August 31, 2004

If Victor Hanson Rode An Electra Glide

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:06 pm

he’d write a beautiful eulogy like Iowahawk did for Indian Larry.

It’s hard to overstate what a rock star he was among chopperheads; if there is a Mt. Olympus of Grease, he was its Hephaestus.

Smash’s In TPU

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:59 am

That would be Transient Personnel Unit, where you go when your Q is being fixed.

You might want to go there; seems that the first violence against Protest Warriors has occurred…

Update: He’s back at his regular quarters. Looks like he got a bug in his blog, not a hack.

August 30, 2004

Bad Weekend.

Filed under: — Chap @ 2:13 pm

Not a good one for someone connected to the job.

Not a good one at all.

August 29, 2004

A Short Guide To Iraq–from WWII

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:43 pm

From the Alidade email list comes this digitized Iraq pamphlet from World War Two. Check out page four–some things never change…

August 28, 2004

Power Line Smears Innocent Journalist

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:08 pm

The journalist in question is innocent of the charge of writing effectively, and Power Line has just smeared him all over the asphalt like a runaway steamroller on a dead rat.

There’s been a fight the last week that’s been entertaining to watch. First, the lawyer dudes at Power Line write an editorial for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Then this guy Jim Boyd at the paper rants a reply. Power Line offered to debate him at the State Fair; no response. Finally, in today’s paper there’s a return Iron Chef cage match between the two, and you can see the results.

Jim Boyd was Sigfried and Roy. Power Line was the tiger.

The post includes both editorials and is well worth the read. Play by play by Hugh Hewitt

Victor Hanson Discusses…

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:44 pm

Victor Davis Hanson has a worthwhile article on the impossibility of getting complete truth after a battle:

Even in daytime fighters do not perceive anything; indeed, nobody knows anything more than what is going on right around himself.

So the fifth-century B.C. military historian Thucydides commented on the confusion of battle on the heights above Syracuse (413 B.C.), and, indirectly, on the inability of historians such as himself to sort out the conflicting accounts provided by veterans of all battles.

Fear, panic, noise, dust, motion, all the rare stimuli that so overwhelm the everyday senses, combine with the vagaries of memory both to inflate and to diminish what happens in those rare brief seconds when men’s lives are won or lost. Such are the usual burdens of military history, both ancient and modern. When investigating the death of my namesake on Okinawa, or reconstructing some of my father’s 39 B-29 missions, I was struck by the difficulty in reconciling all the oral remembrances of the combatants, both with one another and with supposedly “official” histories of the theater.

The commendable tact of Steven Ambrose’s popular oral histories of the American soldier lay in his diplomatic treatment of first-hand accounts that simply could not be reconciled with one another — or with other criteria, such as official histories and the unyielding facts of weather, machines, or topography.

…and it’s just the start of a fascinating ride through millennia to discuss Kerry and Nemesis.

Good reading. It’s a great ride. I wish I knew what “epigone” meant.

Who?Who Else and Why?

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:17 am

Who is it they’re talking about here? Do I know the guy? Is it BS?

DoD Response to CBS Report

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 838-04


Aug 28, 2004

Media Contact: (703)697-5131

Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711

DoD Response to CBS Report

DoD has been cooperating with the Department of Justice on this matter

for an extended period of time. It is the DoD understanding that the investigation

within the DoD is limited in its scope.

I am curious as all get out to see what is up. From New York Times:

The espionage investigation has focused on an official who works in the office of Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, officials who have been briefed about the investigation said. The F.B.I. has gathered evidence that the official passed classified policy documents to officials at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a major pro-Israeli lobbying group, which in turn provided the information to Israeli intelligence, the officials said.

The bureau has evidence that the Pentagon official has given the Israelis a sensitive report about American policy toward Iran, along with other materials, the officials said.

Several government officials identified the official who was under investigation, but he could not be immediately reached for comment about the accusations.

