The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ah, the good old days in 1998... (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 11/30/2005 10:10:00 PM | Permalink | |

Extreme Irony about extreme Danger

Mark Steyn is second to none in exposing irony and hypocrisy; tonight his targets are the President of Iran and the American and British media (among other). Another delicious helping from Steyn Online:

Suppose a guy yells “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, and the audience hisses back, “Shh! We’re in the middle of a play about how Bush engaged in a massive conspiracy to use a small chimney fire as a pretext for burning down some other theatre three years ago.”

That’s pretty much what happened the other week. The President of Iran announced that Israel “must be wiped off the map” – and the entire capital city of the world’s hyperpower hissed back, “Shh! Patrick Fitzgerald’s about to indict Scooter Libby!”

Insofar as I understand the left’s three-year investment in Joseph C Wilson IV, it’s that the selfless patriot exposed the Bush Administration’s rationale for the war – Saddam’s WMD – as a lie cooked up by a cabal of sinister neocon warmongers (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc).

Just for the record, WMD was never my rationale. As I’ve said on many occasions, when it comes to toppling dictators, there’s no such thing as an “illegitimate” rationale. In his obstruction of UN weapons inspectors, Saddam certainly acted as if he had WMD and, in his “trade” missions to Niger (principal exports: uranium, goats, cowpeas and onions), as if he were eager to acquire more. There’s something to be said for taking a chap at his word.

Anyway, we now have a chance to go through the whole rigmarole with another four-letter Middle Eastern Muslim country beginning with the letters “Ira-”. Same great runaround, new closing consonant. President Ahmadinejad made his wiping-off-the-map remarks as part of a speech called “A World Without Zionism”, so it seems unlikely this was one of those subtle nuances lost in translation.

Furthermore, in the final round of last June’s presidential election, both candidates were eager to annihilate the Zionist Entity – Mr Ahmadinejad’s opponent, Hashemi Rafsanjani, having declared that Israel is “the most hideous occurrence in history” which the Muslim world “will vomit out from its midst” with “a single atomic bomb”. So wiping Israel off the map would appear to be one of those rare points of bipartisan consensus, as unexceptional as coming out in favor of motherhood and apple pie.

And indeed President Ahmadinejad, speaking a couple of days later at a “Death to Israel” rally, couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. Nor could his rival, Mr Rafsanjani, who pointed out, “Even in Europe, the majority of the population is strongly critical of Israel, but they are afraid to express their views.”

Judging from the BBC’s website, only the first half of that sentence is true. Here’s what the Beeb’s viewers and listeners had to say:

“Is this story true? The current American regime is expert at creating faked excuses for military and political action. The WMD scam in Iraq for example.”

“I’m not sure it’s any worse than what Bush said about Iraq, and at least Ahmedinejad is using only words, not bombs.”

“According to BBC, this type of comment is commonly made by Iranian politicians. If so, we need to understand this in context.”

“Iran’s Prime minister said ‘Israel should be wiped off the map’. How do we know that he wasn’t referring to a peaceful arrangement for Israel to give land back to Palestine rather than a violent threat?”

How indeed? Well, maybe one way to find out is to look at the rest of the speech: “We are in the process of a historical war between the World of Arrogance [the west] and the Islamic world... Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? You had best know that this slogan and this goal is attainable, and surely can be achieved.”

So this isn’t just the usual itsy-bitsy wipe-Israel-off-the-face-of-the-earth boilerplate that Nasser was doing 40 years ago. The Europeans may be indifferent to the incineration of the Zionists but they surely can’t be as relaxed about meeting the same fate themselves.

The President’s chief strategist, Hassan Abbassi, has come up with a war plan based on the premise that “Britain is the mother of all evils” – the evils being America, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the Gulf states and even Canada, all of whom are the malign progeny of the British Empire.

“We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization,” says Mr Abbassi. “There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them… Once we have defeated the Anglo-Saxons the rest will run for cover.”

Iran isn’t an impoverished joke-state basket-case like Sierra Leone. It’s a major regional power. What should we do? Take them at their word? Or apply the Democrat-media-CIA test and wait till we’ve got absolute definitive 100% proof that they’ve got WMD – the absolute definitive 100% proof being a smoking crater where Tel Aviv used to be, or maybe London. The contrast between the Iranian President’s speeches and the worthless piffle of a Beltway non-scandal is very telling – or would be if the parochial US media had any interest in covering it.

How can even the dreariest press in the English speaking-world maintain their interest in the third year of Joe Wilson’s 15 minutes? What a pitiful spectacle. If they’ve a sense of humor, the Iranians will time the mushroom cloud for the first day of the Bush-Cheney impeachment trial.

DiscerningTexan, 11/30/2005 09:58:00 PM | Permalink | |

Outrage of the day--Harry Reid: King of the Runaway Leakers?

Wow. Jed Babbin, subbing for Hugh Hewitt, delivered a blockbuster interview of Wall Street Journal reporter John Fund. As always, Radio Blogger was there to transcribe. But you aren't going to believe the extent to which the Democratic leader of the Senate is up to his neck in slime. Some key excerpts (hint: you won't find this on CNN...):

JB: We're going right now to one of the best journalists in this goofy town, my good friend John Fund from the Wall Street Journal. John, thanks for taking the time to join us. Tell us about...well, let me just set the stage. You're talking about what seems to be a rather startling leak from the Senate minority leader, Harry Reid. Let me just set the stage for it. Porter Goss, director of the CIA, said today, "we know a great deal more about bin Laden, Zarqawi and Zawahiri, than we're able to say publicly." Well, it seems to me that maybe Mr. Reid doesn't think he's bound by the usual rules. What's going on with Senator Sieve?

JF: One of the saddest things that's happened in Washington lately is we've seen the degradation of ethics into a political weapon, where if you can't beat someone in the elections, you go after them with trumped up ethics charges. And you know, both sides have done that in the past, to some extent. Now, we're seeing the politicization of intelligence. We know now that the whole CIA leak thing was about somebody having a different recollection about phone conversations months later, and it's a perjury charge. There's no underlying crime. There was no CIA agent outed.


So intelligence has been politicized. This whole CIA leak thing was a trumped up, no underlying crime. Now, Harry Reid has decided...this is the same guy who was yelling about the CIA leak investigation, the same guy who called the Senate into closed session, who has called the president almost a liar for having supposedly misled the country on the weapons of mass destruction intelligence.

JB: Yeah.

JF: And what does Harry Reid go last week and do? He's on a Nevada TV talk show, and he says well, I just learned today that Osama bin Laden was killed in an earthquake in Pakistan.

JB: Wait a minute. Let me stop you right there. I mean, if he knows that, he could only know it through official government channels, the CIA, Defense Department, whatever. And it would be top secret, wouldn't it?

JF: He didn't read it in the Reno Gazette.

JB: Well, yeah. This is a guy who wants Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in chains, and he's making a leak...

JF: Actually, that's Ambassador Wilson, to be fair.

JB: Well, either way.

JF: Reid has gone almost that far.

JB: Well, I mean just doggone close. I mean, he'd love to see Karl Rove indicted. He'd love to see the whole White House taken down over this thing. And these Democrats, you pair this with Rockefeller, Durbin and Wyden leaking that black satellite program last December...

JF: Exactly.

JB: They're still under criminal investigation for that, which is laying fallow, because Bill Frist...

