Target Centermass

3/31/2006

400 years of Glory and Valour Consigned to History

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:25 pm

‘Tis a sad time for the Scottish, as five legendary regiments are piped into the annals of history.

In Basra, the sun beat down on the soldiers gathered in the dust of Shaibah camp. In Edinburgh, a light drizzle fell on the men and women lined up on parade at the top of the castle. In Glasgow, Baghdad, Omagh, Belfast, Cyprus and Canterbury, similar ceremonies were taking place. As midday struck in Scotland, the country’s old regiments slipped into history.

Gone were the Royal Scots – almost 400 years old – the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the Highlanders. In their place, to a flurry of pipes and drums, was the new Royal Regiment of Scotland.

It was certainly not the first merger imposed on Scotland’s soldiery, but it has proved to be one of the most controversial. Yesterday, however, the army was putting a brave face on it.

As the moment drew near, a large crowd had gathered around the edges of Edinburgh Castle’s Crown Square. Kenny Mackenzie, the Royal Scots’ Regimental Sergeant Major, marched smartly into the square and snapped to attention.

“By the right, quick march,” the order came, and from around the corner came the new regimental band, belting out the tunes of the Athol Highlander and Glendaruel Highlander. Behind them, a carefully chosen cross-section of the new regiment marched into the Crown Square, wheeled right and came to a halt.

They had been practising hard, apparently, but perhaps in keeping with the furore surrounding the merger, not all were in step. Their boots hit the cobbles like a burst of machine gun fire, rather than the single sharp report that the sergeant major was hoping for. He made them suffer by shuffling them backwards and forwards for a couple of minutes, barking out instructions until he was happy.

Still, as Major-General Euan Loudon, the new regiment’s most senior officer was to say, change may be painful.

“Parade will remove head dress”, RSM Mackenzie yelled, and they whipped off the old caps. Two more soldiers appeared, bearing between them a tray draped in the new regimental tartan and worked their way among the ranks, collecting the last vestiges of the old regiments. They marched out smartly, covering the abandoned hats discreetly with the tartan.

Those remaining in the square waited. The drizzle continued. The crowd, mainly tourists interspersed with press and some military types, craned their necks to see what was going on. Nothing happened. “Where’s the general?” one soldier whispered. More drizzle fell. The onlookers began to talk among themselves.

In Basra, the soldiers of the Royal Scots were baking in the heat. The regiment, the oldest in the British Army, is not due back until May; they had the curious experience of being consigned to history while still being called on to serve in action.

As if there was not enough historical baggage hanging around, the Ministry of Defence had chosen the 373rd anniversary of the formation of the regiment to disband it. About 200 soldiers who were not required for patrolling stood and watched as the standard of the Royal Scots was lowered for the last time, while a lone piper played a lament.

[…]

Back in Edinburgh, the general finally appeared, striding into the square, sleeves rolled up. The others had apparently been a little too quick off the mark.

“Parade, general salute,” barked RSM Mackenzie and the band broke into a stirring burst of regimental music. And stopped again, just as quickly.

The general strode up and down the lines, dishing out new caps, each bearing the hackle appropriate to what were once individual regiments, but are now mere battalions: black for the 1st Battalion (Royal Scots Borderers – the old Royal Scots and King’s Own Scottish Borderers); white for 2nd Battalion (Royal Highland Fusiliers); the famous red for the 3rd Battalion (Black Watch); blue for the 4th Battalion (Highlanders); and green for the 5th Battalion (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).

The caps also bore the new insignia of the Royal Regiment, a lion rampant on a cross of St Andrew, or the crucified cat, as some wags have taken to calling it. It looked quite smart. The general stood in front of them and made his big pitch. It was, he said, a new chapter in the story of the Scottish soldier. “Change may be painful, but it has come to visit us in our day and generation,” he said, but it followed on from a glorious past.

The article briefly tells the story of each of the regiments that are going by the wayside.

• The Black Watch’s name came from the dark tartan its soldiers wore and from its role to “watch” the Highlands after its formation in 1725, when six companies were formed to stop fighting among the clans. The regimental motto was Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No-one Attacks Me With Impunity).

• The King’s Own Scottish Borderers were the local infantry battalion for the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, and Lanarkshire. They were founded 1689 to defend Edinburgh from Jacobites and fought in every major conflict of the last 300 years including, with distinction, the Gulf in 2003.

• The Royal Scots was the oldest Infantry Regiment of the Line in the army. It was formed in 1633 under a warrant granted by Charles I, raising a body of men for service in France. The regiment saw conflict in many theatres, both world wars and the Gulf war, and action in Northern Ireland.

• The Royal Highland Fusiliers were formed in 1959 by the controversial amalgamation of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry. The regiment was awarded more than 200 battle honours, a number unsurpassed by any other unit in the British Army.

• The Highlanders, a combat infantry regiment of about 550 men, was formed in 1994 with the amalgamation of the Queen’s Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) and The Gordon Highlanders. It was the only one with a Gaelic motto – Cuidich ‘n Righ (Aid the King).

