Here’s the thing – 50 or 60 years ago, a Southern pol speaking at a white supremacist convention wasn’t a deal breaker. In some ways it was almost required.
Steve Scalise delivered this speech 12 years ago. 12 years.
I’m even willing to give Scalise a tiny benefit of the doubt – maybe he was busy delivering speeches to anyone and everyone who would listen that he didn’t do any research into the groups he addressed. But, I can’t help but wonder if the group’s name didn’t maybe make him wonder? European-American Unity and Rights Organization. That didn’t give him pause?
“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.”
– Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980
After the U.S. Armed Forces left Iraq, the Iraqis had virtually no logistical capability. Iraqi Army units had been supported by the Americans, not by Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers even had to buy their own food. The inability of the Iraqi military to keep its front-line units supplied was a factor in the rapid ISIS takeover of much of northern Iraq. In at least one instance last September, surrounded government troops ran out of ammo, food and water.
Apparently there has been a effort in Afghanistan to stand up an American-style military logistics operation that can function independently of American help. So far, according to an Inspector General (IG) report, it’s not working well due to corruption, inefficiency, and a lack of trained personnel.
[T]he $57 billion U.S. investment in Afghanistan’s security forces is at risk because the Afghans cannot supply, or resupply their troops, can’t prevent their weapons and vehicles from breaking down and can’t fix them when they do.
…Much of the failure lies …with the Pentagon and its coalition partners in Afghanistan, who poured billions into buying fancy stuff for the Afghans “without building the entire end-to-end logistics system down to operational and tactical levels.” That’s the sorry admission contained in the Defense Department’s most recent report (PDF) on the state of the 13-year war in Afghanistan.
As the U.S. led NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the fighting has intensified.
Kabul no longer releases total Afghan casualty statistics in order, officials say, to safeguard morale. But Afghan officials said casualty levels for the police and army have climbed since last year, making 2013 the bloodiest for Afghan forces since the U.S.-led coalition arrived in 2001.
…As coalition forces pull back from combat ahead of next year’s withdrawal, some coalition commanders warned that the Afghan forces can’t be sustained over the long run at the current rate of attrition.
As we return the ongoing Afghan civil war to the Afghans, we’ll need to make a plan of what to do if the Kabul government loses the war.
Headline writers don’t seem to know the Afghan war is still going strong.
Whether the gross misreporting about the war in Afghanistan “ending” was a result of incompetence or malevolence is hard to know given both are in such abundance in the US mainstream media.
Ahrar al Sham T-72 tank at the recent battle of Wadi al Daif in Idlib province, Syria
It’s time once again to check in with The Long War Journal and see how things are going in Syria and Iraq. Oh, not good. The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, Ahrar al Sham, and elements of the Western-backed Free Syrian Army have reportedly taken Syrian Army positions in the northwestern province of Idlib.
The Al Nusrah Front, supported by jihadist groups Ahrar al Sham and Jund al Aqsa, and units from the Free Syrian Army, today claimed to have overrun Wadi Al Daif, a Syrian Army base located just east of the city of Maa’rat al Nu’man. In addition, Ahrar al Sham, Al Nusrah, and the Free Syrian Army also advanced on Al Hamadiya, which sits just south of the city; the groups claimed to have taken partial control of Al Hamadiya.
Control of the two bases is critical for the Syrian military as they straddle the M5 highway, the main road from Aleppo to Damascus.
Meanwhile in Iraq, ISIS has renewed its attack on Samarra and nearby towns.
The Islamic State seeks to control Samarra and towns and cites to its south in order to secure the northern Baghdad belt. Jihadist control of this area would make it difficult for Iraqi forces to resupply and reinforce military units north of the city. Additionally, the Islamic State would use this area to disrupt security in Baghdad.
The Iraqi government has allowed Shiite militias, including the Badr Brigade, Hezbollah Brigade, Asaib al Haq (League of the Righteous), and Muqtada al Sadr’s Promised Day Brigade, all of which are supported by Iran’s Qods Force, to reinforce beleaguered and demoralized Iraqi forces in Samarra. These militias have remained on the front line and have secured cities and towns, many of which are predominantly Sunni communities, along the road from Samarra to Baghdad.
ISIS is also trying to consolidate its hold on Anbar Province.
Islamic State fighters launched an assault on al Wafa, which is west of the provincial capital of Ramadi, on Dec. 12 and defeated Iraqi security forces and local tribal fighters.
