Intel-Dump


Admin note: I'm traveling for Memorial Day weekend and will be away from both my laptop and Intel Dump. Please come back on Tuesday, June 1st.

Update: My e-mail account went haywire over the Memorial Day weekend, deleting a number of messages and bouncing others. If you sent me something, please resend it. Thanks.
Total Information Awareness lives... again
Remember Total Information Awareness? Some called it a spooky way to impose Big Brother monitoring on American citizens; others called it a necessary tool to sift volumes of data for the proverbial "needle in a haystack". In either case, Congress torpedoed the program in response to criticism from the right and left... or did it?

Robert Pear reports in this morning's New York Times on an extensive survey of federal government "data mining" efforts that mimic many of the features in TIA that caused so much alarm. These programs don't fall under the Congressional act which killed TIA, because that statutory language was written quite narrowly. The GAO survey is scheduled to be released today.
In canvassing federal agencies, the accounting office found that 52 were systematically sifting through computer databases. These agencies reported 199 data mining projects, of which 68 were planned and 131 were in operation. At least 122 of the 199 projects used identifying information like names, e-mail addresses, Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers.

The survey provides the first authoritative estimate of the extent of data mining by the government. It excludes most classified projects, so the actual numbers are likely to be much higher.

The Defense Department made greatest use of the technique, with 47 data mining projects to track everything from the academic performance of Navy midshipmen to the whereabouts of ship parts and suspected terrorists.

Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Democrat of Hawaii, who requested the report by the accounting office, said: "I am disturbed by the high number of data mining activities in the federal government involving personal information. The government collects and uses Americans' personal information and shares it with other agencies to an astonishing degree, raising serious privacy concerns."
Analysis: TIA included more than just data mining, although that's a euphemism which could include everything from mere information gathering to actual "non-obvious relationship analysis" (NORA for short). So it's not entirely true that this is a rebirth of TIA, or that all of the same civil liberties concerns apply. However, some of them do, and we should be cautious as we proceed with the development of these new technologies. In an age of Googling and Lexis public records searches, information privacy is already a precious commodity. We may not want to cheapen it more.
A picture that's worth a thousand words
One of my readers forwarded me a link to the March edition of The Utah Sheriff, a quarterly newsletter for the Utah Sheriffs' Association. On page 6 of the newsletter, this photograph appears depicting Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz touring the Abu Ghraib prison with Lane McCotter, Gary DeLand and BG Janis Karpinski. (The fifth guy in the back looks to me like NYT reporter Eric Schmitt, but it could also be a security guy; I've only met Mr. Schmitt once at a Toyota dealership in Alexandria two years ago.) The caption from the photo reads ""Lane McCotter briefing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, on a tour of the death house at Abu Ghraib Prison, south of Baghdad."


The exact date on the picture is unknown, however the New York Times
reports that Mr. McCotter left Iraq on October 1, 2003, to return to the states. The newsletter implies that it was taken during the summer of 2003.

I'm not sure what to make of this photo, or what it says about the Deputy Defense Secretary's involvement at Abu Ghraib. It's certainly possible this is simply what it shows -- a senior Pentagon official touring a detention facility. Additionally, Abu Ghraib was where the Hussein regime committed many of its worst human rights abuses, so it does make sense as a stop for the DepSecDef. But it sure raises some questions, doesn't it? Here are a few I'd like to see answered:

- What exactly was Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz doing at Abu Ghraib in summer 2003? Was he involved with the prison at all, or was this just tourism like the photo caption says?

- Does this picture help corroborate the latest Sy Hersh story, namely, that the chain of command for the special-access program "Copper Green" ran straight from Abu Ghraib's personnel to the Pentagon?

- What was BG Karpinski's role in all of this, and why hasn't she been prosecuted yet? This photo may undercut her assertion that she was cut out of the loop.

More to follow.

Update I: Apparently, that is NYT reporter Eric Schmitt in the photo. I did some digging in the archives, and found a story from Mr. Schmitt that he filed from Iraq during this timeframe. Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz took a trip to Iraq in July 2003, and it looks like Mr. Schmitt accompanied him during that visit. This excerpt appeared in an International Herald Tribune story (seconded from the NY Times) dated July 23, 2003:
Yet much of Wolfowitz's trip has the feel of being stage-managed to support his long-stated views. Reporters joined him on a tour of a graveyard in Hilla, where 3,000 bodies were unearthed from shallow pits. He led another tour through the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, where thousands of Iraqis were tortured and executed. Throughout the trip he referred to Saddam as a tyrant," killer" and sadist."
So... one question to ask is whether Mr. Wolfowitz did more at Abu Ghraib in July 2003 than just lead a tour of the prison? Did he meet with intelligence officials or MPs there? Did he get a status report on the production of intel at that facility? Did that report influence him to initiate the Copper Green program? Or was that special-access program already underway, and the purpose of Mr. Wolfowitz' visit to check on it? A lot of the answers to these questions are being kept quiet for now. But I have a feeling that the defense attorneys for the 6 MPs about to face courts martial for Abu Ghraib will do everything they can to find the answers, and that we (the public) will likely learn about these facts through their discoveries.

Update II: I missed it before, but the same NY Times report above indicates that Mr. McCotter has been investigated for past transgressions relating to prison abuse, to include sexual and physical abuse.
... the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.

The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country's criminal justice system.
It's not clear what, exactly, Mr. McCotter was hired to do at Abu Ghraib. But I agree with my reader (who e-mailed me this story) that he was playing some important role, by virtue of the fact that he was briefing a deputy cabinet officer. In the military hierarchy, lieutenants rarely brief generals and junior staffers rarely brief cabinet officers. It looks like Mr. McCotter was helping the 800th MP Brigade run prison operations at Abu Ghraib, from this picture and the NYT report, and he was apparently being well-compensated for it too. I'm not sure why a Military Police internment/resettlement unit needs coaching on how to do its job, or why we would pay someone to do this when we have federal correctional officials who can act as advisers too. More questions that should be asked and answered...
More on civilian contractors at Abu Ghraib
Questions linger about how the government will deal with contractors who may have exceeded their contractual authority — and the bounds of the law

Wednesday's papers contain a few new developments relating to the civilian contractors working at Abu Ghraib. Two corporations appear to have provided linguistic and interrogation support for detention and intelligence operations there — CACI Corp. and Titan Corp. There is a great deal of speculation right now as to what will happen to these corporations, as well as their employees, for their apparent misconduct.

The New York Times has a pair of articles on the subject, starting with a report about one of the civilian contractors and his denial of the allegations surrounding Abu Ghraib. John B. Israel, an Iraqi-American from Southern California, denies that he was involved with these abuses, and has not even hired an attorney to rebut them or defend himself.
Mr. Israel, who was born in Baghdad in 1955, was one of three Iraqi-Americans working as translators at Abu Ghraib. The Army report on the abuses described him as "either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib."

