I’m Grateful We Didn’t Know About This When It Happened

On Tuesday The Daily Telegraph posted a story about some events in the White House during the Clinton presidency.

The article reports:

For several months during Bill Clinton’s administration, a former top military officer says the White House lost the card with a set of numbers for opening the briefcase containing the codes for a nuclear attack.

Gen Hugh Shelton, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, said in his new memoir, “Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior” that “the codes were actually missing for months. That’s a big deal – a gargantuan deal.”

…A similar claim was made by Lt Col Robert Patterson, a former aide, in a book published seven years ago. He was one of the men who carried the briefcase, known as the “football”, and he said that the morning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke that he made a routine request of the president to present the card so that he could provide an updated version.

“He thought he just placed them upstairs,” Lt Col Patterson recalled.

“We called upstairs, we started a search around the White House for the codes, and he finally confessed that he in fact misplaced them. He couldn’t recall when he had last seen them.”

The article also notes:

Former president Jimmy Carter was rumoured to have once left the “biscuit” in a suit that was sent to the dry cleaners.

Please follow the link above to the article–there are some very interesting quotes at the end. Meanwhile, it seems as if the people concerned about Donald Trump having the nuclear codes might want to check the skeletons in their own closets.

Attempting To Work Together

Partisanship in Washington is a way of life, but it can also be a serious problem when there is a crisis. It would be nice to believe that both sides of the aisle can work together if they have to in a crisis. Unfortunately, we may be about to find out if that is possible.

Fox News is reporting today that the entire U.S. Senate has been invited to the White House on Wednesday for a briefing on the North Korean situation.

The article reports:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats plan to provide the update to lawmakers.

It is rare for the entire Senate to be invited to such a briefing. 

Spicer (White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer) clarified that while the event will take place on the White House campus, it is technically a Senate briefing and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is the one who convened it.

The briefing, first reported by Reuters, was confirmed after President Trump earlier spoke to the leaders of both China and Japan.

I believe that this is an attempt at working together, and working together is desperately needed right now.

The article concludes:

On Monday, Trump also had lunch with ambassadors of countries on the U.N. Security Council. Ahead of the meeting, Trump called for “big reforms” at the U.N. and criticizing its handling of recent events in Syria and North Korea – but said it has “tremendous potential.”

“You just don’t see the United Nations, like, solving conflicts. I think that’s going to start happening now,” he said. 

It is going to be an interesting year.

 

Congress Needs To Rethink Its Priorities

Politico posted an article today about the appointment of Joe Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The article reports:

The Obama administration is counting on Dunford to take the lead in pushing a series of proposals designed to shrink the pay and benefits of troops as the Pentagon wrestles with the need to rein in its personnel costs.

There was a related article in yesterday’s New Bern Sun Journal.

The article in the Sun Journal explains where some of the cuts will take place. Military personnel who retire after 20 years will receive 40 percent of their basic pay rather than the 50 percent they currently receive. Military personnel who serve for 12 years will also receive a retirement benefit. I don’t know whose idea this was, but they need to rethink it. First of all, does the person who came up with this plan understand the sacrifices a soldier and his family make during that twenty years? Do they understand that a 40-something year old man retiring from the military will begin his business career at the bottom of the ladder competing with much younger men? Why are they taking money away from people who serve twenty years and giving money to people who serve only twelve? There is also an alternative 401k-type retirement plan proposed for new military members. I am fine with that as long as the benefits for those currently serving are not altered. The government signed a contract with our current military that promised certain benefits during their service and afterwards. Congress does not have the right to viod that contract.

Politico reports some of the other changes:

An even more controversial proposal, put forward by an independent commission, would overhaul the military health care system, known as TRICARE, so that dependents and retirees would choose from private insurance options that would be subsidized, rather than have the care provided through a government-run system.

I don’t oppose taking the health care system away from the government–I do oppose increasing the cost to military members, retirees, and their families.