…The Islamic State maintains the initiative in Anbar province, most of which is under its control. The provincial capital of Ramadi and the town of Haditha remain contested terrain. The Iraqi military, the Awakening, and Iranian-backed Shiite militias have been unable to wrest control of the province from the Islamic state since Fallujah and other cities and towns fell in January 2013.
Since Dec. 10, the US has conducted 16 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, and the US and partners have carried out 29 airstrikes against the group in Iraq. President Obama told US troops: “The time of deploying large ground forces with big military footprints to engage in nation building overseas, that’s coming to an end.”
Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham advance in northwestern Syria
Islamic State releases pictures from recent fighting near Samarra (Note: some gruesome photos here)
Islamic State overruns town in Anbar, executes Awakening fighters
Al Nusrah Front uses American-made anti-tank missile in Idlib (Video)
For nearly ten years and more than 1,400 episodes, Colbert remained a constantly amusing and insightful part of our national dialogue. …By embracing the absurd and truly embodying it, Colbert has made politics and public policy uproariously funny, while providing much-needed bouts of sanity for devoted news junkies.
…I doubt we’ll ever see a conservative comic, or one of any partisan stripes, deliver the kind of satirical brilliance and insights that Colbert has for the last decade.
Thanks, Steven, we needed a few laughs to keep from crying.
By way of full disclosure, Dave Irvine is my cousin.
Yesterday, the Trib published an op-ed by David R. Irvine about the Senate’s Torture Report. In the op-ed, Irvine concludes:
. . . because torture failed to produce significant intelligence, why would we ever consider abandoning the interrogation practices that have proved effective over and over? This exhaustive search of the classified record shows that torture is unreliable, and that whatever we got from it was not worth the damage it has caused to our standing in the community of nations. Our use of torture isolates us from allies and puts the nation at greater risk of harm.
This argument is not new, it’s not novel but it is entirely accurate. The Bush administration bent over backwards to find ways to make torture legal, the CIA engaged in a systematic campaign of dishonesty about torture. It wasn’t worth it.
Frankly, I can’t decide what’s worse – the deliberate embrace of torture or the accompanying incompentence (they have no idea how they spent some of the money, they lost prisoners, they had no idea how many prisoners they had).
I’ve been trying to absorb the report itself. Here are the 20 key findings of the Senate committee:
#1: The CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of
acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.
#2: The CIA’s justification for the use of its enhanced interrogation techniques rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness.
#3: The interrogations of CIA detainees were brutal and far worse than the CIA represented to policymakers and others.
#4: The conditions of confinement for CIA detainees were harsher than the CIA had represented to policymakers and others.
#5: The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program.
#6: The CIA has actively avoided or impeded congressional oversight of the program.
#7: The CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making.
#8: The CIA’s operation and management of the program complicated, and in some cases impeded, the national security missions of other Executive Branch agencies.
#9; The CIA impeded oversight by the CIA’s Office of Inspector General.
#10: The CIA coordinated the release of classified information to the media, including inaccurate information concerning the effectiveness of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
#11: The CIA was unprepared as it began operating its Detention and Interrogation Program more than six months after being granted detention authorities.
#12: The CIA’s management and operation of its Detention and Interrogation Program
was deeply flawed throughout the program’s duration, particularly so in 2002 and early
#13: Two contract psychologists devised the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques and
played a central role in the operation, assessments, and management of the CIA’s
Detention and Interrogation Program. By 2005, the CIA had overwhelmingly outsourced
operations related to the program.
#14: CIA detainees were subjected to coercive interrogation techniques that had not been
approved by the Department of Justice or had not been authorized by CIA Headquarters.
#15: The CIA did not conduct a comprehensive or accurate accounting of the number of
individuals it detained, and held individuals who did not meet the legal standard for
detention. The CIA’s claims about the number of detainees held and subjected to its
enhanced Interrogation techniques were inaccurate.
#16: The CIA failed to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of its enhanced interrogation
#17: The CIA rarely reprimanded or held personnel accountable for serious and
significant violations, inappropriate activities, and systemic and individual management
#18: The CIA marginalized and ignored numerous internal critiques, criticisms, and
objections concerning the operation and management of the CIA’s Detention and
#19; The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program was inherently unsustainable and
had effectively ended by 2006 due to unauthorized press disclosures, reduced cooperation
from other nations, and legal and oversight concerns.
#20; The CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program damaged the United States’
standing in the world, and resulted in other significant monetary and non-monetary costs.
Abuse of power, lying, systematic dishonesty, corruption and failure.