Views From Kennewick

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Remarkable Joseph Lieberman

Earlier today Senator Joseph Lieberman -- who, it is worth recalling, was the Democratic Party's Vice Presidential nominee in 2000 --addressed the Iraq withdrawal provision in the supplemental appropriations bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Below is the full text of Senator Lieberman's speech (as prepared for delivery). It is a significant, compelling, and analytically strong rebuttal to the speech delivered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid earlier this week. But see for yourself.

Mr. President, the supplemental appropriations bill we are debating today contains language that would have Congress take control of the direction of our military strategy in Iraq.

Earlier this week the Senate Majority Leader spoke at the Woodrow Wilson Center and laid out the case for why he believes we must do this—why the bill now before this chamber, in his view, offers a viable alternative strategy for Iraq.

I have great respect for my friend from Nevada. I believe he has offered this proposal in good faith, and therefore want to take it up in good faith, and examine its arguments and ideas carefully and in depth, for this is a very serious discussion for our country.

In his speech Monday, the Majority Leader described the several steps that this new strategy for Iraq would entail. Its first step, he said, is to "transition the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war—to training and equipping Iraqi security forces, protecting U.S. forces, and conducting targeted counter-terror operations."

I ask my colleagues to take a step back for a moment and consider this plan.

When we say that U.S. troops shouldn't be "policing a civil war," that their operations should be restricted to this narrow list of missions, what does this actually mean?

To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.

In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians—men, women, and children singled out and killed on the basis of their religion alone. It means turning our backs on the policies that led us to intervene in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the principles that today lead many of us to call for intervention in Darfur.

This makes no moral sense at all.

It also makes no strategic or military sense either.

Al Qaeda's own leaders have repeatedly said that one of the ways they intend to achieve victory in Iraq is to provoke civil war. They are trying to kill as many people as possible today, precisely in the hope of igniting sectarian violence, because they know that this is their best way to collapse Iraq's political center, overthrow Iraq's elected government, radicalize its population, and create a failed state in the heart of the Middle East that they can use as a base.

That is why Al Qaeda blew up the Golden Mosque in Samarra last year. And that is why we are seeing mass casualty suicide bombings by Al Qaeda in Baghdad now.

The sectarian violence that the Majority Leader says he wants to order American troops to stop policing, in other words, is the very same sectarian violence that Al Qaeda hopes to ride to victory. The suggestion that we can draw a bright legislative line between stopping terrorists in Iraq and stopping civil war in Iraq flies in the face of this reality.

I do not know how to say it more plainly: it is Al Qaeda that is trying to cause a full-fledged civil war in Iraq.

The Majority Leader said on Monday that he believes U.S. troops will still be able to conduct "targeted counter-terror operations" under his plan. Even if we stop trying to protect civilians in Iraq, in other words, we can still go after the bad guys.

But again, I ask my colleagues, how would this translate into military reality on the ground? How would we find these terrorists, who do not gather on conventional military bases or fight in conventional formations?

By definition, targeted counterterrorism requires our forces to know where, when, and against whom to strike—and that in turn requires accurate, actionable, real-time intelligence.

This is the kind of intelligence that can only come from ordinary Iraqis, the sea of people among whom the terrorists hide. And that, in turn, requires interacting with the Iraqi people on a close, personal, daily basis. It requires winning individual Iraqis to our side, gaining their trust, convincing them that they can count on us to keep them safe from the terrorists if they share valuable information about them. This is no great secret. This is at the heart of the new strategy that General Petraeus and his troops are carrying out.

And yet, if we pass this legislation, according to the Majority Leader, U.S. forces will no longer be permitted to patrol Iraq's neighborhoods or protect Iraqi civilians. They won't, in his words, be "interjecting themselves between warring factions" or "trying to sort friend from foe."

Therefore, I ask the supporters of this legislation: How, exactly, are U.S. forces to gather intelligence about where, when, and against whom to strike, after you have ordered them walled off from the Iraqi population? How, exactly, are U.S. forces to carry out targeted counter-terror operations, after you have ordered them cut off from the very source of intelligence that drives these operations?

This is precisely why the congressional micromanagement of life-and-death decisions about how, where, and when our troops can fight is such a bad idea, especially on a complex and changing battlefield.

In sum, you can't have it both ways. You can't withdraw combat troops from Iraq and still fight Al Qaeda there. If you believe there is no hope of winning in Iraq, or that the costs of victory there are not worth it, then you should be for complete withdrawal as soon as possible.

There is another irony here as well.

