Sunday, October 30, 2005

Austin Bay on the indictment...

Austin Bay discusses the indictment of Scooter Libby. What is interesting, besides Joe Wilson's shifting story (which he comments on), is the irregularities that appear to have occured in Wilson's trip to Niger.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Serious WMD stuff...

Austin Bay reminds everyone that the United States takes weapons of mass destruction seriously. Here's the reason why, which he didn't quite touch on:

The policy of the United States is that we will respond in kind if weapons of mass destruction are used against the United States. Here's something to consider: We joined the Biological Warfare Convention in 1972. We got rid of our bioweapons. We joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997. Guess where our chemical weapons (including the non-lethal agent BZ) went? Yep, they're gone, too. What WMD does the United States have? They operate on principles of physics as opposed to biology or chemistry - they're nuclear weapons.

Think this through carefully, folks. If we get hit with a chemical weapons attack in Madison Square Garden, we'll be responding with nukes once we identify the culprit. We have to, because if we don't, then there is no chance of deterring future attacks. Restraint would not be an option.

This is why we get very touchy when we hear someone nasty is trying to get weapons of mass destruction - and we also get information that they may provide them to terrorists. This is why Saddam Hussein's regime was taken down. He was clearly trying to get weapons of mass destruction, and at least one recovered memo indicates that there was a relationship with al-Qaeda. Also, one of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay was supposed to work with an officer of the Mukhabarat (the Iraqi intelligence service) to carry out a chemical mortar attack against the American embassies in Pakistan. Had that attack been carried out, we would have traced it to Iraq and al-Qaeda - and shortly after that, there's a very good chance that parts of Iraq would not be pleasant places to be. The resulting death toll would be well over the 100,000 that opponents of the liberation of Iraq cite at present.

Think that over the next time you see a news report of how bad things in Iraq are. It could have been worse. A lot worse.

EDIT: I wanted to add one more thought to all of this. The decision made by President Bush to liberate Iraq needs to be viewed with our policy concerning attacks with weapons of mass destruction in mind. I know that knowing what he knew at the time he made the decision to go into Iraq, that I would have made that decision - not just to save the lives of Americans, but also to save the lives of the tens of thousands of Iraqis (at a minimum) who would have died had we been forced to retaliate to a WMD attack that Saddam Hussein was complicit in.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bashir Assad's mind has taken a walk off the map...

Austin Bay discusses the UN report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

One thing needs to be kept in mind: What Syria did was a patently irrational action. If Bashir Assad was trying to keep Lebanon as a vassal state, he has utterly failed now. In fact, his regime has to be considered at risk at this point. This is a huge black mark on Syria's present regime, and isn't something that can be ignored.

I will not pretend to know what Bashir Assad was thinking - if he was thinking. Nor do I know what the person who doctored the report was thinking. But it is just par for the course... the UN covering up for dictators and jerks again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Sonar lawfare...

Lawfare is something that Jim Dunnigan, a colleague of mine at, has written about extensively. Usually, it focuses on the war on terrorism.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has taken this lawfare to a new level. After lengthy legal action that has stunted the development of SURTASS LFA (see the first article, dated December 31, 2003) and which has tied up a sonar range (see the July 20, 2004 article) off the Carolinas, they are now trying to restrict use of the medium-frequency active sonars (the SQS-53 and SQS-56) - which are used on every surface combatant.

Active sonar has become a big factor these days as fuel cells are replacing diesel engines on the advanced non-nuclear submarines (see the French Scorpene, the German Type 212/214, and the Russian Lada/Amur classes as prime examples of this). Active sonar is probably the best way to detect these subs before they can danage (or sink) one of our ships.

Now, the NRDC is conceding that the Navy could use active sonar in wartime, but their lawsuit is placing our sailors at risk by threatening to cut back on the training. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines fight like they train. If the training is restricted or eliminated, their effectiveness in combat decreases sharply.

The NRDC's lawfare against the Navy could get some sailors killed one of these days.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Memo for Joe Wilson: Cover Your Anatomy

CYA. It's one of the first things anyone in government service--military or civilian, government employee or contractor--learns: Cover Your Anatomy. (To my salty Marine Corps brethren and sistren: I am using the sanitized version deliberately, so take a chill pill.)

That means that, whenever there is the slightest chance of controversy regarding what happened, you make records of everything you do on behalf of Uncle. You write things down, preferably on real paper. That goes for anyone, be s/he be a Marine NCO recording that s/he had counseled a subordinate on his or her problematic behavior, or a former ambassador sent to Niger to investigate whether or not uranium was making its way to Saddam Hussein.

Mark Levin raises the question peripherally here:

When Wilson returned from Niger, he never got around to filing a written report. After all, why produce a written report that would be circulated to real professionals and policymakers, who would subject it to serious scrutiny.

So far, so bad. When I participated in meetings with government clients, I always wrote down my thoughts immediately afterward, while the memories were still fresh. (If you didn't write it down, it never happened.) But it gets worse in the next sentence:

However, Wilson was debriefed by the CIA and his debriefers did take notes.

The second sentence raises an interesting point. Mr. Wilson never gave the government his primary recollections; instead, they received his observations filtered through the prism of whoever debriefed him and whatever they chose to write down. That's very bad form when dealing with something that could help decide, one way or another, whether America goes to war. It is a sign of either laziness or moral cowardice. Neither is the sort of trait that engenders trust in one's judgement.

Even more interesting is the Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq. There is an interesting statement on page 43 of Section II, Niger:

(U) Later that day, two CIA DO officers debriefed the former ambassador who had returned from Niger the previous day. The debriefing took place in the former ambassador's home and although his wife was there, according to the reports officer, she acted as a hostess and did not participate in the debrief.

I never discuss classified information in my house; it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a secure facility, and it cannot be made into one without truly astonishing amounts of remodeling, followed by having the National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency come out to look over the work and certify it, a process that generates truly astonishing amounts of paperwork. As Mr. Wilson does not reside in the White House or the Naval Observatory, it is safe to assume that his house is, like mine, not a secure facility. Therefore, any information from his debriefing should have been unclassified. However, the report prepared by the debriefers is classified. Either the debriefers grossly violated basic procedures for handling classified material, or they grossly abused the security classification process. Which one is it? That's a question for an attorney who specializes in Freedom of Information Act litigation.

So, what happened? We don't know the full details. We probably never will know the full details. But what we do know is that Joe Wilson, supposedly an expert in national security matters, didn't even bother writing anything down at the time regarding what he heard and saw, and violated either security classification guidelines or procedures for protecting classified information...and he then asks us to trust his judgement.

Sorry, Joe, I didn't get that memo.


This blog, mostly inactive for six months will return soon with something very interesting...

Stand by.