Friday, December 29, 2006

When we're down to Plan "Z", we may as well give this a try

Jim Geraghty at TKS has been thinking about ways to win the war on terror. He mentions a novel way to fight Islamic dipping bullets in pigs' blood and burying the enemy with pigs' carcasses. Geraghty includes a link to that explains how General Pershing supposedly stopped terrorism for fifty years in the Phillipines by using these very tactics.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

God Bless Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is reporting today from Iraq. May angels surround and protect him.

If President Bush can admit "we're not winning" can the media admit "we're not losing?"

Among the many great writers at the Washington Post, David Ignatius stands out as thoughtful, gentle, and interested in winning the "war on terror" (however that is interpreted.)

In today's column titled: "Bush's New Look on Iraq: Weary," Ignatius writes about the stress that is becoming more apparent on President Bush's face and the surprising admission by Bush last week that "we're not winning."

Ignatius writes: "Bush is not a man for introspection. That's part of his flinty personality -- the tight, clipped answers and the forced jocularity of the nicknames he gives to reporters and White House aides. This very private man has begun to talk out loud about the emotional turmoil inside. He is letting it bleed.

Bush opened the emotional curtain at a news conference last week. A reporter noted that Lyndon Johnson hadn't been able to sleep well during the Vietnam War and asked Bush if this was a 'painful time' for him. He gave an unexpectedly personal answer: 'Most painful aspect of my presidency has been knowing that good men and women have died in combat. I read about it every night. And my heart breaks for a mother or father or husband or wife or son and daughter. It just does. And so when you ask about pain, that's pain.'"

Frankly, I have never sensed that President Bush has been emotionally detached from the responsibility that he has had in sending the nation's sons and daughters into war. I remember a very poignant photo from late 2004 in which the President was saying farewell to troops leaving from Bangor, ME. Every time the President meets with the families of slain soldiers, he is confronted with the reality of war.

In reading Ignatius' column, I do have to that President Bush and Secretary of Defense Gates have uttered the words: "we're not winning" what are the chances that mainstream journalists will also report "we're not losing?"

This struggle that we're in is much too serious to be playing games of "gotcha" with the President. David Ignatius is one of very few writers that, while disagreeing with President Bush, gives the impression that the desire to win the war on terror is stronger than the desire to get one up on President Bush. However, I still don't sense him embracing the words "we're not losing."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Media restraint surrounding Haditha

Over the years, I've set up four different Google standing news searches. The first one was ["good news" and "Iraq".] When my son was serving as a prison guard at Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2004, it was an attempt to find balance in the media. Two other searches have been "Camp Bucca" and "Steven Vincent" - the latter being a search for coverage of an online friend and journalist who was killed near Basrah in 2005. When "Haditha" started bubbling up in the media, I started a search. This led to temporary posting at this blog.

Six months later, I still receive news of Haditha in my email box every day. Usually, there's just a few stories. When the charges against the marines were formally brought this month, Haditha coverage spiked a bit, but it was nothing like the frenzy of coverage surrounding "Abu Ghraib!" in the Spring and Summer of 2004 or even the coverage about Haditha in June 2006.

This bothers Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher as he writes in: "When the Press Dropped the Ball on Haditha."

"(December 21, 2006) -- Haditha is back on the front pages, with the announcement on Thursday that four marines were being charge with murder in the alleged 2005 massacre of 24 villagers in Iraq, with four officers hit with serious dereliction of duty charges. Since this case has been simmering for many months now, with repeated press references (as other possible atrocities surfaced), it may seem as if the media has bird-dogged this episode from the start.In fact, the media dropped the ball at the start - helped by a military cover-up -- and it stayed off the radar for quite some time.

Following the killings in Haditha on November 19, 2005, it took months for an official investigation to begin.

An Associated Press story from Baghdad in June quoted Hassan Bazaz, a Baghdad University political scientist, complaining that strong interest belatedly being shown by Western news media in the alleged U.S. misconduct is only now catching up with common views in Iraq. 'There is nothing new or surprising for Iraqis,' said Bazaz. 'The problem is that the outside world has been isolated from what happens on the ground in Iraq. What the media says now is only a fraction of what happens every day.'"

