A Quacked-Up Strategy to Stop Terrorism

by Walter Brasch

Just about everyone has an opinion of what President Obama should do about the ISIS threat in Iraq. Many of the suggestions have come from the architects of America’s latest invasion of Iraq who claimed the nine year war that led to more than 25,000 deaths and 110,000 injuries among American and coalition troops would last not more than six months.

Whatever the President does or doesn’t do, a rabid minority will attack him and stuff their suggestions with the vileness of hate and politics. Most suggestions are based on ignorance and are easily dismissed.

But, there is one possible suggestion that may have merit.

On Sean Hannity’s Fox TV show, Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch and one of the world’s greatest military and diplomatic strategists, suggested that America tell ISIS fighters either to convert or be killed.

Millions of Americans-who called radical Muslims who preached such a doctrine, “barbarians” or “terrorists”-don’t seem to have a problem with converting Muslims to Christianity, the one true religion.

While Robertson had a good idea, he didn’t explain any way to implement it.

I do.

First, take a couple of Marine infantry regiments. Place them into Iraq. Make sure each soldier has an M-16, which in fully automatic mode can fire 800 rounds a minute and is one of the weapons the NRA believes all Americans should have a right to possess but only, they caution, as an AR-15 in semi-automatic mode. After all, those deer can be quite elusive.

Next, make sure every soldier also has a duck call. I recommend Duck Commander’s Homeland Security duck call. It’s only about $150 each, or about $1.5 million retail if both regiments are at full strength. This sale will help spur the American war economy. The soldiers will use the quackers to lure and mesmerize the ISIS fighters.

The Robertson clan needs to be on the front lines as decoys. Because the clan looks like terrorists, the ISIS terrorists will think long-haired, bearded scarf-wearing camouflaged Robertsons are kin-folk.

When the terrorists are rounded up, bring out the support troops-a company of white Southern Baptist preachers. The terrorists will be given a choice. Allow the preachers to dunk them into the Tigris or Euphrates rivers, the source of what we believe is civilization, or face hell-fire-and-brimstone from M-16s.

Some may suggest that Islam, primarily a peace-loving religion whose Koran shares much of the Old and New Testaments, is tainted by a minority of radical terrorists. They may claim that to even suggest a convert-or-be-killed philosophy is in itself not just the reflection of bigotry and hatred but can be seen as little more than a terrorist threat. Nonsense. Isn’t it no less than treason to doubt the wisdom of a millionaire duck call manufacturer and his legions of followers who drool over Reality TV and the “fair and balanced” network that gave air time to present the best suggestion that Fox News ever transmitted?

History suggests the convert-or-be-killed strategy that the Chief Duck Caller proposed should be effective. After all, Roman Catholics during the Inquisition converted about 100,000 Jews, most of whom took Christian names. The ones who weren’t “convinced” that Christianity was the one true religion were burned at the stake or exiled.  Of course, most of the converts also practiced Judaism secretly, but as long as they pretended to be Christians, that’s all that matters. Naturally, the Jews weren’t alone-there were and still are many pretend Christians.

Certainly, Jesus, who was born, lived, and died a Jew, would want everyone to be killed who doesn’t believe in the religion that others founded in his name. Disregard the fact that the Koran and the Bible share much of the same wisdom and history embodied within the Jewish Torah. Disregard the reality that that Islam and Christianity are brother religions, descendants of Judaism. This is 2014, and Christianity is the one true religion.

The convert-or-kill philosophy, espoused by the duck callers and millions of others, is just what the American democracy needs to wipe out terrorists, Muslims, and all non-believers.

Quack. Quack.

[Dr. Brasch, an award-winning columnist and satirist, is author of 20 books that combine history and contemporary social issues. His latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania.]

News & Notes June 25, 2014

Pennsylvania isn’t doing our part in preserving the Chesapeake Bay.  This vast estuary is a favorite for many in south central PA.  So much so the locals in northern Maryland refer to them as the “Pennsylvania Navy” coming down every weekend.  Now Sen. Toomey along with four Members of the PA Congressional delegation (including Rep. Scott Perry from the south central region) have signed on to a protest of new restrictions on pollution.  How shameful.

