The Memo:

You will by now have seen this story on a memo offering evidence of a Qaeda-Iraq link. It is worth noting that the Department of Defense has issued a statement about it. The statement is charmingly verbose. The short form of it is this: "The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asked us a question: 'What sources and reports tend to suggest a link between al Qaeda and Saddam's Iraq?' This memo was our reply. It was not a conclusion that such links existed, just a compilation of reports that suggested it, most of which were raw data. As the question was 'what suggests a link?', data which suggested otherwise was not included."

I haven't seen most of this stuff before, and I don't know what conclusions were drawn about any particular report. Still, it's worth noting that this memo only opens new questions, it doesn't close the case.

Intelligence Agility:

An excellent article by Bruce Berkowitz focuses on the 9/11 intelligence failure. In explaining it, he concludes that the kind of threat posed by terrorist groups can't be met by the CIA as it is currently structured, and proposes a new model for intelligence, based on agility:

For an intelligence organization, agility can be defined as having four features. First, the organization needs to be able to move people and other resources quickly and efficiently as requirements change. Second, it needs to be able to draw on expertise and information sources from around the world. Third, it needs to be able to move information easily so that all of the people required to produce an intelligence product can work together effectively. And, fourth, it needs to be able to deliver products to consumers when needed and in the form they require to do their job. Taken together, these features provide a benchmark for measuring proposals to make U.S. intelligence more agile.
His further recommendations are worth reading. They provide a model for what we should ask our representatives to demand of the executive branch.
Hail a Hero:

Capt. Harry Hornbuckle, bred of the state of Georgia, raised to arms at Fort Stewart, GA. Hero of the Iraq war, and still in service, training heroes yet to come.

...But I Remember My Oath:

It was long ago, and dissolved by law, but I remember and maintain my oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. That I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Forn Sidr:

One of my least favorite bloggers, The Raving Atheist, has this to say about the recognition of Forn Sidr in the Dane-Mark:

Denmark yesterday recognized the worship of Viking gods such as Odin and Thor as a religion. Although the request -- by a group called Forn Sidr -- was originally turned down in 1999, worshippers of the Norse deities will now be allowed to celebrate legal marriages, receive donations and get tax breaks.

American public schools still teach that the Norse, Greek and Roman gods are �myths.� They are the one form of theology that can safely be declared false. Hindu, Wiccan and Christian mythology do not receive the same deserved disrespect. There�d be bloodshed in the classroom if they did.

So it would be interesting to see what would happen if the Forn Sidrites made their presence known in this country. Faced with a First Amendment challenge, the schools would have three choices: (1) stop teaching mythology (2) include Christianity, Judaism, etc. in the mythology curriculum, or (3) create a comparative religion curriculum which included the Norse �theology.� I think the first alternative would be the most likely. The second would probably be ruled unconstitutional because the government isn�t supposed to take a position on the truth of any religion. The third would simply be unpalatable -- no good Christian would tolerate having their faith compared, even indirectly, to a religion which �everyone knows� is really just a myth.

This being the case, I can see a day when the schools are also compelled to ban any children�s fiction containing a supernatural element. Cults may one day form around Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz and declare themselves to be religions. And they�ll have the same constitutional right against disparagement as every other disparagable belief.
As usual with the Atheist, there is more wrong here than can easily be addressed. (For example: the only religion which can actually be proven false is not Forn Sidr, but Atheism.) Besides, I recall the few classes I had that mentioned the Bible always approached it as "literature," so I'm not sure the problem hasn't been addressed in advance.

I'll just ask this: where, exactly, is that Constitutional right not to be disparaged? Maybe what the schools will be compelled to do is stop being pushed around by whiners, and assert their obligation to teach what students need to know, whatever it may be.

An Important Warning:

The Scotsman reports that the Qaeda agents who carried out the bombing in Riyadh were dressed as policemen. There is no reason they could not use a similar tactic in the United States. Keep your eyes open always.

Happy Birthday, USMC

I raise a glass to the 228th year of the United States Marines. I now yield the floor to the Commandant:

This year we celebrate the 228th anniversary of the founding of our Corps. As always, it is an occasion for remembrance, proud traditions, and joyful camaraderie. The events of the past year have called for great sacrifices from many Marines and their families. While the Global War on Terrorism will continue to demand the best from each of us, it is important that we join with our fellow Marines, families and friends to celebrate our Corps' special culture and unique warrior ethos.

This past year, Marines demonstrated once again that they are the most important entity on any battlefield. Lethal weapons and advanced technologies provide us unique advantages, but educated warriors ultimately determine victory in combat not machines. During Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM, our small unit leaders' skills, adaptability and flexibility produced victory on uncertain and at times chaotic battlefields. We proved once again the power of integrated ground-air-logistics teams as well as the importance of every Marine being first and foremost a rifleman.

