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February 12, 2006

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great post...and yeah Katrina is still getting short shrift- it is criminal...I have reposted on this this week as well...( I also use the same kitty as you- except we call her the pragmatic pussy...) come by Enigma Cafe- http://watergatesummer.blogspot.com/ , you might find some like souls...sipping and thinking on the same issues...thanks for writing on this...

I think you are still giving Bush too much credit as usual.

The US is not just not more ready since 9-11 to deal with disasters, it is much less ready.

Bush started reducing America's ability to deal with disaster as soon as he came into office by replacing Clinton appointees at the top with worthless Republican cronys.

But even then FEMA was far more capable than it is now. Over time, Bush introduced changes in policy and the budget which led to an exodus of most of the professionals at FEMA, heck you even referred to a Brad deLong piece on this months ago.

Of course as with all the things the Bush administration does it got much worse after 9-11 because then Bush had the power to wreck more thoroughly, in this instance by putting FEMA under Homeland Security.

The disinterest and indifference that Bush, Chertoff, and Brown feel and show toward the drowning of New Orleans after Katrina hit was really just the cherry on top.

I edited to change from past tense to present in that last sentence because I remembered that it is again apparent that Bush just doesn't care about disaster preparedness or recovery. Witness the fact that he was reluctant to even do the minimal window dressing of firing Brown, and that the idea of billions of aid, promised for the rebuilding of New Orleans was dropped by this White House as soon as Bush got on the plane after his N.o. speech.

Frank: it is again apparent that Bush just doesn't care about disaster preparedness or recovery. Witness the fact that he was reluctant to even do the minimal window dressing of firing Brown, and that the idea of billions of aid, promised for the rebuilding of New Orleans was dropped by this White House as soon as Bush got on the plane after his N.o. speech.

Why should Bush care about rebuilding New Orleans, or indeed about any bad reactions to it? He knows his base will vehemently attack anyone who criticizes him.

It would appear that France is more likely to help rebuild than the US government. Historically appropriate, perhaps... if you roll back a couple of centuries and fifteen million dollars.

All this criticism of the President (crosses-self) is giving aid in comfort to our enemies and helping the terrorists win. hilzoy (if that is your real name), please turn yourself in to the nearest Homeland Security Detention Facility for re-eduction.

Of course, look on the bright side. Soon, almost everyone (and certainly everyone you can respect) is going to be a liberal

Greenwald's been listening to Sean Hannity too much, apparently. Which, who would've thought we had anything at all in common?

Besides, he's just a big liberal; who cares what he thinks.

Ok, swear to GOD I'm going to erase that station from my presets, now.

I don't think Bush is playing a chord in that picture.

Doesn't it look like he's trying to play a G chord on the wrong fret?

"Doesn't it look like he's trying to play a G chord on the wrong fret?"

Looks to me that Bush is sending one of his famous subtle signals to his audience.

G chord: check
Wrong fret: check
subtle signal? his middle finger probably just goes that way automatically...

Slarti,

That whole 'Anyone who disagrees with me is a liberal, and a liberal is someone who disagrees with me' circle is impossibly frustrating to penetrate. I have a few acquaintances who follow that script every time I express concern or frustratio nwith Administration policies. I have to remind them that I was the one hoofing it door to door for the Bush I campaign a decade ago, donating to the Family Research Council, and subscribing tothe American Spectator in the 90's. That, though, just means that I've tragically fallen from grace...

I'm shocked at all this distrust of the president on display here. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the A and both E strings were flat by a half step?

It looks like the other guy in the picture is trying to grab the guitar from him with a "Good lord, no!" look on his face. Like he's about to play the brown tone or something.

Eric Muller at IsThatLegal has a wav file of the chord. Ouch.

That, though, just means that I've tragically fallen from grace

Or that you were just a Big Liberal all along. You never know where liberals are hiding themselves, these days.

What's great about the Greenwald post that lj links to is that it's superfluous; the "All Things Beautiful" post that Greenwald links and responds to does all the heavy lifting to make Greenwald's point for him, by unironically leading with, and offering no further explication for, the painting The Betrayal of Christ. Bush=Christ, and anyone who fails to support Bush 100%=Judas. QED.

Hey, where's Charles? Hilzoy's post has been up all morning and we haven't seen any sputtering rebuttals to her citations of Hurricane Katrina responses as criticisms of President Bush/his Adminstration.
After all, we need to be reminded again that the NO Mayor and LA Governor were/are Democrats!
(Not sure, and never have been, why that should let the Feds and FEMA off the hook, but I'm sure BD can fill us in).