On Monday, his employer, SOS Interpreting, with offices in New York and suburban Washington, called Mr. Israel here for talks. That same evening, SOS issued its first statement about Mr. Israel, saying simply that the company, a subcontractor for the Titan Corporation for the work in Iraq, "fully intends to cooperate with the Army and with Titan" in the investigations. SOS said it would have nothing more to say.

Almost nothing was known about Mr. Israel before now. Among a raft of documents from the Army investigation, obtained by The New York Times, is a brief statement by Mr. Israel in which he denies any knowledge of the abuses. In it he says he arrived in Iraq on Oct. 14 and served as a translator for military intelligence. Asked if he had "witnessed any acts of abuse," he wrote: "No I have not."

Ms. Israel said her husband was "just a translator" and knew nothing of the Abu Ghraib abuses. She said a fellow employee had given his name to investigators. She would not say when he expected to return home, and he could not be reached for comment.
Another interesting report from Adam Liptak of the New York Times discusses some of the possible sanctions these contractors could face at home and abroad. The contractors implicated in the Abu Ghraib mess could face U.S. criminal charges. (The WP reported Saturday that the Justice Department started a criminal inquiry into one civilian employee at Abu Ghraib.) However, Iraqi courts will probably never get to touch this issue, and it's unclear whether these contractors will face any civil sanctions for their actions.
Prosecuting civilian contractors in United States courts would be "fascinating and enormously complicated," said Deborah N. Pearlstein, director of the U.S. law and security program of Human Rights First.

It is clear, on the other hand, that neither Iraqi courts nor American courts-martial are available.

In June 2003, L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator in Iraq, granted broad immunity to civilian contractors and their employees. They were, he wrote, generally not subject to criminal and civil actions in the Iraqi legal system, including arrest and detention.

That immunity is limited to their official acts under their contracts, and it is unclear whether any abuses alleged can be said to have been such acts. But even unofficial conduct by contractors in Iraq cannot be prosecuted there, Mr. Bremer's order said, without his written permission.

Similarly, under a series of Supreme Court decisions, civilians cannot be court-martialed in the absence of a formal declaration of war. There was no such declaration in the Iraq war.

In theory, the president could establish new military commissions to try civilians charged with offenses in Iraq, said Jordan Paust, a law professor at the University of Houston and a former member of the faculty at the Army's Judge Advocate General's School. The commissions announced by President Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks do not, however, have jurisdiction over American citizens.

That leaves prosecution in United States courts. There, prosecutors might turn to two relatively narrow laws, or a broader one, to pursue their cases.
For more on this subject, see my Slate article "Hired Guns" and my Explainer on disciplining private contractors, as well as this excellent Writ column by Anthony Sebok on the applicability of the Alien Tort Claims Act and Federal Tort Claims Act to this case. Query: Can the Iraqi prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib file a Bivens action in federal court against the U.S. government, just as a U.S. citizen might do if he/she were abused by the FBI? It's not a question I can readily answer, because I don't have a substantive background 42 U.S.C. 1983 or civil rights law, but it's one that may become relevant soon if the Iraqis seem some relief in U.S. courts.

Finally, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has a report on contract irregularities in the agreement that allowed CACI Corp. to send personnel to Iraq to assist in the interrogations at Abu Ghraib. (For non-WSJ subscribers, check out this AP version of the story.) Apparently, the contracts were actually held by the Department of the Interior — not the Army, as previously reported. And, there were other irregularities too, which may have been devised to evade proper oversight.
WASHINGTON — Government auditors are investigating the Army's unusual use of a computer-services contract to hire interrogators for Iraqi prisons from a company with no prior experience in that work.

* * *
To fund the interrogators, the Army paid CACI under a 1998 contract, which is being administered by the Interior Department. Under the contract, CACI supplied computers and associated equipment at military bases world-wide.

But investigators are now asking why the Army chose such an unusual, if not irregular, method of funding, given that the Defense Department already had several outstanding, multimillion-dollar contracts with CACI, which it administered in-house. By being tucked away in a massive agreement administered outside the Pentagon, the program budget for interrogators escaped the notice of Defense Department auditors for several months.

"This evaded all normal forms of oversight," said one Pentagon official familiar with the contract.

* * *
The Interior Department's Mr. Quimby said that at the time, a contract officer noted the unusual salary requests and began combing through government regulations, seeking a job-description category that "was broad enough to include interrogators." The federal government has detailed guidelines that lay out the qualifications and pay grades for hundreds of different contracted positions. But "interrogator" was evidently a job category that neither CACI nor Army contractors had encountered.

Mr. Quimby said the contract officer finally decided that such an interrogator could be allowed under the contract, because he probably worked with computer databases and analyzed information. But both Interior and the Pentagon have had a change of heart. Auditors at both agencies are looking into how CACI determined what pay is appropriate for a private interrogator. For pay purposes, according to one military official familiar with the contract, CACI listed its hired interrogators as different types of computer specialists, a step that may be forbidden under federal regulations.
This is not good for CACI. As this article explains, there are a litany of remedies available to the federal government when it finds improper conduct by government contractors. If the report in the WSJ is accurate, and I presume it is, the company could also face liability under the False Claims Act and other federal procurement regulations. Suffice to say, these practices don't look kosher to me, and government contracting regs and laws are pretty strict when it comes to accounting practices. Ironically, the government may not ultimately prosecute these corporate entities for any of the actual wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib, because the culpability chain is somewhat weak there in my opinion. But I think there's a strong likelihood that the government will prosecute these contractors if there were financial irregularities, because the government typically takes a very hard line on this stuff. More to follow...

Update: Ellen McCarthy adds some details about the Interior Department contracts today in a Washington Post report.
The contract, which is officially called a blanket-purchase agreement and has a $500 million limit, was then reissued by Interior. Blanket-purchase agreements are large, vaguely worded contracts designed to give agencies flexibility and to speed up purchases. Critics say these open-ended contracts allow agencies to skirt public oversight.

A year ago CACI acquired Premier Technology Group. In August, Command Joint Task Force-7, the unit overseeing operations in Iraq, decided it wanted CACI to provide interrogators under the blanket-purchase agreement, and informed Interior of its plan.

Because the blanket-purchase agreement was by that time an Interior contract, an Interior official was required to evaluate the new orders to make sure the work was not "outside the scope" of the contract, said Quimby, and that CACI was charging the government appropriately.

The contract was for technology services, but Interior's contracting officer "was convinced under his own guidelines" that the Army could request CACI's help with interrogations because the order included computer integration and data processing work, Quimby said. Interior thus issued a $19.9 million order for the work.