• The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, nicknamed the “Thin Red Line” for their actions at Balaclava, were formed in 1881 by the amalgamation of the Princess Louise’s Argyllshire Regiment and the Sutherland Highlanders. They had the army’s largest cap badge and the Glengarry as headgear.

The new Royal Regiment has adopted the stirring and traditional “Scotland the Brave” as its regimental march (music and lyrics). Hat tip to Irish Elk via the Llama Butchers

More on the rationale for the change can be found in this Reuters piece:

The army says the new regiment is being forged to meet the changing needs of the 21st century, including more short-notice deployments, peacekeeping duties and the need to operate alongside allies — as with U.S forces in Iraq.

Four of the old regiments will constitute individual battalions with the Royal Regiment, but the Royal Scots and the KOSB will be combined into one battalion over the next few months. The army is also losing three regiments in England.

[…]

Loudon said the new super-regiment had emerged from a review of defence policy in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War. What emerged, he told Reuters in an interview, was that “we would have to be prepared to fight across a broad spectrum of operations and, of course, peace support and peacekeeping missions, and to go to these operations at quite short notice and plug in effectively with allies”.

[Loudon] said that a legacy of the Cold War had left the army unbalanced, with a preponderance of “heavy forces that were pretty immobile,” and “light forces that had relatively light combat power”.

“The big idea was that we would re-balance that structure into three areas of capability: light, which would be beefed up; medium, which would be created; and heavy, which would be made as mobile as we could in the future.”

He said the traditional system where units changed locations and roles every three years or so also failed to meet these needs and meant that about 25 percent of infantry in the British Army could be unavailable for operations at any one time as they moved to new locations and retrained for new roles.

In the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the merged Royal Scots and KSOB will constitute the 1st battalion, the Royal Highland Fusiliers the 2nd battalion, the Black Watch the 3rd battalion, The Highlanders the 4th battalion and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders the 5th battalion.

The Royal Scots and KOSB have traditionally worn tartan trews (trousers) rather than kilts, but the Royal Regiment of Scotland will be kilted, wearing the Black Watch, or “government” tartan.

The battalions will, however, retain their distinctive coloured feathers behind their cap badges, known as the “hackle”, and the pipe and drum bands will keep the regimental tartans and accoutrements.

Loudon said history and tradition were integral to the new regiment, but added: “A tradition is only relevant if its legacy, when it is handed down to the next generation of people inspires, them to soldier as their forebears have done.”

He said the spiritual homes of the old units would remain at their old bases in Scotland in the form of regimental museums and associations covering past and present members.

First the 49th Lone Star Armored Division, now the Scottish regiments — ah, but military history can be a cruel mistress.

At least the new Royal Regiment will carry on with the dark but beautiful Black Watch tartan. Unfortunately, there may be insult added even to that saving grace, as the British army has recently lowered the quality standard on kilts, opening them up for the bidding of foreign contractors.

Borders weavers Robert Noble has produced the tartan for the ceremonial kilts worn by Scottish regiments for 150 years.

But in an effort to drive down costs, the Ministry of Defence has announced it is putting the contract to produce tartan for the amalgamated Royal Regiment of Scotland up for tender.

It is also lowering the standards of the tartan’s quality to allow other companies producing cheaper, lower-grade cloth to compete against the expertise of Borders textile companies.

The MoD has launched a competitive tender allowing any manufacturers to compete for the contract of 5,000 kilts, estimated to be worth £300,000, for the new regiment.

Previously, only a few firms in Scotland could produce woven woollen cloth to the high standards required, but the MoD has lowered standards so more firms can compete at lower prices.

Jeremy Purvis, a Borders MSP, said the MoD cost-cutting was misguided.

“This is about the standard of cloth provided. It is an insult to the company that has been providing it for over 100 years,” he said.

The MSP also said the MoD’s attitude and insensitivity towards the contract was a worrying reflection on attitudes towards the new Royal Regiment of Scotland. He added: “I hope very much it is not, but the way they have behaved in this incident does give that indication.

“The kilts are clearly going to be sub-standard. Now there will be different cuts and shades on parades and it will be an embarrassment. The ceremonial Scottish wear of kilts and trews should absolutely be made in Scotland.”

Yeah, kick ’em while their down. Don’t worry, despite poorer kilts, the Scots will bravely soldier on, creating a new regimental history.

3/30/2006

Nothing Tonight

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:11 pm

Sorry, folks, but I’ve been busy with wedding details.

Perhaps this would be a good time to visit the many fine sites on my blogroll, including the following three new and long-overdue blogs added today:

3/29/2006

Tonight’s Must-Read

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:40 pm

Long are the shadows of past American retreats. In those shadows abide the hopes of our enemies, as they play a waiting game until the Americans once again climb aboard “The Last Helicopter.”

Hassan Abbasi has a dream–a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the “fleeing Americans,” forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by “the Army of Muhammad.” Presented by his friends as “The Dr. Kissinger of Islam,” Mr. Abbasi is “professor of strategy” at the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s new radical administration.