For most of the past four years, under Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, the United States did not try to establish basic security in Iraq. Rather than deploying enough troops necessary to protect the Iraqi people, the focus of our military has been on training and equipping Iraqi forces, protecting our own forces, and conducting targeted sweeps and raids—in other words, the very same missions proposed by the proponents of the legislation before us.

That strategy failed—and we know why it failed. It failed because we didn't have enough troops to ensure security, which in turn created an opening for Al Qaeda and its allies to exploit. They stepped into this security vacuum and, through horrific violence, created a climate of fear and insecurity in which political and economic progress became impossible.

For years, many members of Congress recognized this. We talked about this. We called for more troops, and a new strategy, and—for that matter—a new secretary of defense.

And yet, now, just as President Bush has come around—just as he has recognized the mistakes his administration has made, and the need to focus on basic security in Iraq, and to install a new secretary of defense and a new commander in Iraq—now his critics in Congress have changed their minds and decided that the old, failed strategy wasn't so bad after all.

What is going on here? What has changed so that the strategy that we criticized and rejected in 2006 suddenly makes sense in 2007?

The second element in the plan outlined by the Majority Leader on Monday is "the phased redeployment of our troops no later than October 1, 2007."

Let us be absolutely clear what this means. This legislation would impose a binding deadline for U.S. troops to begin retreating from Iraq. This withdrawal would happen regardless of conditions on the ground, regardless of the recommendations of General Petraeus, in short regardless of reality on October 1, 2007.

As far as I can tell, none of the supporters of withdrawal have attempted to explain why October 1 is the magic date—what strategic or military significance this holds. Why not September 1? Or January 1? This is a date as arbitrary as it is inflexible—a deadline for defeat.

How do proponents of this deadline defend it? On Monday, Senator Reid gave several reasons. First, he said, a date for withdrawal puts "pressure on the Iraqis to make the desperately needed political compromises."

But will it? According to the legislation now before us, the withdrawal will happen regardless of what the Iraqi government does.

How, then, if you are an Iraqi government official, does this give you any incentive to make the right choices?

On the contrary, there is compelling reason to think a legislatively directed withdrawal of American troops will have exactly the opposite effect than its Senate sponsors intend.

This, in fact, is exactly what the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq predicted. A withdrawal of U.S. troops in the months ahead, it said, would "almost certainly lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict, intensify Sunni resistance, and have adverse effects on national reconciliation."

Second, the Majority Leader said that withdrawing our troops, and again I quote, will "reduce the specter of the U.S. occupation which gives fuel to the insurgency."

My colleague from Nevada, in other words, is suggesting that the insurgency is being provoked by the very presence of American troops. By diminishing that presence, then, he believes the insurgency will diminish.

But I ask my colleagues—where is the evidence to support this theory? Since 2003, and before General Petraeus took command, U.S. forces were ordered on several occasions to pull back from Iraqi cities and regions, including Mosul and Fallujah and Tel'Afar and Baghdad. And what happened in these places? Did they stabilize when American troops left? Did the insurgency go away?

On the contrary—in each of these places where U.S. forces pulled back, Al Qaeda rushed in. Rather than becoming islands of peace, they became safe havens for terrorists, islands of fear and violence.

So I ask advocates of withdrawal: on what evidence, on what data, have you concluded that pulling U.S. troops out will weaken the insurgency, when every single experience we have had since 2003 suggests that this legislation will strengthen it?

Consider the words of Sheikh Abdul Sattar, one of the leading Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province who is now fighting on our side against Al Qaeda. This is what he told the New York Times when asked last month what would happen if U.S. troops withdraw. "In my personal opinion, and in the opinion of most of the wise men of Anbar," he said, "if the American forces leave right now, there will be civil war and the area will fall into total chaos."

This is a man whose father was killed by Al Qaeda, who is risking his life every day to work with us—a man who was described by one Army officer as "the most effective local leader in Ramadi I believe the coalition has worked with... in Anbar [since] 2003."

In his remarks earlier this week, the Majority Leader observed that there is "a large and growing population of millions—who sit precariously on the fence. They will either condemn or contribute to terrorism in the years ahead. We must convince them of the goodness of America and Americans. We must win them over."

On this, I completely agree with my friend from Nevada. My question to him, however, and to the supporters of this legislation, is this: how does the strategy you propose in this bill possibly help win over this population of millions in Iraq, who sit precariously on the fence?

What message, I ask, does this legislation announce to those people in Iraq? How will they respond when we tell them that we will no longer make any effort to protect them against insurgents and death squads? How will they respond when we declare that we will be withdrawing our forces—regardless of whether they make progress in the next six months towards political reconciliation? Where will their hopes for a better life be when we withdraw the troops that are the necessary precondition for the security and stability they yearn for?

