by David R. Wells and Lawrence H. Wells
15 Oct 2006
1: 9/11 Plus 5 Years
2: The War in Iraq
3: Election Year Silliness
4: Other national security problems
It has now been five years since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. We started writing these messages immediately afterward. It is once again time time to review the war on terror. Unfortunately, our 2006 assessment sounds much like our 2005 assessment.
The results for the US are a mixed bag. There have been successes and failures.
There have been no significant terrorist attacks on the United States since 9/11/2001.
Some significant terrorist plots have been disrupted, notably the recent airline bombing plot in the UK. (kudos to the British police and intel services!)
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been removed and replaced with a new, increasingly democratic regime. Afghans have elected a president and a legislature.
Libya abandoned its various “weapons of mass destruction” programs shortly after the US led invasion of Iraq. The timing was of course purely coincidental.
Syrian rule in Lebanon has been overthrown.
Egypt has made at least some progress towards democracy by
holding its first ever contested presidential election. While the
election was not
terribly competitive, it is remarkable that it was held at all. This
can be considered a small victory in the War on Terror, since President
Mubarak is a US ally, and is opposed to terrorist organizations. He is
now more accountable to his own population, and that is good.
The A.Q. Khan nuclear weapons technology smuggling network was
broken up, and Khan himself is under arrest in Pakistan. The Khan
network assisted the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea and Iran.
The Khan network also assisted Iraq's extensive pre-1991 nuclear
Abu Musab al Zarqawi, head of al Qaeda in Iraq, has been killed.
Osama bin Ladin is still alive, and at large. So is his top lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahiri. There is little evidence that US military or intelligence forces are making any progress in finding them.
Osama bin Ladin is the leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network, and is thus the ultimate force behind the 9/11 attacks. He has declared war on the United States. He is our chief enemy. We believe that he should be our primary target.
Killing or caging bin Ladin would not end the War on Terror, The al Qaeda network has enough people to replace him. But it would be a good thing to do anyway. He is a powerful political leader, and an important al Qaeda symbol. His leadership skills are unique. A replacement leader would almost certainly be less effective.
We have been repeating this for several years now, but nobody in charge seems to be working on fixing this problem.
Another serious problem on the Afghan front is that the Taliban seem to be making something of a comeback. Part of this is due to US and NATO forces expanding into areas that were previously Taliban strongholds. But the Taliban are now regaining some popular support. This is at least partly due to the lack of reconstruction of the country.
While the United States has not been subject to terrorist attack, other nations have been. We need only to look at terrorist attacks in London, Moscow, Madrid, Bali, Beslan, Nalchik, and Delhi (probably) to understand that al Qaeda is still very much alive and operational. We cannot consider ourselves successful while these attacks continue.
The US military has not been enlarged or sufficiently engaged in the War on Terror. The Bush administration has spent lots of new money the Pentagon. We ask where are the new Army divisions? Where are the new Marine Amphibious Units? Where are the new air wings? Where are the new aircraft carrier battle groups? For the most part, the US military force structure is at the same appallingly low level as it was during the Clinton administration. The US Navy, which did much of the "heavy lifting" in the Afghan campaign in late 2001, continues to shrink towards a 200 ship force.
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would undoubtedly respond that his "transformation" of the military has made larger forces unnecessary. We have seen little evidence of this.
There are still remarkably few US troops in Afghanistan looking for bin Ladin and his fellow terrorists. On the one hand, it's nice that we were able to kick out the Taliban with such a small ground force, but we must remember why we're there in the first place. We are there to destroy al Qaeda. Al Qaeda has yet to be destroyed, and its leadership is still hiding in the region.
Spending certainly does seem to be up, though......
The US armed forces have been bogged down in the war in Iraq. About 130,000 troops are currently committed there, which makes them unavailable to protect other international "hot spots".
There has been virtually no reconstruction at Ground Zero in New York. 7 World Trade Center has been rebuilt, but it is still largely unoccupied. Arguments about the memorial continue. About all we can say on this is "New York politics as usual."
The United States has no choice but to continue the global war on terrorism.
Greater military effort is required. This will require more "boots on the ground" in places like Afghanistan.
The United States must make sure that we are fighting the right battle. The terrorists want this to be a war between Islam and the West. We must not play their game.
We've often said that winning the war was the easy part; the really hard part is winning the peace. Unfortunately this is certainly the case in Iraq. If this sounds like our October 2004 and October 2005 messages, it should. We don't think that the situation has changed as much as it should have.
