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Wizbang Podcast #67

Here's what I thought you'd like to hear about today:

  1. How's that Surge Going, Congressman?
  2. Defending Alberto -Anyone out there?
  3. Next Steps on Iran -Why Bombing isn't such a good idea
  4. A Moving Tribute to the Lion of Fallujah

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How's that Surge Going, Congressman?

Success has many fathers, it is said, but failure is an orphan. When it comes to Iraq debate in Congress, we are seeing the exact opposite of that old saw. By advocating withdrawal, the Democrats appear to be demanding the credit for the eventual failure of our efforts in Iraq.

The latest incarnation of that sentiment is a pair of resolutions under consideration in the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee last week. Chairman Ike Skelton gaveled a hearing to:

receive testimony on H.R. 3087, to require the President, in coordination with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior military leaders, to develop and transmit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces in Iraq, and H.R. 3159, the "Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act of 2007."
H.R. 3159 would require the Pentagon to abide by their new policy of 15 months of deployment and 12 months at home training and equipping. If the Pentagon were required to do this, the surge of troops would have to end by April of 2008, according to the Washington Post:
Regardless of what decisions are made in Washington and Baghdad, the U.S. military cannot sustain the current force levels beyond March 2008 because of force rotations.
This clever bill the Democrats are advocating will require removing troops from Iraq to meet the terms of the existing Pentagon policy. According to the experts at the Post, a surge beyond March 2008 would require Secretary Gates to go back on his pledge to maintain the 15 on/12 off plan. It's a tried and true way to use someone's words to restrict their choices.

But credit is due to Chairman Skelton for bringing to the committee two well regarded witnesses. First up was General Jack Keane, a former Army Chief of Staff and current member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, testified in opposition to the resolutions. The second witness was Lawrence Korb, of the Center for American Progress, who has ready the NY Times and the Washington Post quite thoroughly. I jest, since Mr. Korb is very knowledgeable on matters of defense and represented his side quite well in the debate. I'm going to play a few clips from the show. First up is a section of Keane's opening remarks. Thanks to C-SPAN for the audio, and Iraq Insider for the transcript.

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After General Keane, Lawrence Korb spoke about the broken Army, and concluded by supporting the resolutions under consideration. Thanks to American Progress for the testimony transcript. He has finished his litany of troop problems, and moves to plugging his latest book.

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Notice the protester at the end of that last clip. There were more as the day wore on. The hearing went on for four hours and 45 minutes, and General Keane had to leave after two hours. This was the source of much consternation from some of the lower level Democratic Congress critters. This next clip starts off with Tom Cole, Republican from Oklahoma talking about the inability of the Iraqi politicians to come together and legislate as the benchmarks require.

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Boyda is a piece of work. I listened to the entire hearing and heard no references by General Keane to a vacation in Iraq. Her straw man argument is that people are claiming a paradise in Iraq. No one said that. Keane acknowledged the violence still prevalent in Iraq. Boyda's problem is that she is unable to listen to anyone whose facts conflicted with her prejudices. And what really bothered me is her insistence that we find a way to come together and put these crazy partisan politics behind us.. What a load of crap. She is more partisan than either of the witnesses. Thanks to BizzyBlog for the pointer to Boyda's shenanigans. And also to RedState for the image of Boyda on the Podcast site.

Dennis Prager identified the Democratic call for unity as the sham it is. Here he is on Townhall.com Weekend Journal from last week. He played clips from the Democratic YouTube/CNN debate, first from Senator Clinton.

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He makes a great point about unity on my terms. Whenever I hear someone claim that, we should ask what policy concessions they are willing to make to generate the often praised unity.

But back to Iraq. The Democrats are pedaling towards failure as fast as they can, in the hope they can lock the Pentagon into a defeat before General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker can report back to Congress in September that things are going better than many expected. The latest Congressman to worry about the Petraeus report is Representative James Clyburn, the house majority Whip, being questioned by two Washington Post reporters. Thanks to the Corner on National Review Online for the pointer.