For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of “running away,” leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.

To hear Mr. Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of “the last helicopter.” It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein’s generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton’s helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.

According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an “aberration,” a leader out of sync with his nation’s character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an “American Middle East.” Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

Perhaps President Bush is an aberration, a modern American politician willing to actually engage our enemies, be it on the battlefields of Afghanistan and the Middle East or the diplomatic battlefields of the United Nations. This is a president baptized by jet-fuel fire; that will likely not be the case for his successor. Yes, it is imperative that 2009 sees the inauguration of another U.S. president with nerve, spine and brass balls, at least figuratively speaking.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s defiant rhetoric is based on a strategy known in Middle Eastern capitals as “waiting Bush out.” “We are sure the U.S. will return to saner policies,” says Manuchehr Motakki, Iran’s new Foreign Minister.

Mr. Ahmadinejad believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilizations with the Middle East as the main battlefield. In that clash Iran will lead the Muslim world against the “Crusader-Zionist camp” led by America. Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into “a brief moment of triumph.” But the U.S. is a “sunset” (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (tolu’ee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush’s predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also notes that Iran has just “reached the Mediterranean” thanks to its strong presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He used that message to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to adopt a defiant position vis-à-vis the U.N. investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon. His argument was that once Mr. Bush is gone, the U.N., too, will revert to its traditional lethargy. “They can pass resolutions until they are blue in the face,” Mr. Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Arab leaders in Tehran last month.

Please, please note that the Iranian rulers’ concept of “saner” American policies post-Bush means a return to acceptance of unnecessary retreat when bloodied and willingness to happily suffer an emasculated United Nations. These are the sane policies that will enable our enemies to continue unchecked their plans to develop a world where eventually they will be strong enough for a showdown of civilizations.

Folks, while sadly not unprecedented, those are most assuredly not sane policies for the world we shape for our future generations.

It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of “waiting Bush out” is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush’s plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere. [Emphasis added]

The weakness in the Bush doctrine is clear in the eyes of our enemies: it will fail not because it could never succeed in Arab culture, nor because we lacked the abilities and resources to achieve the goal of a democratic and self-determining shining city on a hill in the Islamic world, but rather because of bitter and partisan internal politics and infighting. Anti-war and anti-Bush elements may argue that they can support the troops while actively opposing the mission, but the truth of the matter is they are not only undermining our soldiers but are also endangering future generations.

And they have been quite successful in hindering our efforts and rolling back large chunks of progress we had made.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has shelved his plan, forged under pressure from Washington, to foster a popular front to fight terrorism by lifting restrictions against the country’s major political parties and allowing their exiled leaders to return. There is every indication that next year’s elections will be choreographed to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, arguably the most pro-American leader in the region, is cautiously shaping his post-Bush strategy by courting Tehran and playing the Pushtun ethnic card against his rivals.

In Turkey, the “moderate” Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is slowly but surely putting the democratization process into reverse gear. With the post-Bush era in mind, Mr. Erdogan has started a purge of the judiciary and a transfer of religious endowments to sections of the private sector controlled by his party’s supporters. There are fears that next year’s general election would not take place on a level playing field.

Even in Iraq the sentiment that the U.S. will not remain as committed as it has been under Mr. Bush is producing strange results. While Shiite politicians are rushing to Tehran to seek a reinsurance policy, some Sunni leaders are having second thoughts about their decision to join the democratization process. “What happens after Bush?” demands Salih al-Mutlak, a rising star of Iraqi Sunni leaders. The Iraqi Kurds have clearly decided to slow down all measures that would bind them closer to the Iraqi state. Again, they claim that they have to “take precautions in case the Americans run away.”

There are more signs that the initial excitement created by Mr. Bush’s democratization project may be on the wane. Saudi Arabia has put its national dialogue program on hold and has decided to focus on economic rather than political reform. In Bahrain, too, the political reform machine has been put into rear-gear, while in Qatar all talk of a new democratic constitution to set up a constitutional monarchy has subsided. In Jordan the security services are making a spectacular comeback, putting an end to a brief moment of hopes for reform. As for Egypt, Hosni Mubarak has decided to indefinitely postpone local elections, a clear sign that the Bush-inspired scenario is in trouble. Tunisia and Morocco, too, have joined the game by stopping much-advertised reform projects while Islamist radicals are regrouping and testing the waters at all levels.

Why should any of these governments suffer real reform or provide substantial assistance, when we have shown weakness in success and rewarded a true ally in the region with an embarrassing reactionary snubbing?

The editorial’s author, Amir Taheri, wraps up with far more optimism than I truly feel.

But how valid is the assumption that Mr. Bush is an aberration and that his successor will “run away”? It was to find answers that this writer spent several days in the U.S., especially Washington and New York, meeting ordinary Americans and senior leaders, including potential presidential candidates from both parties. While Mr. Bush’s approval ratings, now in free fall, and the increasingly bitter American debate on Iraq may lend some credence to the “helicopter” theory, I found no evidence that anyone in the American leadership elite supported a cut-and-run strategy.

