Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Still Won’t Say It

ABC News leads the report with this:

Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s military superiors repeatedly ignored or rebuffed his efforts to open criminal prosecutions of soldiers he claimed had confessed to “war crimes” during psychiatric counseling, according to investigative reports circulated among federal law enforcement officials.

The report goes on to account for his last few hours and his activities, and the asserts:

Investigators believe Hasan’s frustration over the failure of the Army to pursue what he regarded as criminal acts by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan may have helped to trigger the shootings.

Really? So I wonder why he didn’t go after the soldiers who had allegedly committed the war crimes versus a random lot at a processing center?

The report continues with some pretty damning evidence that not only were there a lot of red flags with this guy, but they seem to have been pretty darn obvious. That doesn’t change the fact that other than some oblique references to his religion, ABC cannot seem to acknowledge that perhaps, at base, it was that which “may have helped trigger the shootings”.

~McQ

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Decision Time Afghanistan – How Much Of It Is About Politics?

Richard Fernandez of the Belmont Club writes a very well done essay on the present Afghanistan decision making process. He compares Andrew Sullivan’s apologia with David Kilcullen’s concerns about the time involved in reaching a decision. You can disregard the Sullivan part except to understand that he thinks it is just marvelous that Obama is taking so much time considering all the options and doing his homework before making a decision to change the strategy there.

Fernandez reminds us of a very important point that seems to have escaped many as they await the decision. The strategy President Obama is planning on changing is his own. In March of this year he said:

Good morning. Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office. My Administration has heard from our military commanders and diplomats. We have consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments; with our partners and NATO allies; and with other donors and international organizations. And we have also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. Now, I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people. … So let me be clear …

This is surely something the administration would like you to forget. And thus you hear all the nonsense that’s been coming out lately (and has gotten pushback from former VP Dick Cheney) that Afghanistan was just left adrift by the former administration. It is nonsense because the basis of the March “careful policy review” was that which the former Bush administration had done.

However that’s not really the point – the point is that a “comprehensive, new strategy” for both Afghanistan and Pakistan were announced by this administration. A new general, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, was named to implement that strategy. Now, suddenly, they’re involved in reviewing that strategy.

What, if anything, has changed?

The event that has been blamed is the national election in Afghanistan. And, as mentioned, it has been coupled with the baseless claim that the Afghan war was left adrift by the Bush administration. The former problem, while serious, isn’t a show stopper (see Iraq). The latter problem is simply untrue. What has changed is the politics surrounding Afghanistan. The polls show a deeply divided United States with the majority not favoring an escalation and many favoring we leave altogether. Given his domestic political problems trying to ram an unpopular agenda through Congress – which has succeeded in splitting his base as well as firing up the political opposition – he needs something with which to bring his base back in line. Afghanistan may be that issue.

Consider too who he has involved in his review: VP Joe Biden who is pushing a minimalist “super ninja” strategy. He wants to use special operators and drones to kill al Qaeda. Let Pakistan and Afghanistan sort themselves out politically. Obviously if that means the Taliban takes over Afghanistan again, well, so be it. The fact that Biden was wrong about every aspect of Iraq as he suggested strategy then doesn’t seem to matter. Also included is Sen. John Kerry. He’s considered such a lightweight when it comes to military matters that he’s usually ignored outright when he pontificates on matters about which he obviously hasn’t a clue. He thinks Gen. McChrystal’s plan goes “too far, too fast”. The fact that Kerry has somehow managed to include himself and is apparently being taken seriously by Obama tells you how little Obama knows about any of this and how out of his depth he is on the issue.

Lastly, there’s David Axelrod, who claims he “doesn’t have a seat at the table” when these policy reviews take place, but attends every one of them anyway. While he may not have an official seat at the policy review table, he owns the table of chief political advisor and Obama sits at that table daily. Axelrod’s job is to divine the political winds and keep Obama sailing in the fair ones.