Neither the official under suspicion nor anyone else associated with the case has been arrested, the officials said. Government officials suggested Friday that investigators were seeking the cooperation of the Pentagon official being investigated.

And for another “whiskey tango” question: why do we know this?

Update: Lex calls me out on an imprecision in my post. I wasn’t intending to question the timing of the announcement. I’m much more interested in why the story was broken in the first place. Why and who? What game advantages does this give to various players?

One “who” is known: Allah points us to the who. As I feared, I know the office–although don’t recognize the name; I might have met the guy once, if that. The other “whos”–who leaked the investigation, who else may be involved–is unknown to me at this point.

Now on to a tangential point that fills in some context for everybody. The office in which this guy supposedly works got a lot of flak during the buildup to the Iraq war because it was supposedly “Evil Neocon Central”. One female Air Force officer was so freaked she wrote a Nation article about how “evil” they were. On the other hand, I know some of the folks in that office and they were good people doing good work, so I’m a little skeptical. I had seen some rather, um, lively discussions. Some of them, due to tempers and impolitic discussion style, were unneccessarily so.

I wasn’t happy to see people so angry at the time–but on further reflection, considering the stakes a little yelling is probably good. We’ve seen polite senior personnel before. If you’re going to go to war, the stakes are high enough that people should be resigning if they’re that much in disagreement, people should be as forceful and persuasive as possible in support of the right decision. If we went to war on what I considered a bad set of criteria or bad information, I would be pretty darn motivated to be as forceful in my argument as ethics allow, not just as decorum allows. If we didn’t go to war and I saw that as a bad decision in a decision-making position, same same. (Once the decision’s made, you shut up and execute if you’re the guy with the guns. That’s much different.)

Check DisInfopedia for details about the office from the left side if you like, but consider the source. Warning, spin at link can cause you to get hit with a flying moonbat, sources carefully chosen to give one viewpoint only. (Example: the Air Force retiree’s article talks about an office working like a “machine” and “filtering viewpoints”–well, on my ship I have to have a team working like a machine, and suppress spurious viewpoints like an unfounded “the ship isn’t safe” rumor from some clueless E-5’s spouse.) Otherwise the mission isn’t achieveable. Better information is more like this here:

Q: Thank you. I’m Ann Kahn from American University. If the prewar intelligence on Iraq was so uniform and so consistent in its findings as you’ve stated in your prepared remarks, why was it necessary to set up a special office of strategic planning within the Defense Department, and does that office still exist? And if not, why not?

Feith: I’m delighted that you asked that question.

Moderator: I almost believe that. {Laughter}.

Feith: No, I am, because this is a subject of such thoroughgoing misinformation that it’s nice to have a chance to say something true about it. First of all, the Office of Special Plans that you referred to has nothing really whatsoever to do with intelligence it is one of the regional offices in the policy organization. We have regional offices for Latin America and Africa and Asia. We had – it is the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs. It was created in the fall of 2002 when we had to beef up our staff to handle all of the extra Iraq related work. We needed to increase it by something like 18 people. So we created a new office, and since there was an enormous amount of attention on the Pentagon, on what we were doing and are we planning for war and the creation of a new office that would have been called the Iraq office would have probably in and of itself created headlines. We chose the kind of name that the government gives to offices throughout the government that’s kind of nondescript – you know, “special plans,” long-range plans” – that kind of thing and it’s been grist for the conspiracy mongers ever since. But you referred to some intelligence unit, as many press reports did, confuse it with the special plans office. The so-called intelligence unit that was much discussed – it was two people, it was two people who did a project for about – it as not a unit, it was not an office. It was two people. And they did a project for about three months, and then another two people did a follow-on project for about 6 or 7 months.

It’s rather amazing that there have been numerous stories that said this was the Pentagon’s effort to replace the CIA and I can assure you that we do not hold the CIA in such low regard that we think we could replace them with two people. And in fact we think we – what those people did in that so-called intelligence unit that has been written about, was simply help me read and absorb the intelligence produced by the intelligence community, the CIA and other members of the intelligence community. So all I can say is there is, as I said, so much misinformation on this subject that I would urge everybody to treat with great skepticism what you read on that subject.

or here:

REP. SUSAN A. DAVIS (D-CA): Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to all of you for being here.