Tom Corbett is so disliked he can’t even congratulate Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins without getting booed.

In the “not exactly a news flash” segment natural gas money is pouring into Gov. Gasbag’s re-election campaign.  Of course that’s why I nicknamed him that four years ago.

Fortunately there is one man willing to balance those scales a bit.

In other fracking news retired state Health Department workers claim the Corbett Administration silenced them about the health dangers of fracking.

“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” Stuck said. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”

In yet more bad news for Corbett the Kane investigation into his management (as AG) of the Sandusky investigation revealed total incompetence.  Because the Attorney General’s office essentially sat on the investigation for a couple of years more boys were molested.  A search warrant after the first complaint was filed and police began investigating the former coach would have revealed the extent of his behavior.  Though it was concluded that no evidence of political calculations were involved in the delays it was political because the delays were caused by his overtly political prosecutions of BonusGate.

I’m not saying those who used state resources for political efforts shouldn’t have been prosecuted, they should have, but the manner in which Tom Corbett did it was very political.

President Obama finally took steps against Uganda for human rights violations against LGBT persons.  Certain Ugandan leaders are now barred from entering the U.S. and:

The Obama administration will also discontinue or redirect funds for programs with the Ugandan Police Force, the Ugandan Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute. The White House also cancelled an American-sponsored “aviation exercise” in the East African country. –  

Sen. Toomey was also targeted by members of Keystone Progress recently:

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran beat his Tea Party challenger in a run off election yesterday.

The United Methodist Church reinstated the credentials of Pastor Frank Schaeffer of Lebanon.  The Appeals Court over ruled the trial outcome following Schaeffer’s officiating at his son’t gay marriage ceremony.

In other gay news Allegheny County has adjusted its benefits policy to cover same sex partners and spouses.

Isn’t it interesting that almost all actual voter fraud is perpetrated by Republicans?  22 states have now restricted voting rights, mostly for Democratic voters, based on claims of widespread voter fraud.  Perhaps Wisconsin Gov. Scott walker should explain how his supporters cheated in his recall election.

The No News News Media

by Walter Brasch

There was a lot of news this past week.

Some of it was even reported by the news media.

First, there was a football player from Notre Dame who either did or didn’t know that his girlfriend was or wasn’t real, but died sometime during the season. Six column headlines for several days announced the fraud. Network news and talk show hosts rehashed it almost daily.

Two weeks ago, Lance Armstrong admitted he was a dope. Or maybe he just took dope. The news media kept sending urgent flashes all week of what he was going to tell Oprah. And then he told Oprah, and now we’ll be reading stories about it until Schwinn adds a jet engine to a 3-speed.

Subway is accused of making foot-long hoagies that are 11 inches, a problem that the executives wisely didn’t say was due to shrinkage in cold weather. The media seized this major fraud and, ignoring anything Congress or Wall Street was doing, slathered layers of hype on a story that should have died with three paragraphs in one day.

Of course, there was the inauguration. That became another way for bloviators and pretend-journalists to push their own agendas. They told us how unpopular this President is-attendance was way down from the first inauguration. Only 500,000 attended.  They didn’t tell us that second inaugurations always have much fewer people watching them in person than first inaugurations. And, that figure of 500,000? A little short of the actual number of one million. They said the inauguration was over-long and overpriced, although most of it was paid for by private donations. Something they didn’t mention was that the costs and day’s activities were about the same as for the previous president, and most presidents of the latter 20th century-Democrat or Republican.

Some of these pundits suggested that the President didn’t have a mandate, although he easily won by more than five million votes, and a near landslide in the Electoral College. A few of the more extreme even suggested he had stolen the election-how else could he have won over the nice businessman who bought and sold companies and helped improve the economy of Switzerland and the Canary Islands?

For the rest of the networks, the focus was on a constant blather of what would Michelle Obama be wearing. Whose dress? Whose gloves? This, of course, was mixed into all kinds of gushes and comments about her new ‘do. You know, the one that had bangs. The day after the inauguration, the media was all over the story of the Beyoncé kerfuffle. Did she or didn’t she lip synch the National Anthem? Truly great news coverage there.

