The Army has invited Kiefer Sutherland, star of the hit TV show 24 and opponent of torture, to come and discuss why it is wrong to torture prisoners. Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently pleaded with the makers of the show to cut down on torture scenes, arguing that they are sending inappropriate messages to the troops condoning torture: “I’d like them to stop. They should do a show where torture backfires.”
The U.S. military is in the midst of a readiness crisis, exacerbated by President Bush’s escalation of forces in Iraq. Just yesterday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Peter Pace warned in a classified report to Congress that the military is so overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan that there is a “significant” risk that the U.S. military won’t be able to respond adequately if another world crisis unfolds.
During today’s press briefing, reporters pressed Tony Snow about the strained military. “What you have seen, actually,” Snow claimed, “is a nimbleness when it comes to trying to do force protection, I think, probably unprecedented in a time of warfare.”
Actually, the U.S. Army’s preparedness for war “has eroded to levels not witnessed by our country in decades.” Virtually all of the U.S.-based Army combat brigades are “rated as unready to deploy,” Army officials say, and a recent Pentagon survey found that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic shortages of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and communications equipment.
Tony Snow today frequently pointed out that U.S. troops serving in combat are doing a heroic job. That’s absolutely true. But as President Bush reminded us back in 2000:
To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that’s no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.
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It looks like the Chinese economy goes down as well as up. This, to me, is what’s often puzzling about the “globalization” debate, but also national security debates about China — in both instances it seems to be regarded as unproblematic to assume that China will indefinitely maintain an 8 percent annual growth rate year after year and what we need to primarily worry about is how to respond to this miraculous turn of events. It makes much more sense, it seems to me, to worry about how to cope with serious Chinese economic problems.
“A pizza luncheon to be hosted this Wednesday by former Attorney General turned consultant John Ashcroft for some of his old political appointees has raised eyebrows in the Justice Department’s ethics office, U.S. News has learned.” The ethics office has “advised invitees to consider the appearance of attending such an event.”
In his Jan. 10 address to the nation, Bush cited Iran’s growing influence in Iraq as a key argument for escalating U.S. troop presence. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We’ll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria,” Bush said.
Last night on Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor, Gen. Wesley Clark said that using escalation to counter Iran is a “fundamentally flawed” strategy. “What is actually happening with the surge strategy is the Shiite militia have gone underground and the U.S. troops are going to concentrate against the Sunnis. The actual impact of the surge strategy is likely to be that we deliver total control of Baghdad to the Shiites sooner rather than later.” In other words, if anything, the escalation will end up empowering Iran. Watch it:
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Climate Progress is all about conserving energy. So to save you that and time, here’s a quick round-up of some articles worth pointing out:
The Real News About Global Warming — An opinion piece by Bill McKibben. Things may not be moving as quickly as preferred through Congress and the White House, but there is growing momentum.
The Inconvenient Truth, Part II — Tom Athansiou. “You’ve probably seen the movie; you’ve certainly heard about it. So you already know the first part of the inconvenient truth: we’re in deep trouble. And one good thing about 2006 is that this ceased to be a public secret. We not only know that the drought is spreading, the ice melting, the waters beginning to rise, but we also know that we know. And this changes everything.”
Ending Oil Dependence — David Sandalow, The Brooking Institution. Published in January, Sandalow’s piece calls for a transformation of our auto fleet, fuel supply, oil diplomacy, and climate policies. Aimed at the 97% of our transportation that still depends on petroleum, the study also specifically recommends a federal cap-and-trade program and more R&D into clean energy technologies.
Scott Helman reports:
Here are some views of Mitt Romney causing concern inside his campaign: His hair looks too perfect, he’s not a tough war time leader, and he has earned a reputation as “Slick Dancing Mitt” or “Flip-Flop Mitt.”
I’m still sick as the proverbial dog and blogging at half-strength, but I’m fairly certain what he’s done is earned a reputation as “Multiple Choice Mitt” not “Slick Dancing Mitt,” though the latter would be fun to see, too.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) said today that he is upset that critics have been questioning the administration’s intelligence on Iran, calling the reaction “unwarranted.” Lieberman said the “danger point” learned from the criticism is that the media and politicians reacted with “suspicion.” “I wouldn’t start with suspicion,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman also encouraged the intelligence community to push their conclusions further and complained that there has been a reluctance of people in the administration to do so. He spoke out against what he sees as “a kind of defensiveness — I dare not call it timidity” of the intelligence community due to incorrect judgments made in the lead-up to Iraq.
Skepticism is entirely justified. The White House stated without evidence that the highest levels of the Iranian government were responsible for weapons transfers to Iraqi insurgents, but later conceded that the intelligence went “a little too far.” Prodded by bloggers, the media has begun to assert “intelligent skepticism” on Iran.
A Senate Intelligence Committe inquiry on pre-war Iraq intelligence found that more action was needed to “challenge assumptions and group think.” Lieberman’s approach dooms Congress to repeating its previous failure.
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