Ah, that chord! It sings so eloquently of the Bush administration.

I think it was symbolic of how well Governor Blanco had orchestrated the mobilization of the LA National Guard with various other agencies, myself. The chord is so brown it's almost...chocolate.

So, it could be prescience.

Just thought I'd add my half-assed analogy to all the rest, here.

Slarti, that picture was taken on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Prescience is perhaps the wrong word to use given the latest news.

Um...I think you misunderstood, ral.

Oops, sorry, I missed that one.

't'sallright, I was being more oblique than usual, with more than a dollop of smartass thrown in.

from the "you can't make this stuff up" deparment:

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

Oh, yes, I feel so much safer now. ;-)

This from Wyoming makes it funnier.

Just don't sneak up on Cheney and you'll be all right. Maybe there IS a downside to "walk softly".

Just too funny.

"And a strong leader does not need his staff to tell him to do these things. Being a grown-up, he knows them already. Likewise, if he fails, he does not blame his staff."

Exactly. Since Bush is none of these things, we can count on him to ignore obvious priorities, pander to his base, and use the Republican Congress to hide all the bodies.

Given their preference for a monarchy, is it any wonder they have done so little to protect the homefront? Martial law will be about a half-second behind the next big attack.

Leonidas also displays expert gun knowledge:

Can anyone here tell me if a silencer would’ve helped or hurt in any way in this situation? I’m thinking that maybe a silencer might have reduced the blast radius, and saved Mr. Whittington from injury. But maybe I’m wrong about that. I don’t know very much about silencers. Can someone else give me more information?
Anyone who knows the faintest thing about guns, shotguns, or silencers, try to pick yourself up off the floor now; wipe the dust off from all that rolling about.

Silenced shotguns: teehee. (Leonidas epeats same comment as mentioned before yet again.)

It would involve concentrating our resources on actually catching Osama bin Laden, not letting him slip away at Tora Bora in part because our military was already distracted by planning for Iraq.

That's amazing! The military was distracted by planning for Iraq in November/December 2001, and this was the reason that they didn't capture bin Laden? How do you know this? What form did the "distraction" take? And how did it affect anything that would have otherwise happened at Tora Bora?

Uh, Gary, you do realize that I don't write all the comments for my posts. That was left by a commenter who isn't me. I could explain how blogs work to you if you like.

Niels: I was working off Woodward's Plan of Attack, which puts the request to start planning for Iraq on Nov. 21, 2001 -- before Tora Bora. See also here:

"Franks also now disputes Kerry's claim that U.S. forces were distracted during the battle by the administration's growing focus on Iraq. But Franks had a very different view at the time, according to "Plan of Attack," a book by The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, who had access to top administration officials.

The book reports that in November 2001, just as the assault on Tora Bora was beginning, Franks got a call from Washington asking him to develop a plan for the invasion of Iraq.

"[Expletive], what the [expletive] are they talking about?" Franks is quoted as saying"

Though, as I said, Nov. 21 was before Tora Bora, not 'as it was beginning'.

"That's amazing! The military was distracted by planning for Iraq in November/December 2001, and this was the reason that they didn't capture bin Laden? How do you know this?"

By reading the military news of units shifting at the time. This was also covered in the mainstream media, and in many blogs.

See herefrom November, 2002, regarding elite Australian troops.

From Knight-Ridder, November 26, 2003:

Iraq War Diverting Resources from War on Terror, Experts
[...] According to current and former officials, the Bush administration diverted precious assets, including U.S. military special operations forces, intelligence operatives and spy satellites from tracking al-Qaida to the war in Iraq.

By one official's estimate, half of the special operations and intelligence resources focused on al-Qaida were redirected to support the March 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. That figure could not be confirmed.

Former White House counter-terrorism coordinator Rand Beers, who resigned in March just before the Iraq war began, said that U.S. troops, CIA paramilitary officers and intelligence collection devices were withdrawn from Afghanistan and refurbished for use in the war against Iraq. [...] Others note that the number of U.S. spy satellites and electronic listening posts is limited as is the number of analysts trained to decipher and translate intercepted messages. While they have no specific information to corroborate their statements, they believe U.S. intelligence is almost certainly listening in on fewer suspected terrorists outside of Iraq as they assign much of their intelligence capabilities to detecting and pre-empting attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. [...] Another top intelligence official said the CIA, with a finite number of Arabic speakers, paramilitary operators and other assets, has inevitably had to divert resources to the Iraq effort.

Elements of the 101st Airborne were removed from Afghanistan to prepare for Iraq.