Hillary Clinton testified before the Congressional Inquisition of Televised Republicans trying to make their bones to either enhance their own chances for re-election or to block what they think may be her plan to run for the presidency in 2016. This would be some of the same people who thought she was faking a concussion to avoid testifying in the first place.

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, scheduled for Harrisburg, Pa., Feb. 2-10 was cancelled this past week. The Expo is the largest in North America, but the organizers decided that in the wake of the Newtown murders, they would put a temporary moratorium on the sale of military-style assault weapons because they believed “the presence of MSRs [military style rifles] would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests.” Only a dozen or so of the 1,200 vendors were affected; most were selling clothes, rifles, turkey calls, tents, and anything related to outdoor sports. But, one by one vendors, the media, and dozens of celebrities-all with NRA encouragement and support-decided not to attend, somehow believing that a hunting and fishing exhibition that didn’t allow the purchase of assault weapons was somehow anti-American and gave a message that those who did attend were opposed to the Second Amendment. The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that the cancellation led to a loss of $43 million in the local economy.

More than 32,000 will die from gun violence by the end of the year, according to the Brady Center. This past week, 78 Americans, including four pre-teens, died from gun violence. And, during this past week, as has been the case for hundreds of previous weeks, the NRA leadership, with the egos of a gang of schoolboys who overdosed on testosterone, continue to defy all attempts to reach sensible solutions to allow the purchase of guns, yet reduce the violence.

A 38-year-old sergeant died from wounds received near Kabul, Afghanistan. The U.S. had invaded Afghanistan to find Osama bin Laden, but he became a lower priority less than a year later. The Bush-Cheney administration almost abandoned the war in Afghanistan and turned to Iraq. More than 7,600 American and allied soldiers were killed, and more than 50,000 wounded in both wars. President Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, ended the war in Iraq and is months from ending the one in Afghanistan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who numerous times promised to reign in the abuse of the filibuster that blocked any meaningful legislation or presidential appointments, turned wimp this past week. He and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who once vowed his top priority was solely to prevent Barack Obama from serving a second term, may have been last seen hugging, kissing, and preparing to be married in Massachusetts.

This past week, the stock market hit new records, and it looks President Obama may receive some of the credit for helping to stop the Great Recession, something that upsets Republicans, delights Democrats, and has no meaning to anyone homeless or unemployed.

Yes, there was a lot of news this past week. Some of it may some day actually be reported.

Dr. Brasch’s latest book is Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster. It is available from www.greeleyandstone.com at a pre-publication discount.]

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Iraq: Just Another War Without an End

by Walter Brasch

We know the names of every one of the 4,479 Americans who were killed and the 32,200 who were wounded, both civilian and military, between March 20, 2003 and Oct. 21, 2011, the day President Barack Obama, fulfilling a campaign promise, declared the last American soldier would leave Iraq before the end of the year.

We know Second Lieutenant Therrel Shane Childers was the first American soldier killed by hostile fire in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

On March 21, 2003, less than a day after the U.S.-led invasion, Childers was shot in the stomach by hostile forces while leading a Marine platoon to secure an oil field in southern Iraq.  His father, Joseph, told NPR that it was his dream to lead Marines into combat.

Childers, from Gulfport, Miss., had enlisted in the Marines 12 years earlier, was a security guard at the Geneva consulate and the Nairobi embassy, fought in the Persian Gulf War, and then attended the Citadel on a special program that allows enlisted personnel to be commissioned upon graduation. He was a French major and on the Dean’s List. Childers, who had wanted to be a horse trainer when he retired from the Marines, was 30 years old when he died. The Marines promoted him to first lieutenant posthumously.

On the day Childers was killed, 12 men-seven from the United Kingdom, one from South Africa, and four from the U.S.-were killed in a helicopter crash near Umm Qasr, a port city in southern Iraq. At the time, the Marine Corps called the crash of the CH-46E Sea Knight accidental, but didn’t elaborate.

