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Monday December 1, 2003

Here's a new blogger from Iraq. He works for the CPA as a civillian and has some interesting "inside the Green Zone" ruminations. Here are his takes on recent visits by the President and Sen Clinton:

The President visited with the troops in Iraq for Thanksgiving. The troops loved it and it did the President good too. There was absolutely no advance notice except to a select handful of people in Iraq. The Thanksgiving visit by POTUS was the right thing to do.

Almost as surprising, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) visited Baghdad on Friday. In fact I ran into her here at the CPA. She seemed disappointed at the cool reception she got at the CPA mess hall for lunch. Most just stared silently. A few left. I imagine she was expecting a rush of well wishers: "Look. It's Hillary!" Sorry, Hillary but no, it ain't gonna happen here.

The Washington Post picks up on the negative spin of the Bush visit in the middle east media. Here's a typical note:

The extraordinary security precautions, wrote Abdul Hamid Ahmad, Editor in Chief of the Gulf News "illustrated lack of confidence and fear of the situation in Iraq."

The two and half-hour visit "was more like an infiltration by thieves than a morale-lifting trip by a president," said the new site, based in the United Arab Emirates. "How can Bush's troops now trust their ability to stay in Iraq if their own President's [sic] comes to them panicking under the cover of night?"

Unfortunately for this guy, now he'll have to move to the South. Can't stay in Springfield, IL with a name like that. (and I thought Boutros Boutros Ghali was redundant --ed.)

Seems like things are heating up on the Hill regarding the case of Lt. Col Allen West who fired his pistol in order to get his Iraqi prisoner to "spill the beans" on an impending terrorist operation. My opinion is summed up as follows: If Lt. Col West is determined to have violated policy regarding treatment of prisoners, then he should be dealt with accordingly. Of course when determining how he is to be "dealt with", such mitigating factors as a foiled terrorist operation, possibly saving American lives should be taken into account. It should not be swept under the rug.

Now, one can agree or disagree as to whether or not our policy is correct. Perhaps we are coddling some of these potential terrorists, perhaps we should turn more over to the Iraqi police. These ideas are debatable. But, to my mind, when one goes beyond established policy, that must be dealt with. We are a nation of laws. Whenever we turn a blind eye to these laws we go one step closer to anarchy. Of course we can (and do, and should) disagree over what the laws should be (that's part of the healthy debate that makes this country so strong) but, once established, we should all seek their enforcement. That's why I'm discouraged to see this from the Republicans:

At least one member of Congress, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a member of the Armed Services Committee, said during a Nov. 19 committee hearing that the commander, Lt. Col. Allen West, should be "commended for his actions and interrogation."

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., the committee's chairman, agreed during the hearing on Army issues, which involved Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker and acting Secretary Les Brownlee.

"I think you're quite correct in your observation," Warner said of Inhofe's comment. "All congressional offices have a high level of concern about this case."

The same week, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calf., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., chairman of the committee's Subcommittee on Total Force, expressed concern about the case in a letter to Brownlee.

"We are highly disturbed by media accounts that the Army is beginning criminal proceedings against Lt. Col. Allen B. West for taking actions in Iraq that he believed were necessary to protect the lives and safety of his men, and which he apparently reported to his chain of command," the congressmen wrote. "To us, such actions if accurately reported do not appear to be those of a criminal."

I think it's clear by now that the French are bogged down in a quagmire. Excerpt,

Hundreds of protesters, some with machetes and knives, besieged the French military base in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan on Monday, a day after soldiers called on the French to quit the war-riven country's front line.

French troops fired teargas and stun grenades as up to 500 protesters, attacking in waves, tried to storm their base but a French army spokesman said the youths had not been dispersed.