Tuesday, April 08, 2008

On the Question of Winning

I am watching the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker this morning. It appears another in a long series of inquiries about the involvement and the progress and the status of United States involvement and occupation in Iraq that will provide no information that will clear up the ongoing question and definition of the stated goal of "winning".

I have yet to hear any of the Senators in the room clearly ask or demand exactly what "winning" means. I do not expect to get a clear answer to that question during this hearing or from any person associated with the current administration. WHY?

I heard Ambassador Crocker mention the "important interests" of the United States without, of course, explaining exactly what that means. I heard both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker talk about the necessity of defeating al-Qaeda "of Iraq" (as though this was only a branch office of al-Qaeda "international"), and other "criminal" elements on the ground in Iraq. For about three years we "fought" the rebel Sunni militia fighters until we started making cash payments to these "enemies" to stop trying to kill American troops and their fellow Iraqi citizens who are Shite. Do we need to make these cash payments forever?

The current Government of Iraq is dominated by the Shites and the recent uprisings in and around Baghdad have pitted Shite militias against Iraqi government forces and have caused US troops to engage this "enemy" as well. The US alleges that all the Shite militia groups are being trained and armed by Iran (the probable next site for US occupation), our newest mortal enemy (with NO ties to al-Qaeda). The Sunnis don't mind any escalation of fighting between Shite factions. The Kurds are staying out of the way in the north. They have no great love for the Shites or the Sunnis. They desire their own Kurdish nation and may eventually get it.

Again and again, I ask the only important question. WHAT DOES WINNING MEAN? Just answer the question General Petraesus! Just answer the question Secretary Gates! Just answer the question President Bush! The United States troops that have been killed or wounded during this five plus years of occupation and "war" certainly deserve the answer to this question! What is the truth? What are these "important interests" that Ambassador Crocker and others keep mentioning? How is it possible for the most powerful military in the history of the world to be unable to "win"? We the people need a better explanation. Simply talking points about purported progress or surges or training goals for the Iraqi army and police just doesn't satisfy any longer.

Tell the truth! Can the United States actually stop violence between opposing factions in a foreign country and a foreign culture by occupying that country and fighting both sides of Iraq's internal conflict? If we have proof that Iran is providing our "enemy" in Iraq with training and weapons that are being used to kill American troops, why don't we attack and destroy Iran? They are either an active enemy or they aren't. Is the only way to "win" to KILL EVERYONE? Could we claim that we have "won" if suddenly all the Iraqi citizens from all sides told us they were going to stop fighting and killing each other and reconcile all their political and religious disputes that have divided them for centuries? Does "winning" mean that everyone must "like" us and promise to follow the United States vision of a "free" and "sovereign " nation?

We the people deserve to know the answer! Are we to completely cripple our National Treasury in these "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan? The "war on terror" will certainly not end no matter what happens in Iraq. Who will be next? Iran? Pakistan? Syria? I suspect that those behind (in the back room) don't really care as long as there is a continuing stream of defense contracts and construction contracts and oil rights. The money always determines the course of foreign policy and intervention. It's never about democracy or the oppressed peoples or the deaths of brave United States troops (and the suffering of their families). If it was, our Government would take a stand and end this madness!

Friday, March 28, 2008


A question for today is; "Who is the enemy in Iraq?".

It seems that whenever there is fighting and killing in Iraq "we the people" are ALWAYS told that whatever happens it is due to the dreaded "al-Qaeda". They are everywhere and control all things. Right?

But wait, the fighting and killing that is happening at this very moment is between opposing Shite militia factions BOTH supposedly backed and trained by Iran (who has no ties with al-Qaeda) and the Iraqi government forces backed by the United States.

We have been "paying" the Sunni militias (in our effort to get them to denounce al-Qaeda) to stop killing American troops or their fellow Iraqi citizens, which must make the Sunni's our "friends" now. Well, as long as they keep getting paid we "hope" they remain relatively passive.

The Mahdi Army, under the control of Muqtada al-Sadr, has been effectively under a cease fire for several months but now appear to be unwilling to restrict their fighting to the political arena. As a result, Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki ordered curfews and issued ultimatums to what he is calling "criminal gangs" in the Sadr neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra and elsewhere. Are these "criminal gangs" al-Qaeda? Are they Iranian "insurgents"? Are they "terrorists"? Are they "Shite freedom fighters"?

Just who is the "ENEMY" we are "fighting" in Iraq? Just who are we protecting in Iraq?