About the time the helicopter crashed, Lance Corporal José Antonio Gutierrez, a 22-year-old Marine, was killed by what is euphemistically known as “friendly fire.” He was an orphan from Guatemala who had illegally crossed into the United States from Mexico, lived on the streets of San Diego and Los Angeles, was granted a temporary visa, lived with a series of foster families, graduated from high school, and began attending college, hoping to become an architect. The U.S. granted him citizenship posthumously.

On the second day of the war, three more Americans and six from England were killed. On the third day, 30 more Americans and four British were killed. By the end of March, 92 were killed.

One month before the invasion, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had declared the upcoming war, which he warned would be a “shock and awe” strategy, might last “six days, maybe six weeks; I doubt six months.”

On May 1, 2003, aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln off the coast of San Diego, President George W. Bush, decorated in flight gear, declared “Mission Accomplished.” Official military records show that when President Bush made his announcement, 172 Coalition troops had been killed. More than 4,600 American and allied soldiers would die in Iraq after that declaration; more than 31,500 Americans would be wounded, many permanently disabled, after that bravado proclamation.

We know the oldest American soldier to die in combat was 60; the youngest was 18, of which there were 34. We know that 476 of those killed were from California; Pennsylvania and Florida each had 176 deaths by the time the President announced full withdrawal from Iraq.

There are names we don’t know. We don’t know the names and life stories of the 4.7 million refugees, nor the two million Iraqis who fled the violence caused by the Coalition invasion. We don’t know the names of the orphaned children, one-third of all of Iraq’s youth. We don’t know the names of the 100,000-150,000 civilians killed. We don’t have accurate records of more than a million who were wounded. It no longer matters who killed or wounded them, who destroyed their lives and property-American, allied, Shia, Sunni, insurgent, criminal, or al-Qaeda. It doesn’t matter if they died from IEDs, suicide bombers, gunshots, artillery, bombs, or missiles. In war, they’re simply known as “collateral damage.”

In Afghanistan, 2,769 Coalition troops have been killed, 1,815 of them American, by the day that President Obama announced the withdrawal from Iraq. There are already 14,343 wounded among the Coalition forces. Between 36,000 and 75,000 Afghani civilians have been killed by insurgents and Coalition troops during the past decade, according to the United Nations. President Obama told the world that the war in Afghanistan would continue at least two more years.

You can try to sanitize the wars by giving them patriotic names-Operation Iraqi Freedom; Operation Enduring Freedom. But that doesn’t change the reality that millions of every demographic have been affected. War doesn’t discriminate. The dead on all sides are physicians and religious leaders; trades people, farmers, clerks, merchants, teachers, and mothers.  And they are babies and students. We don’t know what they might have become had they been allowed to grow up and live a life of peace, one without war.

We also don’t yet know who will be the last American soldier to be killed in Iraq. We don’t know how Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD) will affect the one million soldiers who were called for as many as seven tours of duty, nor when the last Iraq War veteran will die from permanent injuries. And we will never know how this war will affect the children and grandchildren of the veterans.

But there is one more thing we do know. A year before José Antonio Gutierrez was killed, he had written a “Letter to God” in Spanish. Translated, it read: “Thank you for permitting me to live another year, thank you for what I have, for the type of person I am, for my dreams that don’t die. . . . May the firearms be silent and the teachings of love flourish.”

[Walter Brasch first began writing about war in 1966. He wishes he didn’t have to. His latest book is Before the First Snow, a novel that focuses upon America between 1964 and 1991, the eve of the Persian Gulf War.]

 

Meanwhile In Iraq…

President Obama announced yesterday the withdrawal of the final 39,000 American troops from Iraq.  He had pledged to do this and had previously set the end of 2011 as his deadline.  This brings us to the end of an error, a huge foreign policy blunder by George W. Bush which resulted in the invasion and occupation of a foreign nation which held no threat to our strategic national security.

I have written this column since the onset of this glob five and a half years ago.  I am glad to see it come to an end, hopefully. 4,469 American soldiers died, over $800 billion spent (thus far, veterans benefits will take it to $3 trillion), a country’s treasury depleted, massive budget deficits created and a nation’s image tarnished as the result of this folly.

