Posts for May, 2011
First off, some basics. I have no doubt Osama bin Laden is dead as a doornail and that the Seal team did it. I also believe that the mission was to kill him on sight, period, along with anyone who got in the way. There is no way the U.S. wanted him back here on trial in NYC with a dozen ACLU lawyers defending him and ranting about warrants. I also believe there was virtually no resistance and what "firefight" there was was pretty much unidirectional. I also believe there was no concern for collateral damage which is why the lady doctor was killed in the--again--unidirectional "crossfire". The evidence for this is that only two weapons were found, a pistol and an AK-47, and only the AK-47 had been fired--once, apparently by one of the two men--one who was the famous courier--who were also killed.
Many heads are spinning, mine included, with the blizzard of changeling accounts from the administration issued by various spokespeople and finally POTUS himself. Hence the first question. If the White House was intimately involved in this operation, as we are led to believe by the Prez and others, why all the tangled accounts? One might think they were caught with their pants around their ankles. Actually, I believe that is exactly the case. I don't believe for a minute that this was a White House-directed operation. From the beginning, I just did not see this as an Obama-like operation; it is just out of character for our fledgeling president.
So, what is "the rest of the story?" Well, the honest answer is I don't really know. However, I recently received via email a detailed account of this operation over the printed "signature" of a retired Marine Colonel with the unlikely name of Adolf P. Sgambelluri, who really exists and who runs a private intelligence service based in Guam, called Investigations Agency International Corporation. It is quite a story which, I must admit, rings true for me although I am unable to authenticate it fully to my satisfaction. I checked the IAIC web site and could not find a reference to the report, which bothers me.
In summary, the account claims this was a CIA operation planned under the authority of Leon Panetta, supported by Hillary Clinton (SECSTATE), Robert Gates (SECDEF), Gen. David Petraeus and (Director of National Security-DNS) James Clapper throughout. The White House, in the person of Senior Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett, opposed this operation from the git-go. President Obama was only peripherally aware and was very much uninvolved until the operation was underway. The initial plan was to bomb the compound but was changed to a manned assault to minimize possible collateral damage since the occupants of the compound, other than bin Laden, were not known.
Our esteemed President, predictably, is parading around the country giving campaign speeches with OBL's body draped around his shoulders, taking, or at least implying, full credit for "getting the guy that previous administrations couldn't." Way to go, Rambo!
With respect to the Pakistani government's involvement, or lack of same, there is simply no credibility to the idea that they were completely unaware of this white-elephant fortified villa in the midst of a military community. They knew he was there and purposefully turned a blind eye, if in fact not proactively providing cover. However, since we need them, they will get nothing more than 40 lashes with a diplomatic wet noodle. Ah, the exigencies of international power politics.
There has been much speculation as to how much intelligence was obtained through CIA "enhanced" interrogation of al Qaeda-related captives at overseas detention centers. I suspect that certainly some intelligence was so obtained from the likes of "20th hijacker" Mohammed al-Khatani, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Zacarias Moussaoui, which aided in the identification of bin Laden's trusted courier, Abu Ahmad al Kuwaiti, which eventually led to bin Laden's villa at Abbottabad, Pakistan. How much intelligence and how useful is debatable, but certainly most of the key intelligence was obtained by the CIA, and from whom else would they have got it? However, I am not among those who would give George W. Bush the major credit. That belongs to the CIA under Obama appointee Leon Panetta, who incidently has proven to be a very effective DCI (Director of Central Intelligence).
The assassination of Osama bin Laden without a doubt is a good thing and brings some degree of closure to the 9/11 World Trade Center outrage. At the same time, it appears pretty certain that Osama was essentially irrelevent to the operations of today's decentralized al Qaeda. I get the picture of a disenchanted, sick old man sitting nearly alone in a huge fortified mausoleum, playing at plotting nostalgic 9/11-style terrorist attacks on the "Great Satan."
It's just too bad that the issue has to be confused by spin and obfuscation in an attempt to gain maximum political mileage from a very well executed CIA wet operation, with a major salute to the Navy Seal team who actually did the dirty deed. It's comforting to know that in that foggy world across the Potomac, we still can plan and pull off complex clandestine operations.
Of course, only by keeping the Obama White House largely in the dark.
There have been numerous media references questioning the purpose of the recount in the Supreme Court (WI) race between JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent David Prosser. I have to admit similar confusion. Everyone seems to agree that there is no chance of shifting the election results back to Kloppenburg.
However, I have a principle that says, in politics, if something doesn't make sense, you aren't looking at it from the right perspective. In other words, everything makes sense to someone.There is a second principle I subscribe to that states that nothing in the realm of politics is as it seems. Applying these principles and taking as wide a perspective as possible, a sensible scenario began to take shape. I now believe it is the only credible explanation of the thinking behind this seeming exercise in futility.
Kloppenburg's people have alluded to the possibility of a court challenge to the validity of the election. This seems to also have the chances of the proverbial snowball in that hot place. Well, maybe not. Recall that a Madison judge, Maryann Sumi, has already ruled against the acceptance of Gov. Walker's budget repair bill based on open meetings requirements. Her final judgement may go either way, but seems to be leaning in favor of the plaintiffs. Thus, the bill, which eliminates most public service union collective bargaining rights and which is considered a dire threat by organized labor, my very well be invalidated.