In December 2003, the contract was used again to hire CACI for counterintelligence support in a deal worth $21.8 million.
To call this irregular would be an understatement. In the government contracts world, there are unconventional ways to do things, such as the authority to purchase services without bidding or the authority to purchase off-the-shelf items. But against those kinds of unconventional contracts, this CACI contract looks quite unorthodox. The problem here is that the government contracts process is supposed to have some measure of transparency built into it. The reason for this is accountability. After all, government contracts are really about taxpayer money — our money — and Congress needs to be able to follow the money to ensure that it's spent properly. I have a feeling that this incident will lead to some action by Congress, and not just by the Armed Services Committees. I think we're going to see some oversight action by the Government Affairs Committees and others in Congress who are interested in these issues, separate from anything directly connected to Abu Ghraib.
"A widespread pattern of abuse"
The New York Times reports this morning on an Army report that details what happened in 37 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan since April 15, 2003. The cases include those ruled "justifiable homicide" deaths, as well as cases where abuse or criminal homicide is suspected. In total, the report appears to support the contention that there were serious problems with prisoner treatment by the Army abroad, and that in many cases, intelligence officers may have gone too far in squeezing prisoners to get intel.
The cases from Iraq date back to April 15, 2003, a few days after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in a Baghdad square, and they extend up to last month, when a prisoner detained by Navy commandos died in a suspected case of homicide blamed on "blunt force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia."

Among previously unknown incidents are the abuse of detainees by Army interrogators from a National Guard unit attached to the Third Infantry Division, who are described in a document obtained by The New York Times as having "forced into asphyxiation numerous detainees in an attempt to obtain information" during a 10-week period last spring.

The document, dated May 5, is a synopsis prepared by the Criminal Investigation Command at the request of Army officials grappling with intense scrutiny prompted by the circulation the preceding week of photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. It lists the status of investigations into three dozen cases, including the continuing investigation into the notorious abuses at Abu Ghraib.

In one of the oldest cases, involving the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan in December 2002, enlisted personnel from an active-duty military intelligence unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., and an Army Reserve military-police unit from Ohio are believed to have been "involved at various times in assaulting and mistreating the detainee."

The Army summary is consistent with recent public statements by senior military officials, who have said the Army is actively investigating nine suspected homicides of prisoners held by Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan in late 2002.

But the details paint a broad picture of misconduct, and show that in many cases among the 37 prisoners who have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army did not conduct autopsies and says it cannot determine the causes of the deaths.

* * *
Army officials have been reluctant to discuss the type of detail that the document describes, even when investigations into the cases are closed. The Army has refused to make public the synopses of Army criminal investigations into the deaths or assaults of Iraqi or Afghan prisoners while in custody.
Analysis: Of course, the Army is going to be tight-lipped about this. In addition to all the normal concerns about investigative secrecy, the Army also wants to preserve some sources and methods that it uses in its human intelligence collection effort. However, I'm not sure the Army can maintain this effort at secrecy anymore given the severity and scope of the abuses. We're not just talking about stress positions or even a little "smacky face", as Jess Bravin's excellent April 2002 WSJ article called it. This conduct includes murder (albeit probably not 1st degree), and it's clearly prohibited under international and domestic law. The time has come for the Army to clean house.

There is some irony here. Immediately after 9/11, and really all the way up to the start of the war in Iraq, many commentators (including myself) lamented the lack of solid human intelligence ("HUMINT") capabilities. We criticized the CIA for not redeveloping these capabilities during the 1990s, so it could penetrate terrorist cells. We criticized the FBI for not having informants and other sources in these networks. And we criticized the intelligence community for relying too heavily on technical means. After 9/11, it has been reported that the intel community started working under a new set of rules. As one report put it: "the f**king gloves came off." HUMINT took a new priority in intelligence collection. However, the intel community still didn't have the deep sources within the enemy networks that it needed. So to produce HUMINT, it took another tack — the extraction of intel from prisoners.

So far, the record for this approach is mixed. It appears that some coercive interrogation measures have worked, if you take the government at its word that it has been able to track and dismantle Al Qaeda cells in the U.S. with this information. There's also a great deal of evidence that torture and coercion don't work, such as this column by a former U.S. POW in Vietnam. (Thanks to STB for forwarding this.) But this may ultimately prove to be a case where our tactics won the battle, but lost the larger war for the moral high ground and for moral supremacy. The jury's still out on that one.
Abu Ghraib developments
Two interesting developments in this morning's papers regarding the continuing investigation (and prosecution effort) at Abu Ghraib.

1. 800th MP Bde commander relieved. The Washington Post reports that the Army has relieved BG Janis Karpinski of her command pending the outcome of the investigation into Abu Ghraib.
Karpinski was indefinitely relieved of her command pending the outcome of investigations into treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but Army officials said the move should not be taken as punishment.

Karpinski was in charge of all 16 U.S. detention facilities in Iraq when the abuses occurred last fall. She has stated repeatedly that she did not know about the problems because a military intelligence brigade ran the section of the prison where detainees were humiliated and physically maltreated. An Army investigation of the performance of military intelligence officers at the prison is still underway.

Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army spokeswoman, confirmed that Karpinski had been suspended and will be transferred to another Army reserve unit. Another officer will be named to take her command position temporarily.

Before yesterday, Karpinski's duties had not been affected by the prison scandal. She had returned home to South Carolina on leave after more than a year in Iraq.

Reached yesterday by telephone in New Jersey, Karpinski said she had not received official written notice of her suspension but had confirmed it with Army officials. She said she is angry because she believes she has done nothing wrong.
This seems to me like something that was long overdue, especially given the fact that she's gotten an administrative reprimand already for this stuff. I think this may be a prelude to formal charges being preferred against BG Karpinski and her subordinates (like LTC Jerry Phillabaum), especially given the news over the weekend that CPT Donald Reese (the 372d MP Company commander) had pled out in exchange for his testimony. I imagine that Army prosecutors are quite willing to trade one captain's conviction for that of a colonel and general. Of course, the decision to prosecute BG Karpinski will ultimately be a political one. Once prosecutors start up the chain of command responsibility, it's not clear how high they will go. I think this decision will be made at the highest levels, but in the end, I also think we'll see some higher-ranking prosecutions in the near future.

2. MP's lawyer seeks suppression of statement. USA Today reports that lawyers for PFC Lynndie England are seeking to suppress statements she made to military investigators. Apparently, she had invoked her right to counsel and had not waived her Art. 31 right against self-incrimination, yet the investigators continued to press her.
Rose Mary Zapor, the Denver lawyer heading England's defense, said England was questioned by military investigators three times — twice in January and again in May. "The three statements were taken illegally, because she had invoked her right to counsel," Zapor said in a telephone interview Monday.
If true, this will likely lead to the suppression of PFC England's statements. The military right against self-incrimination is actually quite strong, and the military right to counsel is equally strong -- both are probably more substantial rights than those accorded to civilian criminal defendants. Indeed, the military privilege against self-incrimination pre-dates the Supreme Court's Miranda decision, and was actually cited by the Court in that case as a template for the prophylactic police measures required by the Court. Nonetheless, I don't see this statement as all that critical to the prosecution's case here. After all, they have pictures, and testimony from other MPs like SPC Jeremy Sivits. These statements might have made a slam-dunk case even easier, but without them, it's still a slam-dunk case.
Azimuth Check II - President Bush's speech on Iraq
The White House has posted a transcript of the President's speech. You can read analyses of the speech in the major newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post. But I'd like to comment on a few things that I noticed during the speech as significant.
1. "We've also seen images of a young American facing decapitation. This vile display shows a contempt for all the rules of warfare, and all the bounds of civilized behavior. It reveals a fanaticism that was not caused by any action of ours, and would not be appeased by any concession. We suspect that the man with the knife was an al Qaeda associate named Zarqawi. He and other terrorists know that Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. And we must understand that, as well. The return of tyranny to Iraq would be an unprecedented terrorist victory, and a cause for killers to rejoice. It would also embolden the terrorists, leading to more bombings, more beheadings, and more murders of the innocent around the world.