JF: And not to mention the secret prisons issue, where there's an FBI investigation in Congress, about which Senator might have leaked where interrogations might have been conducted in Europe.

JB: Well, yeah, and we won't even name who that might be...(Rockefeller). This whole issue of keeping America's secrets, the Senate is not going to be able to perform its Constitutional function of oversight, if the Executive Branch can't trust them with they tell them.

JF: We can't tell them anything. Look, if Harry Reid received that information, and apparently, he says he did, there are two things you need to do. First is complete radio silence. And the reason is, you...clearly, the United States government has to check that out. It has to use it in its own terms. That's explosive information, if it's true.

JB: Yes.

JF: And, in addition, if it's not true, and Harry Reid goes and claims it, what are the terrorists going to do? That undermines U.S. credibility. They laugh at us. We become the laughing stock of the Arab world, because our officials keep fatasizing about terrorists dying, when they're not.

JB: Well, and we've got a situation here where, as you just implied, the whole business of whether he is dead has tactical value. We know what is going on in a lot of different places. If people are waiting for signals from him, or sending signals to him, that's of great value in helping round up some of these other characters.

JF: Jed, it's like in a poker game, or a bridge game, where you have an ally in bridge?

JB: Yeah.

JF: And suddenly, you turn to your partner and you push his cards down, so the other team can see the cards. What is your partner going to think of you?

JB: Well, it's really just so very incredibly serious, though, John. Why isn't there anybody in the Democratic Party willing to stand up and say hey, look. We might want to start treating secrets a little more seriously.

JF: We used to, during the Cold War, have a tradition that politics stopped at the water's edge.

JB: Yes.

JF: Unfortunately, now, politics confuses everything in our foreign policy. I think one of the biggest problems we have in fighting the Iraq war is not the insurgency. It's the fact that we have a civil war in Washington, in which one side has decided to declare war on the conduct of our foreign policy. Legitimate criticism is fine, but a civil war, in which the CIA, in part, and the State Department, in part, and the Senate, in part, are actively trying to undermine the strategy for winning the war. I think that just goes too far.

JB: Well, I agree with you, and let's focus on that for just a minute, and let's get back to the Valerie Plame case. I mean, as you said, there's no underlying crime. We've got one guy from the White House, Scooter Libby, now resigned after having been indicted. The whole investigation marches on. It seems to me that at some point, we've got to step back and say what the heck is going on here? Why can't we get to the bottom of this? Why doesn't Mr. Fitzgerald pull in some of these reporters?

JF: Well, he did. He's pulled in the second Time reporter, Vivica Novak, who apparently is going to give exculpatory testimony about Karl Rove, testimony that she had a conversation with Karl Rove's lawyer, in which information was transferred, which takes the heat off of Rove. And look, I'll make you bet right now. Rove is not going to be indicted. And you know, there are no heroes in this, but an awful lot of journalists are going to look silly for having turned this case into the cause celebre. And let me tell you. To show you how selective the outrage is, this leak in the Congress about our interrogation tactics in secret facilities overseas...

JB: Right.

JF: I will bet you that there will be one tenth the news coverage of that leak, which really does affect our national security, than of the CIA leak. The only reason the CIA leak got coverage was it was used as a political weapon in the 2004 election, and the losers of that election decided to carry on the fight afterwards, to try to discredit the Bush administration's capability in fighting the War On Terror.

You get the idea: the United States of America, its citizens, and its military, are being sold down the river to murderous zealot Islamist fundamentalists--all in the name of Democrat partisan politics. Power (or the lack of it) has become more important to a majority of what was once the party of Thomas Jefferson than has the winning of this war or the safety of its citizens (or those of our allies). Once upon a time this kind of activity would have gotten people executed for High Treason.
DiscerningTexan, 11/30/2005 09:16:00 PM | Permalink | |

Finally, the President comes out swinging on Iraq

UPDATE: I posted the post below about President Bush's sensational speech today before coming across this superb assessment of it by Mackubin Thomas Owens on National Review Online. To have this speech categorized as follows--"The president’s speech today at the Naval Academy is as fine an example of republican rhetoric as I have heard since the presidency of Ronald Reagan"--by an esteemed writer like Owens felt like sweet justification of every word I wrote below:

Today to be one of the best and most comprehensive speeches by President Bush on the Iraq War since 9/11. It really bears watching live at C-SPAN, for only then do you get the sense of the emotion that the President put into the speech, and only then can you get the sense of overwhelming approval and the standing ovations that the President received at the Naval Academy. It has been a long time since I have been so inspired by a speech, and I only heard it on the radio.

In reproducing a majority of it here (from the White House website), I am dispensing with the usual "introductions" at the beginning of the speech, and I have also highlighted some of the more powerful moments. But it really must be seen and heard to understand the full impact. The President's voice broke a couple of times, and that, combined with the power of his words and the roar of approval from the Midshipmen, was as powerful of a one-two punch as I have seen in a long long time:

Six months ago, I came here to address the graduating class of 2005. I spoke to them about the importance of their service in the first war of the 21st century -- the global war on terror. I told the class of 2005 that four years at this Academy had prepared them morally, mentally and physically for the challenges ahead. And now they're meeting those challenges as officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

Some of your former classmates are training with Navy SEAL teams that will storm terrorist safe houses in lightning raids. Others are preparing to lead Marine rifle platoons that will hunt the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraqi cities. Others are training as naval aviators who will fly combat missions over the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. Still others are training as sailors and submariners who will deliver the combat power of the United States to the farthest regions of the world -- and deliver compassionate assistance to those suffering from natural disasters. Whatever their chosen mission, every graduate of the class of 2005 is bringing honor to the uniform -- and helping to bring us victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

In the years ahead, you'll join them in the fight. Your service is needed, because our nation is engaged in a war that is being fought on many fronts -- from the streets of Western cities, to the mountains of Afghanistan, the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. This war is going to take many turns, and the enemy must be defeated on every battlefield. Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity, and so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.

As we fight the enemy in Iraq, every man and woman who volunteers to defend our nation deserves an unwavering commitment to the mission -- and a clear strategy for victory. A clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein -- and they reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group.

Not all Sunnis fall into the rejectionist camp. Of those that do, most are not actively fighting us -- but some give aid and comfort to the enemy. Many Sunnis boycotted the January elections -- yet as democracy takes hold in Iraq, they are recognizing that opting out of the democratic process has hurt their interests. And today, those who advocate violent opposition are being increasingly isolated by Sunnis who choose peaceful participation in the democratic process. Sunnis voted in the recent constitutional referendum in large numbers -- and Sunni coalitions have formed to compete in next month's elections -- or, this month's elections. We believe that, over time, most rejectionists will be persuaded to support a democratic Iraq led by a federal government that is a strong enough government to protect minority rights.

The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller, but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein -- people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment amongst the larger Sunni community. They lack popular support and therefore cannot stop Iraq's democratic progress. And over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi people and the security forces of a free Iraq.

The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda . Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom's progress in Iraq. This group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran, and Egypt, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Libya, and other countries. Our commanders believe they're responsible for most of the suicide bombings, and the beheadings, and the other atrocities we see on our television.