The reason was that almost all realized that the 9/11 attacks have changed the way most Americans see the world and their own place in it. Running away from Saigon, the Iranian desert, Beirut, Safwan and Mogadishu was not hard to sell to the average American, because he was sure that the story would end there; the enemies left behind would not pursue their campaign within the U.S. itself. The enemies that America is now facing in the jihadist archipelago, however, are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. as the world knows it today.

Those who have based their strategy on waiting Mr. Bush out may find to their cost that they have, once again, misread not only American politics but the realities of a world far more complex than it was even a decade ago. Mr. Bush may be a uniquely decisive, some might say reckless, leader. But a visitor to the U.S. soon finds out that he represents the American mood much more than the polls suggest. [Again, emphasis added]

Yes, such realities face the American public, a public that generally and historically is made up of far sterner stuff than our recent series of ignominious withdrawals would indicate. However, while I wish that the hopeful outlook of Mr. Taheri proves true, I cannot embrace it yet as probable. This is not because I do not believe that the U.S. is able succeed in Iraq and able to continue to confront our enemies before their danger is imminent; instead, it is because I question whether we will have the national will. The editorial argues that political bickering from defeatist and partisans have doomed our efforts to democratize Iraq in the eyes of our enemy. I’ll go that one further, arguing once again that our effort has been undermined by our so-called friends in the media. I maintain the belief that only fair reporting of Iraq would have sustained public support — there was no need even for the rah-rah stuff, though that possibly shouldn’t have been too much to occasionally ask for in a time of war with so much, a possible pending clash of civilizations, hanging over the horizon.

In the Bullpen‘s Chad Evans looks at the same editorial and throws in his thoughts. Here’s a tidbit:

Thus we are left with the debate between “Democracy doesn’t work” and “Democracy may work.” Democracy may not work too, but five years is hardly long enough to ascertain whether President Bush’s Democracy policy has done anything. Even in the case of Palestine, it is now up to Hamas to carry the ball as high as they set it during these past elections. It might prove insurmountable thus lessoning support for Hamas and their tactics. Again though, it might not. It is this guessing game that makes everyone uncomfortable.

Will the election of 2008 truly be between a continuance of a Democracy policy or more of an isolationist movement with the Democratic Party chairing in isolationism? Political parties can and have switched policies for centuries.

Protein Wisdom‘s Jeff Goldstein ties the piece to today’s announcement of a Democrat security platform, as follows:

[The article] notes the “Kissinger of Iran” predicting the US won’t have the stomach to finish the job in Iraq and Afghanistan, essentially leaving the entire middle east to be reshaped by Iran and it’s regional allies.”

Which, while this is not something the Democrats want to hear about their “smart, strong, tough” new plan, is precisely what our enemies are waiting and hoping for—and in fact has been a strategical aim of al Qaedas from day one. The strong horse and the weak horse.

Forget that the Iraqis overwhelmingly see the country moving in the right direction (84% of Shias, 76% of Kurds in a January poll); the real problem is here at home, where we have inversely concluded—thanks to 3 years of unrelentingly negative reporting, and the repetition of rhetorical hyperbole, lies, and half-truths by cynical partisan opponents of the President—that the war is a disaster, things are moving in the wrong direction, and the “proper” thing to do now, according to Democrats, is “responsibly redeploy” [read: pull troops out of Iraq] and go on a manhunt for a single Arab who may or may not be dead.

Go read them both — they’re both on my blogroll for a reason.

From the Ol’ Blogroll

First, from the Jawa Report, the latest news of brutal abuse from Iraq — check that, I mean the latest brutal abuse of news from Iraq.

The Latest Blood Libel Lie in Iraq

What would you do if every day you saw images of dead civilians, women, and children? Now, imagine that you are told these deaths were the result of Americans intentionally killing civilians. If this was your perception of reality, then you too would probably feel an obligation to fight America. At the very least, you would support those that took up arms.

Now imagine that it was mainstream media sources that were reporting Americans had massacred Iraqi civilians. The media, instead of challenging the version of the story as delivered by radical Islamists that routinely lie, equivocate and act as if the story told by U.S. soldiers is only one version of the truth. That the word of a U.S. soldier is just as suspect as that of Muqtada al Sadr.

Propagating the lie that U.S. soldiers massacre mosque worshippers constitutes a form of blood libel. By portraying American troops as blood thirsty murderers, jihadi propagandists create an atmosphere of obligatory vendettas. What moral person could stand by and let the Americans get away with this type of murder? By treating that lie as if it was a legitimate viewpont, the media help prolong the war on terror. Worse, they give jihadis recruiting power, which leads to the death of more U.S. soldiers and eventually civilians.

Take for instance this …

Go read the rest. It dovetails quite nicely with my piece yesterday on “our” media.