The coverage of "Abu Ghraib!" and Haditha in their respective news cycles provided plenty of political ammunition for those who wanted to unseat the Commander-in-Chief in 2004 and then his "war party" in 2006.

Now that the elections are over, I have a feeling that Haditha will be covered as it should...a tragedy, among many, in the war in Iraq. What I hope happens is that justice is served. If our marines are guilty, as determined by a military investigation, then punishment will follow. The three rings of the media circus in the summer 2006 was not the appropriate place to judge the events of Haditha in 2005.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Two cathedrals - one week

For the last four years or so, our family has traveled to the Cathedral of St. Paul for midnight mass. Last night, the 3000 seats were overflowing as the beautiful people, the pious, and the homeless...all in one body...gathered to await the arrival of the Prince of Peace. It was awesome.

(St. Paul Cathedral photo credit: Mary Gibson)

On Wednesday morning, I was going to walk from my hotel over to Rockefeller Center to watch the broadcast of the Today Show. As I was crossing Fifth Avenue and 48th Street, I looked right and saw St. Patrick's Cathedral. I arrived just in time to attend daily mass. It was a great start to a great day in New York City.

Looking for Christ in Christmas

In searching for an appropriate graphic for a Christmas message, I thought I'd look in the Microsoft Office clip art featured collection for Christmas. There were approximately 240 lovely images of ornaments, gifts, cookies, and Santas. Oh, and one shepherd, one angel, and one photo of a ceramic figurine of the Madonna and Child.
Here are the tags for the Christ Child graphic:
Anyway...Merry Christmas to you. I hope that you were able to find Christ in your Christmas today.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Calling a spade a spade

Ralph Peters is one of my favorite writers. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy, who doesn't hold back from criticizing the Administration, yet he usually comes across with constructive criticism and not just bashing of the object of his writing. This morning, Peters favorably reviews the Army's new counterinsurgency manual.

When I started up this blog again, I wanted to avoid criticizing the media because, well, any right-of-center consumer of news seems to have a natural inclination to do that...but the following excerpt from Peter's article jumped off the page at me:

"A huge gap remaining in the doctrine is that, except for a few careful mentions, it ignores the role of the media. Generals have told me frankly that it was just too loaded an issue - any suggestion that the media are complicit in shaping outcomes excites punitive media outrage.

To be fair, the generals are right. Had the manual described the media's irresponsible, partisan and too-often-destructive roles, it would have ignited a firestorm. Yet, in an age when media lies and partisan spin can overturn the verdict of the battlefield, embolden our enemies and decide the outcome of an entire war, pretending the media aren't active participants in a conflict cripples any efforts that we make.

The media are now combatants - even if we're not allowed to shoot back. Our enemies are explicit in describing the importance of winning through the media. Without factoring in media effects, any counterinsurgency plan will go forward at a limp."

Peters is never shy about calling a spade a spade.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ralph Peters wants to win

For specific ideas on how to win, Ralph Peters is always a good source of information. Via Lucianne, here's Peters' column: "Fighting to Win" from the New York Post.

An excerpt: "Army generals worry that frantic politicos want to send more troops to Iraq as a p.r. stunt, to appear to be taking decisive action. Our uniformed leadership is rightly loath to have our troops used to give anyone's approval ratings a temporary boost. They'll do what they're ordered to do and do it well. They just want the mission to have a chance of success that justifies the human and strategic cost.

Could an increase of 20,000 to 40,000 troops make a difference?

Yes - but only if they're assigned a clear, achievable mission and our government stands behind them solidly as they carry it out. Sending more troops in the vague hope that it will magically improve the situation would be a travesty."

It is quite easy to call for more troops without understanding what those troops are going to do and where they are going to come from. It has been the problem all along. Furthermore, I recall not very long ago, our forces were stepped up in Baghdad with no positive result. Peters' lays out some very clear suggestions for using increased troops. If we go that way...increasing 20,000 to 40,000 men and women being put in harm's way...I sure hope those that call for sending them have a plan.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ahhhhh, Minnesota....