I had a follow-up, actually, on my colleague’s question. In our discussion that we had — (laughs) — for about three hours with the commission we didn’t really touch on one of the areas of intelligence that I think is — maybe it’s kind of the elephant in the room. I’m not sure. But the Office of Special Plans that was developed within the Pentagon some time ago and was kind of reinvigorated, I guess you might say. And perhaps you can clarify that for me, because I would appreciate kind of your take on that. Where does that fit in your thinking in the work that we’re doing now? I know that we all have great concerns about the management of information, and I think that we all want to be very careful that that management of information gets to the war fighter. But the management of policy is I — you know, it’s been stated earlier, a different issue. Could you clarify the Office of Special Plans? Is that operative today? For what do you rely on that group? What kind of information do you rely on them to present, and why do we need that, or why have we utilized it in the past?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: I’ll try — I mean, we’re talking not about the elephant in the room, but the flea. I mean, we’re talking about two people. And actually — you used this phrase “office of special plans.” That was actually a phrase used to describe the office that was doing Iraq planning back in a period when we were trying to be relatively discreet about it.

But what you’re really referring to is the two individuals who were asked by Undersecretary Doug Feith to look at this mass of intelligence information on terrorism and see what patterns they could discern in it. They didn’t generate intelligence, they didn’t do intelligence assessments, but they went mining information. And I would think, in fact, that hopefully we would see more ability of different organizations to look at the same body of information and, as General Pace said, to look at different ways of viewing it.

I think the 9/11 commission actually correctly called for more competitive analysis and pointed out — I think their phrase was “failure of imagination”; that if you get everything going through a single needle head and only one view that’s accepted, you’re much more likely, I think, to have a sort of groupthink that produces — looks at the information that is available to everybody but looks at it through a single lens.

The main point is we’re talking about two individuals who were simply looking at the intelligence collected by our huge intelligence community, and I think their role has been just enormously exaggerated. It’s a kind of urban legend.

REP. S. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It may be an urban legend, but I think there still are concerns about what we do to really protect the professionalism of our analysts and whether or not that information that’s coming forward — it’s not so much, I think, connecting the dots as much as perhaps disregarding some of the dots, perhaps. And I agree with you, I think we need a competition of ideas and we need to ensure that that’s available to whoever and whatever kind of organization has — the overall entity that we’re talking about here, but I wanted to just have your response on that. I appreciate it.

I don’t know anything special; just have Google. I am going to shut my fat mouth on this subject for a good long while once this post is done. Suffice it to say that some people have a powerful grudge for some people in this office, and there’s a lot of fascinating misinformation out there feeding that grudge. For that reason I wonder a little more about this latest plot twist. Maybe it’s irrelevant. Maybe not.

August 27, 2004

“My War” NPR Update

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:52 pm
  1. In addition to ranting to NPR, I sent off an email to Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings, asking him if he knew what the reporter was up to when O’Hanlon was commenting on suppressing blogs.

    Today I got a very nice return email from Michael O’Hanlon, which surprised me because he’s on the radio and TV a lot, and figured he got too much spam.

    I may not agree with some of the man’s conclusions in some things, but he’s a gentleman.

  2. CB’s “Men In Black” post was duplicated on the Operation Truth website. This worries me because the guys who started the website have impeccable Progressivist credentials (not that that’s a bad thing, but not usually the kind of people who start slick “soldier” sites), and they’re doing things like having a big fundraiser at a tony NYC restaurant and mentioning the fakey “draft” bill the Dems put up. I hope the kid knows what he’s getting into.
  3. One more thought: Once we went to a certain monarchial country, and it turns out that the king, when just some prince schlub who didn’t know he was going to wear the crown, hung out with one of our junior enlisted folks. It caused a little discomfort for all involved–the junior guy wasn’t too up on social conventions to keep you out of trouble in Country X, and the command two levels up was seriously freaked about national level communications inviting our poor guy to the palace.