Thus the strategy review. When Gen. McChrystal accepted the job to implement the Obama administration’s new March ’09 comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he began what all new commanders do – a commander’s review. In that review he takes the strategy and mission and he games them out. He attempts to ascertain, to the best of his ability, what it will take in terms of resources to accomplish the mission the strategy outlines. Once he has ascertained that, he submits his plan to his commander – in this case, directly to the President.

It isn’t a complicated process – the boss gives you a mission. You analyze the mission, determine what it takes to accomplish the mission and you go back to the boss with a plan and a request for resources. That’s precisely what happened.

However, in the interim, politics began to rear its head. In July, right in the middle of the assessment process, Obama’s National Security Advisor and former Marine General Jim Jones showed up in Afghanistan and made it very clear that requests for more troops would not be a welcome event. Speaking to Marine commanders there he was quite clear:

Now suppose you’re the president, Jones told them, and the requests come into the White House for yet more force. How do you think Obama might look at this? Jones asked, casting his eyes around the colonels. How do you think he might feel?

Jones let the question hang in the air-conditioned, fluorescent-lighted room. Nicholson and the colonels said nothing.

Well, Jones went on, after all those additional troops, 17,000 plus 4,000 more, if there were new requests for force now, the president would quite likely have “a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.” Everyone in the room caught the phonetic reference to WTF — which in the military and elsewhere means “What the [expletive]?”

Nicholson and his colonels — all or nearly all veterans of Iraq — seemed to blanch at the unambiguous message that this might be all the troops they were going to get.

The “17,000 plus 4,000 more” troops were a part of that March ’09 “new” strategy based on the former administration’s plans. Jones made it very clear that regardless of what these commanders thought they needed to do the mission they’d been given, they’d better plan on doing it with what they had. And later, in another interview, Jones dismissed any additional troops requests or their need by claiming that all commanders in the field ask for more troops, whether they really need them or not.

Apparently, however, Gen. McChrystal decided, Jones admonishment notwithstanding, that he couldn’t with clear conscience, heed that advice and accomplish the mission given (although rumor has it he cut his initial estimate of troops needed from 60,000 to 40,000). He went ahead and submitted his plan at the end of August asking for more resources and troops.

Back to that fairly simple process I outlined above. Once you submit your plan to your boss with the request for resources necessary to accomplish that mission you normally then sit down with him and explain and defend your plan. That, of course, has never happened. And that 20 minutes on the tarmac in Airforce One while in Copenhagen did not give McChrystal the opportunity to do that. That meeting was driven by bad press and politics, not a desire to meet with and discuss the plan McChrystal had submitted. The required meeting, to date, still hasn’t happened. But numerous “war council” meetings continue to happen. And as word leaks out, it appears politics – not a mission to succeed in Afghanistan – is taking center stage.

On October 31st, in their Washington Post article, Anne Kornblut and Greg Jaffe made it clear that Obama was seeking a political decision vs. a military one:

The military chiefs have been largely supportive of a resource request by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, that would by one Pentagon estimate require the deployment of 44,000 additional troops. But opinion among members of Obama’s national security team is divided, and he now appears to be seeking a compromise solution that would satisfy both his military and civilian advisers.

A worse scenario cannot be imagined. But it is in perfect keeping with how a politician would work vs. a Commander in Chief. Compromise is the bread-and-butter of politics. It is about keeping constituencies satisfied, if not happy. Contentment means votes. But compromise in terms of military strategy usually means disaster. Attempting to satisfy “both his military and civilian advisers” means he’s looking for the best political solution, not the best military solution.

And since such a solution is hardly obvious, he dithers. Sullivan mistakes that for slow, considered and methodical decision making. But in reality, it is a method of stalling as old man himself. Ask for more information, reject the options presented, send your minions back to the drawing board – all the while making the argument or implication that it is the fault of those presenting the options for not getting it right, not the CiC. Of course, anyone with any military experience knows that’s nonsense since it is the “commander’s guidance” from which any options are derived.

