the second straight year to bolster the ranks of its troops once known as "weekend warriors" who now make up more than 40% of the 145,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq.
No mention of a draft, though. I keep telling people there isn't going to be a draft, but they are still stuck on campaign rhetoric. Besides, the year is far from over and statements that recruiting goals will fall short are pure speculation.

And lastly...
Debate on violent video games
Following a debate that ranged from the sweep of the 1st Amendment to whether children's psyches could be warped by blowing up imaginary space aliens, the Illinois House Wednesday voted to ban the sale of violent video games to minors.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's showcase initiative for the legislative session moved to the Senate on a 91-19 vote, but not before lawmakers raised questions that any parent nagged into letting their children buy a copy of "Halo" could relate to.

Under the bill, retailers would be forbidden from selling or renting to teenagers video games that are sexually explicit or that depict images of human-on-human violence. Does that mean games that merely blast space creatures are OK? asked Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

"Killing an alien wouldn't fall under the bill," said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), the sponsor.

Would that apply to all aliens or only those who "just look like humans?" Molaro then asked.

"If it's an alien that looks like a human, which is an alien, yes," Chapa LaVia responded.

Later, she refined her interpretation this way: "If it was an alien that pretended to be a human, I guess then it's human. Then it would fall under this bill because it's human against human. ... How would we know he was an alien?"

Separating extraterrestrial, albeit digital, life forms from humankind wasn't the only conundrum vexing lawmakers.

Some wondered aloud whether a game based on something seemingly as innocent as a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, with more sedate mayhem practiced by witches and ogres and other odd beings, would run afoul of the new rules.

One lawmaker pondered whether a James Bond video could no longer be sold to minors if it portrayed 007's suave and sophisticated approach to rubbing out villains.

Even many who voted for Blagojevich's measure suggested it might not pass constitutional muster. Some acknowledged the political realities of feeling obliged to back a bill they felt uncomfortable with because to oppose it would leave them open to charges that they favored gore and mayhem.

Among those voting for the bill was Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who said he was doing so because "these are disgusting, violent and horrible games."

Yet, Lang said, "The truth of the matter is [the bill] is unconstitutional as drafted."


"Ladies and gentlemen of the House, where do you stop? If you go down this road, where do you stop?" Black implored, arguing that it should be up to parents and not the state to decide whether children can buy violent videos.
Amen, Brother!

The measure, the primary anti-violence initiative pushed by Blagojevich this year, would make sale to minors of violent or sexually explicit video games a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Stores still could sell such popular but bloody titles as "Grand Theft Auto San Andreas" and "Doom" to adults.

Seriously, though, I thought this was a free country...

Rumsfeld on Nomination of Paul Wolfowitz

"The President has made a superb choice to lead the World Bank, and I
congratulate Dr. Wolfowitz on behalf of everyone in the Department of Defense.

"Dr. Wolfowitz is a gifted public servant. He is thoughtful, astute,
and broadly experienced in world affairs through service in the Department of
Defense and the Department of State, including as ambassador to Indonesia, and as
the dean of The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

"The Department of Defense will miss his talents, insights, and energy,
and I will miss his daily counsel and friendship."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rather Gone

I almost feel bad for Rather... He is getting absolutely thrashed from all directions. Can't say he didn't bring it on himself, though. I couldn't watch CBS news for any more than about 15 seconds before I'd start yelling at the idiot on the television screen. The idiot is gone, but will CBS make the same mistake again or will they attempt a fair and balanced approach?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Were it not for Russ...

I'd not be posting anything at all. I have been working long hours lately and neglecting this site something fierce. I think what I will try to do is make Sunday my post day and do a weekly rundown of what's caught my eye. HOPEFULLY I'll stick to that and get some more posts up.

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

I am so sick of the liberal left, both domestic and foreign, constantly berating America as being morally bankrupt and a plague upon mankind. To them, we are quite singularly responsible for all the evil in the world through our crass, greedy, capitalistic practices. So, tonight, this unapologetic capitalist is watching Oliver North’s War Stories and I’m seeing American sailors who survived the sinking of their ship and were imprisoned by the Japanese. A photo reveals their starkly emaciated condition upon their post-war emancipation, graphic evidence of the cruel deprivation inflicted upon them by the Japanese. A now robust surviving sailor tells Ollie he came out of that camp weighing 95 pounds.

I think about that for a moment and a kaleidoscope of such images that I have witnessed in my sixty-three years lights up my mind: innumerable accounts of the gross mistreatment of prisoners from many sources; the bone-visible survivors of Auschwitz and other German concentration camps; the human skeletons emerging from the Philippine hellholes the Japanese maintained; the skeletal denizens of the Soviet gulag, starved and worked to death for transgressions against the regime; American POW’s, repatriated from North Korea and Vietnam. And, more recently, I recall the videos of bloated bellied African toddlers, starved by an uncaring, despotic government in Sudan.

But you know one image that isn’t there? I delve deep into my mind trying to find even one example and I cannot find it. Can you guess what it is? Try this: go back through all your experiences of the twentieth century and try to come up with one, just one, just one single image of a starving, emaciated prisoner in the custody of American troops or the American government. I’m not saying it may not exist, but if it did, don’t you think some self-loathing, America-hating college professor would have revealed it to the world by now? Yes, mistreatment occurred on both sides during our civil war, but by the time I grew up, literally in middle America, in a small town in Oklahoma, attitudes had changed; the German POW’s incarcerated in our local prison were well treated, well fed, and encouraged to be healthy contributors to our economy. They did.

And that folks, says a hell of a lot about us, about you, about me, and about this great country, which together, we comprise. Yeah, we may take some terror suspects into custody and interrogate them aggressively. We may imprison Taliban suspects in Guantanamo and deprive them of sleep and discomfit them in other ways in our efforts to glean battlefield intelligence from them. We may even have committed the horrible transgression of putting panties (gasp) over some terrorists’ heads in Abu Ghraib. But guess what? None of them, not one single prisoner whom I’ve seen in the mainstream media’s avalanche of news reports of our horrible transgressions, exhibits any evidence of being starved.

Nope they all look amazingly well fed, don’t they? There wasn’t one single scarecrow in that pornographic pyramid of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Nope, all those butts looked amazingly rotund and well fed, didn’t they? Admittedly, they’re kinda skinny by American standards, but there’s not one human skeleton in the lot as far as I’ve been able to determine, not a single starvation induced, skin-stretching rib or jauntily jutting hipbone in evidence in any one of those pictures.

So what does that say, America, about our moral bankruptcy, our inhumanity and our lack of concern for our fellow man? Well, it tells this ol’ Texas boy that all those pointy-headed academics, like that phony, overweight, cigar-store Indian, Ward Churchill, and all his loudly complaining, liberal supporters, don’t have one single clue about the real evils that exist in this world. From their ivory castles, they hurl barbed charges against us, you and me, us ol’ ordinary folks, proclaiming us the spawn of the Devil because we support that other devil, Karl Rove, who is out to put them all in chains. They are clueless, totally clueless; and they damned sure don’t have a clue about the good fortune that has been visited upon them by their birthright to be citizens of this great nation, a nation that, in spite of all its faults, does not starve its prisoners.

There is no greater cruelty in life than that of depriving a living creature of food to the point of starvation.

Just think about that all you pet-owning, America-hating Liberals and then consider your political friends.

Russ Vaughn
2d Bn, 327th Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division
Vietnam 65-55

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