    I imagine that’s a bit like what CB’s immediate supervisor had to go through.

A Most Elegant Kiss Off

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:44 pm

Via Fark, a elegant and poignant indictment of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

(Whoops-sorry-been writing messages today that explain every single acronym because we’re dealing with non-USN players. You kinda get into the habit.)

Jeremy Bloom is angry, but it takes a moment to sink in:

Two years ago, I became a proud member of the 2002 Winter Olympics team and then won the World Cup overall title as a freestyle skier. Then, a few weeks later, the NCAA informed me that if it were to allow me to continue my financial means of paying for my trainer, nutritionist, physical therapist and agent for skiing, I would be endangering the core principle of amateurism as a college football player. Although at the time it seemed silly, looking back I believe they made the right call. It is true my relationship with those people would have been more damaging to the spirit of amateurism than, say, the University of Miami’s relationship with star football recruit Willie Williams, who has been arrested 11 times since 1999.

So I took their advice and dropped all my legitimate ski-related sponsors and enrolled at the University of Colorado, where I became a proud member of the football program and the social science department.

Even though the NCAA denied multiple waivers to let me play football, at least it provided me with a lengthy and adequate response to why it felt the request was off-base. It read something like this: No.


Gained Two, but Lost One

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:34 pm

Jason’s back on line after helping get Florida back into shape. I hope he goes back on tour.

Smash is back from training. Sounds like the mystical island he was checking was well-protected.

CB has removed all his posts, with a single quote from Johnny Rotten: “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

links on the right. I’m lazy today.

You know, the Sex Pistols reunited after that catastrophic tour. So I think we just might hear from CB again. It just might take a while.

If I had the gumption I’d make a post on “posting on active duty”…

August 26, 2004

24 MEU: Reporting Done Right

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:52 pm

In stark contrast to the NPR ambush and slant is a site I found via the Command Post. A reporter named Brian Palmer embedded with 24 Marine Expeditionary Unit for seven weeks, and reports what he sees in a beautiful website.

It has been difficult to find venues for these stories and photos. They are quieter, more mundane and subtle than, for example, the graphic coverage of the fighting in Najaf. Gauging the progress of nation-building is difficult, time-consuming, expensive, beige. Flying bullets and screaming protesters provide ready-made drama for networks and newspapers that compete moment to moment for consumers’ attention. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s less risky from an economic standpoint (though not from a personal one, as is the case with Najaf) to cover the story everyone else is covering. The very presence of the media transforms an event into news. Their absence, well…

But I think we’re the better for his reporting. Michael Kelly would have been proud.

He names names, but does it differently than did NPR. In this case, he mostly stays with the senior people who are supposed to bear the burdens. Junior personnel have been briefed and protected as much as feasible by their chain of command. The reporter explains his own biases when it makes sense to do so, and just reports, without larding the piece up with half-assed “analysis”. In Palmer’s words, he tries to serve as a “witness”. That’s good reporting. There are places where he and I disagree, but I respect the man’s opinions much more than I would have if the piece were done like the NPR story–and due to that respect a real and valuable discussion can take place.

The acid test is twofold: does the story ring true and honest? Does it unfairly exploit the people being reported upon? I think Palmer did well, and added beauty in the format of the website.

Thanks to the Single Southern Guy, who mentioned the site to the Command Post. The official 24MEU website is a good piece of work as well.

(I wish I were able in this job to build something similar for the blue side, but at the moment it’s too much for one guy–I did it before for my last seagoing command and it was a lot of work merely to get people to understand why this public affairs stuff was important and needed to be done right, never mind all the time scanning in the video and historical ephemera. Well worth it, though.)

Nailed It

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:51 am

Rex Mundi has a truly eloquent post about…um, it.