There are better places to cut the federal budget. We have an all volunteer military force that includes many very dedicated people. Cutting their benefits will impact the number and quality of the people who join the military in the future.

Before we cut the benefits we give to those who serve in our military, let’s take a really good look at the perks we provide to Congress.

The Other Side Of The Story

I have posted a number of articles and comments by people opposed to American intervention in Syria. Now I would like to post an article expressing support for American intervention.

On Thursday, Bloomberg News posted an article by Fouad Ajami detailing his reasons for supporting American action in Syria. Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is the author of “The Syrian Rebellion,” published by Hoover Press.

The article reminds us:

In his first term, his four principal foreign policy advisers — the secretaries of state and defense, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — supported arming the rebellion in Syria: He overrode them. Earlier this year, he himself promised the rebels weapons that were never delivered.

History will record for Obama that it was Bashar al-Assad who dragged him into this fight. Obama had made much of the distinction between wars of choice and wars of necessity. He is said to have pondered theories of just and unjust wars. To this Syrian ordeal, he came late in the hour, after the barbarisms, after the veritable destruction of Syria’s nationhood, after the jihadis had carved out their emirates. It doesn’t matter much whether this entanglement is one of choice or of necessity. This is only partly a hand that Barack Obama was dealt. To a greater extent, he has shaped the conflict with the passivity he opted for in a standoff with a petty dictator who should have been thwarted long before.

The argument here is that had America intervened at the beginning, it would have been easier to shape the rebel forces, hopefully influencing them toward democracy.

When Bashar al-Assad eventually falls (and I believe he will), there will be few tears shed anywhere. However, there does not seem to be a coalition willing to remove him. Mr. Ajami points out that one of the problems in the Middle East is that dictators get attacked, survive, and claim victory, even after having everything around them destroyed in the attack.

Because of this, Mr. Ajami suggests:

The Syrian regime must then be denied the dividends of an inconclusive military campaign. The regime itself — its barons, its secret police, its elite military units and its air bases — ought to be legitimate targets, and the same is true of Assad’s presidential palace. There should be conviction and courage in this fight with the Assad dictatorship.

President Obama has given no indications that he is capable of conviction and courage. There has been so much dithering in deciding how to deal with Syria, it makes my head hurt.

Again, I wanted to post an opinion in support of American intervention in Syria. Fouad Ajami is someone I respect and who has a very complete knowledge of how the Middle East works. However, I am still not convinced. We didn’t do too well in Egypt when we supported the ousting of a dictator–we got the Muslim Brotherhood. Unfortunately, it will be years before peace reigns in Egypt. Are we ready to do that again? It seems that all America accomplishes with her good intentions in the Middle East is to destabilize the region. Until I am convinced that American action in Syria will actually move the region toward peace and democracy, I can’t support action.

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Searching For The Truth

Yesterday CNS News posted a story questioning the accuracy of some of the Congressional testimony regarding the attack at Benghazi.
The article reports:

An attorney whose firm represents two Benghazi whistleblowers said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lied to the Senate when he said there was never a “stand down” order during the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11, 2012.

This contradicts the testimony of Gregory Hicks, former number two State Department diplomat in Libya. According to the article:

Hicks told Congress that after the first attack, a security team left Tripoli for Benghazi with two military personnel and that four members of a special forces team in Tripoli wanted to go in a second wave but were told to stand down.

I have previously reported on this aspect of the story (rightwinggranny.com). Despite the fact that the attack was more than nine months ago, these questions about what happened that night remain unanswered. I believe that all Americans are entitled to answers–especially the family members of those who lost their lives their night.

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If It Were Not Horrible It Would Be Funny

I have already chosen the quote of the week, but I wonder if I can put the following quote up for next week’s Quote of the Week.

Scott Johnson posted a story at Power Line yesterday about some of the recent revelations about Benghazi. Included in that story was the following quote:

“They’ve tried to point a finger at people more senior than where we found the decisions were made,” Pickering said of Clinton’s critics. On the other hand, according to Pickering, they also found it unnecessary to chat with her because she had already accepted “the full responsibility.”