Our ideals on the Iraq operation haven't changed much. We still support constitutional democracy in Iraq. We still don't advocate a military withdrawal from Iraq. Running away at this point would be disastrous.
Since our last message, Iraq has held elections, and installed a permanent government. Iraqi security forces are growing in numbers and skill, and are taking a larger part in the fighting. While this is good, it is not working nearly as well as we would like.
Much of the blame for the current sorry state of affairs belongs with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Since joining the Bush Administration he has been the leading advocate of "military transformation". While we applaud efforts to think outside the box, Mr. Rumsfeld's version of "military transformation" seems to be little more than "Do more with less resources." This is a frighteningly Clintonian method of military reform.
It still isn't working very well in Iraq.
Several retired high-ranking military officers have recently been
speaking out about Mr. Rumsfeld's inept handling of the war in Iraq.
The most prominent critics are
Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and Col.Thomas K. Hamnies. All served in Iraq. Many of their criticisms sound distressingly like ours. We must also note that some other retired officers have criticized Batiste, Eaton, and Hamnies by claiming it is inappropriate for retired military officers to publicly criticize the civilian leadership in time of war. We disagree completely. Active duty officers must not publicly criticize the civilian leadership, but we believe retired officers have a duty to speak out if they believe the war effort is being led incompetently. Our only complaint with Batiste, Eaton, and Hamnies is that they have sometimes spoken at political events for the Democratic Party, which gives the appearance of election year partisan sniping. We must note that the Democratic Party does not have a credible plan for success in Iraq, and if they are elected we expect things will get even worse.
Much time has been spent in recent months debating about whether or not Iraq is involved in a civil war. Indeed, there has been much fighting between Sunnis and Shias since al Qaeda in Iraq bombed an important Shiite mosque in February.
We think that the United States should spend less time arguing about whether or not this fighting constitutes a civil war, and more time working on ending the violence. Al Qaeda certainly wants a civil war. Iran would probably like a civil war. The United States should be working much harder at ending the sectarian violence.
This will not be easy.
A big part of the problem is the various sectarian militias.
all should be disarmed, but as with so many other things, that's easier
than done. One serious impediment is the fact that some of the militias
have ties to some key members of the Iraqi government.
Further, several of the militias seem to have penetrated the Iraqi security forces. The Iraqi police in particular seem to have been infiltrated by Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army. As one might expect, the Sunnis now have no faith in the police.
Our conclusions on Iraq have not changed substantially in the last year.
Whether one agreed with the invasion of Iraq or not, we are there now, and we can't afford to fail. We do not need an "exit strategy" for Iraq, we need a plan for victory. We should define "victory" as a stable, democratic Iraq. The United States should encourage a new democratic government in Iraq. The election of a transitional government in January 2005 was a step in the right direction. The constitutional referendum in September 2006 is another good step towards Iraqi self-rule. We are nonetheless obliged to keep US military forces in Iraq until the nation is stabilized, and democracy is established.
The consequences of losing in Iraq would be catastrophic. Al Qaeda routinely points out in its propaganda that the US can be defeated, and cites Viet Nam, Lebanon, and Somalia as examples. We cannot afford to give them a victory in Iraq. If that were not bad enough, consider the implications of allowing terrorists such as al Qaeda in Iraq, or militia leaders like Muqtada al Sadr, to gain control of Iraq's oil wealth. Either one would be extremely hostile to the United States.
The benefits of success in Iraq are potentially large. One of the root causes of radical Islamic terrorism is that few Arabs have any real voice in their governments. Building Iraq into a functioning democracy directly attacks this root cause of terrorism. We would note that US action in Iraq has already encouraged some positive developments in Lebanon and Libya.
As painful as it might be to continue operations in Iraq, it is our "least bad" option.
While the US is now irrevocably committed to the war in Iraq, we always questioned whether Iraq represented an imminent threat. Al Qaeda has demonstrated that it is an immediate threat, and we still think that Osama bin Ladin and his followers should have been the first priority of our military and intelligence efforts. While Saddam Hussein unquestionably supported some other terrorist organizations, (typically, the "traditional" secular Palestinian terrorist groups) there is still little evidence of cooperation between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Ladin's al Qaeda network. It is also now clear that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were not an immediate threat, though they were a long term threat.
The Democrats' position reminds us of Sir Robin's line from Monty
Python and the Holy Grail:
"Maybe it would help confuse it if we ran away more."
Sorry, it won't be voting for them either..