Second, Chad at In the Bullpen covers a big story from the DFW area: the walk-out protests by local high school students/truants in favor of illegal immigration.

Second Day of Immigration Protests in Dallas

Another day, another protest held by students in the Dallas area over the immigration bill. Local media reported many students were from the city of Irving, a suburb of Dallas, and that the Dallas Police Department called in trains and buses to help transport students to Dallas City Hall. School administrators claim all students absent will be marked truant therefore any test, quiz or homework assignment missed will result in a failed grade. Truancy also used to be against the law, but so too is entering this country illegally and aiding those who break U.S. law. Seemingly not in this day and age though.

Check it out for the silliness that has been the locales’ allowing teenagers to blow off school for two straight days and some of the fallout of such coddling.

Third, JohnL at TexasBestGrok posts a special farewell installment as part of his aircraft cheesecake series.

Sunday Aircraft Cheesecake (F-14 Tomcat)

After more than 30 years of distinguished service to the US Navy, the last two squadrons of F-14 Tomcats ended their final combat deployments about two weeks ago. A couple of nice articles about this milestone event can be found …

Definitely watch the video. And tell JohnL to keep up the cheesecake.

3/28/2006

Accused Kidnapper Mom Took on Dad’s Identity

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:17 pm

It’s stories such as this freakish tale of crime and gender-bending that inspired me to create a WTF?!! category.

A woman accused of abducting her two young children from their father, then dressing like a man so she could assume his identity, agreed yesterday to return to Arizona where she faces kidnapping charges, authorities said.

Shellie White, 30, was taken into custody Friday in Roanoke Rapids, where police said she and a woman lived together as the children’s father and mother.

The arrest came more than two years after White was charged with custodial interference in the children’s disappearance, the U.S. Marshals Service said. Her ex-husband, Ernest Karnes, had custody of the children at the time and learned Friday that they had been found.

That’s a pretty bare-boned version. Here’s a far more fleshed-out account under the delightful headline of “That’s not our mum, that’s dad.”

She is the mother of two children – a boy and a girl.

But her kids call her ‘Daddy’.

That’s because when they were younger, she cut her hair and dressed like a man. She also told them that she was her father.

But the truth was that Shellie White, 30, had kidnapped her two children from their father, Mr Ernest Karnes, who won custody of them when the couple divorced.

She had also dressed up like a man so that she could assume her ex-husband’s identity as she moved her kids from city to city to avoid the authorities.

Last week, she was finally tracked down by the police in Raonoke Rapids, North Carolina, and will be made to face kidnapping charges in Arizona, where her children were taken from Mr Karnes.

The arrest comes more than two years after she was charged over the children’s disappearance, the US Marshals Service said.

It added that White ‘radically changed her appearance to that of a man and assumed many aliases,’ including her ex-husband’s.

‘She even went so far as to tell her children, aged 3 and 5 at the time, that she was their father,’ the Marshals Service said in a statement.

‘When she was arrested, the children, now aged 6 and 8, asked why they were arresting their Daddy.’

White told the AP news agency that she had told her son to say she was his father only to fend off other children who had made fun of her appearance.

But Deputy US Marshal Dennis Harkins said White had posed as her ex-husband and other men.

‘She was playing it off for all the world to see that she was a man,’ Mr Harkins said.

[…]

Mr Holmes said that after charging White in January 2004, authorities were able to trace the children to various schools, but always came up empty.

‘It kept going in a circle, so she was aware of it,’ he said. ‘She wouldn’t keep them in a school no more than maybe six months.’

When White was arrested, she and a woman had been living together as the children’s father and mother.

Feel free to follow that last link for a picture that makes much of this bizarre story believable.

Rough Week for Remaining Reaganites

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:51 pm

Two key members of the administration of President Ronald Reagan have died in the last two days.

Lyn Nofziger, Reagan spokesman and adviser, dead at 81

Franklyn “Lyn” Nofziger, the rumpled and irreverent conservative who served Ronald Reagan as press secretary and political adviser, died of cancer Monday. He was 81.

Nofziger died at his home in Falls Church, Va., said Eldin Girdner, a family friend.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement Monday: “I was deeply saddened this afternoon when I heard of Lyn Nofziger’s death. Lyn was with us from the gubernatorial campaign in 1965 through the early White House days, and Ronnie valued his advice — and good humor — as much as anyone’s. I spoke with him just days ago and even though he knew the end was near, Lyn was hopeful and still in good spirits.”

Nofziger, who joined Reagan’s ranks early in the political career of the actor-turned-politician, headed the White House political office during the first year of the Reagan presidency and then quit to form a political consulting and lobbying firm.

[…]

Conservative columnist George F. Will once described the nonconformist, cigar-chomping Nofziger as “Sancho Panza” to Reagan’s Don Quixote.

Asked why he was leaving the White House, Nofziger replied, “I don’t like government, it’s just that simple.” He denied as “99 percent untrue” a report he’d quit because of his exclusion from the president’s innermost circle.