Let me get this straight–the Accountability Review Board (ARB), led by former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, did not feel it was necessary to interview Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because she had already accepted “the full responsibility.” Therefore, it was not important to find out what she knew, when she knew it, or what decisions she was responsible for on the night of the attack on Benghazi or before that night. Wow! How many teenagers would welcome a deal like that?!

The article at Power Line reminds us of another aspect of the ARB:

How did the estimable men of the ARB miss Gregory Hicks in the information gathering phase of their work? The ARB harks back to Richard Nixon’s desired resolution of the controversy over production of the Watergate tapes: The Stennis Compromise. In lieu of producing the tapes, Nixon proposed, bring in some eminent but hearing-impaired older man to check out the tapes and report back. The Stennis Compromise was laughed out of consideration. Only Democrats can get away with something like that.

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Retired Military Speak Out Against The Law Of The Sea Treaty

This is the letter sent to Senator John Kerry by a number of retired senior military leaders regarding the Law Of The Sea Treaty:

June 14, 2012
 
Hon. John Kerry
444 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0802
 
Dear Chairman Kerry:
 
Much is being made at the moment of the support of the U.S. military for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which is better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). In your Foreign Relations Committee hearings to date, you have invited testimony from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and six other serving four-star commanders. We wish respectfully to challenge the perception that military personnel uniformly support this accord by expressing our strongly held belief that LOST’s ratification would prove inimical both to the national security interests and sovereignty of the United States.
 
This conclusion is ineluctable given five facts about the Law of the Sea Treaty:
  1. President Ronald Reagan recognized that the terms and institutional arrangements inherent in the treaty—including, but not limited to, seabed mining—were adverse to this country insofar as they were intended and designed to establish and empower a supranational government. For these reasons, he refused to sign this accord. And, as his Counselor and Attorney General, Edwin Meese, has observed, those defects continue to afflict LOST—despite suggestions to the contrary, based on false claims that a separate agreement signed by some but not all LOST signatories satisfactorily addressed Mr. Reagan’s concerns.
  2. There is already ample reason for Americans—in and out of uniform—to be leery of entrusting more power and authority to the United Nations. Yet, our membership in LOST would dangerously empower that organization. After all, this treaty creates an executive, legislature and judiciary that are supposed to govern seventy-percent of the world’s surface. And LOST’s institutions are intertwined with the UN system and would be capable of raising revenues. Given the UN track record of corruption and hostility to America and its allies, it would be reckless to endorse such arrangements, let alone subject ourselves to them.
  3. Of particular concern is the obligation under LOST to submit any and all disputes to binding arbitration or judicial action by entities that are inherently rigged against us. The treaty’s expansive mandate is so broad—involving virtually anything affecting the world’s oceans—that it is an invitation to UN and other nations’ interference in our affairs on an unprecedented scale.
  4. That prospect has particular implications for the national security were the United States to become a party to the Law of the Sea Treaty. As such, we would be required to make myriad commitments at odds with our military practices and national interests. These include agreeing to reserve the oceans exclusively for “peaceful purposes.”  Contentions that we need not worry about such formal commitments because we, as a maritime nation with a powerful navy, are not expected to be bound by them will surely prove unfounded.
  5. The same is certain to apply to assurances that the exemption of “military activities” will preclude LOST from having harmful effects on our armed forces and their necessary operations on, over, under and from the seas. Since the treaty does not include an agreed definition of what constitutes such activities, disputes are sure to arise—disputes we will be obliged to resolve through one LOST mechanism or another. [In the attachment, Judge Advocate General Captain Vince Averna (USN, Ret.) lays out a number of the treaty’s provisions that may invite such challenges.]   
One example of how untenable such assurances will prove can be found in the area of anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Of necessity, ASW training to be effective must necessarily replicate actual combat operations and thus involve the periodic use of high-power sonars and explosives. Unfortunately, some assert that these training activities cause harm to ocean wildlife, like dolphins and whales, and have sought to use judicial means to restrict or preclude them.
 
