All Military Components Meet, Exceed Recruiting Goals

The first month of fiscal 2008 was a success for all active and reserve military components.

In a meeting with Pentagon reporters today, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said all components met or exceeded their recruiting goals for October.

On the active-duty side, the Army made 101 percent of its goal of 4,500, with 4,564 recruits. The Navy made 100 percent of its goal of 2,788 recruits. The Marine Corps made 102 percent of its goal of 2,720, with 2,788 enlisting. The Air Force made 100 percent of its goal of 2,656.

Bad News Dries Up In Iraq

The Investor Business Daily Had This on News From Iraq:

For the first time in months - in fact, since the U.S. troop surge was put in place in June - coverage of U.S. policy in Iraq does not rank among the top 10 news stories as tracked by the Project for Excellence in Journalism.

The percentage of news stories devoted to events in Iraq, moreover, has shrunk to 3%, the lowest since September and barely half the 2007 average. In only three other weeks this year has Iraq coverage been so scanty.

All this in a period when word managed to get out through other sources that:

U.S. troop casualties have plunged to their lowest level since February 2004, as rocket, mortar and suicide bomb attacks have all hit two-year lows.

Iraqi civilian casualties are down two-thirds from their peak in December 2006.

Iraq's government and the U.S. military say al-Qaida has been vanquished in Baghdad, as thousands of Iraqi families return to the capital to rebuild their lives.

Iraq's government has signed up 20,000 Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites to fight foreign terrorists.

The U.S. has announced it will remove 3,000 troops, with more to follow in coming months, as the wind-down of the surge begins.

But so it goes with anti-war news organizations that aggressively report setbacks in Iraq but give short, if any, shrift to the positive developments.

It's to the point where some news observers use the absence of news about Iraq as a bellwether of U.S. progress - the old "no news is good news" indicator.

As sufficient as that may be for more savvy news consumers, the question remains of how Iraq coverage - or noncoverage, in the current context - affects attitudes in the population as a whole.

In other words, how can Americans led to believe the war in Iraq is a "mess" or "mistake" or "quagmire" (to use terms repeated often in media accounts) ever see it differently if they hear or read nothing to the contrary?

Saddam Could Have Had Nukes By 2007

The Flopping Aces Blog had this story:

This week there were two news stories that re-opened an incredibly dangerous question about Saddam Hussein and nuclear weapons. Before examining those stories, it's important to reflect on the historical facts regarding Saddam Hussein and claims from five years ago that he was a nuclear threat to stability in the region and the world.

"How quickly Iraq will obtain its first nuclear weapon depends on when it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material.

If Baghdad acquires sufficient fissile material from abroad it could make a nuclear weapon within several months to a year.
Without such material from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 to 2009, owing to inexperience in building and operating centrifuge facilities to produce highly enriched uranium and challenges in procuring the necessary equipment and expertise.

Most agencies believe that Saddam's personal interest in and Iraq's aggressive attempts to obtain high-strength aluminum tubes for centrifuge rotor - as well as Iraq's attempts to acquire magnets, high-speed balancing machines, and machine tools - provide compelling evidence that Saddam is reconstituting a uranium enrichment effort for Baghdad's nuclear weapons program. (DOE agrees that reconstitution of the nuclear program is underway but assesses that the tubes probably are not part of the program.)"

Baghdad Comes Alive

First the NY Times and now Newsweek gets into the act:

For the first time in years, the Iraqi capital is showing signs of life.

For the first time, however, returning to Baghdad after an absence of four months, I can actually say that things do seem to have gotten better, and in ways that may even be durable. "It's hard to believe," says a friend named Fareed, who has also gone and come back over the years to find the situation always worse, "but this time it's really not." Such words are uttered only grudgingly by those such as me, who have been disappointed again and again by Iraq, where a pessimist is merely someone who has had to endure too many optimists. It doesn't help that no sooner have I written these words than my cup of coffee spills as a massive explosion shakes our building-the first blast near our place in weeks, and the more shocking for that. We grab body armor and helmets and await the all-clear. It is "only" an IED near the entrance to the Green Zone, targeting a U.S. convoy and killing two civilians and one American soldier.