We seem to be faced with a Hobson's choice: We can either vote for a party that understands that we need to win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has no idea how to do it, or we can vote for a party that doesn't understand that we need to win. What we need are candidates who understand that we need to win, and have a realistic plan for winning.
Unfortunately, like most things in the Middle East, it's not that simple.
Before the latest conflict, Hezbollah was supported primarily by Lebanon's Shia Muslim community, the former Syrian occupiers, and Iran. However, by successfully(?) attacking Israel, they are now considered heroes by many Lebanese (and many others in the Arab world) who would never have supported them otherwise.
Hezbollah is essentially an Iranian proxy. Note that Hezbollah attacked Israel just as the UN Security Council was taking up Iran's decidedly less than positive response to the European Union's proposal on Iran's nuclear program. The timing was of course purely coincidental.
Thus, we would certainly number Iran as among "the bad guys" For more on why Iran is a dangerous enemy of the United States, see Section 4.2, below.
Israel has long been an ally of the United States, but their actions in this latest instance have been highly questionable. Since US policy these past many decades has been to support Israel unconditionally, anything bad that they do gets blamed on the United States. Many presume, rightly or wrongly, that they have at least our permission, or are acting on our orders. The latter assumption ignores the fact that Israel has on many occasions acted against the interests of the United States.
To top it all off, Israel's attack wasn't even very effective at stopping Hezbollah's rocket attacks.
So, if Israel's actions were so often contrary to their stated goals, either they have different, unstated goals, or they're spectacularly incompetent. Either way, it's not good for the United States.
Lots of civilian casualties. An unknown (but apparently fairly small) Hezbollah casualties. What were they thinking?
In years past, we had expressed cautious optimism about Iran's future. Iran actually had more democratic institutions than most states in the region, and Iranian voters had regularly elected moderate, reform-minded politicians.
Last year, we reported that Iran had taken several large steps backwards.
In 2006, things have gotten still worse.
In 2005, Iran had an "election" for a new president. It was effectively rigged by the unelected, hard-line Council of Guardians. The Council removed all of the true reformers from the ballot, leaving only the discredited former president Rafsanjani (who was not really a reformer anyway) to run against their preferred candidate, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As one might have expected, the Council's preferred candidate won.
We predicted only bad things from the President Ahmadinejad, and so far, our fears have been confirmed
Bombs that appear to be of Iranian origin are now being used by some Iraqi insurgents, for example. Previously Iran's policy toward Iraq had been quite moderate, largely because it believed the probable outcome of Iraq's political process would be a Shi'ia dominated government friendly to Iran.
Iran still appears to be attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran claims that it wishes to enrich uranium for use in power plants, but this doesn't seem credible, since uranium suitable for power plants is readily available from foreign suppliers. Iran is also constructing a heavy water reactor - a type ideally suited to producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, unlike the light water reactors commonly used for electric power generation. We also wonder why one of the world's largest oil producers needs nuclear energy at all.
Diplomatic efforts by Great Britain, France and Germany to resolve this problem appear to have failed.
Iran has kicked out IAEA inspectors. After all, North Korea got away with it.....
President Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" demonstrates the near impossibility of negotiating with him.
An Iranian nuclear weapons program presents problems similar to the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Iran's hard-line rulers already support some terrorist organizations, so there would be a risk of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists. Iranian hard-liners might under some circumstances even be tempted to use a nuclear weapon themselves. There is also the frightening prospect that deterrence may not work against Iran's hard line rulers. For example an Iranian attempt to destroy Israel would be suicidal, since Israel almost certainly already has the capacity to deliver a devastating retaliatory strike; but Iran's president called for the destruction of Israel anyway.
On the surface Iran's nuclear weapons program and support for Iraqi insurgents appear to be contrary to Iran's own national interest. The weapons program may yet lead to Iran's economic isolation, and would be of little military value in a confrontation with either Israel or the west. Iraq's Sunni insurgents are in general extremely hostile to Iran's Shi'ia government, and have killed many Iraqi Shi'ia. In the September 2005 issue of U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings respected defense analyst Norman Friedman suggests that Iran's apparently counterproductive behavior has more to do with keeping Iran's increasingly unpopular rulers in power than with furthering the interests of Iran's people. The rise of a truly democratic Iraq, for example, might lead the Iranian people to demand real democratic reforms.
As in North Korea the US has no good military options, though for somewhat different reasons. Attacking the uranium production facilities risks causing widespread radioactive contamination. Any attack would likely enrage the Iranian public at large - people who for the most part would otherwise favor better relations with the United States.