His determined irreverence extended to the Reagans.

“I’m not a social friend of the Reagans,” he told an interviewer. “That’s by their choice and by mine. They don’t drink enough.”

Former defense chief Caspar Weinberger dies at 88

Caspar Weinberger, who as Ronald Reagan’s defense secretary oversaw a massive U.S. military buildup, died on Tuesday at age 88.

Caspar Weinberger Jr. said his father had been suffering from pneumonia and high fever for about a week and died at 5 a.m. EST in the intensive-care unit of Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, about 40 miles from his home in Mount Desert.

Weingberger’s wife of 63 years, Jane, his son and daughter, Arlin, were at his bedside when he died.

“He was just a worn-out guy,” his son, Caspar Weinberger Jr., told Reuters.

As head of the Pentagon, Weinberger strongly opposed concessions to Moscow in arms control negotiations and pushed hard for increased defense spending, such as Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, a program to develop a land-and space-based missile shield commonly known as “Star Wars.”

“He should be remembered as a world statesman, a great American patriot,” the son said. “What he did with Reagan really brought down the Soviet Union. They stuck to their plan and simply outspent the Soviets despite all sorts of doubts here.”

[…]

Weinberger performed with gusto the task of persuading the U.S. Congress to spend more than $1 trillion on arms in Reagan’s first term and billions more after that.

He also steadfastly opposed concessions to Moscow in arms control negotiations advocated by Secretary of State George Shultz and other more moderate members of the Cabinet.

He made himself unpopular with many lawmakers by his unbending, often contentious push for funds for arms and for Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative — a program, commonly known as “Star Wars,” to develop a land- and space-based shield against incoming ballistic missiles.

A longtime member of Reagan’s inner circle of California friends, Weinberger was one of the president’s strongest supporters in the Cabinet.

“He was just a great American,” the son said. “He was a respected world diplomat, a member of ‘the greatest generation,’ as Tom Brokaw called it.”

The younger Weinberger said his father was “first and foremost a Californian” but had moved to Maine for the benefit of his wife, a native of the state. The Weinbergers first bought a summer home in Maine in the mid-1970s and had lived their full time for the past few years.

Weinberger was a Harvard-educated lawyer and serve on Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s intelligence staff during World War Two, his family said.

His funeral will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.

I would like to think these two men for their years of dedication and service. For those so inclined, this may be a good moment to consider a donation to the Ronald Reagan Memorial Fund.

Carnival of Liberty XXXVIII

Filed under: — Gunner @ 7:40 pm

This week’s installment of the Life, Liberty, Property community’s Carnival of Liberty is up over at Searchlight Crusade. Go read another fine collection of posts from a libertarian slant.

The Knife in Our Back

Filed under: — Gunner @ 1:00 am

Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

—Napoleon Bonaparte

If defeat finds us in Iraq, I will already tell you where the blames lies — our media and the perversion of the journalistic field that I have loved since childhood. There will be no need to dust for prints on the hilt of the blade in the back of our efforts, though there will be finger-pointing aplenty and smug ‘I-told-you-so” assertions from the self-fulfilling media prophesiers.

Frustrations of press coverage and the apparent willingness by the media to undermine our efforts and enable our enemies are growing ever easier to find … as long as one doesn’t rely overly much on the media.

Altering perceptions of Iraq

Perception is everything. And when applied to the war in Iraq, perception, public opinion, and a far-reaching press are all variables that could ultimately have a hand in any setback or defeat for U.S. and coalition forces in that country.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m all for free speech. If anything, that is the single most important element of our free society. It is one of our essential individual freedoms, and it protects other freedoms.

I do, however, have concerns about false and deliberatively inflammatory propaganda aimed at manipulating audiences. I am not suggesting that any press – good or bad – be quashed. What’s good or bad is open to interpretation anyway. But I think we should recognize the difference between news (including reported facts, analysis, and opinion) and propaganda.

Seriously, read the whole piece to see how falsehoods are being spread by our enemies, while our media seemingly choose to subject a skeptical eye only toward our own government and military. As an example, I point you to the Guantanamo Koran-abuse stories, based solely upon allegations of detainees trained to make just such claims and happily ran by several major American media outlets. Too bad about the lives lost in the resulting bloodshed — I’m sure the subsequent retraction made everything all better.

Hat tip on this column to Dr. Rusty, who adds the following [emphasis in original]:

The most important variable in defeating an enemy is that they believe they will lose. Rarely will people fight for a cause that they believe will ultimately fail. That is why we must believe we can win, and why we must convince the enemy that they will lose. And that is why propaganda is such a positive tool. Unfortunately, most people believe that propaganda is somehow bad since it allegedly distorts reality. It can, but so can “unbiased” news.

Rumsfeld: U.S. gets low marks in ‘battle of ideas’

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Monday after visiting the Pennsylvania site where a hijacked airliner crashed on September 11, 2001 that the United States deserves poor marks in how it has waged a “battle of ideas” with groups like al Qaeda.