The explosion is the exception to the rule but one of the reasons the U.S. military is gun-shy about claiming success too soon. IED attacks across the country are at their lowest point since September 2004, down 50 percent just since the surge peaked last summer. There hasn't been a successful suicide car bombing in Baghdad in five weeks, and the few ones in recent months have been small and ineffective. There used to be four a day, many of which claimed scores of lives each.

Al Qaeda in Iraq is starting to look like a spent force, especially in Baghdad. The civil war is in the midst of a huge, though nervous, pause. Most Shiite militias are honoring a truce. Iran appears to have stopped shipping deadly arms to Iraqi militants. The indigenous Sunni insurgency has declared for the Americans across broad swaths of the country, especially in the capital.

Emerging from our bunkers into the Red Zone, I see the results everywhere. Throughout Baghdad, shops and street markets are open late again, taking advantage of the fine November weather. Parks are crowded with strollers, and kids play soccer on the streets. Traffic has resumed its customary epic snarl. The Baghdad Zoo is open, and caretakers have even managed to bring in two lionesses to replace the menagerie that escaped in the early days of the war (and was hunted down by U.S. soldiers). The nearby Funfair in Zawra Park where insurgents used to set up mortar tubes to rocket government ministries, and where a car bombing killed four and wounded 25 on Oct. 15 is back in business. "Just four months ago, you could hardly see a single family here," says Zawra official Hussein Matar. One of our translators succumbed to the tears of his son recently and took him to Zawra for his 9th birthday. It was the boy's first visit to a Baghdad amusement park; the war has robbed him of nearly half his childhood.

"Get Osama" is Prohibited Speech in New York

Stop the ACLU had this interesting post on it's site:

"There's a $25 million reward out for his capture, so it's no secret the United States government wants to get Osama Bin Laden. But when a Long Island man wanted to express that thought on his license plate, he got more than he bargained for. He's the most wanted man in the world, or as President Bush once put it: "He's wanted dead or alive."

Just like the president, Arno Herwerth of Hauppauge on Long Island wants to get "Osama" also, and he's making it know. So when Arno, a retired NYPD sergeant, ordered personalized "Get Osama" license plates from the DMV, he said he thought he was being patriot.

In a letter addressed to Herwerth, the DMV said they "prohibit the issuance of any license plate combination that is, 'in the discretion of the commissioner, obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic group or patently offensive.'"

Arno points out, however, there is a little something called "free speech" in the country he so adamantly believes he is supporting. He claims the president's September 2001 speech in which he announced Bin Laden was "wanted dead or alive," should not be forgotten, and if it was okay for the Commander In Chief to say, then the same words on license plates should be permitted.

Read More Here

Shocker: NY Times Confirms Progress,Optimisim in Baghdad

The following excerpt is from an article published in the New York Times in which they report that security has improved, progress has been made and Iraqis are optimistic about their future, thanks to the surge. Oh how it must have pained the editors to have to publish this story. Not that they don't try to dampen it mind you, you'll see what I mean when you read it in it's entirety.

The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad's streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.

As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country.

It's True: Iraq is a Quagmire

But the real story is not something you have heard

Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a great piece on Sunday, November 18th, which just about sums up the real story in Iraq !

We're floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it's too late to change it. Our resources have been squandered, our best people killed, we're hated by the natives and our reputation around the world is circling the drain. We must withdraw.

No, I'm not channeling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I'm channeling Osama bin Laden, for whom the war in Iraq has been a catastrophe. Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. But once he was toppled, al-Qaida's chieftains decided to make Iraq the central front in the global jihad against the Great Satan.

"The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this third world war, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation," Osama bin Laden said in an audiotape posted on Islamic Web sites in December 2004. "It is raging in the land of the Two Rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate."

Jihadis, money and weapons were poured into Iraq. All for naught. Al-Qaida has been driven from every neighborhood in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the U.S. commander there, said Nov. 7. This follows the expulsion of al-Qaida from two previous "capitals" of its Islamic Republic of Iraq, Ramadi and Baquba.

Al-Qaida is evacuating populated areas and is trying to establish hideouts in the Hamrin mountains in northern Iraq, with U.S. and Iraqi security forces, and former insurgent allies who have turned on them, in hot pursuit. Forty-five al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured in October alone.

Al-Qaida's support in the Muslim world has plummeted, partly because of the terror group's lack of success in Iraq, more because al-Qaida's attacks have mostly killed Muslim civilians.