Do my friends really believe that this is the way to convince Iraqis, and the world, of the goodness of America and Americans? Does anyone in this chamber really believe that, by announcing a date certain for withdrawal, we will empower Iraqi moderates, or enable Iraq's reconstruction, or open more schools for their children, or more hospitals for their families, or freedom for everyone?

Mr. President, with all due respect, this is fantasy.

The third step the Majority Leader proposes is to impose "tangible, measurable, and achievable benchmarks on the Iraqi government."

I am all for such benchmarks. In fact, Senator McCain and I were among the first to propose legislation to apply such benchmarks on the Iraqi government.

But I don't see how this plan will encourage Iraqis to meet these or any other benchmarks, given its ironclad commitment to abandon them—regardless of how they behave.

We should of course be making every effort to encourage reconciliation in Iraq and the development of a decent political order that Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds can agree on.

But even if today that political solution was found, we cannot rationally think that our terrorist enemies like Al Qaeda in Iraq will simply vanish.

Al Qaeda is not mass murdering civilians on the streets of Baghdad because it wants a more equitable distribution of oil revenues. Its aim in Iraq is not to get a seat at the political table.

It wants to blow up the table—along with everyone seated at it. Al Qaeda wants to destroy any prospect for democracy in Iraq, and it will not be negotiated or reasoned out of existence. It must be fought and defeated through force of arms. And there can be no withdrawal, no redeployment from this reality.

The fourth step that the Majority Leader proposed on Monday is a "diplomatic, economic, and political offensive... starting with a regional conference working toward a long-term framework for stability in the region."

I understand why we are tempted by these ideas. All of us are aware of the justified frustration, fatigue, and disappointment of the American people. And all of us would like to believe that there is a quick and easy solution to the challenges we face in Iraq.

But none of this gives us an excuse to paper over hard truths. We delude ourselves if we think we can wave a legislative wand and suddenly our troops in the field will be able to distinguish between Al Qaeda terrorism and sectarian violence, or that Iraqis will suddenly settle their political differences because our troops are leaving, or that sweet reason alone will suddenly convince Iran and Syria to stop destabilizing Iraq.

Mr. President, what we need now is a sober assessment of the progress we have made and a recognition of the challenges we face. There are still many uncertainties before us, many complexities. Barely half of the new troops that General Petraeus has requested have even arrived in Iraq, and, as we heard from him yesterday, it will still be months before we will know just how effective his new strategy is.

In following General Petraeus' path, there is no guarantee of success—but there is hope, and a new plan, for success.

The plan embedded in this legislation, on the other hand, contains no such hope. It is a strategy of catchphrases and bromides, rather than military realities in Iraq. It does not learn from the many mistakes we have made in Iraq. Rather, it promises to repeat them.

Let me be absolutely clear: In my opinion, Iraq is not yet lost—but if we follow this plan, it will be. And so, I fear, much of our hope for stability in the Middle East and security from terrorism here at home.

I yield the floor.
Thursday, April 26, 2007


Posted 1:00 AM Eastern

by Jim Kouri
April 26, 2007
© 2007

Something ominous and sinister has been happening on the Internet lately: two major internet service providers -- without any prior explanation or notice -- have been discriminating against conservative e-zines and web journals.

According to several subscribers to NewsWithViews.Com's newsletter, companies such as Earthlink and SBC Global are intentionally blocking delivery of NWV's e-mail to subscribers.

"When I wasn't receiving my NewsWithViews notices I called their office in Oregon to ask why. I was concerned they had closed down or worse. The gentleman I spoke with told me that all the Earthlink folks were being denied delivery of the daily posts from NWV," complains Jackie Juntti, a e-mail subscriber.

"I have to admit that shocked me as Earthlink has long had the reputation of sending EVERYTHING thru their servers -- no holds barred. I tried and tried to make an e-mail complaint about their blocking NWV from getting to me. I explained to them I SUBSCRIBED to that list and I WANT IT DELIVERED!! I tried several different Earthlink e-mail addresses and as of this moment I have yet to receive any response from Earthlink about my emailed complaints on this topic," said Ms. Juntti.

As reported by NewsBusters, the most recent widespread occurrence of this unexplained phenomenon was when Frank Salvato, proprietor of The New Media Journal, realized that his content that day hadn't been disseminated at Google News as it had been on a daily basis since he reached an agreement with the search engine in September 2005.

After sending the Google Help Desk a query concerning the matter, Salvato was informed that there had been complaints of "hate speech" at his website, and as a result, The New Media Journal would no longer be part of Google News. As evidence of his offense, the Google Team supplied Salvato with links to three recent op-eds published by his contributing writers, all coincidentally about radical Islam and its relation to terrorism.