The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology, and give momentum to reformers across the region. This will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power, and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world."
Analysis: This passage, early in the speech, raises several issues. The first is that President Bush is still trying to tie Iraq to Al Qaeda in order to bolster the American raison d'etre for being in Iraq. I think it's clear that Al Qaeda is operating within Iraq in some way. But this passage is somewhat deceptive, because it puts the cart before the horse. As I understand it, Al Qaeda moved into Iraq after our invasion and occupation to aid the insurgency there. In a sense, we opened a new front in the war on terrorism through this war, but I'm not sure that's a good thing. I don't buy the flypaper theory that we're attracting insurgents in Iraq that might otherwise come fight us in the U.S. And I'm not sure that we can link our counter-insurgency effort so clearly to the global counter-terrorism effort against Al Qaeda. To many in the international community, I think this refrain will be seen unfavorably, as one more attempt to justify the U.S. action without sufficient evidence.

2. "Helping construct a stable democracy after decades of dictatorship is a massive undertaking. Yet we have a great advantage. Whenever people are given a choice in the matter, they prefer lives of freedom to lives of fear. Our enemies in Iraq are good at filling hospitals, but they do not build any. They can incite men to murder and suicide, but they cannot inspire men to live, and hope, and add to the progress of their country. The terrorists' only influence is violence, and their only agenda is death."
Analysis: I noticed this passage because it seemed to tell the terrorists how they might do business better. As many readers know, there are terrorist organizations that have humanitarian and civil-action wings, such as Hamas, which provide schools, medical care and other services in order to win the hearts and minds of the populations they're fighting for. Indeed, this has been an important part of the Al Qaeda model since the 1990s. These charitable organizations help to raise money, increase support among moderate Muslims, as well as act as a means for the movement of money, men and materiel. I think we should think about how we would respond if the Iraqi insurgents got smart and started to use this model to oppose us. What would we do if al-Sadr's gang started running social services?

3. "Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all — to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America's task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend - a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done."
Analysis: I can't resist this one. Finally... we have a goal for our mission in Iraq. Finally, we can define part of our end state for this country. Presumably, this means that U.S. forces (and occupation authorities, and contractors, and others) can leave Iraq when the first election is held and the first new government is sworn in. That's an ambitious goal, but it's certainly one that can be defined and probably reached too. It's almost too obvious to say, but this is a goal we should've articulated much, much earlier. We should've dropped the WMD issue and focused on this and the human rights issue as quickly as possible. The right to self-determination is something deeply rooted in international law, and it is something that other nations can get behind. But by articulating it as our goal now, when the going has gotten bad, I'm worried that other nations will be reticent to sign on. We'll see.

4. "America will provide forces and support necessary for achieving these goals. Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we'll maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary. This has required extended duty for the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment — 20,000 men and women who were scheduled to leave Iraq in April. Our nation appreciates their hard work and sacrifice, and they can know that they will be heading home soon. General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level of troops they need to fulfill the mission. If they need more troops, I will send them. The mission of our forces in Iraq is demanding and dangerous. Our troops are showing exceptional skill and courage. I thank them for their sacrifices and their duty. (Applause.)"
Analysis: The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reported this morning that the 138,000-man force level would likely be maintained through this winter. That means that the President will need to call up substantial numbers of reservists and re-deploy substantial numbers of soldiers to Iraq for a second tour, because the Army's original plan for the next rotation in Iraq assumed a gradual drawdown. (It also assumed the viability of Iraqi forces by this time, and the presence of international support, but that's another story.) This continuing deployment is already stretching America's military badly; it will continue to do so if the level of troops is maintained. I agree that we must commit enough troops to Iraq to do the job, and that it would be irresponsible to deploy too few "boots on the ground" for the mission. But at some point, we also must consider other operational needs around the world, such as the need to maintain ready forces for a Korean contingency or humanitarian deployment elsewhere (e.g. Haiti) that affects our security. The U.S. has a finite military capacity, and we may have committed too much of that to Iraq for the near term.

5. "A new Iraq will also need a humane, well-supervised prison system. Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values. America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison. When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then, with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib prison, as a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning.(Applause.)"
Analysis: Well, it's about time. As I said last night, we should've demolished this house of horrors at the same time we demolished all of those statues of Saddam. I understand the logistical constraints on the Army, and the decision calculus to use existing facilities where they exist. But to the average Iraqi, it must look bad to see the U.S. forces using Saddam's palaces as headquarters and Saddam's prisons as prisons. We don't just want to be slightly different than Saddam — we want to be a lot different. At some point, we should've given these palaces to the Iraqis to become schools or hospitals. And we either should've demolished Abu Ghraib or built a museum in it. Symbolism counts in counter-insurgency, and we miscalculated the symbolic effect of using so much of Saddam's infrastructure for our own occupation.
Above and beyond the call of duty
To date, there have been no servicemembers awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of valor in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom. That is not to say there have been no acts of heroism which warrant this award — only that this award is given sparingly, to the most conspicuous acts of gallantry that go above and beyond the call of duty. I know of at least one Army soldier being recommended for the Medal from the 3rd Infantry Division, and several Marines who have been awarded the Navy Cross.

Today, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) tells the story of Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, who died on April 22, 2004, and is being posthumously recommended for the Medal of Honor. Cpl. Dunham served as a squad leader in 3-7 Marines, a unit which fought in the war and has since redeployed to Iraq for a second tour. In a fierce firefight, Cpl. Dunham sacrificed himself for the lives of his buddies, based on a hunch that he could smother a grenade with his Kevlar helmet.
Insurgents, the reports said, had ambushed a convoy that included the battalion commander, 40-year-old Lt. Col. Matthew Lopez, of Chicago. One rifle shot penetrated the rear of the commander's Humvee, hitting him in the back, Lt. Col. Lopez says. His translator and bodyguard, Lance Cpl. Akram Falah, 23, of Anaheim, Calif., had taken a bullet to the bicep, severing an artery, according to medical reports filed later.

Cpl. Dunham's patrol jumped aboard some Humvees and raced toward the convoy. Near the double-arched gateway of the town of Husaybah, they heard the distinctive whizzing sound of a rocket-propelled grenade overhead. They left their vehicles and split into two teams to hunt for the shooters, according to interviews with two men who were there and written reports from two others.