The US fired hellfire missiles into Sadr neighborhoods during the past twenty four hours and rockets continue to reach areas of the "so-called" Green Zone or International Zone. Who is firing into this area and why? Is it al-Qaeda (aren't they the cause of everything?) or is it the al-Sadr militia or some other Shite milita faction both spurred on by our new "most evil enemy", Iran?

One of the real and main problems for the United States is and has been our inability to properly define exactly what we mean by "winning" and just who we are fighting and dying for and just who we are protecting. We "protect" the Kurds in the north. The group of Kurdish "freedom fighters" in that area became too troublesome so we provided Turkey with real time intelligence and other support to launch attacks inside Iraqi territory recently. But when the Turkish troops got a bit carried away and the uproar of protests a bit too loud, we gave the Turks the sign that it was time to back off. Turkey could tell their people they did something (just what was actually accomplished isn't known) and the Kurdish people who watched yet another foreign army invade their land was quieted and the Iraqi Government (controlled by the Shite factions) didn't have to pretend that they really cared what happens to their Kurdish "brothers". Are those Kurdish "freedom fighters" really "terrorists"? Are they al-Qaeda? Are they funded and controlled by the Iranians? Who is the enemy?

So, as we "engage the enemy" (whoever they may be) during these days perhaps some clarity may be presented with respect to the true identity of our enemy. At some point, "we the people" deserve to know if we are dying for the Sunni's or the Shite's or to protect our oil interests or to defeat "terrorism" (which won't happen without killing everyone), or to battle the "evil" Iran, who is supposedly backing and training the Shites, who just happen to be in control of the Government (that we established) of Iraq! No wonder we can't get a real definition of what "winning" means. We don't even have a real definition of who our "enemy" is in Iraq!


Thursday, March 20, 2008


On November 1st, 2006 I made a posting in which I tried to discuss the ONLY numbers that really mattered and they were not the election numbers. I wrote about the fact that as of that date, 2817 United States military personnel had perished during the invasion and occupation of Iraq and that 21,419 individuals had been reported as wounded. I made another posting on November 13th, 2006 (only 12 days later) after the mid-term election results were in and the Democratic Party gained control of both the House and the Senate. This vote was supposed to be a signal to the Democrats and indeed the current Administration that "we the people" wanted a distinct change in our policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and our so-called "war on terror". In those 12 days, an additional 31 US military personnel were no longer among the living and an additional 153 soldiers had been wounded. The Democrats showed their lack of ability or lack of resolve to affect any change and the Republicans have, for the most part, remained in lock step with our failed policy.

I realize that for the most part my posting and calls for an end to the insane direction our Government has been following for the past six and a half years goes unnoticed. But that doesn't diminish the need to write them and continue to write in favor or "we the people" and for the safety and security of all our troops.

It is now March 20th, 2008 and Americans now enter the beginning of the SIXTH YEAR of putting our troops in harms way in Iraq and we are well into our SEVENTH year in Afghanistan.

During the days and weeks and months since my November 2006 posting we have now reached 1827 days of occupation in Iraq (more in Afghanistan). The DEATH TOLL for American military personnel is now reported to have reached 3,992 in Iraq and an additional 483 deaths (of a reported coalition total of 772) in Afghanistan. The military has reported "at least" 29,395 of our troops have been wounded in Iraq and an additional 1,894 wounded in Afghanistan.

This means that EVERY DAY (on average) almost 2.5 humans in the Unites States military have been killed "in the line of duty" and EVERY DAY another 17 of your troops are reported "wounded".


As horrendous as the above numbers they do not include the casualties of any other nations involved, any dead or wounded among the tens of thousands of private contractors, and certainly doesn't count the almost countless number of civilians (in Iraq and Afghanistan) who have been killed or wounded, which has been estimated to be anywhere between 100,000 and 600,000!

As our President and others in the administration and proponents of this foreign policy continue to try to convince "we the people" of the righteousness of our actions and "spin" success stories and the need to "win" (without fully explaining just what THAT means), THEY and WE seem incapable of actually "winning" in a decisive manner.

Our brave troops have served with honor and would continue to do so for an additional 5, 10, 20 or more years if they are ordered to do so. You hear some tell us that if we were to withdraw it would not honor those that have fallen in battle. I submit that it is the primary duty of our Government to protect and honor those in uniform by REMOVING THEM FROM HARM'S WAY! We continue to have a policy that has shown that simply a military victory (over whom?) is not only not attainable but would not, by itself, constitute "winning". The Iraqi Government, now in place for at least 3 years, continues to flounder, argue and fail to reconcile with its own factions and despite a few agreements has only met a fraction of the so-called "benchmarks" that we expected them to meet over a year ago. Is the current administration "protecting" our troops or US citizens by allowing the Iraqi government to drag its collective feet while our men and women are fighting and dying FOR THEM? I think not. How long should WE die for THEM?