Our special spirit is evident not only in battle; it is evident in the faithful performance of demanding duties by countless Marines at home and abroad. Every Marine makes a vital contribution to the ability of our Corps to project and sustain credible combat power. Moreover, the willingness and readiness of all Marines to accept and accomplish any mission is central to our success and a hallmark of our warrior ethos.

The culture that defines the Marine Corps is nurtured by our traditions. In celebrating our heritage, we strengthen the linkages to a glorious history and recommit ourselves to upholding the standards and values given to us by past generations.

In commemorating our 228th anniversary, remain true to the spirit of the occasion. Reflect on our fallen with deep respect, observe our traditions with justifiable pride, take care of one another, and of course, celebrate those special bonds that exist among United States Marines.

Happy Birthday Marines, Semper Fidelis, and keep attacking!

M. W. Hagee
General, U.S. Marine Corps


Here find links to the Marine Corps Hymn and the Marine Corps Prayer. If you feel inclined to have some cake, go right ahead.

Update: General Lejune's birthday wishes are preserved online:

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of it's existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the nations foes. From the battle of Trenton to the Argonne. Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term Marine has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.


For the new blog showcase, I'll vote for Patriot Paradox - I Pray Daily. Am I an Extremist? as the political entry. For non-political, the neurotech entry. I can't say I'm as excited about the non-political entries this week, but what the heck.

We Love You, Milt, But...

The New York Times has an article today from Milt Bearden, CIA "quartermaster" to the Afghan mujahedeen during the Soviet occupation. Milt's an Iraq pessimist, and he argues that the Iraqi insurgency follows Sun Tzu's principles of war.

Now, Milt, we here at Grim's Hall love you for everything you've done for the cause of freedom. I have to say, though, that your assessment of the Iraq situation is off. There are several problems with the analysis:

The insurgents' strategy could have been crafted by Sun Tzu, the Chinese military tactician, who more than 2,500 years ago wrote, in "The Art of War," that the highest realization of warfare is to attack the enemy's strategy.

So it was probably no accident that as American forces approached Baghdad, expecting tough street fighting, the bulk of the Iraqi forces melted away.

I agree that it was no accident that their forces melted away. But I would think it too far a leap of faith to say that they planned to do so. It seems to me much more likely that the thing that caused this "no accident" was the sudden descent of 3 ID and I MEF on Baghdad, and the repeated slaughters of Fedayeen Saddam irregulars in the chevauchees of early April.

Is there any evidence that Saddam intended his forces to melt away? The best reports I've seen suggest that Saddam thought there wouldn't be a war at all, and if there were one, that he would win. Take this interview, for example, from one of Saddam's bodyguards, who held that Saddam was shocked by the fall of Baghdad and met with his sons to plan the resistance after the Marines were encamped in the Summer Palace. But you're ex-CIA, so maybe you know something I don't.

Next, according to Sun Tzu, you attack his alliances.

This, again, is what the Iraqi insurgents did. Presumably acting on the assumption that the Jordanians were being too helpful to the United States, insurgents detonated a car bomb outside the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad on Aug. 7, killing 11 and wounding scores. Less than three weeks later, as an increased role for the United Nations was debated, suicide bombers attacked the organization's headquarters in Baghdad, killing 22 people, including the United Nations special representative to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Then, in mid-October, as proposals for an expanded peacekeeping role for Turkey were argued, a suicide bomb detonated outside the Turkish chancery in Baghdad, killing one bystander and wounding a dozen others.

When Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, began in late October, Baghdad was rocked by a series of suicide bombings that killed dozens and wounded hundreds, including an attack on the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In addition, there have been countless attacks against individual Iraqis viewed as allied with the United States, whether police recruits, members of the Iraqi Governing Council or figures in the judiciary. A pattern of attack against American allies seems clear.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this claim. On the one hand, terrorists usually do hit soft targets--say, ones that refuse protection. On the other, the insurgents have been hitting hard targets too. If there's a pattern, it doesn't seem to be one of 'hit their allies,' so much as 'hit whatever we can hit.'

Additionally, it's not clear to me that some of these are allies in any meaningful sense. The Poles are our allies. The Brits are allies. The Aussies--allies. The ICRC has repeatedly referred to us as an occupation force, and refused any protection on the grounds that it didn't want to be associated with the effort to liberate Iraq. Meanwhile, they've issued statement after statement harshly critical of US and Coalition efforts. An insurgency that drives such a group out of the country isn't acting on a brilliant plan--they're removing a source of friendly propaganda, while convincing those outside the battle zone of the relative moral purity of the Coalition.