Around 12:15 p.m., Cpl. Dunham's team came to an intersection and saw a line of seven Iraqi vehicles along a dirt alleyway, according to Staff Sgt. Ferguson and others there. At Staff Sgt. Ferguson's instruction, they started checking the vehicles for weapons.

Cpl. Dunham approached a run-down white Toyota Land Cruiser. The driver, an Iraqi in a black track suit and loafers, immediately lunged out and grabbed the corporal by the throat, according to men at the scene. Cpl. Dunham kneed the man in the chest, and the two tumbled to the ground.

Two other Marines rushed to the scene. Private First Class Kelly Miller, 21, of Eureka, Calif., ran from the passenger side of the vehicle and put a choke hold around the man's neck. But the Iraqi continued to struggle, according to a military report Pfc. Miller gave later. Lance Cpl. William B. Hampton, 22, of Woodinville, Wash., also ran to help.

A few yards away, Lance Cpl. Jason Sanders, 21, a radio operator from McAlester, Okla., says he heard Cpl. Dunham yell a warning: "No, no, no — watch his hand!"

What was in the Iraqi's hand appears to have been a British-made "Mills Bomb" hand grenade. The Marines later found an unexploded Mills Bomb in the Toyota, along with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers.

A Mills Bomb user pulls a ring pin out and squeezes the external lever — called the spoon — until he's ready to throw it. Then he releases the spoon, leaving the bomb armed. Typically, three to five seconds elapse between the time the spoon detaches and the grenade explodes. The Marines later found what they believe to have been the grenade's pin on the floor of the Toyota, suggesting that the Iraqi had the grenade in his hand — on a hair trigger — even as he wrestled with Cpl. Dunham.

None of the other Marines saw exactly what Cpl. Dunham did, or even saw the grenade. But they believe Cpl. Dunham spotted the grenade — prompting his warning cry — and, when it rolled loose, placed his helmet and body on top of it to protect his squadmates.

The scraps of Kevlar found later, scattered across the street, supported their conclusion. The grenade, they think, must have been inside the helmet when it exploded. His fellow Marines believe that Cpl. Dunham made an instantaneous decision to try out his theory that a helmet might blunt the grenade blast.

"I deeply believe that given the facts and evidence presented he clearly understood the situation and attempted to block the blast of the grenade from his squad members," Lt. Col. Lopez wrote in a May 13 letter recommending Cpl. Dunham for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for military valor. "His personal action was far beyond the call of duty and saved the lives of his fellow Marines."
Thoughts: The story behind Cpl. Dunham's actions, as well as the stories of those Marines awarded the Navy Cross and Silver Star this month, should give everyone some pause to think. The word "hero" has been used a lot lately, to refer to everyone from pro athletes to firefighters to reservists to combat soldiers. Increasingly, I believe, we have had a tendency to conflate the terms "survivor" and "hero", calling those who simply did their duty "heroes" even though they did nothing extraordinary to distinguish themselves from their peers save the act of volunteering to be there in the first place. I don't think it's necessarily heroic to do your duty, i.e. "the company that just came home were all heroes." That title, to me, requires something more. The acts of these Marines clearly qualify as heroic. They faced a situation and did more than just survive; they conquered their fear, seized the initiative, and demonstrated great physical courage in the face of mortal danger. In most cases, they did so in order to save (or secure) their buddies, a primal impulse in combat.

In a lot of ways, recognizing them with a medal seems insignificant. After all, it's just a piece of metal suspended by a machine-made ribbon with no jewels or special pecuniary value. But these medals represent a great deal within the warrior culture. They are a mark of respect and accomplishment, which only the initiated truly appreciate. Military commanders have understood this for some time. Napoleon has been paraphased as saying that a soldier will do anything for a little piece of ribbon. It's not the ribbon per se that animates the soldier — it's the service to one's peers, and their respect afterwards for the act of bravery.

My grandfather, who flew in the backseat of Navy dive bombers during WWII, used to say that the difference between a Silver Star and the MOH was the literacy of the officer writing the recommendation. (As an enlisted man, I think he said that to encourage me to write well as an officer where my soldiers were concerned.) The larger point is this: it's often hard to distinguish great acts of valor in combat, and decide what merits a Silver Star and what merits a Medal of Honor. Here's how the Army defines the criteria for the Medal:
Criteria: The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President, in the name of Congress, to a person who, while a member of the Army, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. Incontestable proof of the performance of the service will be exacted and each recommendation for the award of this decoration will be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
Looking at this definition, I think that Cpl. Dunham's actions certainly qualify for the awarding of the Medal. This front-page Wall Street Journal article will likely be read by a number of Marine Corps veterans and members of Congress, and that will help his cause too. In the end, it's impossible to say whether he will be recognized this way, or with another award like the Navy Cross. But regardless of the medal ultimately given, we will always be able to call Cpl. Dunham a hero.
Azimuth check
President defines victory and exit strategy for Iraq

Tonight, President Bush spoke to an audience at the Army War College about his plan for Iraq. In reality, he was speaking to the nation and the world. But I thought the choice of location was somewhat ironic. After all, it was the Army War College which produced the study that informed Gen. Eric Shinseki's comment that it would take a Herculean police effort to manage the post-war aftermath. And it was an Army War College report that said this war had stretched the Army to its "breaking point". So this may have been a uniformed crowd, but it was not necessarily an easy crowd — and certainly not an uninformed crowd. The military establishment may be a conservative institution, but it is also a realistic one. Many of the senior officers I know are skeptical of America's current national security policy, and of the means we have chosen to achieve our ends. Without question, the officers at the Army War College serve the President; they will obey his orders. But they do not do so blindly, or ignorantly — the President must sell his case to them too.

The New York Times had a good pre-report on the speech, which was based on a White House outline released before the speech. The most notable talking point was the planned demolition of the Abu Ghraib prison. I've wondered for some time why this wasn't torn down in April 2003, as one more artifice of the Hussein regime. I know we needed a detention facility, but it seems like the use of this place connected us geographically and sentimentally to the abuses of the Hussein regime, even before the abuses there became public. So it's about time we made this decision. If we're smart, we'll make a show of it, and have an Iraqi leader (or former detainee — or both) depress the plunger on the explosives to take down the building.

I'll try to post some analysis tonight or tomorrow morning when the speech transcripts are posted. More to follow.
Civilian contractor fired over Abu Ghraib allegations
Could this investigation hamper the company's proposed acquisition by Lockheed Martin?

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that the Titan Corporation has terminated one of its employees accused of misconduct at Abu Ghraib.
Titan spokesman Ralph "Wil" Williams confirmed that Adel Nakhla, an Egyptian-born American citizen, had been "terminated," but he declined to say why or when the action was taken. A classified portion of Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba's February report on the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners says the Titan translator "admitted" he helped hold down three detainees who were "nude, handcuffed to each other and placed in sexual positions," according to a U.S. official who reviewed the report.