They're led by a brutal terrorist named Zarqawi -- al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq -- who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Their objective is to drive the United States and coalition forces out of Iraq, and use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain control of that country. They would then use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, and overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and try to establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain. That's their stated objective. That's what their leadership has said.

These terrorists have nothing to offer the Iraqi people. All they have is the capacity and the willingness to kill the innocent and create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will to achieve their stated objectives. They will fail. America's will is strong. And they will fail because the will to power is no match for the universal desire to live in liberty. (Applause.)

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th. Those terrorists share the same ideology with those who blew up commuters in London and Madrid, murdered tourists in Bali, workers in Riyadh, and guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan. Just last week, they massacred Iraqi children and their parents at a toy give-away outside an Iraqi hospital.

This is an enemy without conscience -- and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary, there is only one effective response: We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory. (Loud Applause.)

To achieve victory over such enemies, we are pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq. Americans should have a clear understanding of this strategy -- how we look at the war, how we see the enemy, how we define victory, and what we're doing to achieve it. So today, we're releasing a document called the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." This is an unclassified version of the strategy we've been pursuing in Iraq, and it is posted on the White House website -- I urge all Americans to read it.

Our strategy in Iraq has three elements. On the political side, we know that free societies are peaceful societies, so we're helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis. We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq -- and to marginalize those who never will. On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive against the enemy, cleaning out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives.

As we fight the terrorists, we're working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces, so they can take the lead in the fight -- and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance.

And on the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In doing all this we have involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners, and supportive regional states in helping Iraqis build their future.
In the days ahead, I'll be discussing the various pillars of our strategy in Iraq. Today, I want to speak in depth about one aspect of this strategy that will be critical to victory in Iraq -- and that's the training of Iraqi security forces. To defeat the terrorists and marginalize the Saddamists and rejectionists, Iraqis need strong military and police forces. Iraqi troops bring knowledge and capabilities to the fight that coalition forces cannot.

Iraqis know their people, they know their language, and they know their culture -- and they know who the terrorists are. Iraqi forces are earning the trust of their countrymen -- who are willing to help them in the fight against the enemy. As the Iraqi forces grow in number, they're helping to keep a better hold on the cities taken from the enemy. And as the Iraqi forces grow more capable, they are increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists. Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight -- and this will take time and patience. And it's worth the time, and it's worth the effort -- because Iraqis and Americans share a common enemy, and when that enemy is defeated in Iraq, Americans will be safer here at home. (Applause.)

The training of the Iraqi security forces is an enormous task, and it always hasn't gone smoothly. We all remember the reports of some Iraqi security forces running from the fight more than a year ago. Yet in the past year, Iraqi forces have made real progress. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi battalions ready for combat. Now, there are over 120 Iraqi Army and Police combat battalions in the fight against the terrorists -- typically comprised of between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces. Of these, about 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side-by-side with coalition forces, and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight. Most of these 40 battalions are controlling their own battle space, and conducting their own operations against the terrorists with some coalition support -- and they're helping to turn the tide of this struggle in freedom's favor. America and our troops are proud to stand with the brave Iraqi fighters. (Applause.)

The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year's assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army -- with six Iraqi battalions supporting them. The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties. Yet in most situations, the Iraqi role was limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces, and securing ground that had already been cleared by our troops. This year in TAL Afar, it was a very different story.

The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces -- 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support. Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space -- hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods block-by-block. To consolidate their military success, Iraqi units stayed behind to help maintain law and order -- and reconstruction projects have been started to improve infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope.

One of the Iraqi soldiers who fought in TAL Afar was a private named Tarek Hazem. This brave Iraqi fighter says, "We're not afraid. We're here to protect our country. All we feel is motivated to kill the terrorists." Iraqi forces not only cleared the city, they held it. And because of the skill and courage of the Iraqi forces, the citizens of TAL Afar were able to vote in October's constitutional referendum.

As Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead in the fight against the terrorists, they're also taking control of more and more Iraqi territory. At this moment, over 30 Iraqi Army battalions have assumed primary control of their own areas of responsibility. In Baghdad, Iraqi battalions have taken over major sectors of the capital -- including some of the city's toughest neighborhoods. Last year, the area around Baghdad's Haifa Street was so thick with terrorists that it earned the nickname "Purple Heart Boulevard." Then Iraqi forces took responsibility for this dangerous neighborhood -- and attacks are now down.

Our coalition has handed over roughly 90 square miles of Baghdad province to Iraqi security forces. Iraqi battalions have taken over responsibility for areas in South-Central Iraq, sectors of Southeast Iraq, sectors of Western Iraq, and sectors of North-Central Iraq. As Iraqi forces take responsibility for more of their own territory, coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis and hunting down high-value targets, like the terrorist Zarqawi and his associates.

We're also transferring forward operating bases to Iraqi control. Over a dozen bases in Iraq have been handed over to the Iraqi government -- including Saddam Hussein's former palace in Tikrit, which has served as the coalition headquarters in one of Iraq's most dangerous regions. From many of these bases, the Iraqi security forces are planning and executing operations against the terrorists -- and bringing security and pride to the Iraqi people.

Progress by the Iraqi security forces has come, in part, because we learned from our earlier experiences and made changes in the way we help train Iraqi troops. When our coalition first arrived, we began the process of creating an Iraqi Army to defend the country from external threats, and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to help provide the security within Iraq's borders. The civil defense forces did not have sufficient firepower or training -- they proved to be no match for an enemy armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. So the approach was adjusted. Working with Iraq's leaders, we moved the civil defense forces into the Iraqi Army, we changed the way they're trained and equipped, and we focused the Army's mission on defeating those fighting against a free Iraq, whether internal or external.

Now, all Iraqi Army recruits receive about the same length of basic training as new recruits in the U.S. Army -- a five-week core course, followed by an additional three-to-seven weeks of specialized training. With coalition help, Iraqis have established schools for the Iraqi military services, an Iraqi military academy, a non-commissioned officer academy, a military police school, a bomb disposal school -- and NATO has established an Iraqi Joint Staff College. There's also an increased focus on leadership training, with professional development courses for Iraqi squad leaders and platoon sergeants and warrant officers and sergeants-major. A new generation of Iraqi officers is being trained, leaders who will lead their forces with skill -- so they can defeat the terrorists and secure their freedom.

Similar changes have taken place in the training of the Iraqi police. When our coalition first arrived, Iraqi police recruits spent too much time of their training in classroom lectures -- and they received limited training in the use of small arms. This did not adequately prepare the fight they would face. And so we changed the way the Iraqi police are trained. Now, police recruits spend more of their time outside the classroom with intensive hands-on training in anti-terrorism operations and real-world survival skills.

Iraq has now six basic police academies, and one in Jordan, that together produce over 3,500 new police officers every ten weeks. The Baghdad police academy has simulation models where Iraqis train to stop IED attacks and operate roadblocks. And because Iraqi police are not just facing common criminals, they are getting live-fire training with the AK-47s.

As more and more skilled Iraqi security forces have come online, there's been another important change in the way new Iraqi recruits are trained. When the training effort began, nearly all the trainers came from coalition countries. Today, the vast majority of Iraqi police and army recruits are being taught by Iraqi instructors. By training the trainers, we're helping Iraqis create an institutional capability that will allow the Iraqi forces to continue to develop and grow long after coalition forces have left Iraq.