Consider the following: Since the focused attacks began, most Arab League missions in Baghdad have distanced themselves from the coalition; the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, has withdrawn his international staff from Baghdad; the Red Cross followed suit, prompting other international aid organizations to pare down in Baghdad as well. The Turkish government, for a number of complex political reasons, has now reconsidered sending troops.
OK, I -do- know what to do with this. The Arab League has "distanced" itself from the Coalition, but while making room at the table for the Coalition-backed Iraqi Governing Council. Kofi Annan is no friend to the Coalition, but he never has been. The UN Security Council, however--that is to say, "the UN that matters"--voted unanimously in support of the rebuilding efforts, and to legitimize the "occupation," or reconstruction. The Red Cross we've discussed--their departure is a blow to the insurgency's information war, and the attacks on them a propaganda victory for the Coalition. We'll miss their practical aid--but not all that much. As for the Turks, those "complex" reasons boil down to a pretty simple one: the Iraqi people refused to have them.

Now, take a minute to focus on that last point. The Iraqis refused--and the Coalition--who, we are told, is "desperate" to give the impression of a multinational force--bowed gracefully to their wishes. We are making a free society in Iraq. That means we have to honor their wishes--and we have. As, in fact, we have in Afghanistan, whose new constitution makes clear that it is going to be an Islamic republic, with a legal system founded on the principles of sha'ria.

"So what did we achieve in Afghanistan?" mutter the anti-warriors. We achieved this: we turned a theocratic government into a republican one, restored the loya jirga, and turned a haven for terrorists into an ally in the terror-war. If we can do as much in Iraq, it will be a positive victory--and a free republic, not a puppet on America's string.

Where Milt Bearden sees failures, I see shining success. But then, I'm not a former CIA man--maybe he knows better.

Next, Sun Tzu prescribed, attack their army.

This is occurring with increasing lethality. To misread these attacks as desperation is dangerous. In the last two weeks, there have been multiple attacks on the coalition headquarters in Baghdad, with mortars and rockets landing inside the secure green zone. Shoulder-fired missiles have brought down a Chinook helicopter, killing 16 soldiers. The crash of a Blackhawk helicopter, killing an additional six, is still under investigation, but according to some reports a rocket-propelled grenade may have brought it down. One or two casualties are logged almost daily.

Shooting down a helicopter with an RPG is not especially difficult--the Vietnamese learned, quickly enough, that you lead it just like you lead a bird with your rifle. Based on the tilt of the rotor, you can tell how much you need to lead it. This is something the Coalition is going to have to keep in mind.

It's true that attacks are becoming more dangerous. On the other hand, our counterattacks--and non-military counterinsurgency techniques--are also improving. That is part of the theory of war as well: refer not to Sun Tzu, but von Clausewitz. War tends to escalate, and enemies, as they learn each other's ways, become better at killing each other.

Even so, we're winning this one, and are going to have the victory. As you will see below, in northern (Kurdish) and southern (Shi'a) Iraq, the populace is fighting a counterinsurgency of its own. The Sunni Triangle remains dangerous, but there is not any shortage of Iraqis ready to put these insurgents down. They just need the time and training to do it--and we've got people providing both. Iraqi police figure in more successes every week--just last week they stopped a suicide bombing, for example. The Iraqi army is being trained in US methods by US corporations, and will soon be able to be integrated into operations.

For every mujahedeen killed or hauled off in raids by Soviet troops in Afghanistan, a revenge group of perhaps a half-dozen members of his family took up arms. Sadly, this same rule probably applies in Iraq.
The difference being that the vast majority of the Iraqi people are on our side. That was never true for the Russians, as you know: most of the Russian allies in Afghanistan were mercenary, and swayed by the passing about of cash.
There were two stark lessons in the history of the 20th century: no nation that launched a war against another sovereign nation ever won. And every nationalist-based insurgency against a foreign occupation ultimately succeeded. This is not to say anything about whether or not the United States should have gone into Iraq or whether the insurgency there is a lasting one. But it indicates how difficult the situation may become.
Sorry, but on this point we part company entirely. Nations launched successful wars on sovereign nations repeatedly in the 20th century: the Soviet Union swallowed nations like boiled eggs. Japan took China and Korea without real difficulty. The Nazis took Czechoslovakia, and the rest of the world said, "Well, OK." China, in turn, took Tibet.