So, this morning I was watching the Saturday morning local news and events show on the NBC affilitate, KARE 11.

And what did I hear but a heartwarming version of: "Shotguns Shells on a Christmas Tree." In this supposedly blue state. Without any counterpoint from the anti-gun lobby.

I love this state.

Spinning and slogging at the same time

I've stopped at IraqSlogger a few times and actually was getting ready to post a little graphic of a flying pig because, well, I was kind of impressed.

Until this morning. It's one of those things that can't be summed up in a few words, just go take a look for yourself. Maybe it's too early to make a judgment one way or the other, but here's one example:

In this unattributed post the title promises: "Rumsfeld: Iraq Not 'War on Terror'." The post then goes on to explain how in an interview with Cal Thomas this exchange occurred:

"CT: With what you know now, what might you have done differently in Iraq?

DR: I don't think I would have called it the war on terror. I don't mean to be critical of those who have. Certainly, I have used the phrase frequently. Why do I say that? Because the word 'war' conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War. It creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within 30 or 60 minutes of a soap opera. It isn't going to happen that way. Furthermore, it is not a 'war on terror.' Terror is a weapon of choice for extremists who are trying to destabilize regimes and (through) a small group of clerics, impose their dark vision on all the people they can control. So 'war on terror' is a problem for me."

To this day, when writing about the conflict in which we are involved, I'll often refer to it as: "the war on terror, or whatever you want to call it."

The point of Rumsfeld's remarks was that the title: "the war on terror" is too vague. He wasn't saying that Iraq is not central to the fight, although you wouldn't know it from the post's title.

The value of polls in military execution

Moving through Sun Tzu's "The Art of War", here's an interesting passage from chapter four:

Perceiving a victory when it is perceived by all is not the highest excellence.

Winning battles such that the whole world says "excellent" is not the highest excellence.

For lifting an autumn down is not considered great strength, seeing the sun and the moon is not considered a sign of sharp vision, hearing thunder is not considered a sign of sensitive hearing.

Remember Abraham Lincoln? Tony Blankley does.

From his article at RealClearPolitics yesterday: "Lincoln was alone in the self-same rooms now occupied by George Bush. All his cabinet and all his military advisors had counseled a path Lincoln thought would lead to disaster. He was only a month in office and judged by most of Washington -- including much of his cabinet -- to be a country bumpkin who was out of his league, an accidental president. Alone, and against all advice he made the right decision -- as he would do constantly until victory."

I have read this week in a few places that support of the President Bush's handling of the war is around 20 percent. Can anyone argue that Lincoln's acceptance by the public and the "wise men" of the time was any higher?

Friday, December 15, 2006

John Podhoretz wants to win

As always, John Podhoretz' article is great reading. He thinks we can win:

"Can the United States win? Yes, a thousand times, of course we can win. But our military leaders have to be told by the commander in chief that what he requires from them is victory and nothing less. No more theories. Time to act."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Remember Eason Jordan?

He's back.

You may remember that Eason Jordan was the CNN news division chief. Then, in January 2005 he said in a meeting at Davos, Switzerland, that the military was deliberately targeting journalists. A blog-swarm ensued, and Jordan resigned his post.

Now, he's heading up a one-stop-shopping clearinghouse for nonpartisan information about Iraq. It's called: "IraqSlogger." Here's a quote from the linked articled at Editor and Publisher: "The name of his new venture, he says, was inspired by a Donald Rumsfeld reference to this war being a 'long, hard slog.'"

You can expect that this site will be completely fair to the U.S. Military and give a "fair and balanced" view of the conflict in Iraq.

When pigs fly.

Update: Here's the link to IraqSlogger.