I Found A New Funny

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:42 am

Via Large Regular comes Big Stupid Tommy, who is very, very bent. Consider this list of lies:

A few lies

From 1991-1993, my father served as the Gorton’s Fisherman.

I won the silver medal in the 10 meter platform diving in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

A group of walruses (walri) is referred to as a “cretch.”

The digestive system of a baby human defies the laws of thermodynamics.

I got into a fight with Chuck Norris outside a Wings Beach Store in Myrtle Beach, SC.

There is no word in Russian for “pre game warmup.” There are 119 for “hangover.”

The list of alternate hurricane names is also IMAO-level humorage.

Rant for CB

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:10 am

I am livid about how they grossly screwed up the NPR article on CB. They had a perfect piece of writing, and blew it!

So I went out of character and wrote a rant to the NPR response people, where it will never see the light of day.


You blew it. A guy in Iraq getting shot at big time manages to write beautifully about dramatic and important events, and you put his family at risk by publishing his name all over the web and on the radio.

That’s much, much worse than misrepresenting the purpose of the article to that author, which you seem to have done here, or completely losing the clue about what the phrase “operational security” means, or conflating mysterious “insurgents” with the Al-Qaeda fighters in black who rained RPG fire upon the Strykers, or building a narrative frame that rings false to military people who are actually there. Did you frame your question to Michael O’Hanlon to get the answer you wanted, instead of giving him enough information to understand what was going on?

Now this Army guy will worry about people who want to kill him harassing him or his family. Perhaps you could follow up with phone numbers of his mom so they can directly call her up at three in the morning and falsely tell her that her son is dead, as has happened to families of soldiers recently? It would be *so* hard for them to look it up, at least thirty seconds of work.

Thanks. Thanks a lot. Thanks for really caring about the troops.


Mudville finds no joy, either.

And NPR’s reader sounded exactly like the bus driver on the Simpsons.

August 25, 2004

Get Your Snark On

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:26 pm

The Greater Hampton Roads World Affairs Council is a nice group of folks who drag people to come talk to them in public. They have the advantage of some senior retirees and proximity to Washington, D.C.

On 16 September, at the Norfolk Airport Hilton, they have an interesting guest: Dr. Khaled A. Al-Maeena, Editor-In-Chief, Arab News. You might have heard of that little organization. Saudi newspaper, you know. Slight worldview difference and all that.

Can someone alert the lizardoid minions? One of them might want to spring for a ticket…

August 24, 2004

If You Read An Essay This Week…Here It Is

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:30 pm

David Bull is a fine printmaker. He dedicated his printmaking site to James Michener, citing an outstanding essay that to me is better than the infamous “Message to Garcia”.

Mr. Michener’s Essay starts like this:


by James Michener, 1962

During the summer vacation a fine-looking young man, who was majoring in literature at a top university, asked for an interview, and before we had talked for five minutes, he launched into his complaint.

‘Can you imagine?’ he lamented. ‘During vacation I have to write a three-thousand-word term paper about your books.’ He felt very sorry for himself.

His whimpering irritated me, and on the spur of the moment I shoved at him a card which had become famous in World War II. It was once used on me while I was ‘bitching’ to a chaplain on Guadalcanal. It read:

Stop right there! You’ll have to click on the link to finish it. You’ll be glad you did.

By the way, Bull’s surimono woodblock prints are marvelous. (I have spent some hard earned lucre on an original Yoshida print or two in my time–Bull has done a good homage to Hiroshi Yoshida in the previous link.) Bull also has an entire website devoted to teaching people how to make them, including complete scans of several obscure and essential books on how to make prints.

I’ve Lost Respect For Diana Moon

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:33 am

This blog makes me sad. I found Diana Moon through my first look at Salam Pax; Diana was a little like an old lady with three too many cats, but basically nice, and had some worthwhile things to say. (Her post series about buying blue tiles from Salam lit several light bulbs in my head about commerce and resurgence of Iraq.

