Tuesday, August 31, 2004

2d probe at the Pentagon examines actions on Iraq

By Bryan Bender
Boston Globe
August 31, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon office in which an analyst is the focus of an investigation into the possible passing of secret documents to Israel is at the heart of another ongoing probe on Capitol Hill.

The broader probe is trying to determine whether Defense Department officials went outside normal channels to gather intelligence on Iraq or overstepped their legal mandate by meeting with dissidents to plot against Iran and Syria, according to Bush administration and congressional officials.

Senate Intelligence and House Judiciary Committee staff members say inquiries into the Near East and South Asia Affairs division have found preliminary evidence that some officials gathered questionable information on weapons of mass destruction from Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi without proper authorization, which helped build President Bush's case for an invasion last year.

The investigators are also looking into a more serious concern: whether the office engaged in illegal activity by holding unauthorized meetings with foreign nationals to destablize Syria and Iran without the presidential approval required for covert operations, said one senior congressional investigator who has longtime experience in intelligence oversight.

To read the rest of this story, see Boston Globe

Monday, August 30, 2004

John Kerry and the truth about Vietnam

By William Dowell
Global Beat Syndicate
August 23, 2004

(Blog editor's note: William Dowell provides one of the most thoughtful reflections I've read on the bitter "battle of the swiftboats" that is currently raging during the presidential campaign. Dowell edits the Global Beat web site, which I've mentioned many times. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam from June 1967 through February 1969. He worked as a journalist in Vietnam from 1969 to 1973.)

New York--When asked how the Vietnamese are likely to see   Senator John   Kerry's war experiences in Vietnam, the Vietnamese-American novelist Lin Dinh remarked recently that for most Vietnamese, many of whom were born after the fall of Saigon, the war is now distant history. What is more likely to matter to the Vietnamese, Linh concluded, is that Kerry has actually experienced war first hand, and he is consequently likely to have a deeper understanding of what engaging in combat really means. Men who have seen combat up close, Linh suggested,   are more cautious about repeating the experience.

The campaign has triggered more than a few flashbacks to a war that most people would just as soon forget. Like John Kerry, I can remember agonizing over the draft, and like Kerry, I finally decided against finding an easy way out. I reasoned at the time, perhaps naively, that you could not ask someone else to put themself into harms way, if you were not prepared to face that yourself.  I do not hold it against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or Paul Wolfowitz that they chose a different route. The majority of white, upper-middle class, American males who had the money to stay in college or to find a safe haven in the National Guard, did pretty much the same. If you had the money and influence, it was not difficult to avoid putting yourself into a risky, no-win situation, and at the time staying as far away as possible from Vietnam seemed like a no-brainer. But ones who stayed at home missed the understanding that comes from actually being in combat.

To read the rest of Dowell's perceptive essay, see Global Beat Syndicte

Iran-Contra II?
Fresh scrutiny on a rogue Pentagon operation

By Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen, and Paul Glastris
Washington Monthly
September 2004

On Friday evening, CBS News reported that the FBI is investigating a suspected mole in the Department of Defense who allegedly passed to Israel, via a pro-Israeli lobbying organization, classified American intelligence about Iran. The focus of the investigation, according to U.S. government officials, is Larry Franklin, a veteran Defense Intelligence Agency Iran analyst now working in the office of the Pentagon's number three civilian official, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

The investigation of Franklin is now shining a bright light on a shadowy struggle within the Bush administration over the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. In particular, the FBI is looking with renewed interest at an unauthorized back-channel between Iranian dissidents and advisers in Feith's office, which more-senior administration officials first tried in vain to shut down and then later attempted to cover up.

To read the rest of this article, see Washington Monthly

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

These Charges Are False ...
It's one thing for the presidential campaign to get nasty but quite another for it to engage in fabrication.

Los Angeles Times

August 24, 2004

Blog editor's note: This editorial is the best summation of the circumstances surrounding the "debate" over Kerry's war record that I've read.

The technique President Bush is using against John F. Kerry was perfected by his father against Michael Dukakis in 1988, though its roots go back at least to Sen. Joseph McCarthy. It is: Bring a charge, however bogus. Make the charge simple: Dukakis "vetoed the Pledge of Allegiance"; Bill Clinton "raised taxes 128 times"; "there are [pick a number] Communists in the State Department." But make sure the supporting details are complicated and blurry enough to prevent easy refutation.

Then sit back and let the media do your work for you. Journalists have to report the charges, usually feel obliged to report the rebuttal, and often even attempt an analysis or assessment. But the canons of the profession prevent most journalists from saying outright: These charges are false. As a result, the voters are left with a general sense that there is some controversy over Dukakis' patriotism or Kerry's service in Vietnam. And they have been distracted from thinking about real issues (like the war going on now) by these laboratory concoctions.

To read the rest of the editorial, see Los Angeles Times

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Anti-Kerry Vets Not There that Day

By William B. Rood
Chicago Tribune

21 August 2004

(Blog editor's note: Given the current attack on John Kerry's record in Vietnam, this piece by the only other surviving swift boat officer involved in the action for which Kerry won his Silver Star is of particular interest.)

There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago—three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969.

One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other.

For years, no one asked about those events. But now they are the focus of skirmishing in a presidential election with a group of swift boat veterans and others contending that Kerry didn't deserve the Silver Star for what he did on that day, or the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts he was awarded for other actions.

To read the rest of this compelling account, see Truthout.org

Thursday, August 12, 2004

 The Ghosts of War

By John Cory

t r u t h o u t | Perspective
August 12, 2004

Blog editor's note: Following is an excerpt from a provocative commentary on how the ghosts of Vietnam figure into the current presidential campaign.

   America, love it or leave it-is back with a vengeance. Body counts are once again the measurement of successful warfare. Restricted VA benefits for the wounded, bodies returned in the dead of night and shielded from American eyes, a false and misleading premise for war, that daily, kills America's youth; John Wayne-patriotism is glorified and peaceniks are vilified: all of the old ghosts are back.

    If Swift Boat veterans are truly concerned with truth and honor, perhaps they should focus on the numerous articles about Iraq veterans being billed for their hospital stays and having their disabilities downgraded so the government won't have to pay as much as they should; of veterans having to fight the VA system for benefits; of troops being short of bullets; of families having to take up collections for the purchase of body armor for their loved-ones, because the government fails to supply them; of Humvees poorly armored to protect our soldiers; and of course, the stories of high ranking officers who live well and distant from the grunts who bleed and die in America's name.

To read the rest of Cory's analysis, see Truthout.org

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Global Beat Provides Weekly Article Links

Blog editor's note: While it may be the dog days of summer, the world hardly has taken the month off and the foreign policy arena is as frenetic as ever. For an excellent weekly overview of major stories touching on US foreign policy and security interests, Global Beat is my site of choice. It's a service provided by the Center for War, Peace and News Media intended primarily for journalists, but anyone can sign up for free. This week (August 9-16, 2004) the Global Beat looks as the relative state of the American worker, macho presidential politics, the worsening situation in Iraq and political maneuvers in Baghdad, and the global oil situation.

Global Beat is edited by William Dowell. To subscribe, unsubscribe or send a comment, email to wtd2@nyu.edu. The
Global Beat and archives of past issues are online at Global Beat or at Global Beat.org