Strategypage.com, September 4, 2002:

Some Special Forces troops are being withdrawn from Afghanistan, to be replaced with regular troops. The most elite commandos (JSOC's Delta Force and Seal Team 6) are needed for any invasion of Iraq. Such an operation will probably make much use of commandos to hunt down Scud launchers and capture chemical and biological weapons facilities, as well as going after key Iraqi leaders. To do this, JCOM operators need time to plan and train for such operations. US commanders in Afghanistan would prefer to keep the JCOM operators, as these men are among the finest infantry in the world, and can carry out difficult operations with a minimum of fuss and friendly casualties. Using regular infantry for these raids on suspected Taliban and al Qaeda hideouts will be messier and get more Americans killed. But JCOM has fewer than a thousand troops and they are needed elsewhere. Same thing with the Special Forces troops in Afghanistan. Special Forces groups special specific regions of the world, and the 5th group that covers Afghanistan also deals with the Persian Gulf. The 5th Special Forces Group contains the Arab speaking troops with knowledge and experience of the Middle East. They are needed for any invasion of Iraq. Pulling all of these guys out is really dangerous, because one thing the Special Forces do very well is establish personal relationships with the locals. In this case were are talking tribal chiefs and warlords. Troops from other Special Forces units are being sent in, after a crash course in the local languages and customs. This shift will make working with testy, and heavily armed, Afghans more difficult. But the men of the 5th Special Forces Group can't be in two places at once. Iraq is apparently taking priority.
From Stratfor, 6 September 2002:
Summary
>
> Some U.S. officials reportedly are suggesting that Special Operations
>troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan and used elsewhere. Such a decision
>would only contribute to the destabilization there, but the real problem
>for Washington is that its military resources could be spread increasingly
>thin in the global war on terrorism, while its priorities do not seem to be
>clearly set and major war targets have not yet been achieved.
>
> Analysis
>
> The New York Times reported earlier this week that some senior U.S.
>officers in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) recently suggested
>that their forces be freed from hunting Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
>These officers believe bin Laden was killed during the bombing of the Tora
>Bora cave complex last year.
>
> But there is still no proof that bin Laden is dead, and with Afghan
>resistance on the rise, a withdrawal of the most elite U.S. units from
>Afghanistan would only worsen the military situation on the ground there.
>So far at least Washington appears committed to keeping the forces there.
>But as pressure grows on the military to deploy these forces elsewhere,
>Washington in the future could have to spread its resources dangerously
>thin, especially if faced with a war in Iraq and increasing instability in
>Afghanistan at the same time.
>
> The JSOC officers have justified their stance by saying that their hunt
>for bin Laden may well be pointless, although they admit that they have no
>hard forensic evidence to prove he was killed. Other military and
>intelligence officials in the United States and abroad strongly argue that
>it is too early to make any judgments about the al Qaeda leader's fate.

[...]

> In these conditions, a withdrawal of Special Operations troops would only
>worsen the military situation on the ground. Even if bin Laden is dead or
>out of the country, there are several top ranking leaders planning and
>executing an anti-U.S. resistance in Afghanistan.
>
> The JSOC's colleagues in the Afghan operations -- CIA paramilitary units
>-- would be even less likely to achieve any results in the hunt for bin
>Laden and al Qaeda if left alone. The 82nd Airborne Division and other
>forces have been trained and skilled in other kinds of combat operations,
>but have little of the training and experience needed for hunting groups
>like al Qaeda.
>
> Without Special Operations forces, the U.S. command in Afghanistan would
>have to change its tactics. The American forces would have to conduct
>frequent and exhaustive sweeping operations involving larger amounts of
>troops. That would highly increase the exposure of the U.S. soldiers to
>enemy fire and ambushes, and the number of U.S. casualties could rise much
>faster.
>
> The last example of a large operation of this kind was Operation Anaconda
>last February, when several U.S. soldiers were killed during the first day
>because of the ambush tactics of the mujahideen. The next day, the U.S.
>command had to start relying on air, missile and artillery bombing. No
>major Afghan operation has been conducted since then. A withdrawal of
>Special Operations troops could make the U.S. command in Afghanistan resort
>to large operations again.
>
> But the U.S. government is faced with a dilemma given that it also needs
>Special Operations forces elsewhere. In plans to attack Iraq, Washington
>would have to deploy the most elite Special Operations units to destroy
>suspected Iraqi launching pads for missiles, long-range artillery
>batteries, and important command and control centers and communication
>facilities. Such forces would also have to secure control over suspected
>facilities for making weapons of mass destruction. These units would also
>likely to be used to hunt down Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his top
>lieutenants.