We must also note that given the recent US intelligence problems any preemptive strike against Iran is highly questionable. Iran has gone to great lengths to hide its nuclear facilities, and a preemptive strike would require accurate intelligence. Further, the US military is still bogged down in Iraq, and there are few forces to spare for any putative operations against Iran. We do not advocate any military strike against Iran at this point.
Hopes for diplomacy in Iran have diminished. While the United
Nations initially showed some uncharacteristic firmness in its diplomatic
efforts to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program, they have been
largely unsuccessful. The IAEA has referred the matter to the Security
Council, but the warnings to Iran have been watered down under pressure
from Russia and China. Russia has been assisting Iran's nuclear program
in exchange for much needed hard cash, and China is increasingly dependent
on Iran's oil. Iran is also a major customer of China's arms industry.
This virtually guarantees that future UN resolutions will amount to nothing
more than "Stop, or we'll say stop again!"
We had been willing to give the European and UN efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program a chance to work, but these efforts seem have hit a dead end. We can only hope that the international community will develop a backbone, and start diplomatically and economically isolating Iran. We have little expectation that this will happen. Even if it does happen, if Iran's leaders are concerned only with maintaining their power they may not care about the consequences for their own people. Economic sanctions against Iran may be as ineffective as they were against Saddam Hussein.
It is more realistic to expect a sort of "cold war" with
Iran. We have an enemy who will not negotiate with us. The failure of
the most recent round of negotiations with the UK, France and Germany
should demonstrate to them what the US learned the hard way on
November 4, 1979: we cannot deal with Iran diplomatically. We cannot
negotiate our way to a mutual understanding. We have no viable
military option. There is the potential for a nuclear standoff. There
are good historical parallels to the Cold War with the Soviet Union
(1946-1991). The United States and her allies should use cold war
style economic and diplomatic efforts against Iran. This will not be
easy. We should not expect quick results. The original Cold War took
45 years to win.
The "cold war" scenario assumes that Iran can be
deterred from using nuclear weapons. There is a very real possibility
that a nuclear armed Iran might be tempted to transfer weapons to a
terrorist organization who would use them, while Iran could deny any
responsibility. As we noted above there is also a terrifying
possibility that Iran's radical government might use nuclear weapons
against Israel for religious reasons, regardless of the consequences.
The North Korean problem has gotten worse, again. On 9 October, 2006, North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon. This confirmed our worst fear, that North Korea is now a nuclear power.
While this is certainly alarming, it is hardly surprising. North Korea has been consistently working on a nuclear weapons program for decades, despite promises and treaty obligations.
While this is indeed bad, there are some valid reasons not to panic yet.
We've said previously all our options are bad.
The least bad option is still to continue with the current multilateral negotiations, even though progress has been agonizingly slow. The process has produced some minimal results, and still continues.
The multilateral negotiations have produced an "agreement in principle" that North Korea will abandon its nuclear weapons. On the one hand, this promise is better than nothing. On the other hand, a promise from an unstable dictator like Kim Jong Il is of questionable value. In characteristic fashion, after the last round of negotiations were completed, Kim Jong Il added a new condition: that the other powers supply him with light water reactors for power generation.
Since there are few, if any, other options available to us (we have noted in the past that military options are especially impractical) we continue to advocate negotiations. We continue to have low expectations. The only glimmer of hope is that in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test the Russians and Chinese finally voted for a UN Security Council resolution that included limited sanctions against North Korea. However the sanctions still must be implemented, and the implementation process will provide ample opportunity for Russia and/or China to again thwart any meaningful action.
The United States has very little leverage with North Korea. We have no formal diplomatic relations with them. There is no trade between the US and North Korea. China is North Korea's main political ally, financial backer, and main supplier of food and energy. Thus, China is really the only country that can wield an effective "stick" against North Korea.
We are not pleased by the fact that US policy has effectively been placed into the hands of Beijing, which has frequently shown itself to be hostile. Our only hope in this case is that China is actually upset about the nuclear test. We can only observe their reaction.
In our previous message, we condemned the use of torture by the military. We were pleased to see that Sen. McCain's amendment passed and was signed into law. The topic has come up again, as part of the debate over the CIA's interrogation of prisoners.
This should be so obvious that we shouldn't need to say it.