At least 4500 private security forces (mercenaries) will remain to guard U.S. facilities.  The massive embassy and two consulates are all that will remain of our presence in Iraq.  Iraq is the second longest war in American history next to Afghanistan and now it is time to also withdraw from that region.  I asked Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, what our current mission in Afghanistan is and he stated it in the same terms as this White House has answered me before:  to establish a stable national government which can defend itself and the eradication of Al Qaeda.

Here’s the trouble with that mission statement:  the White House has stated there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  The government of Hamad Karzai has no legitimacy and never will.  Americans are dying to protect a puppet President whose government is so rife with corruption no one in that country supports it.  It is time to bring them home too.

Terrorist or Freedom Fighter?

Once upon a time a nascent civilization chafed under the tyranny of colonization.  Owned by a multi-national corporation which strangled business development, growth, prices and supply, the colonists elected to revolt and throw off the taxes imposed by its government on behalf of the East India Company.  The problem was the army sent by Great Britain to enforce the dominion of a corporation over its subjects.  One f the first efforts at opposition was a bold maneuver by insurgents to dump tons of the company’s goods into Boston Harbor.

This is the real history of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution.  Our Founding Fathers were seen as and treated as terrorists by the government assigned to enforce the monopoly owned by the East India Company.  Ironically the United States has now adopted the tyranny imposed upon it in the 18th century.

Why are we in Iraq and Afghanistan?  We have sent our armies to these countries which we invaded and overthrew in order to defend and enforce the activities of American corporations.  Our soldiers are dying to support a massive military/industrial complex investing in these regions to extract profits, establish monopolies and enslave the populations economically.  In both nations we installed puppet governments and allowed our corporations to enter and take over their markets.  Discoveries of massive mineral deposits in Afghanistan essentially has American soldiers being blown up defending these operations.

No wonder the locals are upset.  They are seeking to overthrow the tyranny imposed upon them militarily in the same way John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others did in the 1770’s.  Why then do we call them patriots but Iraqis and Afghans terrorists?  Those insurgents are doing exactly the same as we did when faced with corporations imposing monopolies upon them, exploiting resources and seeking maximum profit with their country’s elite military forces enforcing their will.  Every man’s definition of freedom fighter or terrorist depends upon which side of the conflict they reside.

In Afghanistan and Iraq those fighting to rid their country’s of an occupying power there protecting its business interests are called insurgents.  Our revolutionaries who fought at Lexington, Concord, Saratoga, Trenton, Brandywine and other battles were our insurgents but terrorists to the Brits.  If you were an Afghan and we occupied your nation it would be your patriotic duty to oppose our presence.  We wold call you a terrorist however.

Unfortunately our own nation is now in the control of corporations.  They have usurped our rights and yet have none of the responsibilities which come with those rights.  They have taken our rights and reduced them to few in the name of our security.  We are less secure under the thumb of corporate tyranny however and much less free.  It is time again to throw off the yoke of corporate tyranny, of the corporate monopolies which have strangled us economically and reduced too many of us to poverty existences.  This is what the Occupy movement is really about.  It is an awakening that the constantly lowering of our incomes, our wealth and our economic security for the sake of the richest 1% is tyranny.  It is a recognition that our government, of the people, by the people and for the people has been bastardized into one which is of the corporations, for the corporations and for the corporations.  It is time for justice, time for a new American Revolution.  It can be peaceful and non violent or it can be bloody.  That determination will be made by the forces defending the special interests of the elite and how they react to the new forces of change.

One of the ironies of this is that President Obama, in his soaring rhetoric of 2008 instilled in us the hope that he would change things.  As the really sunk in that our leader was part of the problem the people have taken it upon themselves to change things themselves.

A real Tea Party grassroots movement has begun and it isn’t the Tea Party.  These new insurgents are occupying town after town demanding change.  

9/11: A Retrospective

The tenth anniversary of Al Qaeda’s attacks upon us is the proper time to take stock of the last decade and evaluate our responses, our victories and our failures.  They were mostly failures.  The only good thing which came out of that fateful day was the sense of unity and purpose which united all Americans in our shock and grief.  Unfortunately that was exploited for blatant political exploitation by the Bush Administration.