[...]

> Of the nearly 46,000 personnel in Special Operations forces, only between
>7,000 and 8,000 of them belong to combat units such as Army Rangers, Delta
>Force, Navy Seals and Air Force Special Operations units. Furthermore, of
>this group only about 1,000 are designated for counterterrorism missions
>and constitute front-line teams fully suited to fighting al Qaeda,
>according to the officers interviewed by The New York Times.
>
> This is one example of Washington running short of key resources as the
>war spreads globally. It takes years to train Special Operations soldiers,
>and their current numbers are not enough to accomplish all the missions
>Washington may soon want. As with logistics and other issues, the problem
>with the shortage of these troops likely will interfere with the Bush
>administration's goal to achieve a major breakthrough in its global war
>efforts in near future.

USA Today:
In 2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures.

The CIA, meanwhile, was stretched badly in its capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from Afghanistan. When the White House raised a new priority, it took specialists away from the Afghanistan effort to ensure Iraq was covered.

Those were just two of the tradeoffs required because of what the Pentagon and CIA acknowledge is a shortage of key personnel to fight the war on terrorism. The question of how much those shifts prevented progress against al-Qaeda and other terrorists is putting the Bush administration on the defensive.

Even before the invasion, the wisdom of shifting resources from the bin Laden hunt to the war in Iraq was raised privately by top military officials and publicly by Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and others.

More on the 5th Special Forces Group.
The 5th Special Forces was one of the first units to be deployed in Iraq, having
entered the country a full year before the official start of hostilities. They were first
deployed to Afghanistan immediately following 9/11, but were quickly moved to Iraq
in March of 2002:

"Fifth Group Special Forces were a rare breed in the US military: they spoke
Arabic, Pastun and Dari. They had been in Afghanistan for half a year, had
developed a network of local sources and alliances, and believed that they
were closing in on bin Laden.

Without warning, they were then given the task of tracking down Saddam.
"We were going nuts on the ground about that decision," one of them recalls.

"In spite of the fact that it had taken five months to establish trust, suddenly
there were two days to hand over to people who spoke no Dari, Pastun or
Arabic, and had no rapport."

Along with the redeployment of human assets came a reallocation of
sophisticated hardware. The US air force has only two specially-equipped
RC135 U spy planes. They had successfullyvectored in on al-Qaida leadership
radio transmissions and cellphone calls, but they would no longer circle over
the mountains of the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.”
(2) .

Background on 5th Special Forces Group: interview with Col. John Mulholland, the commander of the 5th Special Forces Group, in command of them when they were in Afghanistan.

The uniqueness in 2003 of 5th SOF.

This is without even getting into the CIA forces pulled from Afghanistan and into Iraq in 2003, or the few Dari-speakers we had, or those troops and capabilities otherwise diverted from the Osama hunt to the Saddam hunt, but there are endless cites, and endless information you might have been reading at the time, and that you can still look into today, Niels Jackson, next time you have queries about military movements.

HTH.

Leonidas: "Uh, Gary, you do realize that I don't write all the comments for my posts. That was left by a commenter who isn't me. I could explain how blogs work to you if you like."

By all means. The funny thing about links is that they go directly to what was written.

You're denying that you wrote the following, which is almost identical to the same comment you left on various blogs, including here, and you're claiming that someone else signed your name to this comment, on your own blog, and you let it stand?

#

The good news is that the guy is okay, that this will help shore up support with the NRA, and that the loony left has already made asses of themselves with various insensitive statements about it. This could be good for the elections in November, though it’s pretty bad for the guy who got shot. Our prayers go out to him.

Comment by Leonidas — February 12, 2006 @ 9:28 pm

Do, by all means, explain how it works that this comment on your own blog isn't by you, but you let it stand with your own name. Then you can explain how it came about that it's almost word-for-word what you wrote here and on Balloon Juice, if you like. Keep in mind that your IP address was recorded when the comments were posted on both blogs.

This suggests that the army of trolls is on the verge of breaking.

Gary -- did I miss something, or do the vast majority of your links talk about shifting troop deployments in 2002 rather than in late 2001 (the time-frame in question)?

"Gary -- did I miss something, or do the vast majority of your links talk about shifting troop deployments in 2002 rather than in late 2001 (the time-frame in question)?"