Git 'er done

In this rather random and novice study of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," let's start with these passages from chapter two:

A protracted battle will blunt weapons and dampen ardor.
If troops lay siege to a walled city, their strength will be exhausted.
If the army is exposed to a prolonged campaign, the nation's resources will not suffice.
When weapons are blunted, and ardor dampened, strength exhausted, and resources depleted, the neighboring rulers will take advantage of these complications.
Then even the wisest of counsels would not be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

Therefore, I have heard of military campaigns that were clumsy but swift, but I have never seen military campaigns that were skilled but protracted.
No nation has ever benefited from protracted warfare.
Therefore, if one is not fully cognizant of the dangers inherent in doing battle, one cannot fully know the benefits of doing battle.
Those skilled in doing battle do not raise troops twice, or transport provisions three times

Toward the very end of the chapter, this passage appears that sums it all up:

The military values victory. It does not value prolonging.

We've had troops in Iraq for going on four years. Isn't it time to git 'er done?

No more backing away from cities like Fallujah in 2004. No more allowing Muqtada al Sadr to run around free.

If we don't do it now, when is it going to be any less difficult?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sun Tzu's "The Art of War"

In Jack Kelly's article at RealClearPolitics titled Failing to Know the Enemy, And Ourselves, he refers to Sun Tzu's The Art of War. The premise for the article is this passage: "'If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles,' Sun Tzu wrote. 'If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.'"

Right next to the cooking magazines that accumulate on our coffee table sits a copy of "The Art of War." If we are to be serious about winning the war on terror, I'm thinking that a study of that book at this blog might be helpful. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A final message from CPT Travis Patriquin on how to win in Anbar

INDC Journal has a touching post about a presentation produced by Captain Travis Patriquin on how to win in Anbar.

CPT Trav, as he called himself in the Power Point presentation, was killed last Wednesday in an IED attack that also killed Major Megan McClung and Spc. Vincent J. Pomante III.

May all three find eternal rest in the loving arms of their creator.

Jed Babbin wants to win

While visiting RealClearPolitics yesterday, I ran into this article by Jed Babbin. In it, he warns President Bush, and us, to not give in to defeat in Iraq. I think that's pretty good advice.

The piece is longer than most written by Jed, but every sentence is compelling. Here's an excerpt:

"Anticipating the president's response to Baker-Hamilton, our adversaries are trying to herd us in their direction. Saudi King Abdullah told the Gulf Cooperation Council that the Middle East, "[Is] like a barrel full of gunpowder that could explode any moment with a single spark...Our Arab region is surrounded by dangers." He said, "Our basic issue of Palestine is still in the hands of a vicious occupying enemy that does not fear anything and in the hands of an international community that looks at the gruesome tragedy as a bystander." What rubbish. Abdullah is playing to the right audience: Baker, Hamilton and their ilk worship at the altar of the Stability God: "He who believeth in Me and does not disturb my support of terrorism and war on Israel shall never lack for oil." Of the few things George W. Bush has right, it's that "stability" in the Middle East is what brought us 9-11. If the Arab world explodes, the nations that comprise it may be blown out of feudalism and Islamofascism."

Still defining the mission

When I first started reading blogs in the summer of 2004, there were something like 3,000,000 blogs in existence. In October, 2006, Technorati was tracking more than 57,000,000 blogs. That's a lot of opinions!

I'm still figuring out what I want to do with this blog. The news that catches my attention most closely relates to the military and the war on terror, politics, and journalism.

In June, I temporarily posted here on a mission to help head off the Haditha incident from becoming the next "Abu Ghraib!".

I want our country to win the war on terror.

So, I'm going to try and not spend a lot of time on criticizing the media or fretting about clueless politicians. There are others who do that really well.

I am going to post on winning the war.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Vindicated in their dark portrait of the war

At least that's what Howard Kurtz claims in this article. From the piece: "Goodness gracious, when even Donald Rumsfeld is saying privately that the Iraq war strategy "is not working well enough or fast enough" -- and someone furnishes his memo to the New York Times -- it is clear that the administration's once-legendary discipline has broken down.

What is also clear is that the private doubts of top officials are closer to the media's dark portrait of the war than to the "absolutely, we're winning" rhetoric of President Bush. That is especially noteworthy in light of all the criticism that administration officials have heaped on correspondents in Iraq for focusing too heavily on violence and ignoring signs of progress."