The document includes an Army Criminal Investigation Division report that alleges the Titan employee committed "indecent acts" and "cruelty and maltreatment," the official said. The report accuses Mr. Nakhla of "dereliction of duty," "conspiracy" and failure to obey an order or regulation.

The circumstances of Mr. Nakhla's dismissal from Titan remain unclear. The news came on the same day the Justice Department said it has opened a criminal investigation of "a civilian contractor" in Iraq related to the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Neither the Justice Department nor the Pentagon would identify the contractor.

Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said the investigation was prompted by a referral from the Pentagon. The inquiry marks the first move toward prosecuting civilian employees of contractors who worked as translators and interrogators at Abu Ghraib. One U.S. soldier pleaded guilty last week to prisoner-abuse charges, and six more face court martial.
Analysis: The WSJ story goes on to quote Titan officials as saying that this issue should not affect their company's impending acquisition by industry giant Lockheed Martin. It shouldn't... but it could. There a litany of ways (as discussed in this Slate article) the Defense Department can sanction a contractor like Titan Corp., including permanent debarment from bidding for DoD contracts. That might make this entity a lot less attractive to a buyer like Lockheed Martin, who presumably wants a subsidiary capable of making money.

So far, the Army (which actually owned the Abu Ghraib contracts and would be the debarring agency here) has made no overtures of this kind, but the issue is far from over. If the Army finds systemic problems in its interrogation practices (which it probably will), and blames some of these problems on the civilian contractors (which it might), then I think we could see some future government-contracting sanctions against Titan Corp. It's plausible to me that these contractors went off the reservation, and that there were inadquate control mechanisms in place to stop them from misbehaving. I'm not sure that the Army will punish the corporation for the misbehavior of one of its agents. But it certainly can impute this behavior to the company if it finds evidence of neglect or poor supervision on Titan's part. Look for those details in the investigation reports when they're made public.
Two more soldiers implicated at Abu Ghraib
3 chains of command - one held accountable in court thus far;
Abuse probe widens to include intel unit and Afghan prison facility


The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that two low-ranking military intelligence soldiers have had their Iraq tours "involuntarily extended" in order to facilitate their investigation by Army law enforcement officials. The two soldiers, who were reserve Military Intelligence specialists, worked at Abu Ghraib as MI analysts. It's not clear yet what role these two men might have played in the prison.
U.S. Army Spcs. Armin J. Cruz and Israel Rivera, both members of a reserve unit in Texas, are so far the only military intelligence soldiers known to be at the scene of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in a high-security cellblock at Abu Ghraib.

Neither Cruz nor Rivera has been charged. But their role in the burgeoning scandal may be an important link for investigators seeking to determine whether the abuses were the work of a rogue unit of military police, or were directed by intelligence officers pushing guards to "soften up" detainees for interrogation.

* * *
Senior military officials and defense lawyers said additional charges may be pending, raising the prospect that the criminal probe is poised to expand beyond the guilty plea of one MP and the planned courts-martial of six others accused of taking part in the abuse.

Neither Cruz nor Rivera could be reached for comment. Military officials at the Pentagon declined to describe their legal status, or say whether they are represented by attorneys. Both have been ordered to remain in Baghdad, months after the rest of their unit returned home.

* * *
In an interview, Houston defense attorney Guy L. Womack, who represents Army Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., said that he expected a wave of charges in coming weeks against military intelligence officers, who he believed were directing the abuse of prisoners on Tier 1A at Abu Ghraib.

"There is no way these low-ranking military police officers did this on their own," he said. "It's like pulling up a tree. There are roots going everywhere away from these guys. The MPs were not rogues. They were not criminals acting out some sort of fantasy. They were acting on orders, and they thought those orders were appropriate."
Analysis: There appear to have been at least three chains of command at Abu Ghraib. The first one, which prosecutors have begun to move up, was the Military Police chain of command. This one ran from the MPs in the 372d MP Company all the way up to BG Janis Karpinski at the top of the 800th MP Brigade. The second chain of command was the Military Intelligence chain, which ran from the junior MI soldiers doing interrogation and analysis to the MI Brigade Commander, COL Tom Pappas. The third chain of command was the spook chain of command, which I use to include all of the CIA, special operations, and contractor employees at Abu Ghraib. This third chain wasn't subject to the military command structure, and is not subject (except for the military special ops guys) to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Military prosecutors have started to move up the first chain by prosecuting 7 of the lowest ranking MPs on the scene. I think they're going to file charges against some of the officers soon, although it looks like some might have pled out to administrative punishment in exchange for testimony. (See, e.g., this Washington Post story describing the proffered testimony of CPT Donald Reese, the company commander.) Presumably, military prosecutors are about to start on the second chain of command — the military intelligence chain of command. We should start to see charges brought in the next few weeks against MI interrogators, linguists, and leaders.

What about the third chain? So far, the Justice Department has not rushed in to prosecute civilian contractors or spooks (i.e. "OGA" employees) at Abu Ghraib. Earlier, I wrote that the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 had never been used, and that prosecutors were wary to use it in this case. However, that appears to be a mistake. This act has been used to criminally prosecute an Air Force dependent for second-degree murder by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California (Los Angeles):
Latasha Lorraine Arnt was turned over to U.S. Marshals on Sunday and returned to the United States. She had been detained at Incirlik since May 27 in connection with the death of her husband, Staff Sgt. Matthias A. Arnt III, who died at about 1:30 a.m. that day, according to a 39th Wing Public Affairs Office release.

Details of the killing were not made available.

Even though the slaying took place in Turkey, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California assumed jurisdiction of the case because the suspect, who is a civilian, cannot be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Turkey officials waved jurisdiction of the case because it did not involve any Turkish nationals, Edmonson said.

The case was sent to California because that is the home of record for the accused.

* * *
Latasha Arnt was formally indicted by the grand jury for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, 60 miles east of Los Angeles, on May 30. She appeared in court Tuesday in Riverside, Calif., and was ordered held without bail.
So far, federal prosecutors have not rushed in to charge any of the non-military personnel at Abu Ghraib. Until now, we've all thought that MEJA was an untested statute, and that some of DOJ's reticence might owe to that fact. However, it now appears that MEJA has been used, although not subjected to any kind of appellate scrutiny, and that a template for its use does exist. I think this adds more support to the argument that DOJ ought to step in here to investigate and prosecute the non-military folks who have committed crimes at Abu Ghraib. But we'll see what happens — more to follow.

Update I: The New York Times reports today that Army investigators are looking hard at the 519th MI Battalion, part of the second chain of command described above. Specifically, A Company and its leaders are under investigation. This unit oversaw interrogations in both Afghanistan and Iraq where deaths or physical abuse took place, and its work in these two locations may indicate the presence of a larger problem within the military's interrogation and detention system in Southwest and Central Asia:
WASHINGTON, May 23 — A military intelligence unit that oversaw interrogations at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was also in charge of questioning at a detention center in Afghanistan where two prisoners died in December 2002 in incidents that are being investigated as homicides.