That brings us back to David Kilcullen. If you’re not familiar with Kilcullen, he’s considered to be one of the gurus when it comes to counter-insurgency warfare. And Kilcullen gets to the very nut of the problem with this “process” that Sullivan mistakenly praises:

David Kilcullen, one of the world’s leading authorities on counter-insurgency and an adviser to the British government as well as the US state department, said Obama’s delay in reaching a decision over extra troops had been “messy”. He said it not only worried US allies but created uncertainty the Taliban could exploit.

Speaking in an interview with the Guardian, he compared the president to someone “pontificating” over whether to send enough firefighters into a burning building to put a fire out. …

Kilcullen expressed concern that Obama might deny McChrystal the 40,000 extra troops and split the difference between the four options, the kind of fudge common in domestic politics.

“Time is running out for us to make a decision. We can either put in enough troops to control the environment or we can credibly communicate our intention to leave. Either could work. Splitting the difference is not the way to go,” Kilcullen said.

“It feels to me that all these options are dangerously close to the middle ground and we have to consider whether the middle ground is a good place to be. The middle ground is a good place on domestic issues, but not on strategy. You either commit to D-Day and invade the continent or you get Suez. Half-measures end up with Suez. Do it or not do it.”

There is no “third way”. At least not a credible one. In this sort of warfare, to use a poker analogy, you either fold or you’re “all in”. Domestic political considerations should have absolutely no place in these sorts of deliberations and decisions. But it is clear they do.

That is also clearly a disservice (to put it mildly) to every man and woman in uniform serving our nation today. It is also something which may easily get many of them killed.

So let’s remember President Obama’s words at NAS Jacksonville when he told those gathered there:

And while I will never hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests, I also promise you this-and this is very important as we consider our next steps in Afghanistan:

I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way.  I won’t risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary.  And if it is necessary, we will back you up.  Because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission, the defined goals and the equipment and support you need to get the job done.  That’s the promise I make to you.

Gen. McChrystal, based on the commander’s guidance issued by the president in his March ’09 strategy for Afghanistan, has done his review and submitted his plan to accomplish the mission outlined in that strategy. Now the commander wants to change the strategy.

Is it any wonder that many doubt Obama’s commitment to success in Afghanistan, military or otherwise? Is it any wonder that many are concluding that he’s looking for “off ramps” well before talking about “on ramps”. And is it any wonder then, that those considering how this process is progressing have come to the conclusion that it’s not about the military or winning in Afghanistan – it’s about the politics of getting re-elected before pulling the plug.

If that’s the case, President Obama will be seen as spending the lives of American soldiers in an attempt to protect his political viability.  There is nothing most could think of which would be more despicable than that.

~McQ

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Thinning The RINO Herd?

Here’s an interesting exchange between Chris Wallace and Republican GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Fox News Sunday yesterday:

WALLACE: Let me turn, because I would — I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t ask you a few political questions, Senator.

Conservatives are now talking about launching primary challenges against candidates who are actually picked by the Senate Republican leadership in a number of states. We have them up on a map there — in Florida, in Connecticut, in Illinois, in California, and your home state of Kentucky.

In fact, it has gotten so serious that the National Republican Senate Committee has stopped endorsing candidates because it seems that it creates a grassroots backlash.

How concerned are you — how much of a threat is this split within the GOP to your chances in 2010, the way it kind of messed up things in that upstate congressional district in New York?

MCCONNELL: No threat at all. I mean, what you see here is enormous enthusiasm to run. People believe that getting the Republican nomination means you have a good chance of winning.

And so we’ve got, for example, a four-way primary in Connecticut for our nomination, a state we haven’t been competitive in in a very long time. So our view is this is an indication of the shifting political environment.

We all know the Gallup poll just last week, in response — asked the American people if the election were held today would you vote for the Republican candidate for Congress or the Democratic candidate for Congress. Our side had a four-point lead. Among independents it had a 22-point lead.

