Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Franks Tells It Like It Is

I'm sure you've all heard John Kerry's oft-quoted lie about Bush's failures in Afghanistan (not an exact quote)- "Bush had bin Laden surrounded at Tora Bora. And what did he do? He failed to capture him because he outsourced the job to Afghan warlords who had no interest in seeing bin Laden brought to justice." That sounds familiar doesn't it? Of course, anyone with a brain knows that Bush was not in Afghanistan making tactical decisions on the ground. Those decisions were made by General Tommy Franks, and he apparently doesn't appreciate the factually-challenged criticism that Kerry's been throwing at him:

As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator's understanding of events doesn't square with reality.

That's because he's lying, General.

Read the entire article here (login: laexaminer, password: laexaminer).

LTG Michael Dunn Defends CIA

I like LTG Dunn. Back when he was MG Dunn, I used to fly him around Korea almost weekly. In fact, I flew him to a meeting on that fateful day when I ended up having lunch with Luciano Pavoratti at the DMZ. If you don't know that crazy story, be sure to ask me about it someday. But I digress. LTG Dunn presented me and my crew with a "commander's coin" every time we flew him somewhere. He's a solid guy and always interesting to talk to. I like that he went on the record to defend the intel community. They've been getting a real bad wrap ever since 9/11. It's really not fair when you think about it- they save our lives over and over again without any notice or appreciation. They've been doing it for decades and they're still doing it now. But the only time they come under the spotlight is when something goes wrong. LTG Dunn puts this in his own hearfelt perspective in a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal. Here's a clip:

...Some have likened the task of information gathering to putting together the pieces of a puzzle. In truth, it's more like piecing together shards of glass from a large, shattered picture window, a window that is mixed up with hundreds of other shattered windows and with other pieces of glass that don't belong to any window.

We should worry about the consequences of "failure to know." The intelligence community (IC) analyst of the future might be inclined to lower the threshold on what he provides to decision-makers so that they know everything he knows, and so he can say, "I told you" when facing the next 9/11 Commission. The decision makers of the future could be overwhelmed with so much "spam" that they have very little knowledge -- much like the bulk mail in our own personal e-mail accounts. Or worse yet, instead of IC judgments, they may choose to filter the data based on their own compass and in the absence of IC filters/summaries, they may make the judgments themselves. Or they may be inclined to ignore most of it. Or the IC may lapse into a language of qualifiers -- using such phrases such as: could, may, might, possibly, may possibly, and believe (vs. know). All of this takes us down paths much worse than we are on today.

Finally, we do a disservice to the professionals in the IC to continue to refer to not knowing something as a "failure." We will not, nor should we expect, to know everything, and I can absolutely guarantee there will be "failures" in the future. We should thank the IC for the many "finds" they have made, the many lives they have saved, and their sacrifice, many times in blood, for our nation. I, for one, am grateful for their service.

Me, too.

Great Letter from a Guard Guy

My lovely Aunt (a true American patriot if there ever was one) was kind enough to bring this great letter to my attention. This is a letter from Ray Reynolds, a medic in the Iowa Army National Guard, serving in Iraq:

As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing.)

*Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.

*School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.

*Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.

*The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.

*The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.

*Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.

*The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.

*100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.

* Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.

*Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.

*Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.

*Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.

*Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.

*Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.

*Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.

*An interim constitution has been signed.

*Girls are allowed to attend school.

*Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.

Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.

Ray Reynolds, SFC Iowa Army
National Guard 234th Signal Battalion
Back to the Old

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for their honest feedback about the "new" format. I heard your voices and they were loud. Thus, I am back to the old format and here I'll stay. I think you all were right- this one does look better.

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