We condemn the use of torture in all cases. In addition to being immoral and illegal (explicitly forbidden by the Geneva Convention, to which the US is a party), it is ineffective. Prisoners being tortured will say almost anything, true or false, to get the torture to stop.
If the United States wishes to be seen by the world as the "Good Guys", we must behave accordingly. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners has significantly hurt the US cause in Iraq, by making us appear to be the villains. The terrorists have used our abuse of prisoners as a recruiting tool.
While the terrorists have certainly given their prisoners even worse treatment, we have to be much better than they are. We're supposed to be the "good guys", and our treatment of prisoners must be clearly better than theirs.
We support the efforts of numerous US senators, notably Senators McCain (who was tortured by the North Vietnamese during his captivity in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton"), Warner, and Graham, to explicitly forbid the CIA from using torture. This should not be controversial. We note that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, (a former general, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and numerous other military people have also supported this effort. We are dismayed that it has become necessary for them to take this action.
We should also note that President Bush has taken his equivocation on this issue to Clintonian levels. He keeps telling us that his administration does not use torture, but then equivocates on what torture is. We half expected him to say that it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. Needless to say, we are not pleased by this. We were happier to note that the bill advocated by Senators Warner, McCain and Graham spelled out exactly which forms of torture were forbidden.
Military tribunals are the only option for bringing Al Qaeda terrorists captured abroad to trial. They are completely legal under international law.
But the devil is in the details. President Bush has some details wrong; Senators McCain, Warner, Graham, et al. have them right. We can't set aside key legal principles that safeguard our freedom just because they're inconvenient. We support their efforts to prohibit the use of secret evidence. One day we may pay a high price for standing on our principles, but if we don't then what are we fighting for? We're the Good Guys, and we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard.
What's right with military tribunals? The people we want to put on trial are foreign nationals who were captured outside the USA, and in at least some cases the crimes were committed outside outside the USA. The jurisdiction of the US domestic legal system is questionable. Military tribunals derive at least part of their authority from international law, so their jurisdiction is not in question.
The people who support the McCain approach can hardly be accused of being a bunch of bleeding heart liberals. Quite a few of them have extensive military backgrounds. Some key supporters within Congress:
We unconditionally support Senators McCain, Warner and Graham on this issue.
Earlier this year two domestic intelligence gathering programs have come to light. One tapped international telephone calls between suspected al Qaeda members in the USA and those overseas; the second examined the telephone billing records of millions of US residents. Both programs were conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).
There is a perfectly adequate system for court oversight of domestic wiretaps for foreign intelligence gathering purposes: The FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Courts, which almost never turn down wiretap requests. FISA courts can even grant retroactive warrants, so in urgent cases the executive branch can tap first and get permission later. They are hardly an unreasonable burden to the Executive Branch of government.
The whole US system of government is designed on a system of "checks and balances" to keep any one branch from getting too strong. The FISA courts provide an important check on the power of the executive branch. In bypassing the FISA courts, the executive branch (i.e. the Bush administration) is trying to make itself too powerful.
As we've noted many times in the past part of the problem is that the US has not formally declared war against al Qaeda, Afghanistan, Iraq, or anyone else. When war is formally declared Congress effectively grants the president additional powers. But those powers go away at the end of the war. By claiming a war power during "peacetime", the Bush administration seem to be trying to make this a permanent power of the executive branch.
Curiously it is politically conservative Republicans in Congress who seem to best understand the danger in this. For example during a discussion on the PBS NewsHour, Senator Lindsey Graham said "All I can tell you is that the ultimate damage that I want to avoid is a constitutional damage in terms of checks and balances. I want to fight this enemy. I want to make sure our president and our military surveils the enemy. I want to know if American citizens are collaborating with the enemy. We can do that. We must do that. But the biggest thing that can happen, to me, as a nation is that in the process of fighting the enemy, we give up the processes that makes us free."
Conservatives who are not convinced by that argument should try this one:
Would you want a future President Hillary Clinton to have the power to wiretap at will?
We didn't think so.
The telephone billing records issue is somewhat murkier. As is often the case the devil is in the details, and we do not know all of the details.
Since one of the Wells Brothers has an affiliation with the telecommunications industry, and even occasionally worked on billing records, some things are clear: Billing records tell almost nothing about the content of the call. They can tell who you called, when you called, and for how long. This does start to get into privacy issues.
Proponents of the program argue that the records were voluntarily supplied by the various telephone companies; a 1979 Supreme Court decision explicitly stated that telephone billing records were not covered by 4th Amendment protections; and all personally identifiable information was stripped from the records before they were turned over to the government.