The Waukesha County recount has been greatly delayed, mainly due to questions raised by the very expensive team of lawyers in the Kloppenburg camp. In fact, a very large sum has been spent, most likely from union dues, in support of this recount, and continues to be expended. The idea that this is all being done in a clearly futile effort to reverse the election results is simply not credible.
So, what is really going on here. I have considered the options and have concluded that only one scenario makes any sense. The major issue here is not the election of JoAnn Kloppengurg to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. That is clearly a done deal for the incumbent, David Prosser. The real issue is the collective bargaining issue in Scott Walker's so-called budget repair bill. This legislation, while passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, is under a legal cloud due to an action in the Dane County court of Judge Maryann Sumi. The Walker folks and the Republican legislators have clearly ticked her off by defying her original injunction against implementation of the bill, an unwise tactic.
Walker's bill clearly diminishes the power of the public service unions who are presently the only shining star in the union firmament. If Walker succeeds in pulling their teeth, other states are poised to follow Wisconsin's lead, potentially creating a domino effect across the nation. Since these unions are stalwart Democrat supporters, there is clearly much at stake for many players. I believe this is the real issue in the Kloppenburg election affair.
The original concept was to bounce Prosser and replace him with a Dane County liberal, thus shifting the present 4-3 conservative tilt on the Supreme Court to liberal. The budget repair bill issue will likely end up before the Supreme Court, especially subsequent to a decision unfriendly to the Walker camp by Judge Sumi. The hope was that the now-liberal Supreme Court would support the lower court's decision.
When the election results tilted markedly to Prosser's side by a clearly unsurmountable margin, the plan changed from the defeat of Prosser to neutralization of the Supreme Court. Here's how. The unions and the Democrats who need them would demand a recount. Kloppenburg was simply the means of implementation. (I suspect JoAnne was promised future support of some sort.) The tactic was to create a delay by demanding a futile recount, dragging it out as long as possible and establishing the basis for a further delaying court challenge of the inevitable result.
By delaying the official certification of the re-election of David Prosser to after August 1st, the end of Prosser's term, the court would be short one conservative justice, creating the potential of a 3-3 deadlock on the budget repair bill issue, which would then affirm the lower court's decision and presumably invalidate the passage of the bill.
The second element in the plan is the recall efforts against Republican senators. If enough of them succeed, and it would take only three, the Senate would switch to Democrat control, effectively blocking re-passage of the budget repair bill and preserving the status quo. Thus, Governor Walker's attempt to weaken the power of the public service unions would fail and other states presumably would be discouraged from trying the same thing.
The only fly in their ointment is the fact that at present only six Republican recall petitions have been certified along with three Democrat. If this holds, then the Democrat-union coalition would need to win half of the Republican recall elections and all the Democrat recalls, or the equivalent, to flip the Senate, which is not impossible but a bit unlikely. Therefore, it is possible that they will not pursue the court challenge to the election recount as being too much of a long shot.
One can only hope.
NOTE: The last paragraph (not the one-liner) was significantly edited to correct an error on my part. Sorry for any confusion.
Memorial Day 2011
Today, Memorial Day, 2011, our daily newspaper printed a tribute to the ten Wisconsin servicemen who lost their lives this past year in action. All were killed in Afghanistan, a war which today makes no sense. There was a time when that God-forsaken hostile place sheltered al Qaida, the attackers of our World Trade Center twin towers, costing nearly 3000 civilian lives. Since that initial action, al Qaida has not been a significant presence. Our military is fighting and dying against the Taliban, an indigenous Afghani tribal sect, who never did us any harm. To prolong this killing ground is an insult to the courage and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform.
Yet, they fight on, obeying orders issued by a political entity across the ocean. This is the lot of the soldier, to obey without question. The tragedy of history is that old men--some not so old--initiate wars but it's the young who fight and die in them. It's called duty.
So, on this great, sad holiday, here is a tribute to their courage and love of country, right or wrong, for which they fight.
Thank you, heroes now and past; God bless you all. And to the fallen, rest in peace and honor. You will not be forgotten.
Some of you may remember seeing this--I reprint it every Memorial Day--but I believe it is the best tribute to the courage and character of the American military that I have ever seen. It is especially appropriate on this the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Wilson Reagan, the 40th President of the United States of America.
Normandy American Cemetery Memorial (cemetery in distance)
This is a speech given by President Ronald Reagan in Normandy on the 40th anniversary of D-Day, June 6th, 1984. In the audience were surviving members of the Second Ranger Battalion who in the face of withering fire had climbed the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc at Omaha Beach, where a German artillery post had been emplaced to direct deadly fire down on the landing American troops. Had this position not been neutralized, the tenuous U.S. beachhead might well have been wiped out, seriously endangering the entire D-Day invasion.
Lest we forget ……
The Boys of Pointe du Hoc
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon.
At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.
The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only 90 could still bear arms. Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are the men who in your lives "fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."
I think I know what you may be thinking right now, thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him. Lord Lovat was with him, Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken. There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.
All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet" and you, the American Rangers.
Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge, and pray God we have not lost it, that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all know that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought, and felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m.; in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell. Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also that night, General Matthew Ridgeway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
… We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.
… Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgeway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.
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