As we examine the criminal acts perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden’s crew the first question we must ask is why we responded militarily instead of legally.  These were criminal acts and not acts of war.  Only sovereign states can initiate acts of war and no sovereign state was directly invovled in 9/11.  Afghanistan’s role was minor actually and the devastation we’ve wrought in that nation for ten years is entirely out of proportion to their culpability.

When we look at how we should have acted the lesson of India and Mumbai is the proper course.  Rather than running off in heated fashion and dropping bombs they treated their 9/11 attacks as a criminal matter and brought the perpetrators to justice.  The appetite for violence and war in America and our culture drove us to violence.  We set off to destroy every country possible and mangled each effort.  We destroyed Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and made thousands of new enemies in the process.

We ruined our reputation as a freedom loving people spending $4 trillion on a failed invasion of Iraq where we slaughtered a million civilians and displaced another four million.  We invaded Afghanistan and created the world’s largest drug state enriching warlords and creating a government which may be the most corrupt in history.  We have fostered environments for raising anti-American extremists with every new drone attack and now have several hundred thousand Americans in a nation with less than 100 active Al Qaeda.

The way we went about our responses to 9/11 were stupid, counter effective and dangerous to our long term strategic national security.  We opened an off shore torture center in Cuba and rendered prisoners to the likes of Ghaddafi and Assad for torture.  Now we have the gall to condemn them for their brutality.  We sided with Somali warlords against their own people and now we have pirates hijacking our merchant ships.  We destroyed our own freedoms and liberties because we were told 9/11 happened because “they hated our freedoms.”  I suppose shredding the Bill of Rights is going to make us safer?

Now the President can order the assassination of an American citizen.  He/she can order the indefinite detention of a citizen without habeas corpus, a lawyer, a right to a fair trial or any trial at all.  The state can enter your home and search without any probable cause you committed a crime.  All of your communications are intercepted and searched for key words.  Your financial transactions are open for government examination and privacy is a thing of the past.  They can even attach a gps to your vehicle and track all of your whereabouts without a court order.   Welcome to post 9/11 America:  Big Brother Nation.

This was all done under the insult of having “a pre-9/11 mentality” if you opposed the ending of liberty.  “Patriots” dared even to wrap themselves around a flag (not the stars and stripes by the way) and claim to be defending those freedoms they just removed.  They stood on the constitution as their leaders trashed it.  Anyone who stood up and opposed these dictatorial new powers was branded a traitor by their corporate owned media which grandstanded all of the wars, all of the evils and all of the tyrannies newly inflicted post 9/11.

Osama Bin Laden’s strategy was to bankrupt America the way he drove the Soviet Union into the annals of history.  Thus far he has succeeded.  Instead of spending $4 trillion rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports, mass transit, water and sewer systems, broadband access, electrical grids and clean energy sources we pissed it down the black holes of Iraq and Afghanistan.  We enriched warlords instead and turned a blind eye as heroin production flooded our streets and poisoned our youth.

We turned thousands of young Americans into paraplegics, inflicted TBI and PTSD on them and now will be faced with caring them for them for the next fifty years instead of building our nation and expanding our horizons.  We supported corrupt governments which ave alienated their own populations against us, dropped bombs on countless civilians and killed women and children in the name of saving their souls.

Meanwhile our corporations reported record profits facilitating the war effort.  We privatized our military making war an international profit making enterprise for which no end is on sight.  We now depend on private contractors open to the highest bidder for our national security, corporations without loyalty to any state, any people, any cause other than profit.  No wonder we have endless war when there are endless profits to be earned?

These are the legacies of 9/11.  This is post 9/11 America.  It didn’t have to be.  We could have chosen the path India took and we could have lived up to our ideals and remained that shining light on the hill.  Instead we chose, and proudly did so, to extinguish everything for which we built, designed and sought for as a nation.  When those towers fell so did America.  Bin Laden won because he destroyed who we were and bankrupted us as a country.

The next ten years we face a decision:  do we pursue more of the same or do we finally stand back, examine what has failed and choose a smarter course of action?  Do we invest in our own country or continue pouring trillions into the fat bank accounts of warlords?  Do we continue supporting failed wars and failed puppets or do we choose instead to focus on our own failing state?  These are serious questions but no one seems to be asking them.