The political landscape, Chris, has shifted dramatically in the last year…

WALLACE: But — but let…

MCCONNELL: … since this administration, and that’s…

WALLACE: … but let me just…

MCCONNELL: … why all of these — that’s why all of these people want to run for office.

WALLACE: But let me just briefly ask you about the political landscape within the party, because it now seems that an endorsement by the National Republican Senatorial Committee is a bad thing, not a badge of honor.

MCCONNELL: Well, they generally don’t endorse anyway. So it doesn’t make any difference. I mean, we’re happy that there are a lot of people running, and the reason they’re running is because they think the nomination’s worth having because they think they can win in November.

Now I find all of that very interesting for a couple of reasons. One:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s public support is collapsing in South Carolina – driven by a wholesale revolt among the GOP electorate and a steady erosion of his support amongst independents.

Already consistently loathed by a solid third of GOP voters, Graham’s recent leftward bent – including his co-authoring of a controversial “Cap and Tax” proposal supported by President Barack Obama and liberal Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) – has him locked in a “terminal free fall,” according one prominent Republican consultant.

I told you about that in a post entitled “Why The GOP Remains A Minority Party“. Graham is typical of the type of politician the conservative base is sick and tired of. While NY-23 was the harbinger, Graham’s defeat in a primary would be the definitive signal that the game has decidedly changed within the GOP. Mitch McConnell, putting the best face he can on it, has obviously sniffed out the trend and is “enthusiastically” supporting it.

That’s the second thing I find interesting – will the NRSC be throwing funds Graham’s way in his next re-election campaign (certainly doing so would be interpreted as a sign of endorsement) or not? Taking McConnell and the NRSC at their word (always an iffy bet) I’d have to say no.

The bottom line here is the politicians are paying attention. Given McConnell’s words they don’t see this building opposition to the more “moderate” Scozzafava-type Republicans as going away. In fact, when McConnell says they’re seeing a “shifting political environment”, he’s admitting they’ve finally figured out where that shift is headed, the fact that it is not a fad or a temporary phenomenon and that he and the rest of the GOP politicians had better get on board or find themselves facing a primary opponent.

I’m going to be very interested to see where that leaves mushy old Lindsey Graham in all of this when election time rolls around.

~McQ

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The Bow

I‘ve got to tell you I’m a lot less excited about “the bow” Barack Obama gave the Emperor of Japan than many on the right.  But it does, surprisingly, show an amazing lack of sophistication in our supposed cool and sophisticated President.  Not about Japanese culture in particular – a bow is not necessarily a bad thing if it is a bow of equals.  His was decidedly not a bow of equals.  But instead it demonstrates his lack of knowledge concerning the job he holds.  American presidents don’t bow (at least to that extent) to foreign kings or emperors.  Just as we don’t dip our flag to any king or emperor, we don’t bow before them.  In fact, we made sure that we’d never have ranks and/or titles of nobility in this country by essentially outlawing them.  His bow is just another in a long line of indicators that he’s not well prepared for the job.

I think what offends Americans – at least some Americans – is the type of bow Mr. Obama used. Too deep, eyes to the ground, etc. etc. You can read all of the critiques elsewhere. Had he matched the Emperor’s bow (much like the bow he gave the Empress), no problem.

You have to wonder who his protocol people are and whether or not he listened to them or did this on his own. Regardless, he looked foolish and that’s not what we pay our Presidents to do. Of course, as some have pointed out, it’s probably, better than blowing your lunch in the Japanese PM’s lap George HW Bush did – but not much.

In diplomacy, symbolism is very, very important. So is tradition. Both were set on their ear with the bow. You have to wonder when Obama is going to realize that with the job comes the examination of every single thing he does or doesn’t do. But in the big scheme of things, I find his gaff below to be much worse than his bow to the Emperor of Japan.