As the training has improved, so has the quality of the recruits being trained. Even though the terrorists are targeting Iraqi police and army recruits, there is no shortage of Iraqis who are willing to risk their lives to secure the future of a free Iraq.

The efforts to include more Sunnis in the future of Iraq were given a significant boost earlier this year. More than 60 influential Sunni clerics issued a fatwa calling on young Sunnis to join the Iraqi security forces, "for the sake of preserving the souls, property and honor" of the Iraqi people. These religious leaders are helping to make the Iraqi security forces a truly national institution -- one that is able to serve, protect and defend all the Iraqi people.

Some critics dismiss this progress and point to the fact that only one Iraqi battalion has achieved complete independence from the coalition. To achieve complete independence, an Iraqi battalion must do more than fight the enemy on its own -- it must also have the ability to provide its own support elements, including logistics, airlift, intelligence, and command and control through their ministries. Not every Iraqi unit has to meet this level of capability in order for the Iraqi security forces to take the lead in the fight against the enemy. As a matter of fact, there are some battalions from NATO militaries that would not be able to meet this standard. The facts are that Iraqi units are growing more independent and more capable; they are defending their new democracy with courage and determination. They're in the fight today, and they will be in the fight for freedom tomorrow. (Applause.)

We're also helping Iraqis build the institutions they need to support their own forces. For example, a national depot has been established north of Baghdad that is responsible for supplying the logistical needs of the ten divisions of the Iraqi Army. Regional support units and base support units have been created across the country with the mission of supplying their own war fighters. Iraqis now have a small Air Force, that recently conducted its first combat airlift operations -- bringing Iraqi troops to the front in TAL Afar. The new Iraqi Navy is now helping protect the vital ports of Basra and Umm Qasr. An Iraqi military intelligence school has been established to produce skilled Iraqi intelligence analysts and collectors. By taking all these steps, we're helping the Iraqi security forces become self-supporting so they can take the fight to the enemy, and so they can sustain themselves in the fight.

Over the past two and a half years, we've faced some setbacks in standing up a capable Iraqi security force -- and their performance is still uneven in some areas. Yet many of those forces have made real gains over the past year -- and Iraqi soldiers take pride in their progress. An Iraqi first lieutenant named Shoqutt describes the transformation of his unit this way: "I really think we've turned the corner here. At first, the whole country didn't take us seriously. Now things are different. Our guys are hungry to demonstrate their skill and to show the world."

Our troops in Iraq see the gains that Iraqis are making. Lieutenant Colonel Todd Wood of Richmond Hill, Georgia, is training Iraqi forces in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. He says this about the Iraqi units he is working with: "They're pretty much ready to go it on their own ... What they're doing now would have been impossible a year ago ... These guys are patriots, willing to go out knowing the insurgents would like nothing better than to kill them and their families ... They're getting better, and they'll keep getting better."

Our commanders on the ground see the gains the Iraqis are making. General Marty Dempsey is the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command. Here's what he says about the transformation of the Iraqi security forces: "It's beyond description. They are far better equipped, far better trained" than they once were. The Iraqis, General Dempsey says, are "increasingly in control of their future and their own security _ the Iraqi security forces are regaining control of the country."

As the Iraqi security forces stand up, their confidence is growing and they are taking on tougher and more important missions on their own. As the Iraqi security forces stand up, the confidence of the Iraqi people is growing -- and Iraqis are providing the vital intelligence needed to track down the terrorists. And as the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down -- and when our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will return home to a proud nation. (Applause.)

This is a goal our Iraqi allies share. An Iraqi Army Sergeant named Abbass Abdul Jabar puts it this way: "We have to help the coalition forces as much as we can to give them a chance to go home. These guys have been helping us. [Now] we have to protect our own families." America will help the Iraqis so they can protect their families and secure their free nation. We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. If our military leaders tell me we need more troops, I will send them.

For example, we have increased our force levels in Iraq to 160,000 -- up from 137,000 -- in preparation for the December elections. My commanders tell me that as Iraqi forces become more capable, the mission of our forces in Iraq will continue to change. We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide, to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists. We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys.

As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders -- not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington. (Applause.)

Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere -- but I believe they're sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose is not a plan for victory. As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would "discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies -- that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder -- and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief. (Standing Ovation.)

And as we train Iraqis to take more responsibility in the battle with the terrorists, we're also helping them build a democracy that is worthy of their sacrifice. And in just over two-and-a-half years, the Iraqi people have made incredible progress on the road to lasting freedom. Iraqis have gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to liberation, free elections, and a democratic constitution -- and in 15 days they will go to the polls to elect a fully constitutional government that will lead them for the next four years.

With each ballot cast, the Iraqi people have sent a clear message to the terrorists: Iraqis will not be intimidated. The Iraqi people will determine the destiny of their country. The future of Iraq belongs to freedom. Despite the costs, the pain, and the danger, Iraqis are showing courage and are moving forward to build a free society and a lasting democracy in the heart of the Middle East -- and the United States of America will help them succeed. (Applause.)

Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, "stay the course." If by "stay the course," they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by "stay the course," they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban -- a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America -- they are right, as well. If by "stay the course" they mean that we're not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, "Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him." Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy. (Applause.)

Victory in Iraq will demand the continued determination and resolve of the American people. It will also demand the strength and personal courage of the men and women who wear our nation's uniform. And as the future officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, you're preparing to join this fight. You do so at a time when there is a vigorous debate about the war in Iraq. I know that for our men and women in uniform, this debate can be unsettling -- when you're risking your life to accomplish a mission, the last thing you want to hear is that mission being questioned in our nation's capital. I want you to know that while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute: The American people stand behind you.

And we should not fear the debate in Washington. It's one of the great strengths of our democracy that we can discuss our differences openly and honestly -- even at times of war. Your service makes that freedom possible. And today, because of the men and women in our military, people are expressing their opinions freely in the streets of Baghdad, as well.

Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win, and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory. In World War II, victory came when the Empire of Japan surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri. In Iraq, there will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation.

As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security, and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission. America will not abandon Iraq. We will not turn that country over to the terrorists and put the American people at risk. Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East -- and this will add to the security of the American people.

In the short run, we're going to bring justice to our enemies. In the long run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before. In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed -- and today Germany and Japan are democracies and they are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet domination -- and today these nations are allies in the war on terror.

Today in the Middle East freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom, and as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace. (Applause.)

Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq. Freedom's victory in that country will inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, and spread hope across a troubled region, and lift a terrible threat from the lives of our citizens. By strengthening Iraqi democracy, we will gain a partner in the cause of peace and moderation in the Muslim world, and an ally in the worldwide struggle against -- against the terrorists. Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation -- and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans. We will meet the challenge of our time. We will answer history's call with confidence -- because we know that freedom is the destiny of every man, woman and child on this earth. (Applause.)

Before our mission in Iraq is accomplished, there will be tough days ahead. A time of war is a time of sacrifice, and we've lost some very fine men and women in this war on terror. Many of you know comrades and classmates who left our shores to defend freedom and who did not live to make the journey home. We pray for the military families who mourn the loss of loves ones. We hold them in our hearts -- and we honor the memory of every fallen soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine.

