Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Turkeys in the Headlights?

Face to face with the front bumper of congressional pressure to come up with a "victory strategy" and Iraqi leaders' calls for a troop withdrawal timetable, the Departments of Defense and State are leaking/spreading a story of plans to reduce the U.S. footprint in Iraq.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States will probably not need to maintain its current troop levels in Iraq "very much longer," though she declined to provide a precise timetable for reduction in U.S. forces…

…CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported last week that Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has submitted a plan to withdraw a quarter of American combat forces, bringing the overall number of troops in Iraq down to below 100,000, by the end of next year…

…The withdrawal plan has not been approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and won't be until after a new Iraqi government is elected in December.

At the end of the day, I expect we'll see the execution of a plan that will look very much like the one Congressman Jack Murtha proposed.

I can't wait to watch the food fight when pols on both sides of the aisle try to claim credit for "solving" the Iraq problem.

I'm beyond caring who gets credit for solving the problem. We already know who gets credit for creating it.

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NYT's Eric Lichtblau reports on the Joseph Padilla case:
The Bush administration brought terrorism charges on Tuesday against Jose Padilla in a criminal court after holding him for three and a half years in a military brig as an enemy combatant once accused in a "dirty bomb" plot.

The decision to remove Mr. Padilla from military custody and charge him in the civilian system averts what had threatened to be a constitutional showdown over the president's authority to detain him and other American citizens as enemy combatants without formal charges.

At issue were Mister Bush's suspension of the habeas corpus privilege (a power the Constitution grants to only to Congress in times of rebellion or invasion), his execution of a de facto bill of attainer (which the Constitution completely prohibits), and suspension of Mr. Padilla's rights under the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments.

Losing this case in the Supreme Court would have led to the unraveling of major portions of the Patriot Act and an official denunciation of many extra-constitutional powers Mister Bush has exercised in his "war on terror."

With Sandra Day O'Connor still sitting on the court, it's unlikely that the administration would have won its case.

That the Justice Department agreed to turn the case over to civil jurisdiction indicates to me that they know they've been operating outside the law, and the country is starting to catch on to them.

The jig's up!

Here's hoping Congress gives us all a Christmas present by sticking the Patriot Act in the administration's eye.

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Murray Was of National Journal brings us this Holiday Cheer:
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter…

… The highly classified CIA assessment was distributed to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the president's national security adviser [Condi Rice} and deputy national security adviser [Steven Hadley], the secretaries and undersecretaries of State and Defense [which would include Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz], and various other senior Bush administration policy makers, according to government records…

…"What the President was told on September 21," said one former high-level official, "was consistent with everything he has been told since-that the evidence was just not there."

… The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB [Presidential Daily Brief] of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.

We'll see how long the admin can hold out on this one. If Congress subpoenas the PDBs, and the White House refuses to turn them over, this too could wind up in the Supreme Court. But as the Padilla case indicates, BushCo isn't all that het up about getting into fights it's likely to lose.

Ho, ho, ho!

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I'm headed out of town for the rest of the weekend. If I get a chance I'll stop in and shout out, maybe tell another sea story or two.

Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Best,

Jeff

7 comments:

  1. Re: troop reduction -- if we go down to 100,000, we're going to have to get out of the cities and go with the RVN -era firebase concept.

    We're dying the death of a thousand cuts now in the cities with 150,000 which, given teeth - to - tail ratios and the fact that soldiers have to sleep, means there are probably no more 25,000 - 40,000 pairs of boots on the ground at any one time.

    A total of 100,000 in country(depending on who gets withdrawn) means the "boots on the ground" numbers fall to under 20,000.

    God only knows what condition the gear is in, particularly the tracks and wheels.

    And to top things off, there has been circulating on the net an analysis of what the soldiers and Marines think of how their weapons are performing in Iraq -- the M-16/M-4/M-203 is, shall we say, living down to its reputation so righteously earned many years ago, and apparently the M-243 SAW isn't much better.

    Time to go.

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  2. fbg,

    Your tooth to tail analysis is right on--heck, your estimate on the trigger puller numbers might be a little high. At 100k in country, there might be as few as 15k shooters.

    What I *think* is that the 100,000 number is inflated--creating lowered expectations, etc.

    But we shall see.

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  3. Have a good Turkey day shipmate.

    Look at it this way, we get to enjoy a nice quiet holiday here in the World. I know there are tens of thousands of sailors deployed whose Thanksgiving consists of Holiday Routine if not actually on watch.

    So here's to them. Fair Winds and Following Seas. Enjoy the Holiday Rooty-Toots before reville ruins it all for another Shitty Navy Day at-sea filled with zone inspections, PMS, integrity watch, launches and recoveries, midwatches, midrats ... you know the rest.

    Peace...

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  4. Its the m249 SAW :-p

    I hope the Supreme Court takes the case anyway despite Jose's indictment. You can't just throw US citizens in jail and take all their rights away. Hell, even serial murderers and rapist get their rights under the constitution. Whether this guy is guilty or not isn't the point.

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  5. Jo,

    Looking back, I'm thinking I spent over half my Christmases and Thanksgivings at sea. Memory fails one, but given my sea duty record (something like 14 of 21 years), that sounds kind of right.

    Hokie,

    I kind of hope SCOTUS hears it too. The fear factor--with Roberts in charge, there's an outside chance the court will uphold it, and brother, if that happens, I'd say the Republic is cooked like a goose.

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  6. Hope you're right about the Patriot Act.

    Enjoy your T-day, Jeff!

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  7. Regarding the troop reductions, I really HOPE that 100k is a highball number and by the end of next year it's lower than that, but I don't have faith. I mean, I can't IMAGINE that we would not pull out more substantially than that, but so far this administration has done PLENTY of things that I couldn't imagine....

    I've noticed that the admin has dragged its feet on just about everything that they have "gotten behind", and I'm starting to think that they "get behind" ideas in much the same way that an anchor "gets behind" a ship....

    As for Murtha's plan, I think it's the most sane option presented so far (while I think that the Shinseki/McCain option was the most sane in the beginning of the conflict), but that doesn't mean that it'll happen. Call me a septic--er, sceptic--but I'm more than a little doubtful.

    Happy Turkey Day, everyone! Enjoy your triptaphane hangovers!

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