According to a recent WND news article American Airlines is blocking WorldNetDaily as a "hate site." "WoldNetDaily is anything but, all they do is report the truth, since when is truth hate?"

As a sidebar, the NewsBusters article that first broke this story on May 19 cannot be found by doing a Google News search even though other recent articles by NewsBusters can.

To be sure, there have been complaints in the past from conservative bloggers that internet service providers seem to have dubious requirements to be a part of its News Crawl. In February 2005, Michelle Malkin spoke of the difficulties she was having becoming part of Google News. At roughly the same time, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs also complained about not being being excluded by internet services.

However, the biggest example of censorship appears to be the blocking of e-mail from conservative web sites such as NWV e-mail is treated as spam in spite of the fact that readers voluntarily sign up for the newsletter. subscriber Mary Gasser reported to this writer that she's already found five conservative newsletters including NWV being blocked by her server SBC Global, which is owned by AT&T.

"It's crazy how these people just decide to block e-mail and treat it as spam, but they treat spam as legitimate e-mail," says Ms. Gasser.

Few knowledgeable people question the existence of bias in the media, although there is debate about the slant. However, it is conceivable that few folks have considered the possibility of Internet news aggregators possessing such partiality, and, maybe more important, the ramifications.

Beyond this, Google appears intimately tied to former vice president and potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. It is no secret that Gore is a senior advisor to Google, a position that garnered him a sizable number of shares according to Fox News political analyst Susan Estrich. On May 19's The Big Story, Estrich discussed with host John Gibson Gore's connection with Google, and how the wealth generated from the shares he owns in the Internet behemoth could give him enough money to finance his own presidential campaign.

NWV contacted Earthlink and was directed to their company's policy on spam blocking:

Known spam blocking detects messages from known spammers on EarthLink servers and intercepts them before they reach your inbox. These messages are automatically sent to your "Known spam" folder, where you can view the messages before deleting them. This level of protection works regardless of your email program.

Suspect email blocking allows you to only receive email from the people in your address book. All other email will be sent to the "Suspect Email" folder until you have approved the sender.

Note: Legitimate emails coming from EarthLink will NOT be filtered and will ALWAYS be delivered directly to your inbox. You should NEVER accept a blocked email that ended up in one of your spam folders just because it APPEARS to be from EarthLink.

Political strategist Mike Baker of New Jersey is suspicious of Earthlink and SBC Global. He wonders how customers continue to receive unsolicited information on penis enhancement, get-rich-quick schemes, and pharmaceutical products but their requested political e-mail is blocked by their Internet provider.

"I've personally had desired e-mail blocked by IP servers, but I get regular e-mail on how to enlarge my sex organ or how to buy controlled substances on the internet," says Baker.

When this reporter contacted SBC Global -- which recently merged with Yahoo! -- I was directed to their spam protection policy:

The SBC Global email account includes SpamGuard, a filtering system designed to reduce spam in your inbox by directing most bulk messages to a bulk mail folder. This filtering system is automatically activated when you upgrade to SBC Yahoo! DSL.

When our automatic filter determines that a message was sent in bulk, SpamGuard generates a bulk mail folder and sends the bulk message to this folder instead of your inbox. This technique aims to deliver only emails that you've requested to your Inbox. However, we may occasionally send these messages to your bulk mail folder. If this occurs, let us know by clicking the This is not Spam link on the message itself.

Messages remain in your bulk mail folder for a minimum of 30 days unless you delete them yourself. After 30 days, the messages are removed automatically. You may wish to empty your bulk mail folder yourself on a periodic basis by deleting all unsolicited messages that have been placed there. This will free up your online email storage space.

Please be aware that the bulk mail folder doesn't generate Spam, and does not create additional mail. The system only directs incoming bulk messages addressed to you to a different folder.

Conservative activist Kathy Lehman is also complaining about her IP server, Earthlink. She states that when she called customer service she spoke for over a half-hour with a representative overseas, but finally hung up when she discovered she wasn't making any headway.

"I've since switched to another server in order to get my conservative publications and newsletters such as," said Ms. Lehman.