One of those fallen heroes is a Marine Corporal named Jeff Starr, who was killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a letter was found on his laptop computer. Here's what he wrote, he said, "[I]f you're reading this, then I've died in Iraq. I don't regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so they can live the way we live. Not [to] have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators_. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr and his fallen comrades -- and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their fight, and complete their mission. (Applause.)

We will take the fight to the terrorists. We will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations of a strong democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

You all are the ones who will help accomplish all this. Our freedom and our way of life are in your hands -- and they're in the best of hands. I want to thank you for your service in the cause of freedom. I want to thank you for wearing the uniform. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

As I stated earlier, you really can't apprecieate the full impact of this speech without watching it. I wish this speech had been on every network in Prime Time. It was that good.

DiscerningTexan, 11/30/2005 07:54:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
DiscerningTexan, 11/29/2005 09:54:00 PM | Permalink | |

A Patriot Stands Up

In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln's chances for reelection appeared to be "slim and none" for much of the year--and this with only the Union states voting in the election. For one thing, no president had won a second term since Andrew Jackson more than 30 years prior. Lincoln's biggest problem with the electorate was that he was weakened by widespread criticism of his handling of the war. The Union had suffered a long string of disappointments and many faulted the president's strategy. Many Democrats in the North were outraged by the Emancipation Proclamation and feared its impact on the future of society. It had gotten so bad for the President's chances that many members of his own (Republican) party bolted to put forth another candidate. The "single issue" antislavery forces in the party nominated John C. Fremont, a bitter foe of Lincoln. The president had twice dismissed Fremont from military commands and had reversed his order to free the slaves in Missouri in 1861. These antislavery forces held an early convention in Cleveland and nominated Fremont. Meanwhile the remainder Republican Party met in nominated Lincoln and the platform promised to prosecute the war effort until the Confederacy's "unconditional surrender."

In the meantime the Democrats nominated another man that Lincoln had relieved of command, General George McClellan. The campaigviciousscious: Lincoln was called a "liar, despot, braggart and worse by the Democrats of his day. The Democrats adopted a platform that called for a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement with the South. (does any of this ring familiar).

In August, during the darkest days of his Presidency, Lincoln invited some Ohio regiments to the White House on their way home, and among the remarks that Lincoln had to say to the troops was the following:

I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country. I wish it might be more generally and universally understood what the country is now engaged in. We have, as all will agree, a free Government, where every man has a right to be equal with every other man. In this great struggle, this form of Government and every form of human right is endangered if our enemies succeed. There is more involved in this contest than is realized by every one. There is involved in this struggle the question whether your children and my children shall enjoy the privileges we have enjoyed. I say this in order to impress upon you, if you are not already so impressed, that no small matter should divert us from our great purpose.

There may be some irregularities in the practical application of our system. It is fair that each man shall pay taxes in exact proportion to the value of his property; but if we should wait before collecting a tax to adjust the taxes upon each man in exact proportion with every other man, we should never collect any tax at all. There may be mistakes made sometimes; things may be done wrong while the officers of the Government do all they can to prevent mistakes. But I beg of you, as citizens of this great Republic, not to let your minds to carried off from the great work we have before us. This struggle is too large for you to be diverted from it by any small matter. When you return to your homes rise up to the height of a generation of men worthy of a free Government, and we will carry out the great work we have commenced.

The similarities are striking between the political situation of President Lincoln in 1864 and the strident and shrill criticism President Bush today, ancacophonyaphony of "attacks on the President's strategy..." Indeed, the words of another Republican President at a similar crossroads, spoken a mere two weeks ago, are brought to mind by Lincoln's stirring words when his days seemed to the elites to also be numbered:

If the peoples of that region are permitted to choose their own destiny, and advance by their own energy and participation as free men and free women, then the extremists will be marginalized, and the flow of violent radicalism to the rest of the world will slow and eventually end.

History has proven that free nations are peaceful nations, and that democracies do not fight their neighbors. By advancing the hope of freedom and democracy for others, we make our own freedom more secure.

The work ahead involves great risk. A time of war is a time of sacrifice, and the greatest burden falls on our military families. We've lost some of our nation's finest men and women in the war on terror. Each of these men and women left grieving families and loved ones back home. Each loss is heartbreaking. And the best way to honor the sacrifices of our fallen troops is to complete the mission and lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

It is an inspiring thing when men of principle stand up for principle just when the winds seem to be blowing in another direction. Which is why I have taken a long-winded path to stand up and recognize another patriot who is swimming upstream against his own party: Joe Lieberman.

Having just returned from his fourth recent trip to Iraq, Lieberman stood up today and added his name to the pantheon of American patriots who defied the naysayers and went against the grain of the expedient for what is right. For in today's Wall Street Journal and in a press conference, Lieberman did a very courageous thing: he stood up and told the truth, to the chagrin of the delusionists of his own party, and at a critical crossroads of our war against those who would murder us all. As in 1864, when Democrats called for Lincoln to "bring the troops home", so are today's Democrats guilty of attempting to snag defeat from the jaws of an American victory. But not Senator Lieberman.

You talk about courage. I have nothing but admiration for Mr. Lieberman, who no doubt has infuriated a majority of member of his own party's caucus and certainly all of the partisan anti-war moonbats on the lunatic fringe. For Lieberman's words and deeds could not have come at a more opportune time for President Bush, who is at a critical mass crossroads in convincing a spoiled-rotten American public of the just cause our men and women are giving their lives for abroad. And while in so doing the Senator may be removing himself permanently as a serious Presidential contender (at least in that party of losers), he nevertheless will go down in history as a great statesman when one was sorely needed. Here are some highlights from Lieberman's WSJ opus:

Our Troops Must Stay
America can't abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists.

I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn.


It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.


In the face of terrorist threats and escalating violence, eight million Iraqis voted for their interim national government in January, almost 10 million participated in the referendum on their new constitution in October, and even more than that are expected to vote in the elections for a full-term government on Dec. 15. Every time the 27 million Iraqis have been given the chance since Saddam was overthrown, they have voted for self-government and hope over the violence and hatred the 10,000 terrorists offer them. Most encouraging has been the behavior of the Sunni community, which, when disappointed by the proposed constitution, registered to vote and went to the polls instead of taking up arms and going to the streets. Last week, I was thrilled to see a vigorous political campaign, and a large number of independent television stations and newspapers covering it.

None of these remarkable changes would have happened without the coalition forces led by the U.S. And, I am convinced, almost all of the progress in Iraq and throughout the Middle East will be lost if those forces are withdrawn faster than the Iraqi military is capable of securing the country.

The leaders of Iraq's duly elected government understand this, and they asked me for reassurance about America's commitment. The question is whether the American people and enough of their representatives in Congress from both parties understand this. I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.

The leaders of America's military and diplomatic forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey and Ambassador Zal Khalilzad, have a clear and compelling vision of our mission there. It is to create the environment in which Iraqi democracy, security and prosperity can take hold and the Iraqis themselves can defend their political progress against those 10,000 terrorists who would take it from them.

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.

We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.

Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come.

The economic reconstruction of Iraq has gone slower than it should have, and too much money has been wasted or stolen. Ambassador Khalilzad is now implementing reform that has worked in Afghanistan--Provincial Reconstruction Teams, composed of American economic and political experts, working in partnership in each of Iraq's 18 provinces with its elected leadership, civil service and the private sector. That is the "build" part of the "clear, hold and build" strategy, and so is the work American and international teams are doing to professionalize national and provincial governmental agencies in Iraq.