How long? How many? How much? 12 BILLION DOLLARS PER MONTH! The cost of these wars will reach ONE TRILLION DOLLARS very shortly and will surely exceed that number in the coming years.

The "progress" and "success" we keep hearing about doesn't seem to be as evident on the ground in Iraq. We "bought" the Sunni militias by paying them a monthly stipend NOT to shoot at us. Reports that the cash payments may be drying up will lead to what? Most Iraqi citizens are extremely lucky if they get more than six to eight hours of electricity each day (which is worse than they had it before we invaded). Is that progress? The water supply in most of the country is either limited or tainted. Is that progress? The latest figures indicate that Iraqi oil production in basically at the same output levels it was prior to our invasion. WE were told by the current administration that Iraq would easily be able to pay their own reconstruction costs through oil revenues. Recent reports indicate that because of much higher prices for oil (not because of increased production) Iraq will see revenues of between 80 and 100 BILLION DOLLARS in 2007 and 2008. Yet, most of the funding for whatever reconstruction that is taking place in Iraq still comes from US taxpayer dollars! WHY?? A majority of the teachers, doctors and other professionals have fled the country. There are an estimated 4 MILLION Iraqi citizens that are displaced from their homes, villages, or cities. How can this be viewed as progress?? Unemployment in most areas of Iraq is at least 50%, the majority of schools opened during the past few years in Afghanistan have since been closed or deemed too dangerous to attend. Is this progress? In the beginning of 2001, the Taliban (as oppressive as they were) had virtually stopped growing of the crop used to produce the deadly opium (and heroin) that has been a scourge on the earth and brought death and ruin to so many Americans and people around the world. Since the invasion and occupation by the Untied States and NATO, each of the past FOUR years have shown RECORD CROPS! How can this possibly be viewed as progress when this instrument of death has been ALLOWED to gain ground as Afghanistan produces about 93% of the world's supply??? That is unforgivable!!

So, as you watch and listen to all the candidates go around the country "talking" about what they would or wouldn't do in Iraq or Afghanistan or about "winning" (again without any definition of what that means), keep in the minds that REAL PEOPLE are dying EVERY DAY while they serve and follow their orders and WAIT for their Government to get them out of harm's way. Our troops should not be simply placed on some list of statistics along with budget numbers, stock quotes, unemployment figures, etc. They DESERVE much more that that.

Enough is enough! "We the people" along with the families and friends of out troops need to DEMAND that our "leaders" get this mess over NOW! We either have to literally kill every person that wishes harm and death to America (are we truly prepared to go to that extreme?) or we must bring this debacle to an end. If we withdrew in 1 year or 2 years or 5 years or longer the "risk" that there would be sectarian violence in Iraq (and Afghanistan) will still remain. We are simply prolonging that inevitable condition and losing Americans every day.

Another key thing for "we the people" to consider is the fact that even if every person (citizen or not) currently in Iraq or Afghanistan were to magically come forward and turn in all their weapons and stop the killing, would that end the so-called "war on terror"? No, it would not! Would America and it's citizens ultimately be safer from the "terrorist threat" if Iraq and Afghanistan were to suddenly become peaceful nations? No, it would not! We cannot continue to buy into the falsehood that Iraq is the heart of terrorism. It is not and never has been! Terrorism is an idea that resides in the hearts of desperate extremists throughout the world. There is no specific country to put down. The ideas and beliefs of the radicals will continue far beyond any military engagement in any particular country. Don't we get that yet?

I strongly suggest that you all do some soul searching and objective research into the REAL reasons and motives that our troops are dying for and then demand that our nation's leaders tell us the truth and stop this madness. Our troops and US citizens deserve nothing less than that.


For a review of casualty figures and a place to put faces to the numbers of dead Americans I would direct you to the following web sites (there are several others as well); http://icasualties.org/oif/ or http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/index.html

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Privacy Gone With the Wind

The subject of privacy for "we the people" continues to be debated in the halls of Congress today as the House Bill being pushed would, on the one hand, allow unspecified intrusion into the content of the communications (phone, email, I pod, web sites, etc.) by our Government, with the full cooperation (going forward) of the companies that provide us with those services. On the other hand, the current Bill being pushed (until the Democrats cave in as usual), would not provide "amnesty" for those communication entities that very likely DID violate the privacy agreements (in place until recently) they had with THEIR customers.