"Iraq has proved to be the graveyard, not just of many al-Qaida operatives, but of the organization's reputation as a defender of Islam," said StrategyPage.

Read More Here: It's True: Iraq is a Quagmire

Progress, Progress And More Progress in Iraq !

I found this great piece in Ivestor's Business Daily:

News from Iraq gets better by the day, but the media have done their best to downplay the turnaround and congressional Democrats have basically pulled the covers over their heads and pretended it doesn't exist.

There's an eery silence out there about what's going on in Iraq. It's almost as if the silence is, well, intentional. Here are just a few examples of what we're talking about, pulled from last week's developments:

In Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, British Major Gen. Graham Binns said that attacks against British and American forces have plunged 90% since the start of September.

Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki reported that terrorist attacks of all kinds are down almost 80% from last year's peak - thanks directly to the U.S. surge of 30,000 new troops.

Amid growing signs that even Iraq extremists have tired of terrorism and killing, a Sunni religious group closed down the high-profile Muslim Scholars Association because of its ties to terrorists.

U.S. Major Gen. James Simmons, speaking in Baghdad, said Iran's pledges to stop sending weapons and explosives into Iraq "appear to be holding up." Roadside bombs, the leading killer of U.S. troops, have plunged 52% since March, he added.

Perhaps most touching, according to a report from Michael Yon, who deserves to be the first blogger to win a Pulitzer Prize, Muslims are asking Iraqi Christians to return to help build Iraq.

Iraqi Muslims recently crammed into St. John's Catholic church in Baghdad to attend a Christian service. According to Yon, "Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. 'Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.' "

Finally, there's this from Douglas Halaspaska, a reporter on the Web site U.S. Cavalry ON Point: "I came to Ramadi expecting a war and what I found was a city that has grown from the carnage, and all its inhabitants - both Iraqi and American - healing. I was not expecting what I found in Iraq ... it was better than all of that."

Again, all this has taken place just in recent days, weeks and months. The positive news has become simply overwhelming.

Which makes it all the more curious why major newspapers and network TV news programs can lead with a barrage of news out of Iraq when things there go bad, but can't seem to find the space or time when things turn good. As the bad news dries up, their interest in the good remains nil.

It takes people like Yon, whose online webzine can be found at http://michaelyon-online.com, to tell us what's going on - not the highly paid prima donnas whose past reporting has made them so invested in defeat that they can no longer afford to tell us the truth.

Stranger still is the Democratic Party's response, as reflected in its recent actions in Congress.

We expected a certain amount of sheepishness on their part. After all, wasn't it just Sept. 11 that Hillary Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus his progress report on Iraq required "a willing suspension of disbelief"? What we didn't expect was all the self-delusion and denial that now seems to mark Congressional Democrats' efforts on Iraq.

The Democrats are denying our troops the funds they need to finish their job by playing games like Friday's, when they tried to tie $50 billion in funding to massive troop withdrawals, beginning almost immediately.

The measure failed in the Senate by seven votes. But the question remains: Why would they do such a thing in a war America is on the verge of winning?

Iraq attacks down 55 percent

Violence is down 55 percent in Iraq since a U.S.-Iraqi security operation began this summer, U.S. officials said Sunday.

The officials cautioned it was too early to credit Tehran with the recent lull in overall violence, despite recent optimism that Iran was stemming its support for Shiite militia fighters.

"It's unclear to us what role the Iranians might have had in these developments, if any," said Philip Reeker, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, at a news conference in the U.S. guarded Green Zone.

"It's difficult to read trends in reductions," he said. "To draw direct lines from that data to say that there are fewer attacks and conclude that there's a particular reason for it. Vis-a-vis Iran's action, that is something we're not yet prepared to do."

Washington has accused Iran of training, arming and funding Shiite extremists inside Iraq. But in recent weeks, U.S. officials have said Tehran appears to have halted the flow of arms across its border into Iraq.

Overall, attacks in Iraq have fallen 55 percent since nearly 30,000 additional U.S. reinforcements arrived in Iraq by June, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman. Some areas are at their lowest levels of violence since the summer of 2005, he said.

Iraqi civilian casualties are down 60 percent across the country since June, and the figure for Baghdad was even better - 75 percent, Smith said.