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Note that he is not hoping for things to go badly in Iraq. He clearly meant that it would be a problem keeping the votes together in the House. That's his job. He's the Democratic Whip, the man responsible for counting votes and herding the cats in the Democratic caucus. But it is entertaining to get some visibility to the sausage making in Congress. Let's hope the 47 Blue Dog Democrats can see enough progress by September to forestall any retreat legislation that the lefty Democrats are trying to pass before then. If their constituents keep seeing positive press about progress, President Bush just might be given enough time and resources to make a success of it. I just wonder how the Democrats will be able to become the father of that result.

Defending Alberto -Anyone out there?

It's no secret that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is under a lot of pressure from Senate Democrats and a few Republicans like Arlen Spector. In fact, he appears to be so disliked that Fox News Sunday could find no conservatives willing to come on the Sunday show to defend his side of the disputes over the fired US Attorneys. Chris Wallace asks a few pointed questions about that pesky evidence thing that keeps getting in the way of a good old fashioned lynching of Gonzales. Listen to the tail end of Senator Russ Feingold where he immediately shifts to Iraq and a dozen other issues instead of answering Chris Wallace's questions. Chris does a great job here not letting him get away with it.

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The best defenders of Gonzales have been Senator Orin Hatch and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. Orin Hatch was on ABC News This Week on Sunday. Listen to Tony in their new briefing room take on a dozen reporters looking for blood in the water on July 27. Thanks to the White House podcast for the audio. This part starts with Tony describing the difference between the Terrorist Surveillance Program, other classified intelligence programs. The controversy is over whether or not there was a disagreement between Justice and the Administration on some intelligence programs. Some now and formerly at Justice said there was a disagreement, and Gonzales said there was not. The Senators want to have Gonzales indicted for perjury, without letting any of that evidence stuff get in their way. Here's Tony trying to explain.

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As I see it, there is a Venn diagram that can explain what I call the Gonzales-Comey Universe of Controversy. Picture a big circle, which represents all the intelligence programs that the Administration runs. Inside that circle, there is smaller circle that represents controversial programs. That is what Comey was describing in his now famous description of a hospital visit on a seriously ill Attorney General Ashcroft. There is a smaller circle, not attached to the controversial programs circle, in which we have the program that President Bush declassified and called the Terrorist Surveillance Program. Gonzales did not lie when he claimed that there was no controversy over the TSP. The controversy that Comey was describing involved other programs. If anyone needs help with this, I'm available for appearances on Fox News Sunday with a few days notice and airfare from Seattle to Washington for me and my family. We need to see some museums and monuments.

Next Steps on Iran -Why Bombing isn't such a good idea

In a previous Podcast I played an excerpt from Senator Joe Lieberman's appearance on Face the Nation on June 10, when he advocated bombing the training camps in Iran where they are training the militants attacking us in Iraq. This idea has not gained much traction lately. And for good reason. Recently the Heritage Foundation hosted a talk by someone who understands the consequences of that course of action. In the lecture, based on the ideas in his book, Taking on Tehran: Strategies for Confronting the Islamic Republic, Ilan Berman spoke about some alternatives we face in confronting Iranian influence. Berman is an Editor, and Vice President for Policy, American Foreign Policy Council. He started the talk by knocking down the three current straw men arguments about Iran. Those are 1) we should just talk to them; 2) we should attack them militarily; or 3) a middle ground where we do nothing and assume that deterrence will work. He finds each lacking, and moves quickly to a more complex and subtle strategy involving economic sanctions and publicizing the human rights violations by the government. In this section of the lecture, he has destroyed the straw men, and is describing his solution. If you have time, go and listen to the entire lecture. There's an MP3 of the file on the Heritage site. I highly recommend the whole thing, including some questions at the end about gasoline rationing in Tehran.

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The key to the success of this policy is a quick change from our current uncertain policy towards Iran. We only have a few years before their investments in gasoline refining and nuclear weapons development will put Iran in a position of such strength that the only course left open to us will be a massive military one. And the risk to our friends in the region and our soldiers within firing distance of Tehran will make that option a very bad one indeed. Time is running out.

A Moving Tribute to the Lion of Fallujah

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke at the 1st Annual Marine Corps Association Dinner in Arlington, VA on July 18. He ended it with a story of one particularly well liked marine. Here's his closing to that speech. Hold on to your hat, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks to the Military.com for the audio.

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Gates is certainly a very different man from Donald Rumsfeld. Amazing stuff. That's it for now, podcatchers. I'm Charlie Quidnunc reporting from high above Seattle.

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