My first question is WHY? A key point missing in this discussion is a critique of the practice of communication interception that has been provided by the current Administration. We have been told (in typical sound bite style) that only communications of American citizens"suspected" of possible "terrorist activities" AND in communication with "suspected" individuals OUTSIDE the United States. Does any "thinking" American citizen actually believe that all the furor over the program and the "critical" need for amnesty and the recent changes sent to customers by the communications companies is ONLY about that stated practice??

Let's examine the "rest of the story". Ask yourself just how the various "intelligence" Departments could (or would) have gone about monitoring "suspected" communications. The probability that they have a list of potential "terrorists", both within and outside our borders should be a given. But, with the tens of millions of phone, email, and other communications that take place on daily basis, how could these agencies possibility know or learn of the "new" threats? Did they simply intercept all communications initiated by anyone with a Middle Eastern surname or names that "sounded" like terrorists? Or, more likely, did these agencies initiate a much broader and much more invasive practice of attempting to monitor the communications of ALL American citizens and "flag" any contact that contained "key words" in a manner similar to doing a Google search? When GW and his Administration pressured the communication companies to cooperate and provide the US Government open access to our communications and "assured" them that doing so was "legal" (even though it wasn't), did GW also "assure" the phone and internet service providers that he would insulate them from any potential legal action their customers might begin when (or if) it was discovered that they had violated their own privacy agreements? Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush authorized and began the invasion of privacy on American citizens by stating he had the power to do so because he had the "war time power" to do so. Excuse me for asking but, with all due respect, just exactly who (specifically) were we "at war" with in the direct aftermath of 9/11? Terror is not a country! Terror is a term and a description of an intended state on mind. When GW proclaimed the "War on Terror" he tried to convince us that this was a declaration of war in the historical context that most citizens would relate to, such as the Civil War, or World War I and II. A "War on Terror" declared without a specified opponent borders on the absurd. I suppose one could define or understand that declaration as a "war" on anyone and everyone who has a grievance or disagrees or wishes to do harm to the America or its current "allies". That all sounds powerful in a climate of sorrow and anger and plays on the instinct for revenge but a bit of thought about that declaration shows that it is first not a war that can defined and second it is a "war" that will never end and cannot be "won" unless the United States is prepared and willing to systematically kill or otherwise eliminate EVERY person on planet earth that doesn't like or agree or is willing to yield to America's will. I have no doubt that there are actually those in powerful positions that would proceed with that "final solution". Are "we the people" willing to allow our Government (the Executive Branch specifically) to set aside our assumed privacy rights (details unexplained by our Government) at their choosing and to allow the Executive Branch to independently make the "judgment" as to the legality of ANY action they decide to take without opinion or oversight by the other two branches (Legislative and Judicial) of OUR Government? These must be among the most disturbing aspects of the conduct of the current administration!

Somehow, this "war on terror" proclamation convinced this administration that any policy they adopted regardless of what Federal laws or what "rights" of American citizens needed to be disregarded was justified and that any intrusion into our lives must be accepted because GW decided it was acceptable and after all even the destruction of our freedom and our laws was fair game to provide us freedom and a nation of laws. Think about that for a moment.

At any rate, I would submit that among the REAL reasons that GW is so desperate to provide the retroactive immunity to the communications companies is the fact that should the courts (the supposed third Branch of Government) be able to rule on the legality of the actions of our current administration and the communication companies there would be a likely outcome that would determine that GW has , in fact, violated and abused his authority as President. A Federal Court may also be able to determine the ugly details of just how vast the invasion of privacy of American citizens has been these past seven years and you know GW doesn't wish to fully explain himself. Of course any such review would not be revealed to "we the people" because the details would fall into the "National Security" arena (which is true) but if Congress (the Second branch of our Government) or the Judicial (our third branch of our Government) continues to be stonewalled by the Executive Branch, what type of Government do we really have at that point? The current (as it stands today) does call for a commission to investigate the program utilized by the current administration but GW is also opposed to this or any inquiry into the activities engaged in under his watch. What a surprise!

It the end, protection and providing for "we the people" is (or should be) of utmost importance to all of us and is a fundamental duty of all three branches of our Federal Government. Implicate in those duties is the responsibility of ALL the branches to uphold the Constitution and all the laws and "rights" that are the essence of the United states of America. The question remains however of how many of our "sacred" principles are going to damaged or destroyed to accomplish the goal of "winning" (still an undefined term)? The stated goal of many around the world who wish to do damage to America and her way of life is to bring about financial and social ruin to America. Must our own Government assist in our enemies success?

If you are a thinking person you must realize that protecting ourselves and our freedom and the current policy undertaken by the current administration do not have to be one and the same. There are alternative tactics and other ways to keep America strong and safe other than just continuing to march in lock step with policies that are rapidly destroying our rights to privacy (and other "rights") but depleting our National Treasury at alarming rates and creating yet another generation of families crushed by needless death or injury. A reevaluation or change in direction DOES NOT equate to "surrender" as some would have you believe!