Critics of the program counter-argue that Congress extended 4th Amendment protections to telephone billing records after the 1979 Supreme Court decision; Congress also passed laws that prohibit telephone companies from divulging these records without a court order; and the records clearly contain telephone numbers, which are personally identifiable. Further, even without the congressional action cited above, the 4th Amendment was originally written to protect the "unreasonable search and seizure" of personal papers. Business records like telephone billing records are obviously a modern equivalent.
At the moment we know too little about this program to say with any certainty that one side or the other is correct. The statements of some proponents of the program raise our suspicions, though. As the critics note the argument that the records were purged of personally identifiable information is clearly incorrect. To be of any use the records must contain telephone numbers, and as anyone who has used an Internet telephone directory knows it is frighteningly easy to match an individual to a phone number. Proponents are also too quick to argue that even discussing the program's legality will somehow help al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden and his minions would be unbelievably stupid if they did not already think the US is trying very, very hard to track their communications. The size of the program also raises our suspicions. According to some reports it may involve records from up to 225 million telephones. It seems improbable that al Qaeda would have so many sympathizers in the USA.
Proponents of both programs also argue that the 9/11 attacks demonstrated a need to gather more intelligence. The 9/11 Commission Report presents a somewhat different view. It makes few recommendations about gathering more intelligence; it makes numerous recommendations to improve the analysis and distribution of the intelligence that was already being gathered. If as the 9/11 Commission said the intelligence problems were mainly in analysis and distribution, gathering additional intelligence won't help much until these problems are corrected. It may actually make matters worse by flooding already overburdened analysts with even more data.
It is now obvious that the small "transformed" forces used to overthrow the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were far too small to pacify the countries afterward. This was entirely foreseeable, and was in fact foreseen by the Army prior to the Iraq war. Gen. Eric Shinseki recommended using nearly three times the 130,000 troops that were actually sent, but the recommendation fell on deaf ears.Unfortunately Secretary Rumsfeld seems unwilling to abandon "military transformation" in favor of methods that have been proven to work in the past. We therefore believe he should be replaced by someone who will fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq more effectively.
US government links
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq Long on platitudes, short on specifics.
UN Resolution 1441 The full text at the US State Department.
Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 The library of Congress site with the full text of the Congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq war. You can even see how your Congresscritter voted......
The 9/11 Commission site. The full text of The 9/11 Commission Report is available here. Do not rely on the news media, read it for yourself.
The 9/11 Public Discourse Project. This is essentially the successor to the 9/11 commission. To their credit, the 9/11 Commission has refused to go away. They have reconstituted themselves as a non-profit organization, to monitor progress on the recommendations that they made. This is not really a government link, but we're including it here because it's more or less the same people that served on the 9/11 Commission.
Comprehensive Report of the Special Adviser to the DCI on Iraq's WMD (the Duelfer Report). Once again, do not rely on the news media, who selectively quote from this lengthy report. Read it for yourself.
One caution: The entire report is extremely long - nearly 200 megabytes. If you do not have a very high speed Internet connection you will have to make do with the 194 kbyte summary of key findings.
PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) An American non-profit television network.
The NewsHour Forget ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC; this is the best television news program in the USA. Its great strength is its in-depth interviews with important people. This is not sound bite journalism with the celebrity of the moment.
A discussion of the Military Tribunal issue with Senators John Sununu (R-NH) and Jack Reed (D-RI) , who actually discussed the matter like two reasonable adults. 7 Sep 2006
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), 8 Feb 2006
Frontline: PBS' documentary series
The Lost Year in Iraq, 17 October 2006. This documentary tells how Rumsfeld, Bremer, et al. botched the occupation of Iraq.
National Public Radio A non-profit US news source. They're a bunch of flaming liberals, but they provide in-depth coverage that commercial radio news can't match.
BBC World Service Despite the richly earned criticism of the Hutton Report, the BBC is still among the best news organizations in the world.
Islamic Republic News Agency The official news agency of the Iranian government. If you can overlook the strident anti-American rhetoric you'll sometimes find useful regional information here.
www.agonist.org A personal web site with news headlines and a forum about the war in Iraq.
www.methaz.com A site with satellite pictures of Iraq
United States Naval Institute Some news about the war in Iraq, and also some technical information. Their monthly magazine Proceedings provides excellent coverage of the US Navy and Marine Corps, along with history and opinion.
Globalsecurity.org Technical information about weapons being used in the war.
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