That was apparently long ago, because now she combines ignorance

SPLAIN THIS ONE TO ME. Why is George Elliott (luv that name)a Lieutenant Commander here, and here, but a Captain here? How can you be a Lt. Commander in 1969 and a Captain in 2004? Was he busted down, or was he drunk when he signed the affidavit?

with stamping-foot anger

SWIFT LIES. Discussion about the Swiftie Liars on Brian Lehrer this morning. What should George Bush do about the ads? Well, if Bush had an ounce of sense he would strenuously and piously denounce them and distance himself from them. What would he lose by doing this? They’ve already done their damage. The mouthbreathers who believe the charge will never budge, or don’t have the brains to read accounts that disprove them. By denouncing the ads he’ll gain moral stature at no cost. But he won’t, because he’s stubborn.

By the way, I think that this is his main problem, much more than his actual stupidity. After chewing on this for nearly four years I’ve concluded that Bush really isn’t bright enough to be President, although he’s not actually stupid. Non-Americans: the conventional wisdom here in these United States that you don’t have to be smart to be President, you just have to be a good person.

I don’t think she realizes the depth of feeling of the Vietnam Vets for guys like Kerry and Fonda. I don’t think the Swifties care much about Bush–it’s not about Bush for them, or these guys would not have taken the risks they have to make the points they wish to make. They haven’t been arguing about this for as long as I’ve been alive just to push the current opponent to Kerry.

And it doesn’t help that she’s got the Party Line down so well.

At least she’s found Salam Pax again (via!)…

“No Truth In Pravda…”

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:30 am

“…and no news in Isvestia.”

From a trawl through Google News that disappeared within minutes, here’s a very interesting article about the Swift Boats furball from John O’Sullivan in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Vladimir Bukovsky, the great anti-Soviet dissident, once reproved me for quoting the old joke about the two main official Soviet newspapers: ”There’s no truth in Pravda [Truth] and no news in Izvestia [News].” He pointed out that you could learn a great deal of truthful news from both papers if you read them with proper care.

They often denounced ”anti-Soviet lies.” These lies had never been reported by them. Nor were they lies. And their exposure was the first that readers had been told of them. By reading the denunciation carefully, however, intelligent readers could decipher what the original story must have been.

That is exactly how intelligent readers now have to read most of the establishment media — at least when they are reporting on the ”anti-Kerry lies” of the swift boat veterans.

The article’s worth a look to see how O’Sullivan goes through the last few weeks.

August 23, 2004

Milblogger Visits The Hospital

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:32 pm

Via Mudville Gazette, a new milblog for me describes visiting a comrade newly arrived in the hospital from 1st ID.

The reception desk didn’t know where he was, so I found myself walking a labyrinth of interconnected tents until I found a PFC who helped process him in when he came in. I found him lying asleep on a bed and I just walked up and looked at him helplessly like a jackass, not wanting to wake him. The PFC helped me out, she touched him very lightly to wake him. I pasted a grin on and acted up beat. He seemed happy to see me, and I was glad for it.

I was eager to get him something, anything. I just wanted to help. He was fine though. Even though half his face was swollen to twice it’s normal size. Even though he had two black eyes.

Troubling Moment Of The Day

Filed under: — Chap @ 7:18 pm

The job is in chaos, the career derailed, car’s windshield just cracked (road stone), and the owner of the house we rented decided to come back to Norfolk. So I’ve been scrambling–asked the detailer to get my orders early so the house can be packed and the things inside destroyed by professionals, house hunting at exactly the wrong time in the year, took the cats to the vet for the blood test so they can go to the next job, et cetera.

Last night my wife found a good apartment in the paper: small, but with all our stuff packed out we want small; second floor, adequate if that’s all that’s left; cheap for this yuppie neighborhood. So we made an appointment with the owner and met him today.

Except that he came to the door and hastily told us the apartment was leased out already.

He was a thin boomer with a gray ponytail and Birkenstocks. I was in uniform.

I hate these “what if” questions that go through your head when those things happen.

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