We must, therefore, recall that, during the Clinton administration, Secretary of State Warren Christopher called LOST “the strongest comprehensive environmental treaty now in existence or likely to emerge for quite some time.” That being the case, the U.S. armed forces must reckon with the prospect that what they consider to be essential and exempted military activities will be treated under LOST as environmental predation very much within the jurisdiction of its Tribunal and arbitration panels. The effect of adverse rulings, especially if enforced by federal judges, could prove devastating to our power projection and other defense capabilities.
 
For all these reasons (among others), it is our considered professional military judgment that the United States should remain unencumbered by state-party status in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea—free to observe those provisions we chose to and unencumbered by the others. We have demonstrated in the three decades since President Reagan refused to sign LOST that as a non-party great power we can exercise great and essential influence on matters involving the oceans without being relegated to one vote among 160-plus, obliged to abide by the will and whims of a generally hostile majority without the benefit of a veto to protect American national interests. There is no basis for contending that we will be better off if we have a so-called “seat at the table” under such circumstances.
 
We hope our insights and conclusions will be made part of the record of your Committee’s deliberations on this matter and would welcome an opportunity to participate in such deliberations if that would be helpful to you and your colleagues.
 
Sincerely,
 
Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, USA (Ret.)
Former Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Forces Command;
Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
 
Adm. Thomas B. Hayward, USN (Ret.)
Former Chief of Naval Operations
 
Adm. G.E.R. Kinnear II, USN (Ret.)
Former U.S. Member of the NATO Military Committee
 
Gen. Richard L. Lawson, USAF (Ret.)  
Former Deputy Commander-in Chief, Headquarters U.S. European Command
 
Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet
 
Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, USAF (Ret.)
Former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, USAF
 
Vice Adm. Robert Monroe, USN (Ret.)
Former Director of Navy Research, Development Testing and Evaluation
 
Gen. Carl E. Mundy, Jr., USMC (Ret.)
Former Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps
 
Adm. Leighton “Snuffy” Smith, USN (Ret.)
Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Navy Forces Europe and
NATO Allied Forces Southern Europe
 
cc:  Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
 
The letter and more information on the letter are posted at the website of the Center For Security Police website.
 
 
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Changes In The American Drone Policy

Last week Kimberly Dozier, an Associated Press intelligence writer, posted an article at Google.com about recent changes in the American drone policy. The changes alter the process of targeting terrorist leaders for drone attacks that had been in effect since 2009. The changes swap the old military-run review process for a new process which involves consulting the State Department, the Pentagon, and other agencies when compiling a list of drone targets. White House counter-terror chief John Brennan‘s staff oversees the process.

The article reports:

Previously, targets were first discussed in meetings run by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen at the time, with Brennan being just one of the voices in the debate.

The new Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, has been more focused on shrinking the U.S. military as the Afghan war winds down and less on the covert wars overseas.

With Dempsey less involved, Brennan believed there was an even greater need to draw together different agencies’ viewpoints, showing the American public that al-Qaida targets are chosen only after painstaking and exhaustive debate, the senior administration official said.

But some of the officials carrying out the policy are equally leery of “how easy it has become to kill someone,” one said. The U.S. is targeting al-Qaida operatives for reasons such as being heard in an intercepted conversation plotting to attack a U.S. ambassador overseas, the official said. Stateside, that conversation could trigger an investigation by the Secret Service or FBI.

Defense Department spokesman George Little said the department was “entirely comfortable with the process by which American counterterrorism operations are managed.

The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.

I am not particularly comfortable with the new arrangement. The State Department has different goals than the military, and in the past they have not hesitated to work against the interests of a President they disagreed with philosophically. I also don’t like the idea of putting an unelected, unaccountable civilian person in charge of a military program. We need to remember that the drone program is a targeted assassination program–it is being used to kill terrorists. It also eliminates the possibility of capturing terrorists and gathering intelligence from them.

 

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