"Dealing with their customer service people was like dealing with crazy people."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy Independence Day, ISRAEL.
Imagine what Israel could accomplish if she were not so busy
fighting the enemies from outside her borders, and the
enemies from within!
The following achievements are all within the last 3 months,
and should be celebrated by Israel's enemies and all
anti-Semites who no doubt will benefit from them, like the rest
of the world.
Your Truth Provider,
7,150,000 RESIDENTS IN ISRAEL-(Tel Aviv) As Israel's 59th Independence Day approaches, the country's population stands at 7,150,000 residents, almost nine times its population of 806,000 at the time of the state's creation in 1948. According to the Central Statistics Bureau, 76 per cent are Jewish, 20 per cent are Arab and 4 per cent are other. In 1948, Tel Aviv-with 248,500 residents-was the only city in Israel with over 100,000 residents. Today, 44 per cent of Israelis live in a city with a population greater than 100,000. (Ynet News, April 22)

DEVICE MAKES WALKING EASIER FOR MS PATIENTS-(Haifa) A Technion Institute computer science researcher has devised an auditory feedback system which enables patients with multiple sclerosis to improve their gait. Professor Yoram Baram said that the apparatus, which is an updated version of a virtual reality visual feedback device he developed a decade ago, can also help Parkinson's disease patients walk better. The visual feedback apparatus developed ten years ago influences more stride length while the auditory apparatus influences walking speed. Now that both devices have been integrated, the patient wears the visual feedback apparatus on his eyes and the earphones are connected to it. The results of Baram's work were recently published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Apr.10)

ISRAELI BREAKTHROUGH PROMISES TO SAVE LIVES-(Haifa) Cardiologists from Rambam Medical Center have proven for the first time that a prototype hybrid device combining a computerized tomography coronary angriography with an advanced nuclear camera can be much safer and more accurate in determining whether patients with chest pains need invasive treatment to prevent a heart attack. The innovative technology provides an accurate diagnosis of clogged coronary arteries-the same level as that in invasive catheterization but much more accurate than that from ordinary CT imaging of the heart alone. This will make many diagnostic catheterizations-which pose risks to the patient-unnecessary. Articles on the research were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. (Jerusalem Post, March 1)

ISRAEL DEVELOPS BIOLOGICAL CLEANING PROCESS-(Tel Aviv) Professor Eugene Rosenberg, an Israeli professor from Tel Aviv University, has discovered "good" variety of bacteria called arthrobactor which is present at sites of crude oil contamination. The single-celled microorganisms enjoy feasting on oil and therefore play a major role in cleaning up oil spills. Based on Rosenberg's research, the newly formed Israeli company BioPetroClean is helping oil companies clean up accidental and purposeful oil contamination. The company has reared Rosenberg's strains of bacteria on a large scale and is building custom-made reactors to provide a green, clean, and cost-effective solution to many forms of oil contamination. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, April 8)

FIRST ISRAELI SAVED FROM ACUTE LEUKEMIA-(Tel Hashomer, Israel) For the first time in Israel, the life of a woman suffering from secondary acute leukemia was saved by umbilical cord blood donated by two mothers after they gave birth. Stem cells from cord blood do not have to be the exact tissue type of the recipient, unlike bone marrow from adults. Sheba Hospital said the graft took in two weeks rather than the month it usually takes for bone marrow. The hospital's cord blood bank recently became the first in Israel to be accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks, which is the biggest regulatory body for the accreditation of blood banks, including that of the American Red Cross. (Jerusalem Post, February 2)

COMPUTERIZED LEGS HELP IDF AMPUTEES-(Tel Aviv) In March 2006 Dr. Ido Katz was one of 25 Israel Defense Forces veteran amputees whose mechanical, prosthetic legs were replaced with computerized models. Katz, deputy director of Assaf Harofeh Hospital, had one of his legs amputated above the knee after he was wounded in the first war with Lebanon. He explains that the main advantage of a microprocessor knee prosthesis is the confidence that it instills in its users. The mechanical prosthesis currently used by most amputees may collapse when it hits an obstacle-causing the user to fall-while the computerized prosthesis allows users to descend stairs and hills smoothly, Katz said. About 15,000 amputees around the world use mircroprocessor knees, which were developed in Canada and produced by the German Otto Bock company, an expert in prosthesis manufacturing. (Ha'aretz, May 31, 2006)

ENZYME COMPUTER COULD LIVE INSIDE BODY-(Jerusalem) A molecular computer that uses enzymes to perform calculations has been built by researchers in Israel. Itamar Willner, who constructed the molecular calculator with colleagues at the Hebrew University, believes enzyme-powered computers could eventually be implanted into the human body and used for various purposes. One use could be tailoring the release of drugs to a specific person's metabolism. Martyn Amos from University of Exeter in the UK, also sees great potential for such devices. "If such counters could be engineered inside living cells, then we can imagine them playing a role in applications such as intelligent drug delivery, where a therapeutic agent is generated at the site of a problem." (New Scientist, February 23, 2006)

ACHIEVEMENTS that benefit the human race, or bomb belts...which do you choose?