These are new ideas that are working and changing the reality on the ground, which is undoubtedly why the Iraqi people are optimistic about their future--and why the American people should be, too.

I cannot say enough about the U.S. Army and Marines who are carrying most of the fight for us in Iraq. They are courageous, smart, effective, innovative, very honorable and very proud. After a Thanksgiving meal with a great group of Marines at Camp Fallujah in western Iraq, I asked their commander whether the morale of his troops had been hurt by the growing public dissent in America over the war in Iraq. His answer was insightful, instructive and inspirational: "I would guess that if the opposition and division at home go on a lot longer and get a lot deeper it might have some effect, but, Senator, my Marines are motivated by their devotion to each other and the cause, not by political debates."

Thank you, General. That is a powerful, needed message for the rest of America and its political leadership at this critical moment in our nation's history. Semper Fi.

It is not often that these pages will take an entire column to praise a member of the Democratic party. Today Joe Lieberman deserves the thanks and respect of all patriotic Americans. He certainly has mine.
DiscerningTexan, 11/29/2005 07:14:00 PM | Permalink | |
Monday, November 28, 2005
DiscerningTexan, 11/28/2005 09:14:00 PM | Permalink | |

Disgraceful and unprecedented behavior

The outrage caused by the "Limosine Liberal" Democrats is becoming palpable. By their obstructionism they are bleeding dry the very poor people they purport to "care" so much about so much--because of the high energy costs they themselves are causing. The irony is that they could easily take steps that would lessen our dependence on oil from the Middle East. And so it is becoming a national discrace. What is happening is clearly documented for to anyone willing to open up his or her eyes. For example, see the highlights below of a story by John Fund in today's Wall Street Journal:

After Hurricane Katrina temporarily knocked out 30% of America's oil refinery capacity and caused gasoline prices to spike, it became dramatically obvious that the nation needed to build more refineries away from the vulnerable Gulf Coast. But when a bill to streamline the permitting process and provide incentives to build refineries on closed military bases was headed for the Senate floor, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R., R.I.) joined with every Democrat on the Senate Environment Committee and blocked the bill.

Mr. Chafee says he opposed the bill only because it lacked provisions to develop alternative fuels and raise fuel-economy standards, although he offered no amendments to that effect. But even if conservation takes center stage in the future, existing energy sources must be expanded now before the economy's health is jeopardized. A just published report by the New England Energy Alliance warns that "energy shortages could be acute soon--by 2010 at the latest" if policy makers in the region don't act aggressively. Unfortunately, Mr. Chafee and other senators appear more concerned about fending off the aggressive criticism of the green lobby. Mr. Chafee's spokesman noted there is strong local opposition in Rhode Island to using two shuttered military bases to add refinery capacity.

Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, chairman of the Environment Committee, says he personally urged Mr. Chafee to back his bill, noting that the nation hasn't built a new refinery since 1976. "He sweats a lot," Mr. Inhofe told Human Events, referring to his fellow Republican's re-election battle next year. "He said, 'I just can't do that. I have to win that election. Right now I have a perfect record with the environmentalists.' "

Mr. Inhofe then approached some committee Democrats who he knew were under pressure from home-state businesses to vote for the bill. They rebuffed him too. Noting that a House-passed bill to streamline refinery permitting also failed to get even one Democratic vote, Mr. Inhofe concludes the nation's refinery policy is now being held hostage to partisan politics. "In the next election, high gas prices will be one of the Democrats' big campaign issues."

Then, further down:

In reality, high energy prices are often the direct consequence of misguided government policy. After House leaders were forced to remove natural gas drilling provisions from the budget, Jack Gerard of the American Chemistry Council said he was "flabbergasted that some in Congress continue to live in a fantasy world, in which the government encourages use of clean-burning natural gas while cutting off supply, and then they wonder why prices go through the roof." Natural gas prices recently spiked at $14 per million BTUs, the highest in the world and the equivalent of $7 a gallon gasoline.

Not only will such price spikes increase the cost of heating homes this winter, but they are already costing jobs. Andrew Leveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, testified before Congress this month that high energy prices were a major reason that Dow has closed 23 of its plants in North America, shedding 7,000 of its 25,000 U.S. jobs. Out of 120 chemical plants currently under construction around the world, only one is being built in the U.S. More than 50 are going up in China, where natural gas costs half of what it does in the U.S.

If that is not disgraceful, what is?

Here is what I have to say to the Democrats:
DiscerningTexan, 11/28/2005 08:01:00 PM | Permalink | |

At last, the President emphasizes enforcement at the Mexican border

President Bush came out strongly today for enforcing the laws on our borders. This is long overdue, but welcome nevertheless. Here are some key passages from the President's speech in Arizona today:

Our strategy for comprehensive immigration reforms begins by securing the border. Now, let me talk to you about a three-part plan. The first part of the plan is to promptly return every illegal entrant we catch at the border, with no exceptions. More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch are from Mexico, and most of them are escorted back across the border within 24 hours.

To prevent them from trying to cross again, we've launched an interesting program, an innovative approach called interior repatriation. Under this program, many Mexicans caught at the border illegally are flown back to Mexico and then bused to their hometowns in the interior part of the country. By returning these illegal immigrants to their home towns far from the border, we make it more difficult for them to attempt to cross again. Interior repatriation is showing promise in breaking the cycle of illegal immigration. In a pilot program focused on the west Arizona desert, nearly 35,000 illegal immigrants were returned to Mexico through interior repatriation. Last year only about 8 percent of them were caught trying to cross the border again, a much lower rate than we find among illegal immigrants who are escorted directly across the border.


We face a different set of challenges with non-Mexicans that we -- who we catch crossing the border illegally. When non-Mexican illegal immigrants are apprehended, they are initially detained. The problem is that our detention facilities don't have enough beds. And so, about four of every five non-Mexican illegal immigrants we catch are released in society and asked to return for a court date. When the date arrives, about 75 percent of those released don't show up to the court. As a result, last year, only 30,000 of the 160,000 non-Mexicans caught coming across our southwest border were sent home.

This practice of catch and release has been the government's policy for decades. It is an unwise policy and we're going to end it. (Applause.) To help end catch and release, we need to increase the capacity in our detention facilities. Last month at the White House I signed legislation supported by the members of the Arizona delegation that will increase the number of beds in our detention facilities. We're also working to process illegal immigrants through the system more quickly, so we can return them home faster and free up bed space for others.

One of the most effective tools we have in this effort is a process called expedited removal. Under expedited removal, non-Mexicans are detained and placed into streamlined proceedings. It allows us to deport them at an average of 32 days, almost three times faster than usual. In other words, we're cutting through the bureaucracy. Last year we used expedited removal to deport more than 20,000 non-Mexicans caught entering this country illegally between Tucson and Laredo. This program is so successful that the Secretary has expanded it all up and down the border. This is a straightforward idea. It says, when an illegal immigrant knows they'll be caught and sent home, they're less likely to come to the country. That's the message we're trying to send with expedited removal.

