Monday, February 19, 2007

Unreliable Sources, Bad Planning and a Tale of Two Presidents

Steve Roberts and other journalists made an important point on Sunday's Reliable Sources with Howard Kurz. There's a huge difference between protecting the identity of a whistle blower and protecting the identity of a government official who's trying to inject "the message" into the media.

Even as the Scooter Libby trial reminds us how the Bush administration used Judith Miller of the New York Times and other reporters to spread propaganda in the run-up to the Iraq war, the media allowed unnamed "senior defense officials" to broadcast unsubstantiated claims that the "highest levels" of the Iranian government were behind efforts to provide militants in Iraq with weapons used against U.S. Troops. A week after the now infamous "secret briefing" in Iraq, most of the media have rejected the anonymous officials' main assertions about Iran's government, but other unproven accusations remain in the infosphere.

During his Wednesday press conference, Mr. Bush allowed as how, no, he wasn't for sure if Iran's highest officials were behind attacks on American troops in Iraq, but by golly he knows for certain that the Quds force has provided them there improvised explosive devices that have hurt our troops.

But what evidence have Mr. Bush or any of his echo chamberlains offered on that score?

As Scott Shane discussed in a Saturday NYT article, nobody really seems sure what or who the Quds are.
Like so much else about the Iranian state, the Quds Force, which conducts overseas operations for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, remains remarkably mysterious even to those who closely study the country.

The Quds Force is under intense scrutiny by American intelligence agencies because it is suspected of supplying sophisticated explosives to Iraqi militants. Among those detained in recent American raids on Iranian offices in Iraq were several Iranians identified by the United States military as Quds operatives, including a diplomat said to be the No. 2 official in the Quds Force.

Another "number two" bad guy captured. Mission accomplished again, huh?

We aren't even sure who or what the Quds are. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates describes them as a paramilitary arm of the I.R.G.C. [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps].”

Abbas Milani, director of Iranian studies at Stanford University, says the Quds are “the handpicked elite of an already elite ideological army.”

But Milani and other experts aren't sure how many Quds there actually are. Estimates range from 3,000 to 50,000. That's quite a range. They're not even sure if the Quds are a "formal unit" within the Revolutionary Guard. Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says, “I just don’t think we have a very acute understanding of the internal workings of the regime in Iran.”

It doesn't look to me like anyone in the Bush administration has an accurate understanding of anything regarding Iran, but that doesn't stop them from talking like they know exactly what's going on. But then again, facts have always taken a back seat to beliefs with this crowd. If Dick Cheney can convince young Mr. Bush that the moon is made of green cheese, then it must be so.

"We're Definitely Winning"

Tony Snow made the round of political gabfests on Sunday. On Meet the Press, Tim Russert took Snow to task for remarks he'd made earlier in the week.
MR. RUSSERT: The other day you were asked about pre-war planning, and how it had been overly optimistic, and then you said this. “I’m not sure anything went wrong.”

MR. SNOW: Yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Is that your view of the war in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Well, no. I’m putting it this way. When you say not sure anything went wrong, what I was referring to is the notion that somehow somebody’s going to have perfect foresight of what’s going to happen in a time of war. The old cliche is that battle plans never survive first contact with the enemy.

I'm glad to see Tony has become such an expert on warfare.

The old cliché about plans not surviving first contact with the enemy is a load of wheeze. Superior plans succeed because they anticipate likely crises. The plan for the post-hostilities phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom failed because it did not exist.

General David Petreaus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, is about to execute an escalation plan with fewer troops than he theoretically needs to accomplish his objectives. He'll count on Iraqi forces to pick up the slack, which is a long odds crapshoot. Worse, U.S. and Iraqi troops will fight side by side under separate chains of command.

I'm not saying Petraeus can't succeed. Accidents can happen. But hoping for an accident to happen isn't "planning." It's praying.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Monday that five years and change into our Global War on Terror, senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan have regained control of their global terror network.

And, of course, the tallest Arab ever wanted "dead or alive" by a U.S. president is still on the loose.

If our current Commander in Chief and his key advisers had set out to purposely lose their war in the worst possible way, they couldn't have planned it any better.

George W. Bush was in Mount Vernon, Virginia Monday morning for a President's Day address, making the expected allusive comparisons between himself and George Washington. Heh. Who do you think you're kidding, Mr. Bush? That George could not tell a lie.

And he was competent.


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.


  1. Anonymous1:52 PM

    re: sucess in Baghdad: Seems like the first counter-move just played out. (Cant get yahoo links here now...). They slam-banged a forward post, 4 carbombers.

    Its interesting to try to analyze it from the oppo-point. How many Saudis and cancer-patients are nedded to break through the outer perimeter? Where do you ambush the rescue-teams? The rapid-response-deployment tactic is becoming extinct, because four years of experience is beginning to tell in the opposition.

    On another and morbidly funny note, heres the GWB jr. quote of the day:

    "On the field of battle, Washington's forces were facing a mighty empire, and the odds against them were overwhelming. The ragged Continental Army lost more battles than it won, suffered waves of desertions, and stood on the brink of disaster many times. Yet George Washington's calm hand and determination kept the cause of independence and the principles of our Declaration alive."


  2. Bush, sadly, doesn't have a clue how badly flawed his analogies are.

  3. Im seriously concerned that the whole surge-option is a rat-trap that will see the hezbollah-experience of last summer come into play. Remember that the area is a fluid scenario, with autonomous intelligence-networks. They propably have some deep infiltration of the Iraqi side of the coalition, and will be focused on sniping off forward posts, getting intelligence about US deployments/initiative. Analytically speaking, if it goes wrong its a nightmare. (Opposition to this is welcome).

    And Jeff, I agree, its a funny funny quote.

  4. Anonymous2:03 PM

    harald here was mk ;-)

  5. Anonymous12:59 AM

    Are the Shiite militia leaders like Moqtada al Sadr really "lying low" while the U.S. decimates the Sunni fighters? The pundits are saying that on the MSM.

    To begin with, I'm not so sure that the U.S. will have significant success against the Sunnis. And, assuming that the Shiite militias are out of the field, how long will they stay out? The Sunnis will take the opportunity to attack Shiite targets. Plus, if the U.S. does decimate the Sunnis, won't the Shiite forces be the next ones attacked by the U.S.?

    It just seems to me that the Shiites (and Iran) profit most by having a chaotic civil war with U.S. soldiers ground up in the middle of it all.

  6. MK,

    I fear it's a rat trap too.


    Right now, it looks that way to me. And that's certainly the smart play, from al-Sadr's perspective. Let the Iraqi and U.S. forces do your dirty work for you.


  7. Anonymous10:54 AM

    And for an amusing tale of incompetence:,,2017023,00.html

    Ye gods, again.

  8. William Bollinger is very right. The media feels safe to attack the president, and they're still holding back the full force of what's going on from the American public.