Doesn't that make you feel better? Do you get the feeling that many in the media will not be happy until their "dark portrait" is framed and hung on a museum wall?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A surprising WaPo editorial

I ran across this editorial in the WaPo this evening. It makes some sense to me, and when I checked the comments, I found readers from the left to be in high dudgeon. That pretty much affirms, then, that there is some merit to what was written.

Here's the first 'graf: "THE IRAQ Study Group's recommendations for shifting U.S. military tactics in the war are specific, focused and aimed at incremental improvement over the next few months; they are also close to what the Pentagon and Iraqi government already were hoping to achieve. By contrast, the group's diplomatic strategy is sweeping -- and untethered to reality. The Bush administration could and should adopt some version of the military plan, though it would be right to ignore the unrealistic timetable attached to it. But to embrace the group's proposed 'New Diplomatic Offensive' would be to suppose a Middle East very different from what's on the ground."

When the WaPo publishes an editorial that seems to endorse military policies that have been developing within the Administration and further points out the unreality of this week's "realists" in regard to Middle East diplomacy, you have to wonder - what's next? The NYT recommending that Donald Rumsfeld be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Probably not.

If only...

One of the major criticisms of the early conduct of the U.S.' occupation of Iraq after overthrowing Saddam Hussein was the de-Ba'athification of the Army. Because if we would have kept all those guys around we would have had more control over them, and everything would have been fine.


This Reuters story describes what happens when a group of Saddamist sympathizers allegedly bribed an Iraqi night watch commander and recently faciliated the escape of Saddam Hussein's nephew from a prison near Mosul.

The merits of de-Ba'athification can certainly be debated, but to keep obsessing over it now does nothing to help us move forward or win the war.

It's Bush's fault

We have a little saying in our family: "It's Bush's fault!" Whenever anything goes wrong, like when a snowstorm hits the Midwest or the microwave oven breaks down, we always say "It's Bush's fault!" and then we chuckle. Because - as the entire nation knows - everything bad is Bush's fault.

In fact, if you were to read the coverage of the Iraq Study Group, you would know that there is no more important fact to be known than: "It's Bush's fault!".

I'm a little surprised a story asserting that the U.S. bugged Princess Diana's phone hasn't been spun to link it to the failings of the future presidency of G.W. Bush. (And - if that was your first thought - that "it's Bush's fault!" - you really need to read this post twice.)

Well, I remember a joint resolution of Congress from October 2002 that lists 23 "whereas" conditions for military action in Iraq.

And I remember reading reports in the newspapers in the fall of 2002 about the threat that was posed by Saddam Hussein.

I even remember, in 1991, of having a very strong desire to go to Iraq with a steam roller and run over Saddam Hussein - kind of like the scene in the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" when Ken runs over Otto at the airport. Little did I know at the time what leaving Hussein standing upright then would lead to a decade later.

We all have blood on our hands for the mess that is in Iraq right now. Claiming that "it's Bush's fault!" over and over and over again until it relieves the guilt that we all carry is no way to win a war.

Can we talk?

Ummm, probably not.

In this article from Times Online, the reporter offers details of secret meetings between U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, and rebel commanders. The discussions took place early in 2006 - from January through March, and were facilitated by former Iraq prime minister Ayad Allawi. It appears that all the information from the report was supplied by members of the insurgency.

Here's a shocker: "[The insurgents] called for a “timetable for withdrawal”, saying that it should be announced immediately although in practice it would be “linked to the timescale necessary to rebuild Iraq’s armed forces and security services”, according to one commander.

Other demands said to have been received sympathetically by Khalilzad, such as an amnesty for insurgents and a reversal of the 'de-Ba’athification' process that stripped so many Sunnis of their jobs, have now been urged by the Iraq Study Group."

And what would be the reward? "'I told Khalilzad that we had the know-how and the manpower to regain control of Baghdad and rid it of the pro-Iranian militias,' one of the insurgent commanders added.

'If he would just provide us with the weapons, we would clean up the city and regain control of Baghdad in 30 days.'"