The "Crotch Salute"

The "Crotch Salute"

Commander’s in Chief salute or put their hands over their hearts at appropriate times during ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns on Veteran’s day (like when everyone else is saluting or putting their hand over their heart). They don’t stand there giving a crotch salute. Typically self-absorbed, I’m sure he just completely forgot this particular ceremony wasn’t all about him.

~McQ

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BlogTalk Radio – 8pm (EST) Tonight

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s): KSM to be tried in NY -what does that mean? Suddenly the administration is interested in jobs (not “saved” but real) – about time isn’t it? Is political correctness driving this denial of Ft. Hood shooter Hasan’s religion playing a role in the massacre? New unemployment numbers. Are we in for depression era unemployment? When does this “thorough process” examining Afghanistan and our role there become the dithering of an executive who can’t, or won’t, make a decision?

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Another Health Care Reform Myth Destroyed, But The Over All Deception Still Lives

One of the most persistent myths pushed by the health care “reformers” is that if you like what you have, nothing will change. Yes, friends, according to them, you can have something for nothing.

And nothing exemplifies the silliness of the claim than that which says Medicare recipients will continue to receive the same level of treatment they do now, but government will cut $500 billion from Medicare to pay for it.

For those that need it, a new study now makes official the fact that such cuts will indeed change the levels of treatment and benefits Medicare patients will receive. My guess is, this isn’t the “change” senior citizens voted for.

A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.

The report, requested by House Republicans, found that Medicare cuts contained in the health package approved by the House on Nov. 7 are likely to prove so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether.

Congress could intervene to avoid such an outcome, but “so doing would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings” than is currently projected, according to the analysis by the chief actuary for the agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid. That would wipe out a big chunk of the financing for the health-care reform package, which is projected to cost $1.05 trillion over the next decade.

First, what happened to the reported cost of 894 billion when the bill first came out? Now it is being “projected to cost” 1.05 trillion – over the threshold. And, as everyone has been paying attention has said, the supposed savings will come at the cost of Medicare benefits for seniors.

In fact, according to this report, the cuts “would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others”. Already low reimbursement rates cut even further would force hospitals and nursing home to reconsider taking Medicare patients at all.

No word if such cuts it will have any effect on this:

The government paid more than $47 billion in questionable Medicare claims including medical treatment showing little relation to a patient’s condition, wasting taxpayer dollars at a rate nearly three times the previous year.

Excerpts of a new federal report, obtained by The Associated Press, show a dramatic increase in improper payments in the $440 billion Medicare program that has been cited by government auditors as a high risk for fraud and waste for 20 years.

Look, there’s no question that Medicare, as structured, is going to break the bank. But then whose fault is that? It is and always has been a government run program, and it has about 50 trillion in unfunded liabilities in our future. So obviously that’s a program that badly needs reform.

But that wasn’t the point of the over all reform, was it? This was the “if you like what you have, you can keep it” reform. The point is that’s all a crock of rabbit pellets. This has nothing to do with leaving what exists alone – either on the government side (Medicare or Medicaid) or the private side (public option).

There’s more to the story though. The politics of this. What the Democrats in the House have presented is a bill which is so much smoke and mirrors it is embarrassing. Democrats know they have to get the number down in order to sell this travesty as not adding to the deficit. They also know how very important a demographic seniors are. So you have to look at this and ask, “are they really willing to risk their majority by making seniors mad? Are they willing to let themselves be defeated by making the hard decision to cut Medicare programs and effect senior’s Medicare benefits?

Of course not. It’s one thing to put it in a bill as a device to “balance” your spending. It’s another thing to do the actually cutting. And, if the “doc fix” bill is any indication, they have absolutely no intention of doing so:

So, to avoid its own prescribed draconian cuts in Medicare doctors’ payments, Congress goes through an annual Chinese fire drill to prevent its goofy formula from being implemented each year. As a budgetary matter, the accumulated cuts now amount to an automatic reduction in physician payment of 21 percent effective next year. That prospect has the professional medical organizations in a tizzy, and they are willing to do anything – anything, mind you- to avoid that fate worse than death, even to the point of formally embracing H.R. 3962, the gargantuan 2032 page House health care bill.