We are living beneath our privilege if we continue to walk like sheep to the cliff and then simply fall off without at least asking "WHY".

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Highjacking the 4th Amendment?

Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure. Ratified 12/15/1791.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution was originally ratified (along with amendments 1 through 10) by only 11 States between 1789 and 1791. Three States, Massachusetts, Georgia and Connecticut didn't ratify the first 10 Amendments until 1939. A point of interest is that the States currently part of the United States of America have not been allowed to re-confirm or ratify the original 10 Amendments.

The current administration, perhaps the most secretive and invasive since the World War II years, appears to have high-jacked the 4th Amendment (or at least the intent of it).

The need for discovering potential threats against the United States and its citizens is apparent. The United States has long prided itself (at least publicly) for being a nation of laws. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, this administration entered in a covert arrangement with several public communications companies to supply the US Government with the personal phone and email records of American citizens and to monitor the conversations of an untold number of United States citizens. The government suggested that this was a legal invasion on the privacy expected by US citizens under the 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Executive Branch of our Government specifically excluded the Judicial Branch from making the determination on the legality of their actions. The communications companies (except for a few) ultimately yielded to the pressure from the United States Government and opened up records and provided the transmission of communications of United States WITHOUT any warrant or order approved by any court or judge of the Judicial Branch of our Government. The question of whether or not the communications companies have violated the privacy rights and agreements with their customers is still very much in question at this time.

The 1978 FISA law was deemed by this administration to be insufficient and the Bush people made the decision to disregard it as well as the tenets of the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution which is "supposed" to protect citizens from illegal "searching" into the lives of private citizens.

Has martial law been declared? Is it being imposed even without declaring it?

This administration has told the American public that the monitoring of the communications is "limited" to "suspected terrorist activity". The obvious first question is; WHO DETERMINES which phone calls or emails are SUSPECT? Are only communications where one of the parties is outside the United States being monitored? Are the interceptions of American citizen communications determined by a person's surname or the content of the communication? If the latter, it would seem that ALL communications from ALL US citizens would need to be monitored. In light of the FBI statement this week about the gathering of "private" information of United States citizens prior to 2006 (if you believe it actually stopped then) it has become increasingly difficult to accept anything our Government says about the limits of their invasion on the privacy of American citizens. How far has and will our government go to "protect" us? How paranoid should we be? Are all United States citizens subject to arrest and detainment for having any phone conversation or email exchange that discusses this subject or contains any discussion of the policies of our own Government or the terrorist threat around the world?

I suspect that at the heart the President Bush's determined effort to secure a retroactive amnesty for the communications companies that provided access to our phone calls and emails is twofold. First, I believe the court would determine that the existing law was in fact violated and that the President himself instigated the violations. Second, I believe President Bush and his administration wish to avoid, at all costs, a court ordered disclosure of just how many American citizens were subjected to communication monitoring and also how it was determined just who would be monitored. Of course, as with all the other "suspect" activities done by this administration, the communication monitoring activities will be placed under the heading of "National Security" which is always the catchall haven when "we the people" are being violated.

The main questions are; "How long will it take before the "freedoms", of speech, of protection against unreasonable search, and others simply become a memory in the minds of Americans that will recall a time when the Constitution and the Bill of Rights actually meant something?"

ARE the FIRST AMENDMENT and the rest of the sacred Amendments soon to dissolve into history as our Government continues to "protect" American citizens from the illusive enemies? OR, is the enemy to our liberty closer than we realize?


Questions NOT being asked

Now that the candidates of the office of President of the United States of America are basically defined by the results of the primary voting to date (Yes, there is still a question on the Democrat side) I am struck that none of these candidates are being asked some pertinent questions. I suppose it may be because the media is "afraid" or they have been told that certain areas are off limits. All "we the people" get are the sound bites that sound the best or a laundry list of promises that cannot be kept.

I am going to post a series of questions that (at least in my opinion) need to be addressed and answered because they cut through the "campaign speak" and get to a piece of the truth about our candidates and their intentions.

The first (and not necessarily in order of importance) is;

Will you, as President, continue to support the current military policy of paying militia (mainly Sunnis) in Iraq to "convert" and stop attacking American troops? If so, why not just give cash to everyone in Iraq and a bonus to those who turn in their weapons? Do you actually believe the practice of cash for support is an example of "winning the hearts and minds" that will lead to a lasting peace in Iraq?

Answer the questions! No "spin" please.