I remember being in Shanksville last year and talking with the families of those who perished on Flight 93.  They deserved better.

Afghanistan: Mission Accomplished

Eight years from the day CinC George W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” in Iraq the mission in Afghanistan finally ended with the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Senior White House officials held an unusual late night conference call to brief the press tonight.

Bin Laden, often referred to as Osama Bin Forgotten because Bush diverted the nation’s military, intelligence and diplomatic efforts to Iraq instead of pursuing the actual mastermind of 9/11, has been declared dead by President Barack Obama.

An initial report from reliable Producer Matthew on Twitter says a CIA attack outside Islamabad, Pakistan killed 25 people including Bin Laden.  Islamabad is a major Pakistani city and it is likely the country’s intelligence agency, longtime close allies of the Taliban, knew of his presence there.  The attack happened about a week ago and the White House delayed the news pending DNA confirmation.

Update:  Here’s the Flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, taken last September 11th.

Flight 93 crash site

Update II:  The President’s remarks last night (just in from the White House):

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON OSAMA BIN LADEN

East Room

11:35 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together.  We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood.  We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country.  On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.  We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe.  And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort.  We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.  In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support.  And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

 

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.  It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground.  I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.  And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.  No Americans were harmed.  They took care to avoid civilian casualties.  After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies.  The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.  There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us.  We must — and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not — and never will be — at war with Islam.  I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.  Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.  That is what we’ve done.  But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.  Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts.  They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.  And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight.  It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.  After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war.  These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war.  Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed.  We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.  We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror:  Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome.  The American people do not see their work, nor know their names.  But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.  And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.  I know that it has, at times, frayed.  Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete.  But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.  That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are:  one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you.  May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.

                       END               11:44 P.M. EDT

Reminiscing

Independents are abandoning President Obama and the Democrats in droves.  The Tea Party folks are the same old right wing militia, anti-government, white supremacists who have feasted on conspiracy theories for decades.  They simply are getting more media attention from the cable networks who like the nice visuals provided.

Barack Obama has actually done a great deal as President.  He gets no credit for forestalling an economic catastrophe brought on by failed Republican economic policies, guaranteed equal pay for equal work for women,  saved the auto industry, restored the regulatory role of government to protect our food, water, children and safety, appointed people at the Justice Department who do not prosecute based on political affiliation, ended the War in Iraq and repaired the country’s reputation and standing in the world.

Perhaps we need to reminisce about the “good old days” of Republican control of government.  Big business got away with whatever they wished.  Mines collapsed on workers, China shipped poisoned dog food to us, Toyota cars weren’t scrutinized for defects, etc.  The biggest sin of all though was lying the nation into war.  Obama may not be willing to drag us into recriminations, prosecutions and such but let us not forget what George W. Bush and his Republican cronies did to this country.  You may not be entirely happy with Barack Obama but compared with Bush he’s a godsend.


9/11 Truth: How Think Tanks Took Control of U.S. Government @ Yahoo! Video

Biden Goes to Baghdad

A day after visiting Pennsylvania for two events Vice President Joe Biden flew to Baghdad today to spend the Fourth of July examining the situation on the ground.  I just hope he doesn’t decide to serve the troops plastic food from a plastic tray as a photo op.  That remembrance of George W. Bush’s Thanksgiving tradition is likely to cause everyone heartburn.

Witht he new Status of Forces Agreement taking form with the withdrawal of American troops from towns and cities reshaping the country Biden is getting a sense of how the new Iraq will be taking shape.  The White House issued this statement:

Vice President Biden has arrived in Iraq to visit U.S. troops and to meet with Iraqi leaders, including President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of the Council of Representatives Ayad al-Samarrai. The Vice President will reiterate the United States’ commitment to fully implement the Security Agreement and the Strategic Framework Agreement and to carry out President Obama’s plan to draw down U.S. forces. He will discuss with Iraq’s leaders the importance of achieving the political progress that is necessary to ensure the nation’s long-term stability. This is Vice President Biden’s second trip to Iraq this year and his first as Vice President.