We're also pursuing other common-sense steps to accelerate the deportation process. We're pressing foreign governments to take their citizens back promptly. We're streamlining the paperwork and we're increasing the number of flights carrying illegal immigrants home. We recently tested the effectiveness of these steps with Brazilian illegal immigrants caught along the Rio Grande Valley of the Texas border. The effort was called Operation Texas Hold 'Em. (Laughter.) It delivered impressive results. Thanks to our actions, Brazilian illegal immigration dropped by 90 percent in the Rio Grande Valley, and by 60 -- 50 percent across the border as a whole.

With all these steps, we're delivering justice more effectively, and we're changing the policy from catch and release to the policy of catch and return.

The second part of our plan is to strengthen border -- to strengthen border enforcement is to correct weak and unnecessary provisions in our immigration laws. Under current law, the federal government is required to release people caught crossing our border illegally if their home countries do not take them back in a set period of time. That law doesn't work when it comes time to enforcing the border and it needs to be changed. Those we we're forced to release have included murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other violent criminals. This undermines our border security. It undermines the work these good folks are doing. And the United States Congress needs to pass legislation to end these senseless rules. (Applause.)


The third part of our plan to strengthen border enforcement is to stop people from crossing the border illegally in the first place. And we're increasing manpower. We're increasing technology and infrastructure across this border. We're integrating these resources in ways we have never done before. Since 2001, we've hired 1,900 new Border Patrol agents. I just signed a bill last month that will enable us to add another thousand Border Patrol agents. When we complete these hires, we will have enlarged the Border Patrol by about 3,000 agents from 9,500 the year I took office to 12,500 next year. This is an increase of more than 30 percent, and most of the new agents will be assigned right here in the state of Arizona. (Applause.)

And to help the agents, we're deploying technologies. [...] When agents can take advantage of cutting-edge equipment like overhead surveillance drones and infrared cameras, they can do a better job for all of us.

In Tucson, agents on the ground are directing unmanned aerial technology in the sky, and they're acting rapidly on illegal immigration or illegal activities they may see from the drones. In the months since these unmanned flights began, agents have intercepted a lot of drugs on the border that otherwise -- and people -- that otherwise might have made it through.

The legislation I signed last month provides $139 million to further upgrade the technology and bring a more unified, systematic approach to border enforcement. Again, I want to thank the members of the Congress. (Applause.)

In some places, the most effective way to secure the border is to construct physical barriers to entry. The legislation I signed last month includes $70 million to install and improve protective infrastructure across this border. In rural areas, we're funding the construction of new patrol roads to give our agents better access to the border, and new vehicle barriers to keep illegal immigrants from driving across the border.

In urban areas, we're expanding fencing to shut down access to human smuggling corridors. Secretary Chertoff recently used authority granted by the Congress to order the completion of a 14-mile barrier near San Diego that had been held up because of lawsuits. By overcoming endless litigation to finish this vital project we're helping our border agents do their job, and making people who live close to the border more secure.

Our actions to integrate manpower, technology and infrastructure are getting results. And one of the best examples of success is the Arizona Border Control Initiative, which the government launched in 2004. In the first year of this initiative -- now, listen to this, listen how hard these people are working here -- agents in Arizona apprehended nearly 500,000 illegal immigrants, a 42-percent increase over the previous year. We've captured a half-million pounds of marijuana, prosecuted more than 400 people suspected of human smuggling, and seized more than $7 million in cash. You've got some good folks here working hard to do their job, and I appreciate it very much. (Applause.)

As we work to secure the border, comprehensive immigration reform also requires us to improve enforcement of our laws in the interior of the country. Catching and deporting illegal immigrants along the border is only part of the responsibility. America's immigration laws apply across all of America, and we will enforce those laws throughout our land. Better interior enforcement begins with better work site enforcement. American businesses have an obligation to abide by the law, and our government has the responsibility to help them do so. (Applause.)
Enforcing our immigration laws in the interior of the country requires a sustained commitment of resources. Since I took office, we've increased funding for immigration enforcement by 44 percent. We've increased the number of immigration and customs investigators by 14 percent since 2001. And those good folks who are working hard, too. Last year, the -- this year, federal agents completed what they called Operation Rollback. It's the largest work site enforcement case in American history. This operation resulted in the arrest of hundreds of illegal immigrants, criminal convictions against a dozen employers, and a multi-million dollar payment from one of America's largest corporations

Our skilled immigration security officers are also going against some of the most dangerous people in our society -- smugglers, terrorists, gang members and human traffickers. In Arizona, we have prosecuted more than 2,300 smugglers bringing drugs, guns and illegal immigrants across the border. As a part of Operation Community Shield, federal agents have arrested nearly 1,400 gang members who were here illegally, including hundreds of members of the violent Latin American gangs like MS-13.

Since the Department of Homeland Security was created, agents have apprehended nearly 27,000 illegal immigrant fugitives. Thanks to our determined personnel, society is safer. But we've got more work to do. The legislation I signed last month more than doubled the resources dedicated to interior enforcement. We understand that border security and interior enforcement go hand in hand. (Applause.) We will increase the number of immigration enforcement agents and criminal investigators.

We're confronting the problem of document fraud, as well. When illegal workers try to pass off sophisticated forgeries as employment documents, even the most diligent businesses find it difficult to tell what's real and what's fake. Business owners shouldn't have to act like detectives to verify the legal status of their workers. So my administration has expanded a program called Basic Pilot. This program gives businesses access to an automated system that rapidly screens the employment eligibility of new hire against federal records. Basic Pilot was available in only six states fives years ago; now this program is available nationwide. We'll continue to work to stop document fraud, to make it easier for America's businesses to comply with our immigration laws. (Applause.)

This is a long overdue speech. But's it is a great start: our nations largest vulnerability to foreign terror is its pourous borders. In the post 9/11-era strict enforcement of our borders is no longer a "nice to have". It is a must. It is heartening to see that the President is finally recognizing this fact.
DiscerningTexan, 11/28/2005 07:25:00 PM | Permalink | |
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Moonbats on Parade (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 11/27/2005 06:46:00 PM | Permalink | |

Report: Iranians training Chechian Islamists for Jihad against Russia

One wonders how our old friend Vladimir Putin will take to the news that the Russia is being stabbed in the back by very country he has been shielding from Western sanctions (Iran)--for it seems that the Iranians are training Islamist terrorists to kill more Russians (from the UK Telegraph):

Iran is secretly training Chechen rebels in sophisticated terror techniques to enable them to carry out more effective attacks against Russian forces, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Teams of Chechen fighters are being trained at the Revolutionary Guards' Imam Ali training camp, located close to Tajrish Square in Teheran, according to Western intelligence reports.

In addition to receiving training in the latest terror techniques, the Chechen volunteers undergo ideological and political instruction by hardline Iranian mullahs at Qom.

The disclosure that Iran is training Chechen rebels will not go down well in Moscow, which regards itself as a close ally of the Iranian regime.
Russia has sided with Iran in the diplomatic stand-off over Teheran's controversial nuclear programme.

While the British and American governments have accused Iran of having a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, the Russians, who are building Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, back Teheran's claim that their nuclear intentions are solely peaceful.

Moscow has offered a face-saving formula to prevent Iran from being reported to the United Nations Security Council for its failure to co-operate fully with UN nuclear inspection teams.

Under the terms of the deal, the Russians would oversee Iran's nuclear enrichment activities to ensure that only partially enriched uranium, which is not of weapons grade, is produced.