For both of the Afghan prisoners, who died in a center known as the Bagram Collection Point, the cause of death listed on certificates signed by American pathologists included blunt force injuries to their legs. Interrogations at the center were supervised by Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, which moved on early in 2003 to Iraq, where some of its members were assigned to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib. Its service in Afghanistan was known, but its work at Bagram at the time of the deaths has now emerged in interviews with former prisoners, military officials and from documents.

* * *
At least one officer, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, served in supervisory positions at the interrogation units both at the Bagram Collection Point from July 2002 to December 2003 and then again at the joint center at Abu Ghraib, according to Army officials. That center was established in the fall of 2003. In Congressional testimony last week, a senior Army lawyer, Col. Marc Warren, praised Captain Wood as an officer who took initiative in Iraq at a time when American commanders had yet to spell out rules for interrogation. But he also singled out Captain Wood and her unit as having brought to Iraq interrogation procedures developed during their service in Afghanistan. No one is known to have accused Captain Wood of any wrongdoing in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib or the deaths of prisoners there or in Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, in Fort Bragg, N.C., identified Captain Wood as having been sent to Afghanistan in July 2002 as Company A's interrogation platoon leader, and having later assumed the duties of "operations officer in charge of the Bagram Collection Point." In a written statement sent Friday, that spokesman, Lt. Col. Billy Buckner, said Captain Wood had been assigned to the 519th Battalion at Abu Ghraib. But other Army officers have described her as having served as the officer in charge of the interrogation center there, under Lt. Col. Steve Jordan, a reservist who served as its director.

In an interview on Sunday, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who oversaw Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq but has since been admonished and suspended from command, described Captain Wood as an impressive and well-spoken expert on interrogations who oversaw the center. Colonel Buckner said that Captain Wood's commanding officer in Iraq, Lt. Col. Robert Whalen, was not available for comment. To date, seven enlisted personnel from a military police unit have been the only soldiers charged with crimes in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib. But an Army report completed in March identified Colonel Jordan as among four people who may have been among those "directly or indirectly" responsible for the misconduct.
Clearly, something is going on beneath the surface of this report that we don't know about. I have a feeling that charges will surface in the next few days or weeks against these MI soldiers, because it seems implausible to me that the Army would take a plea from every single MI soldier and officer but prosecute some of the MPs at Abu Ghraib. However, stranger things have happened, so we'll see.
Did top officers know about Abu Ghraib?
According to this report in Sunday's Washington Post, the answer is yes. CPT Rob Shuck, who is detailed to defend SSG Ivan "Chip" Frederick, says that the 372d MP Company commander will testify to that effect in court, offering what may be exculpatory testimony for the six junior MPs facing criminal charges for abuses at Abu Ghraib.
The lawyer, Capt. Robert Shuck, said he was told that Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and other senior military officers were aware of what was taking place on Tier 1A of Abu Ghraib. Shuck is assigned to defend Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II of the 372nd Military Police Company. During an April 2 hearing that was open to the public, Shuck said the company commander, Capt. Donald J. Reese, was prepared to testify in exchange for immunity. The military prosecutor questioned Shuck about what Reese would say under oath.

"Are you saying that Captain Reese is going to testify that General Sanchez was there and saw this going on?" asked Capt. John McCabe, the military prosecutor.

"That's what he told me," Shuck said. "I am an officer of the court, sir, and I would not lie. I have got two children at home. I'm not going to risk my career."

Shuck also said a sergeant at the prison, First Sgt. Brian G. Lipinski, was prepared to testify that intelligence officers told him the abuse of detainees on the cellblock was "the right thing to do." Earlier this month, Lipinski declined to comment on the case.

So far, clear evidence has not emerged that high-level officers condoned or promoted the abusive practices. Officers at the prison have blamed the abuse on a few rogue, low-level military police officers from the 372nd, a company of U.S. Army Reservists based in Cresaptown, Md. The general in charge of the prisons in Iraq at the time has said that military intelligence officers took control of Abu Ghraib and gave the MPs "ideas."
Analysis: This is a huge break for the defense. First of all, the company commander and first sergeant will be much more credible witnesses than these six soldiers before a court martial, and thus, their testimony about higher headquarters orders will likely have a big impact on the military juries deciding these cases. Second, these leaders' testimony will corroborate the "we were just following orders" defense of the soldiers, by showing the level of command involvement at Abu Ghraib. If there was enough pressure from the top to make the CO and 1SG go along, then surely you can't expect some privates and sergeants to resist orders like these, right? (At least, that's the theory the defense will offer.) My prediction is that this testimony will be key to the defense, and that it may ultimately exculpate the defendants or result in a reduced sentence.

Of course, these six cases aren't the only thing on the table. This information could provide fuel for more investigations into the matter that look beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib. Specifically, there will now be calls for two broad investigations -- one into the chain of command, from PFC Lynndie England to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; and two, into the chain of intelligence, from the Abu Ghraib prison to the CIA, Pentagon and White House. Until now, most of the investigations have focused on the prison itself, and the way these acts were allowed to happen there. However, I think this information raises a lot of questions about how high the authorization went for this stuff. Together with the latest Sy Hersh report, I think there's now a stronger case for an independent investigation into the intelligence and command structures which enabled Abu Ghraib to happen.

More to follow.
Calculating the local costs of the war in Iraq
How much do local governments pay for mobilized reservists?

The Los Angeles Times has a very interesting report in Sunday's paper about the financial costs to state and local governments of having reservist-employees called to active duty. This is one of the first articles I've seen that gets into the details of this story, giving actual hard dollar amounts instead of vague assertions about how reserve mobilizations affect local government. I'm not surprised to see the figures, however, they do add another dimension to the en masse call up of reservists which has taken place since Sept. 11.
California Controller Steve Westly calculates that it costs an average of $1,500 a month in salary adjustments and benefits for each activated state employee reservist. That figure does not include the cost of filling positions that have been vacated by members of the National Guard.

The state has the highest number of mobilized National Guard and reserve troops, with more than 10,300 on active duty. A large number of those soldiers are public employees, many of whom work in law enforcement or the state prison system.

Under California law, state agencies are required to make up the difference between their employees' civilian and military pay as well as to continue full benefits. State officials said the salary differential payments ranged from $5.25 a month to as much as $4,757 a month. So even when a worker is on patrol in Iraq, the employee continues to receive a partial salary and full benefit contributions from the state.

* * *
The California Department of Corrections, with 148 employees on active duty, reported that since last July 1 it had spent nearly $2 million on personnel-replacement costs for prison guards on military leave.

* * *
Similarly, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which recently won a national award for its generous policy regarding reservists, has had to scramble to make up for more than 151 deputies who have been called up for military duty since Sept. 11, 2001. Currently, 35 sheriff's deputies are activated.
* * *
Most county and local governments, including school districts, also offer some sort of supplementary compensation. The federal government reimburses none of those costs.