What happened at Tora Bora wasn't because of U.S. troops having been shifted out of Afghanistan. It was because the decision was made not to use them, but to use hired Afghan troops, whose two leaders, Haji Zaman Ghamsharik, and Hazret Ali, who were feuding with each other. Ali was happy to take money from Al Qaeda folks to let them walk to Pakistan, where we also had no troops, but relied on Pakistanis to not do the job. That's the nutshell version.

We had all the troops, and appropriate forces, we needed at the time. But we were in the habit of hiring out for large-scale fights. That was the key mistake.

There are many excellent, detailed, documented, accounts of this, and have been for years. Here's just one excellent one from March 04, 2002, which I recommend.

After Tora Bora was when our withdrawal of key assets and uniquely skilled troops and CIA personel began, to infiltrate and prepare for Iraq, and the Saddam-hunt. Thus, yes, 2002, not 2001.

Gary: nonetheless, the planning for Iraq had been started by the time Tora Bora happened, and Tommy Franks had to spend time saying "{expletive}! a lot to people wanting him and his staff to produce a revised Iraq plan.

"Gary: nonetheless, the planning for Iraq had been started by the time Tora Bora happened, and Tommy Franks had to spend time saying "{expletive}! a lot to people wanting him and his staff to produce a revised Iraq plan."

Sure.

After Tora Bora was when our withdrawal of key assets and uniquely skilled troops and CIA personel began, to infiltrate and prepare for Iraq, and the Saddam-hunt. Thus, yes, 2002, not 2001.

Which sort of speaks against the point you were apparently trying to make -- assuming you were in fact responding Niels Jackson -- which is why I was curious as to the relevance of your citations.

"...which is why I was curious as to the relevance of your citations."

It's what happened.

Hilzoy's post has been up all morning and we haven't seen any sputtering rebuttals to her citations of Hurricane Katrina responses as criticisms of President Bush/his Adminstration.
After all, we need to be reminded again that the NO Mayor and LA Governor were/are Democrats!

Yes, I would argue that the response from the Coast Guard did actually come very quickly, moreso than the National Guard and FEMA response, which had to be coordinated with the governor of Louisiana.

Yow.

[...] peanuts compared with the nearly $1 billion FEMA squandered on 24,000 mobile homes, said the Homeland Security Department's inspector general. Only 1,200 of those trailers were used, Richard Skinner said.

The rest are "sinking in the mud and their frames are bending from sitting on trailers with no support," Skinner said. "They may have to be disposed of."

Oh, sweet. FEMA's screwing up on an even larger scale than they did in Florida last year. This is much juicier than them giving money to people just for dying in the same time frame as a hurricane.

Admin spent $1.6 billion on p.r. and media contracts in 2.5 years. Guess the trailers aren't such a big deal after all.

Interesting...is there a place we can look to verify? Looking in the usual places, I can see that the budget item for "Executive Office of the President" went sky-high during 2004 and 2005. Up by a factor of ten over the previous years. This seems as if it ought to shed light, but doesn't.

My link says the info comes from a GAO report.

To conduct its study, GAO obtained information from seven federal departments on all public relations, advertising, and media contracts during 2003, 2004, and the first two quarters of 2005. GAO found that during that time:

* The Administration spent $1.6 billion on contracts with advertising agencies ($1.4 billion), public relations firms ($197 million), and media organizations and individual members of the media ($15 million).
* The Department of Defense spent the most on media contracts, with contracts worth $1.1 billion. The Department of Health and Human Services spent more than $300 million on these contracts, the Department of Treasury spent $152 million, and the Department of Homeland Security spent $24 million during this period.

That doesn't sound so bad - if it's mostly "Uncle Sam Wants You In Iraq" posters and so forth, that's reasonably non-partisan.

Hilzoy -- this is a non sequitur:

Gary: nonetheless, the planning for Iraq had been started by the time Tora Bora happened, and Tommy Franks had to spend time saying "{expletive}! a lot to people wanting him and his staff to produce a revised Iraq plan.

What you're missing is the causal connection here. I said, what form did the distraction take? Your response: Franks cursed (and then evidently spent some of his time planning an eventual attack on Iraq). OK. But I also asked, how did this distraction supposedly affect anything that would otherwise have happened at Tora Bora?

Do you have any answer to that question? (Farber's answer that troops were moved a year later is obviously irrelevant to the Tora Bora question.)

Farber's other answer -- that we allied ourselves with Afghan warlords -- doesn't have any connection to any supposed distraction from the Iraq situation. Were mistakes made? Probably so, although I'd like to know what the current naysayers would have done at the time (without the benefit of hindsight).

But the claim that our mistakes were due to Iraq -- quite astonishing. Back it up with some harder evidence than "Franks cursed."

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