To lure the desperate doctors into bed with the liberals, their big ugly “public option” and all (analogously, a longer prison sentence, but better food and more yard time), the Congressional leadership included a “permanent fix” to Medicare physician payment in the original version of the 1018 page House bill, small increases, no cuts. But they carved it out because its cost made the House health care bill appear too expensive. So, to keep that version “looking cheaper”, they created another vehicle (H.R 3961), a companion bill, that would provide for a permanent Medicare “doc fix” at a ten year cost of $210 billion.

Or said succinctly – it’s all BS. Democrats not only intend to add to the deficit, they intend it in a big way, all the while telling us all lies about how it all stacks up as smoothly as the world’s most accomplished con artist. Is this the “change we asked for?”

~McQ

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The Grey Lady Gets It Wrong Again

Editorializing today, the New York Times says:

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. took a bold and principled step on Friday toward repairing the damage wrought by former President George W. Bush with his decision to discard the nation’s well-established systems of civilian and military justice in the treatment of detainees captured in antiterrorist operations.

From that entirely unnecessary policy (the United States had the tools to detain, charge and bring terrorists to justice) flowed a terrible legacy of torture and open-ended incarceration. It left President Obama with yet another mess to clean up on an urgent basis.

Of course this minimizes the arguments to Bush did or didn’t follow “the nation’s well-established systems of civilian and military justice in the treatment of detainees captured in antiterrorist operations.”

In fact there were no “well-established systems” in existence at all as we found out. Anyone who remembers what happened as we began to take in these “detainees captured in antiterrorist operations” knows that no system at all existed. There was a tremendous amount of debate and legal research done to try to determine what sort of status these people should or could be held under. And that’s not been established in full to this day.

For instance, the NYT claims that “open-ended incarceration” has been ended by the Obama administration’s move. But that’s simply not true. As the Washington Post reports:

That leaves up to 75 individuals remaining at Guantanamo who could continue to be held under the laws of war because they are deemed too dangerous to release, but cannot be prosecuted because of evidentiary issues and limits on the use of classified material.

So it appears, given the evidence, that open-ended incarcerations continue. Why? Because we still don’t have a comprehensive legal policy with which to deal with these people. As the Obama administration found out when it tried to close Guantanamo, the legal questions were indeed complex and unresolved. And, at least 75 individuals continue to face the possibility of open-ended incarceration because of that – a year into the Obama administrations tenure.

The Times continues:

On Friday, Attorney General Holder announced that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, and four others accused in the plot will be tried in a fashion that will not further erode American justice or shame Americans. It promises to finally provide justice for the victims of 9/11.

Mr. Holder said those prisoners would be prosecuted in federal court in Manhattan. It was an enormous victory for the rule of law, a major milestone in Mr. Obama’s efforts to close the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and an important departure from Mr. Bush’s disregard for American courts and their proven ability to competently handle high-profile terror cases.

Well, that’s the official spin, I suppose, but my guess is it has more to do with leftist politics than any concern for justice and I think James Taranto has the best take on what is most likely about this move:

As Morris Davis, a retired military prosecutor, argued the other day in The Wall Street Journal, under the administration’s plan, “the standard of justice for each detainee will depend in large part upon the government’s assessment of how high the prosecution’s evidence can jump and which evidentiary bar it can clear.” Detainees will get a “fair trial” in civilian court only if their conviction is assured. By implication, that suggests that detainees who go before military commissions will get an unfair trial. Presumably the administration would deny this and say the commission trials will be fair too. But if so, why is such a trial not good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?

The answer seems to be that the administration is conducting a limited number of civilian trials of high-profile terrorists for show, so as to win “credibility” with the international left. These trials will differ from an ordinary show trial in that the process will be fair even though the verdict is predetermined. But people who wrongly think that either military commissions or detention without trial are unjust will not be satisfied with some detainees getting civilian trials–unless, of course, they are simply eager to be impressed by Barack Obama.