[…]

“If I were grading, I would say we probably deserve a D or a D-plus as a country as to how well we’re doing in the battle of ideas that’s taking place in the world today. And I’m not going to suggest that it’s easy, but we have not found the formula as a country,” Rumsfeld said at the war college.

Rumsfeld said there are many moderate Muslims and relatively few Muslim “violent extremists,” and the United States must find ways to encourage and support the moderates.

“Every time the United States tries to do anything that would communicate something positive about what we’re doing in the world, we’re criticized in the press and in the Congress, and we have a reappraisal and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, is that something we should be doing? How do we do it in a way that is considered acceptable in our society?'” Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld brought up the ongoing practice by the U.S. military command in Iraq to pay Iraqi news organizations to run pro-American stories secretly written by U.S. troops in an “information operations” task force.

Some lawmakers, including Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed concern that paying foreign news organizations to plant pro-American stories might undermine U.S. credibility.

“They were not lies that were being put in the paper. They were accurate,” Rumsfeld said. “But the fuss and the concern in the country (the United States) has just been, you know, a frenzy over it.”

Rumsfeld did not say whether or not he believed the practice was proper. He said last week the Pentagon would review that question.

It should be noted that waging a campaign of ideals is understandably quite difficult when the horrendous actions of a few, such as those Americans who perpetrated the infamous abuses at Abu Ghraib, are trumpeted broadly and hammered repeatedly. Little told, if ever, is the fact that the military actually released the story and had begun investigations prior to the media’s sensationalistic feeding frenzy. Prosecutions don’t receive weeks of frontpage coverage. Saddam’s own history with Abu Ghraib, the legacy that should truly be attached to the complex, is essentially omitted from press coverage.

Even less is told globally or nationally of the progress and humanitarian successes of our troops. Yes, papers will tell the tales of good deeds done by their regional National Guard units or local boys in uniform. Still, the average American is left with the notion that, yeah, our folks are okay but the overall is a mess.

Needless to say, the military rankles at such poor coverage.

Fast Facts Not the Story

It is easy to rush to judgment, and to failure, about Iraq if you focus on isolated facts and fail to see the whole picture.

Fact: there are car bombs killing scores of civilians in Baghdad.

Fact: terrorists are murdering Iraqis at rates not previously seen. We continue to see the targeting of Iraq’s innocent men, women and children, causing a 75 percent increase in the number of civilian casualties.

These are disturbing facts. Taken in isolation they can paint a distorted picture of what is actually going on in Iraq.

Any loss of life is tragic. However, these incidents need to be placed in perspective to understand what is happening here.

Fact: violence is not widespread in Iraq. Three of Iraq’s provinces, Baghdad, Al Anbar and Salah ad Din,account for nearly 75 percent of all the attacks. The other 15 provinces average less than six attacks daily and 12 average less than two attacks per day. That does not erase what is happening in Baghdad, but it does put it in perspective.

Fact: 70 percent of Iraq’s population live without incidents.

Here is what you are not seeing. Operations last fall in the Euphrates River Valley effectively cut off the major routes for weapons and suicide terrorists. As a result we are not seeing as many of those attacks. The terrorists have to save up for an attack. Since last fall there have not been any “re-attacks” in major cities like Fallujah or Tall Afar by the coalition and Iraqi Security Forces to drive out the terrorists.

Why? There are now more than 241,000 trained and equipped ISF members patrolling the streets and neighborhoods of Iraq – 100,000 more than we had last January 2005. In total, about 75 percent of the planned Iraqi Security Forces are out on the streets and in the fight across Iraq. ISF are in the cities and in the lead.

Due to the increased presence of the ISF and the security measures put in place by the Iraqi government, we have not seen any horrific attacks like the 2004 suicide attacks in Baghdad and Karbala against the Arba’een pilgrims. Also, there is increased emphasis on security in Baghdad. Operation “Scales of Justice” brought in more than 600 U.S. forces and additional Iraqi forces to Baghdad allowing more patrols and checkpoints in the city. Recent operations like “Swarmer” and “Northern Lights” were based on intelligence telling us where to find suspected terrorists and caches. Intelligence also led to the recent rescue by British, Iraqi and American forces of three christian activists kidnapped in November.

Violence that was once widespread is now relegated to three provinces. Terrorists who once roamed freely are now severely constrained. Coalition and ISF operations are placing unrelenting pressure on the terrorists.

Viewed in isolation, a single event can seem overwhelming. However, taken in perspective you can see the noose for the terrorists is tightening as long as we are not distracted, or disheartened, by the desperate acts of the terrorists.

All of this as March, 2006, draws to a close, a month trending to be among the lowest in terms of American military deaths in the three years since the invasion. Has this fact been made clear to the American public by our media? Well, no. Instead, the gist of coverage has shifted from the inevitability of a successful guerrila campaign to the inevitability of a civil war. The media is doing all it can to stay ahead of events without covering the full story, dead set on being ready in the event of American failure to say we told you how things were falling apart while, intentionally or unintentionally, helping things to fall apart through their myopic coverage.