Why am I reminded of the song from West Side Story song "Gee, Officer Krupke?"

A change in direction

When I reactivated this blog, I was going to use it to simply repost letters that I've sent to journalists or politicians over the years. It was going to be a record, I suppose, of one mom's thoughts on the war on terror. This seemed more relevant as my email archives started disappearing before my eyes one night last week.

After thinking about it a day, it seems rather unseemly.

While the purpose was not to reveal who I may correspond with, there was no way to post the letters without making that fairly simple to figure out. What I wanted to do was convey the thoughts within the letters - the desire to defeat Islamic fascism, reminders of the goodness of our American soldiers, and an appeal to raise the level of debate above "it's Bush's fault."

Through the years, I've written hundreds of such letters. I hope they've given pause to the receivers.

I think what I'm going to do here is simply record my thoughts contemporaneously. It might include links to news stories or blog sites. Perhaps sometimes I'll just muse.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The AP - simply above questioning

I was reading this story today at Editor & Publisher. It includes a statement from Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president of The Associated Press about the story of six Sunni's who were allegedly burned alive in Hurriyah while Shiite police stood by and did nothing.

You see, Ms. Carroll takes exception to her organization being questioned. She starts her statement thus:

"In recent days, a handful of people have stridently criticized The Associated Press' coverage of a terrible attack on Iraqi citizens last month in Baghdad. Some of those critics question whether the incident happened at all and declare that they don't believe our reporting.

Indeed, a small number of them have whipped themselves into an indignant lather over the AP's reporting."

I feel her pain.

Later on, she says:

"The Iraqi journalists who work for the AP are smart, dedicated and incredibly courageous to go into the streets every day, talking to their countrymen and trying to capture a portrait of their home in a historic and tumultuous period.

The work is dangerous: two people who work for AP have been killed since this war began in 2003. Many others have been hurt, some badly.

Several of AP's Iraqi journalists were victimized by Saddam Hussein's regime and bear scars of his torture or the loss of relatives killed by his goons. Those journalists have no interest in furthering the chaos that makes daily life in Iraq so perilous. They want what any of us want: To be able to live and work without fear and raise their children in peace and safety.

Questioning their integrity and work ethic is simply offensive."

Yes, yes it is only acceptable to question the integrity of others if you happen to be the venerable Associated Press.

More importantly, it's not only the AP's Iraqi journalists who are: "smart, dedicated and incredibly courageous." That sounds a lot like mostly every American soldier I've known. You just wouldn't know it from the AP.

There is no doubt journalists who put their lives on the line to report are hard-working, but they are not infallible. Even the New York Times puts out a list every day of their errors. It would be nice if the Associated Press could be open to the possibility that they, too, can sometimes be mistaken without becoming indignant about being questioned on a story.

Update: One of my daily blog-stops is Blue Crab Boulevard. Here's some additional thoughts on Kathleen Carroll and her defense of the AP story.

Get Involved

The title of this blog comes from a company that I started in 2003 with my youngest son. Our business mission was to help churches and other non-profit organizations with printed communications, including directories, newsletters, and stewardship campaigns. The blog name was initially reserved for use with the company: SpiritBuilders, LLC.

Later, I wanted this blog to serve as a place of respectful debate on the war on terror. I have no idea where this is going to go. As it gets restarted, I'm just going to post examples of my attempts at adding to the conversation. Comments are welcome.

If you're reading this note, you're a blogger, a bloggee, or a mainstream journalist. The bloggers and the mainstream journalists are already vocal and have a voice in the debate. If you are a bloggee, well, what are you waiting for? Get involved. Start a blog, write a letter, gently engage the guy or girl at the bus stop in a discussion. Exercise your first amendment right to free speech.