I think he’s exactly right. These are indeed show trials, considered safe enough (the evidence is overwhelming enough that classified evidence won’t be necessary) to ensure conviction. These trials will have little to do with “justice”, but they will have much to do with shutting up or at least muffling the leftist base which still isn’t satisfied with what the administration has accomplished in terms of closing Gitmo. These trials buy the administration more time.

Note also what Tranto says about the implication that exists concerning military tribunals. The Times says it out loud:

Regrettably, the decision fell short of a clean break. Five other Guantánamo detainees are to be tried before a military commission for the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of planning the attack.

The rules for the commissions were recently revised to bring them closer to military standards. And Mr. Holder cites the fact that the Cole bombing was an attack on a military target to justify a military trial. But that does not cure the problem of relying on a new system outside the regular military justice system. Nor does it erase the appearance that the government is forum-shopping to win convictions. Most broadly, it fails to establish a clear framework for assigning cases to regular courts or military commissions going forward.

The rules revisions the Times cites were cosmetic at best. But note that the editorial doesn’t mince words concerning its disdain for the military tribunal. The fact that those being tried before the tribunal actually attacked a military target doesn’t stop the Times from claiming “forum shopping” as the key to their continued use.

So let’s review – KSM is going to NY for trial. That, supposedly, is a clean break with the awful Bush years and open-ended incarceration and military tribunals. Except it’s not. 75 remain in open-ended incarceration at Gitmo. And 5 will face justice in front of military tribunals.

In fact, the only thing that has happened is a couple of show trials, which could just as easily been done in Guantanamo (or if they want a Federal Court – how about Miami), are going to be held in an attempt to “prove” that things have changed.

The Times is obviously fooled into believing that. And, that proves one thing – that politically at least, the Obama adminstration got this one right.

~McQ

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Media Continues To Ignore The Obvious In Ft. Hood Murders

Charles Krauthammer takes on the developing media spin about Ft. Hood murders.

That, of course,  is that Hasan’s religion had nothing to do with any of this – instead he had just heard so much from returning vets that he “snapped”. He, in effect, developed secondary PTSD. Says Krauthammer:

Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?

And what about civilian psychiatrists — not the Upper West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics — who every day hear not just tales but cries of the most excruciating anguish, of the most unimaginable torment? How many of those doctors commit mass murder?

It is a pretty untenable and unbelievable attempt to divert attention away from the elephant in the room – the fact that Hasan was a radicalized muslim who proselytized for his religion (something his colleagues heard but neither reported or did anything about), had “SoA” (Soldier of Allah) on his business card and shouted “Allahu Akbar” when he began his murder spree.

As Krauthammer points out the religious aspect of this is something the politically correct crowd would prefer to ignore. Instead they literally invent something to replace it on the fly and in its stead:

Secondary post-traumatic stress disorder, a handy invention to allow one to ignore the obvious.

And the perfect moral finesse. Medicalizing mass murder not only exonerates. It turns the murderer into a victim, indeed a sympathetic one.

And it isn’t a recent attempt on the part of the media. Consider this – not even one full day after the massacre at Ft. Hood, Newsweek’s Andrew Bast wrote this:

What if Thursday’s atrocious slaughter at Fort Hood only signals that the worst is yet to come? The murder scene Thursday afternoon at the Killeen, Texas, military base, the largest in the country, was heart-wrenching. Details remained murky, but at least 13 are dead and 30 wounded in a killing spree that may momentarily remind us of a reality that most Americans can readily forget: soldiers and their families are living, and bending, under a harrowing and unrelenting stress that will not let up any time soon. And the U.S. military could well be reaching a breaking point as the president decides to send more troops into Afghanistan.