So jaded was I by coverage of our efforts against radical Islamist terror, so certain was I that some whose mission it is to inform the American public and the world of the news were, again intentionally or unintentionally (I’m obviously hedging here, though I feel some have made their motivations quite evident), slanting and cherry-picking their stories in hopes or assumptions of a pending American defeat, that I created an “Our” Media category on this blog.

Why must the burden fall upon a few conservative magazines, the military and the milblogging community to get out a story that the mainstream media chooses to ignore? Why, when the name of Abu Ghraib is uttered in American circles, does the image of photographs of a few American soldiers-gone-bad far overshadow the true bloody history of the prison under the despotic Saddam regime? Why are noble private humanitarian efforts, such as Spirit of America and Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids, only covered by the likes of Michael Yon? Why are the words of President Bush, Vice President Cheney and SecDef Rumsfeld subjected with a fine-tooth comb while the opposition, such as pro-retreat Congressman John Murtha (D-IsForDefeat) and Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, see no such scrutiny for their oft-bewildering statements? Most importantly, why is the American military — a force whose arms, equipment, protection, training, professionalism, efficiency and success in the battle are unrivalled in history — starving for support from their own citizenry for their endeavors and sacrifices in the field and in danger of potential political defeat merely by roadside explosives and carbombs while experiencing a casualty pace diminished by the whole of military history?

Should we fail in Iraq, the source of the that failure is clear in my mind. It will not be the mission, nor will it be the planning for the campaign or its aftermath. It will not be the conduct of our troops, nor will it be the lack of their successes. It will not be the strength of our enemies, nor will it be any weakness of will on the part of our current leadership. Simply put, it will be message, and subsequently those who control the spread of the message. I’m talking about a message that doomed our efforts in Viet Nam and, with today’s standards, could’ve killed our efforts in World War II after the bloodshed of D-Day or Iwo Jima or the North African invasion of Operation Torch, surely a move that would be classified by modern media as a misdirection from the war waiting in Europe in much the same manner as Iraq has been deemed as a sidetrack to the war on terror (never mind that documents slowly coming out seem to justify the concerns about Saddam’s links radical Islamist terror) .

That said, the media sold advertisements and their version of events. Let the chips fall where they may; it is our grandchildren who will have to live (or die) with the outcome.

3/27/2006

Moussaoui Says He Was to Hijack 5th 9/11 Plane

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:24 pm

Prosecutors received a huge gift today in the sentencing phase of would-be terrorist and mass murderer Zacarias Moussaoui — the defendant’s own testimony.

Laying out a stunning new version of his terrorist mission, al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testified Monday that he was supposed to hijack a fifth jetliner on Sept. 11, 2001, with would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid and fly it into the White House.

Testifying against the advice of his court-appointed lawyers, Moussaoui shocked the courtroom. Jurors who will decide whether he is executed or imprisoned for life were almost motionless during his nearly three hours on the stand. They didn’t look down to take notes; all eyes locked on the bearded 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent – the only person charged in this country in connection with 9/11.

His testimony started in familiar territory. He denied that he was supposed to be the so-called missing 20th hijacker of Sept. 11. He testified he was not intended to be a fifth terrorist on United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed into a Pennsylvania field – the only plane hijacked by four instead of five terrorists.

Then came the shock.

Defense attorney Gerald Zerkin: “Before your arrest, were you scheduled to pilot a plane as part of the 9/11 operation?”

Moussaoui: “Yes. I was supposed to pilot a plane to hit the White House.”

He said he didn’t know details of the other hijackings set for that day except that planes were to be flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center.

I’m not necessarily sold on the truthfulness of Moussaoui’s new claims; instead, I suspect he has resigned himself to the futility of his position and, through self-aggrandizement, is hoping to at least achieve a degree of martyrdom. Indeed, it seems his testimony today may lock up the death penalty.

Prosecutor [Rob] Spencer asked: “You knew on Aug. 16 that other al-Qaida members were in the United States?”

“That’s correct,” Moussaoui replied.

Spencer: “You knew there was a pending plot?”

“That’s correct.”

Spencer: “You lied because you wanted to conceal that you were a member of al-Qaida?”

“That’s correct.”

“You lied so the plan could go forward?”

“That’s correct.”

To get a death penalty, the government must show that an action of Moussaoui’s led directly to at least one of the nearly 3,000 deaths on 9/11. Prosecutors have said the act was his lying to the FBI after his Aug. 16, 2001, arrest, lies that they contend prevented the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration from detecting the plot and saving at least one life.

The man wants to die a death to be celebrated by our enemies. Cool, let’s light this candle.

Quote of the Week, 27 MAR 06

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:41 pm

To put it bluntly, mushy descriptions of peace operations as humanitarian, and neutral efforts to promote peace, stability and motherhood don’t go far enough to explain why so many soldiers die in them or why they so strain the resources of intervening states.

—Colonel Robert C. Owen

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