On the Iraq Study Group Report

A letter sent on December 7, 2006:

Dear David,

As usual, I woke up early this morning and started reading both straight news accounts and opinion on the topic du jour. Today, it is the Baker-Hamilton Report. I read your column about half-way into my allotted time, and then I read the executive summary of the report itself. I'm now past my time allotment for the morning, but I'm going to try to get some semi-coherent thoughts to you anyway. And as I'm late for work, um, once again...I'll blame the traffic ;)

When I read your column the first time, I viewed it through my the-media-hate-Bush-and-would-rather-us-lose-the-war lens. I took particular exception to your last sentence that the purpose of the report is to: "enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly.''

Then, I read the report itself. Funny, at least from the executive report, that's not what I gathered. What jumped out at me was the authors' belief that pursuing different policies can "give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world, and protect America's credibility, interests, and values."

I can live with that.

David, the other thing that struck me about the executive summary was the real appeal for reconciliation and bipartisanship here in America in regard to the debate on the war in Iraq. Wouldn't that be nice? Finally, I noticed - at least in the executive summary - a real lack of finger pointing at President Bush. You wouldn't have picked that up in the coverage of the report, though, from yesterday and today.

It is time, David, to stop the one-sided "It's Bush's fault" approach to debating the war. It's time, as you pointed out, to acknowledge the hard facts of the current situation. But it is not yet time to list our only goal as enabling our combat forces to move out of Iraq. The report lists a few other worthy goals as well.

If my son can't get it done. Hopefully, my grandson will.

It's going to take a long time.


On the National Intelligience Estimate

A letter sent on September 26, 2006:

Dear Tom,

As I was reading more about the NIE report this morning, I came across Karen DeYoung's article and noticed that you contributed to it. I cannot express how disappointed I am in the cherry-picking of facts that are detrimental to the administration and the war against radical Islamists without acknowledgement or discussion of progress that is being made or the centrality of Iraq in the war on terrorism.

As a simple mom-of-a-soldier, I am not so eloquent or precise in my language. So, I will point you to a post that I read. It is supposedly from a former intelligence employee. While I cannot verify whether or not his former employment claims are true, he does make some good points about the stories that have been written about the NIE report. I'm wondering if, as a contributor to this controversy, you have a reply.

Tom, I'm out on the East coast again this week for work and spending some time, too, with my son and his family. Early yesterday morning, my son and his wife slipped out of the house, while we slept, to go and say good-bye to another unit of New Hampshire National Guardsmen as they left for Iraq. Some of these men are on their second deployment there. There is no whining, no constant harping on President Bush and the hopelessness of the fight we are in - even from a young man who has a rather different world-view than his right-of-center mom. He understands the seriousness of the fight and that wishing will not make it go away.

It would be interesting to read a report by the usual cadre of Washington Post reporters that presents a serious presentation of the threat of radical Islam and what the root causes are - other than "It's Bush's fault." Because we know, Tom, that it was not President Bush that killed Danny Pearl, my former co-worker Bob Jeck on PanAm flight 103, or the 3000 innocents who died on 9/11/2001.


I'm back

In June 2006, I posted a series of blog entries regarding the events at Haditha in November 2005. My hope was in some miniscule way to help in countering what I saw coming as "Abu Ghraib!" all over again. I have to admit, blogging was fun, even exhilarating, but it was also time-consuming.

The way that I've chosen to spend whatever time I could find over the last few years is by writing to journalists, politicians, and bloggers about the war on terror. Sometimes they'd write back. Sometimes my thoughts would end up in major newspapers or on a national cable news show. Twice, my emails were waiting in the morning mail box of reporters who later that day interviewed the President of the United States.

Over the years, I've saved the emails - both sent and received. A few days ago, I noticed that my emails were disappearing from my archives. It seems that my MSN software was corrupted and when it would crash and reset, emails were being lost. I actually saw one email disappear before my eyes. I've definitely lost about the last month of emails. So, I made a backup of what I had and put it on a disk - waiting for that inevitable time when my hard drive fails.

What I plan to do with this blog now is to post some of the letters I've sent. Readers can be assured that private correspondences will not be posted (or "leaked" as they relish in the trade.)

These are letters that express the opinion of one person - a mom whose son was a military prison guard in Iraq at the time the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. That experience has shaped my view of the military, politicians, and journalists.