It’s hard to draw too many conclusions right now, but we do know this: Thursday night, authorities shot and then apprehended the lone suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. A psychiatrist who was set to deploy to Iraq at the end of the month, Hasan reportedly opened fire around the Fort Hood Readiness Center, where troops are prepared for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. And though this scene is a most extreme and tragic outlier, it comes at a time when the stress of combat has affected so many soldiers individually that it makes it increasingly difficult for the military as a whole to deploy for wars abroad.

Not even a full day after the murders, you have the stage being set for precisely what Krauthammer notes – medicalizing (stress, PTSD, victim) the tragedy instead of pointing to the real reason – or even mentioning it.

Fast forward to yesterday and an AP story:

Rising suicide rates and a shooting spree last week by an Army psychiatrist at a base in Fort Hood, Texas, have raised new questions about the effects of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.

For most, Hasan’s “shooting spree” has raised few questions about the effect of combat stress and the state of the military’s mental health system.

Instead it has raised questions about the media’s insistence on crediting the obvious for his “shooting spree” and why they’re so afraid to confront it? Does combat raise stress – yes, of course it does. It always has. This is nothing new. But given what we’ve learned, that’s not why Hasan murdered 13 people.

Yet, as the AP story shows, that’s still the track some in the media prefer over the apparent truth of the matter.

Political correctness.  As we’ve learned now, it kills.  Unfortunately, not all of us have learned that as AP, Newsweek and a whole host of other poilitically correct apologists for Hasan’s motives continue to prove.

~McQ

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It’s Bush’s Fault Obama Is Traveling So Much

Dana Milbank does a pre-emptive strike on possible criticism of Obama’s globe trotting during a time of domestic economic woe.  He notes that the “normally querulous opposition” hasn’t said a word about the fact that he’s spent 12% of his presidency outside the country and has more trips planned before the end of the year – a record unsurpassed by any president.

Why no criticism per Milbank? Heh … why do you think?

Normally, Obama’s wanderlust would be a liability, because Americans care more about the economy than foreign affairs. But the normal rules don’t seem to apply this year, largely because Obama’s predecessor left the nation’s world standing in a shambles. While Republicans may be tempted to criticize Obama for being “intercontinental,” as Bush would have put it, “the ability to change the way America is viewed is powerful,” a senior Obama adviser said Thursday, “and they are afraid of looking petty.”

Polling by the Pew Research Center at the end of Bush’s presidency found that 70 percent of Americans thought the country had become less respected in the world (only 5 percent said “more respected”), and most of them thought the decline in standing was a major problem.

“Repairing our image overseas was an important consideration for the public,” said Andrew Kohut, the poll’s director. Americans have given Obama credit for a “dramatic improvement” in the nation’s standing, he said.

Here’s an alternative thought for Milbank to consider. The reason the “normally querulous opposition” isn’t saying much, and, in fact, is complaining he isn’t gone enough (fall of the Berlin wall) is when he’s gone he isn’t here mucking things up. Or more succinctly, it’s to their advantage to have him gone.

On a separate subject, my theory as to why he’s going so much has to do with his realization that he is in over his head and as his poll numbers and popularity sink here, he seeks a narcissistic boost elsewhere. One of the main reasons, as some have theorized, he didn’t go to Berlin is there wasn’t enough about him in the program. Of course that didn’t stop him from inserting a totally irrelevant fact that when the wall fell those there at the time wouldn’t have imagined the US would have a president of “African descent” in office in his two minutes speech. What that had to do with anything is beyond me but it is another indicator of how self-absorbed the man is. On his Asian swing, as with his other visits to foreign countries, he will indeed be the center of attention. And, of course, issuing apologies as for the US as is his want, he can’t help but be more popular than a predecessor who didn’t do that sort of thing.

Whether the new “standing” we supposedly enjoy means anything at all really isn’t explored in the Milbank column. Apparently if that new standing is based on contempt (and the popularity of a US leader who panders too it) rather than respect, that’s fine – just so the numbers are “better” than they were previously. Because that means all kinds of important things to America – like more jobs, a better economy, a resolution on Afghanistan and much, much more.

~McQ

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