Despite the extra burden, local governments, no matter how strapped, seldom balk when asked to support their employee-soldiers, even in communities where citizens largely oppose the Iraq policy.
Analysis: This is a good news and a bad news story. The good news here is that these public agencies are taking care of their own. Indeed, the California state legislature has mandated that they do so, with a state law requiring differential pay for mobilized reservists. But some are going even further, like the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, which offers free post-deployment counseling and other services to its reservists. I also know, from friends who have relayed personal anecdotes of service, that these agencies take family support on the home front very seriously.

The bad news is really two-fold. First, these agencies have to shell out money in differential pay. In a cash-strapped state like California, these thousands and millions of dollars can make a difference. Across the state, with a budget that exceeds $80 billion, it's a drop in the bucket. But individual agencies can see their payroll budget hit hard, especially law enforcement agencies like the LAPD and LACoSD with as much as 5% of their workforce away on active duty. As the article points out, this money comes from those agencies' budgets. And on top of these costs, the agencies have to pay any overtime necessary to fill the gap.

The second problem is the gaps that are left behind by these mobilizations. Most state and local agencies have a hiring freeze right now, thanks to California's budget crisis. That means they can't hire anyone to take the place of these reservists. Thus, the agencies have two basic choices: leave a hole in the workforce, or pay the other employees overtime to fill the gap as best as possible. The California Highway Patrol has opted for the latter choice, as the article reports, with the result of less patrol officers on the state's highways. If you've driven in California, you know that's not necessarily a good thing for public safety.
Intel Dump v. 2.0
Welcome to the new version of Intel Dump!

It looks a lot like the old site (http://philcarter.blogspot.com), and it has most of the same features as the old site. However, I have moved to a much better server (www.powerblogs.com) and software package, and have a great deal more functionality in this site. Intel Dump 2.1 will be released soon, and that site will incorporate more graphics and pictures into the site. Eventually, I plan to publish Intel Dump 3.0, which will look more like the professional magazine weblogs and hopefully include additional contributors.

But for now, this is the new site. Please change your bookmarks or links accordingly. Thanks to everyone who contributed during my pledge drive who enabled this move to happen. I appreciate your support, and will do my best to return your investment with good content.
More news from Abu Ghraib
The front-page image on the Washington Post's webpage is of an Iraqi detainee crouching in fear (hands bound behind his back) before a U.S. military working dog, being restrained by its handler with two hands. It's not a good image. The Post has an exclusive report on the new photos and statements to emerge from the investigation into Abu Ghraib.

Once again, I think we should be asking ourselves: why are we only prosecuting the 7 lowest ranking soldiers here? At the very least, the chain-of-command is culpable for its failure to stop these criminal acts. At most, if you believe Sy Hersh's latest report in the New Yorker, the culpability runs all the way up to the top Pentagon leadership — and perhaps higher. So why is the highest-ranking guy to be charged so far a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve? That just doesn't seem right to me.

Update: There may be one high-ranking casualty so far from Abu Ghraib: current DoD General Counsel William Haynes II. President Bush had nominated Mr. Haynes to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Senate Judiciary Committee had reported it out to the full Senate. But according to this report from Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Mr. Haynes' nomination now looks to be in doubt. Senate Democrats (and a few Republicans) want him to answer questions about his role in crafting the legal framework for detainees held by the military at Guantanamo, in Iraq, and elsewhere. To date, Mr. Haynes' response has been:
"It would be inappropriate for me to respond," Mr. Haynes wrote, "because your question invites my views on a matter about which I may or may not have been called to provide advice as general counsel of the Department of Defense."
Normally, lawyers nominated to the bench are given some latitude for difficult or unpleasant work they've done on behalf of clients. After all, the job of a lawyer is to advocate for their client, and often times that might mean helping some unscrupulous causes. If this were the rule, then we'd rarely get a public defender or corporate litigation attorney on the bench, because they would be vicariously punished for the bad acts of their clients whom they are professionally obligated to defend. Over the course of a career, a good lawyer is likely to take on some unsavory clients -- that's the nature of the biz.

However, Mr. Haynes' case is different, because he may have taken a more active role in developing these policies than simple legal advice. At least, that's what those opposed to his confirmation want us to think. It's not clear yet whether he actually played a role in sanctioning the abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Of all the players in the E-Ring of the Pentagon, Mr. Haynes is the most vulnerable to political retribution right now, because he needs Senate confirmation in order to take the bench. We'll see what happens.
The quickest way to achieve real global deployment capability
When you absolutely, positively, have to deploy a brigade combat team overnight

The trade journal Inside the Air Force (subscription required) has a report today on some language in the 2005 National Defense Authorization Act that would support the future purchase of 42 additional C-17 "Globemaster" aircraft. These are the newest cargo aircraft in the fleet, and they're capable of moving 85 tons of cargo around the world. Suffice to say, the Air Force's strategic lift fleet has been stressed by the war on terrorism almost as much as the Army's land forces — it needs these birds.
Both the House and Senate Armed Services committees included language in reports accompanying their fiscal year 2005 defense authorization bills supporting the position of TRANSCOM Commander Gen. John Handy, who says that the service needs, at a minimum, 222 C-17 airlifters. The current contract that delivers 15 aircraft per year will leave the Air Force with a fleet of 180 Globemasters by FY-08.

Handy testified in March before House and Senate subcommittees that the Mobility Requirements Study 2005, completed in January 2001, was inaccurate because it did not take into account increased operational demands tied to the war on terrorism and the creation of U.S. Northern Command and the Department of Homeland Security.

He delivered a report March 10 to the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee that found the moderate-risk airlift requirement for 54.5 million ton-miles in MRS-05 was understated. The requirement is at least 57.4 to 60 million ton-miles per day, according to Handy's report. But even that number could be a low estimate, and the service will not know for sure what its requirements are until a Mobility Capabilities Study is completed at the earliest by spring 2005, Handy told the subcommittee.

* * *
While neither committee added funding into the FY-05 budget for C-17 procurement, the Senate committee "directs the Air Force to take full account of the position of the Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, in formulating its procurement plans for C-17 aircraft," according to its report.

House lawmakers were more direct, stating: "The committee strongly urges the Department of the Air Force to budget for continued C-17 procurement through a multiyear program to procure at least 42 additional C-17 aircraft."
Analysis: There are lots of things in the 2005 NDAA that can be cut. The Pentagon sent this budget over with a lot of fat, and Congress is sure to add some pork by the time the process is through. The force needs these strategic lift capabilities now, or as soon as Boeing et al. can build them. I'm encouraged by the sight of language in the NDAA which directs the Air Force to build these into its future procurement plans. However, I think Congress should be more direct here. There is a proven need for this capability, and a proven system that meets the requirement — it doesn't get much simpler than that in the defense procurement world. Moreover, the services (especially the Army) continue to spend billions of dollars on deployment-related capabilities, when you could easily purchase deployment capability by simply buying more strat lift aircraft.