At this weekend's meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, America and Britain gave their qualified backing to the Russian proposal in the hope that it might resolve the crisis in the agency's dealings with Teheran.

But the Iranians are growing increasingly suspicious of Moscow's intentions, and it is for this reason that Western intelligence officials believe that Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has sanctioned the training of Chechen fighters in Teheran.

Isn't it time for Putin and others to get with the program--that program being what is good for mankind and Western Civilization as a whole? How many Beslans have to occur before the Russians recognize that Iran is the worlds leading state sponsor of terror--including terror in their own country?

One would think that the Russians would have learned from history: their participation in the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 didn't exactly turn out so well for them; what is it that gives Putin the idea that it is now safe to deal with fanatical hate-filled monsters in Iran--and to help them get nukes?
DiscerningTexan, 11/27/2005 06:27:00 PM | Permalink | |

Armitage: the odds-on favorite to be the leaker of Plame's identity to Woodward

Tom McGuire of Just One Minute has been relentless in his pursuit of the truth of the Wilson-Plame affair. And, more and more, the culprit who probably leaked to Bob Woodward is looking like former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

See first his post from November 20, in which the case for Armitage is made by Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff of Newsweek, and highlighted by McGuire:

Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff of Newsweek review the bidding in the Woodward leak mystery, and single out former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as a likely suspect:

So who is Novak's source—and Woodward's source—and why will his identity take the wind out of the brewing storm? One by one last week, a parade of current and former senior officials, including the CIA's George Tenet and national-security adviser Stephen Hadley, denied being the source. A conspicuous exception was former deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage, whose office would only say, "We're not commenting." He was one of a handful of top officials who had access to the information. He is an old source and friend of Woodward's, and he fits Novak's description of his source as "not a partisan gunslinger." Woodward has indicated that he knows the identity of Novak's source, which further suggests his source and Novak's were one and the same.

If Armitage was the original leaker, that undercuts the argument that outing Plame was a plot by the hard-liners in the veep's office to "out" Plame. Armitage was, if anything, a foe of the neocons who did not want to go to war in Iraq. He had no motive to discredit Wilson.

Read it all, because in the same post McGuire also delves into motive and opportunity.

Then today, based on another story running in the New York Times, McGuire places even more chips on Armitage being the culprit:

Who leaked to Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame was at the CIA?

The NY Times provides a
handy pop-up graphic highlighting denials and folks who are "not telling".

The pretty slim "not telling" list consists of Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State and our
leading suspect; David Addington, counsel to the Vice President; and Catherine Martin, former public affairs director.

According to Bob Woodward's editor Len Downie, "the source was one who had been interviewed many times for Woodward's 2004 book", according to
Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft.

Hmm. Of the three candidates on offer, who would be the most likely fit? I'm staying with Armitage.

If true, the entire house of cards that Joe Wilson and the Democratic Party has built to attempt to attempt to discredit Karl Rove and others may come tumbling down--as it is revealed that it was one the left's own "soulmates" in the State department who outed poor, poor Valerie.
DiscerningTexan, 11/27/2005 05:49:00 PM | Permalink | |

WaPo: Putin warned Bush of planned pre-war Iraqi attacks inside US

This story in the Washington Post is about a year old, but--since our justification for going to war with Iraq is once again being regurgitated ad nauseum by the left--I thought I would dust it off and re-link to it here, just as a gentle reminder:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that his intelligence service had warned the Bush administration before the U.S. invasion of Iraq that Saddam Hussein's government was planning attacks against U.S. targets both inside and outside the country.

Putin, who opposed Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, did not go into detail about the information that was forwarded, and said Russia had no evidence that Hussein was involved in any attacks.

"After Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services, the intelligence service, received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests," Putin said, according to RIA Novosti, the Russian news agency. "American President George Bush had an opportunity to personally thank the head of one of the Russian special services for this information, which he regarded as very important," the Russian president told an interviewer while in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.
DiscerningTexan, 11/27/2005 04:12:00 PM | Permalink | |

Too little, too late? (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 11/27/2005 11:44:00 AM | Permalink | |

The Debate on Torture: Krauthammer and the "grey areas"

Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom once again strikes gold with his analysis of Charles Krauthammer's essay on the "torture" debate. Highlights:


Krauthammer then distinguishes between three classes of prisonor: 1) the battlefield capture 2) the captured terrorist, and 3) the captured terrorist presumed to have information useful to those who captured him (or her).

Of the first of these, Krauthammer writes:

There is no question that he is entitled to humane treatment. Indeed, we have no right to disturb a hair on his head. His detention has but a single purpose: to keep him hors de combat. The proof of that proposition is that if there were a better way to keep him off the battlefield that did not require his detention, we would let him go.

Because the only purpose of detention in these circumstances is to prevent the prisoner from becoming a combatant again, he is entitled to all the protections and dignity of an ordinary domestic prisoner--indeed, more privileges, because, unlike the domestic prisoner, he has committed no crime. He merely had the misfortune to enlist on the other side of a legitimate war.

Of the second group, captured terrorists, Krauthammer argues:

A terrorist is by profession, indeed by definition, an unlawful combatant: He lives outside the laws of war because he does not wear a uniform, he hides among civilians, and he deliberately targets innocents. He is entitled to no protections whatsoever. People seem to think that the postwar Geneva Conventions were written only to protect detainees. In fact, their deeper purpose was to provide a deterrent to the kind of barbaric treatment of civilians that had become so horribly apparent during the first half of the 20th century, and in particular, during the Second World War. The idea was to deter the abuse of civilians by promising combatants who treated noncombatants well that they themselves would be treated according to a code of dignity if captured--and, crucially, that they would be denied the protections of that code if they broke the laws of war and abused civilians themselves.

Breaking the laws of war and abusing civilians are what, to understate the matter vastly, terrorists do for a living. They are entitled, therefore, to nothing [...] Even though terrorists are entitled to no humane treatment, we give it to them because it is in our nature as a moral and humane people. And when on rare occasions we fail to do that, as has occurred in several of the fronts of the war on terror, we are duly disgraced.

...Which brings us, finally, to the third class of detainee: the terrorist with information. Krauthammer trots out the familiar hypothetical of the nuclear device and only five minutes to find where it is to be detonated. But he puts a philosophical spin on what proceeds from the premise that it is important to underscore:

even if the example I gave were entirely hypothetical, the conclusion--yes, in this case even torture is permissible--is telling because it establishes the principle: Torture is not always impermissible. However rare the cases, there are circumstances in which, by any rational moral calculus, torture not only would be permissible but would be required (to acquire life-saving information). And once you’ve established the principle, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, all that’s left to haggle about is the price. In the case of torture, that means that the argument is not whether torture is ever permissible, but when--i.e., under what obviously stringent circumstances: how big, how imminent, how preventable the ticking time bomb.
That is why the McCain amendment, which by mandating “torture never” refuses even to recognize the legitimacy of any moral calculus, cannot be right. There must be exceptions. The real argument should be over what constitutes a legitimate exception.

Our holier-than-thou moral "relativists" on the left often try to lecture moralists on the right on their "black and white" views. Well the same "relativism" they use so often to justify betraying their own country also applies to men and women trying to prevent a nuclear holocaust. The sooner that civilization recognizes--that for some ends, extraordinary means must sometimes be employed--the better for all of us.
DiscerningTexan, 11/27/2005 11:25:00 AM | Permalink | |