What happened repeatedly in the 20th century was that nations, having taken one nation, moved on to take another. At some point this forced a response from the other great powers. In the Soviet case, it was the Cold War, and even so, it took fifty years to set those nations free. In Japan's case, it was us that finally knocked them about; and you'll remember what happened to the Nazis. China, by contrast, still has Tibet, and probably will have Taiwan pretty soon--we've passed the point at which we can afford, diplomatically or as a matter of force, to defend Taiwan in the face of a Chinese military assault.

What the Coalition allies are doing in Iraq, though, is not like the Soviet conquests or the Japanese, or the Nazi, or the Chinese. It is like--well, like the Allies' conquests of the Second World War. We have destroyed a fascist state, and will now rebuild it, and then we will set it free.

Which brings us to the other "every," that "every nationalist-based insurgency against a foreign occupation ultimately succeeded." That doesn't work, unless you count the end of the Allied occupation of Germany as a victory for the Werewolves.

"Know yourself and know your enemy," you counsel, with Sun Tzu. Very well, then, know this: we are the breakers of tyrants, and tyrants are our foes.

Tomorrow is the Marine Corps birthday, Milt. Drink deeply--but not of the cup of despair.


At home, this time. In South Carolina, police with drawn guns stormed a high school and put the entire student body face-down in the halls while they searched the school for drugs. (And did they find any drugs? No.)

This is not the way American citizens ought to be treated by anyone, but least of all by our own public servants. These officers have demonstrated that they do not understand the principles of a free Republic, and do not merit the honor of the badge, nor the power of the gun, with which they have been entrusted. Everyone involved in this operation must, for the good of the Republic, be fired at once. Prosecution for civil rights violations should follow. I should be glad to see them all sent to prison on felony charges.

These students are being trained to be free citizens. This is no way to train them in how a free man's government relates to him. There is now only one way to save the lesson: by showing the students how free men deal with tyrants.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

One hears a lot about Coalition casualties in Iraq, especially since the onset of Ramadan. You would almost get the sense that our boys are being picked off one by one, but that the Saddamite insurgents and terrorists are enjoying safety and freedom of operation.

That is not the case. In southern Iraq, regime members attempting to recruit have been assassinated by dozens by members of the local populace:

Dozens of Saddam Hussein's followers in Iraq's southern capital have been assassinated as they try to regroup and attack the coalition, the city's security chief told AFP.

"There have been too many political assassinations, dozens of them," said Colonel Mohammad Kazem Ahmad al-Ali, police director of internal security in Basra.

Yes, I'm sure we all deplore these extrajudicial killings. You'll be taking steps to stop the cycle of violence, right?
"These were liquidations of senior members of the previous regime who had committed crimes against the people," Ali said in an interview.

He declined to identify the perpetrators. . . . "Arresting people involved in the assassinations is the task of the coalition. We focus on maintaining security on the streets."

'A focus on security in the streets' appears to mean 'we protect normal Iraqis. The Baathists can go to hell.' The chief of security knows who the hunters are, and he plans to do nothing whatever to stop them. That sounds like, 'If you folks from the coalition really want them to stop, you go stop them.'

Ali says there are between twenty and thirty political parties operating in southern Iraq who have united to cleanse their country of Saddam's fascists.

And, the good news just keeps coming in this story:

A large colour portrait of Saddam Hussein was found hanging from a major pedestrian bridge in downtown Basra early this week, eyewitnesses said.

The portrait was removed and torn into small pieces by dozens of activists.

Ali charged that "remnants of the deposed regime" were coordinating with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network to carry out attacks against vital institutions.

"Just five days ago, a group of terrorists hurled several hand grenades on a school in Jomhuriya neighbourhood. Thank God, no one was hurt and there was no damage.

"A group of people were arrested. They are members of the former regime, but were found to be linked to Al-Qaeda," said Ali, declining to give further details.

It's heartening to see people spontaneously ripping apart Saddam's image. It is even more heartening to catch former regime men with Qaeda connections. Every one of those caught is an intelligence treasure: they provide insight into both groups of insurgents.

Finally, we have these two quotes on the effectiveness of the terror war in Iraq:

According to Ali, coalition forces in the Basra area have arrested a large number of suspected "terrorists" and Saddam loyalists. . . .

"Terrorists try to come through Basra. . . They include members of terror networks like Al-Qaeda and organized crime gangs. They try to infiltrate through the southern region also because of its long land borders," with Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, he said.

The coalition forces in coordination with the Iraqi police have launched an offensive to crack down on oil smugglers and others involved in illegal activities. Hundreds have been arrested.

Take heart: our dead are not wasted men, but warriors in a noble cause. We are winning. There can be no better proof than this. You can be sure that Iraq will be free, for her people are freeing themselves.