CONFESSION: I helped craft the official lies to sell the war in Afghanistan
Recent Washington Post reporting showed that the conflict in Afghanistan has been an operation of deception, as the war’s architects knowingly misled the public about its objectives and progress. The “Afghanistan Papers” were not a revelation to me. I was one of the deceivers.
From July 2009 to March 2010, I served as one of the US Air Force’s designees for a nation-building mission, and I witnessed the disconnect between what happened on the ground and the messages the public heard about it. As my team’s information operations officer, I played a direct role in crafting those messages. I employed “strategic communication” during events like the 2009 Afghan presidential election and directed embedded reporters to only the sunniest stories, keeping them away from disgruntled troops who might not stick to tidy talking points.
But my job wasn’t only to mislead the American public: Our information campaign extended to the Afghan people and to higher-ups within the American military itself.
FISA Courts Need to be Looked Into
We just got a better look at the dirty underbelly of the government’s secret intelligence court, and it’s bad.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a long-awaited report that scrutinizes the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.
Many Democrats quickly seized onto the inspector general’s finding that the investigation was properly opened as vindication, proving it was not the partisan “witch hunt” the president claims.
The findings, nonetheless, are a scathing indictment of FBI investigative practices. The inspector general found that the FBI committed a litany of errors in efforts to surveil targets. And his examination of internal FBI policies confirmed a shocking lack of basic safeguards, raising profound civil liberties concerns.
Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government is required to seek permission from a secret intelligence court – known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – to spy on Americans for foreign intelligence purposes. For more than 40 years, proceedings in this court have been shrouded in secrecy, authorizing some of the most novel and intrusive surveillance techniques imaginable.
In an entirely one-sided process, judges on this court sign off on classified government surveillance requests impacting countless Americans a year who are never suspected of committing a crime. Typically, no one outside of the government – including defense attorneys in cases involving FISA surveillance – sees these requests, let alone has an opportunity to meaningfully challenge them.
Civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have long warned that the secretive nature of this process breeds abuse. The inspector general’s report further confirms this fact.
Apparently the FISA Court agrees there is a problem.
The secret federal court that approves orders for conducting surveillance on suspected foreign terrorists or spies issued a strong and highly unusual public rebuke to the FBI, ordering the agency to say how it intends to correct the errors revealed last week by a Justice Department report on one aspect of the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.
“The liberty of the Press is called the Palladium of Freedom which means, in these days, the liberty of being decieved, swindled, and humbugged by the Press and paying hugely for the deception.” Mark Twain
Hand Signs at the Army-Navy Game
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has expressed his concerns that white power symbols may have been flashed by cadets and midshipmen at the Army–Navy football game Dec. 14, but is leaving it to the academies — for now — to sort out whether discipline is warranted.
However, Esper said all forms of white power, hate and racism have no place in the military, and those who violate the rules could be subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“There is no room whatsoever for anybody to have — to be — to be a white nationalist or to be a member of any hate group whatsoever or harbor anything like that,” Esper told defense reporters.
Esper said it was his understanding that “displays were made” by some cadets and midshipmen at the game that might be considered white power gestures.
“I also understand that both academies are investigating these. And we’ll see what comes out,” said Esper, a 1986 West Point graduate.
By the way, my family uses that sign as a way of saying “good” or “ok” and my def brother in law taught me American Sign Language. That symbol is the ASL sign for the number “9”. That “hand sign” has lots of meanings—let’s find something more specific to freak out about.
Oh! It turned out to be an innocent hand game.
Young Troops Smoking
The national age limit to buy tobacco products would increase to 21 for civilians and service members alike in the latest version of Congress’ spending package, which is expected to be passed soon.
Lawmakers announced an inclusion of the provision, which does not make an exemption for military, in a joint press release.
“In recognition of tobacco’s history in our states and aware of the threat that all tobacco products pose now and for future generations,” McConnell said in a release in May, “we introduced legislation to raise the national age of purchase to 21. We’ve heard from countless parents who have seen the youth vaping crisis firsthand, and together, Senator Kaine and I are addressing this public health crisis head-on.”
So far, 52 people have died in the US from an e-cigarette- or vaping-related illness and 2,409 people have been hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control reported on Dec. 10.
The most recent data from the CDC on military smoking rates is almost five years old, but it shows between 2011 and 2015, smoking rates among service members went down: in the Army, rates dropped from 27% to 15%; in the Air Force, 17% to 9%; in the Marine Corps, 31% to 21%; and in the Navy, 24% to 14%.
You may remember that the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 because there was a draft and if an 18-year-old could fight for his country, he should be able to vote. Now, but no to smoke?
China and American Research
The Chinese authorities are pursuing a comprehensive, well-organized and well-funded strategy to abuse the open and collaborative research environment in the US to advance their economic and military expansion at our expense.
But now US research institutions are finally waking up to Beijing’s efforts to recruit American scientists for China’s benefit. The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute announced the forced resignations of its chief executive and president, Alan List; Vice President Thomas Sellers; and four researchers. In a news release, the center said the employees committed compliance and conflict-of-interest violations.
Specifically, the researchers didn’t reveal that they had been recruited and paid by the Chinese government under its “Thousand Talents” program, a massive effort controlled by the Chinese Communist Party to recruit foreign scientists for its own purposes.
A Lesson from West Point
Psychologist Angela Duckworth conducted the most famous study of quitting. She sought to predict which incoming freshmen would drop out of the US Military Academy’s basic‑training‑cum‑
A WWII POW’s Story
One of my West Point classmate’s wife’s Uncle was a POW in Germany. He never talked about his experiences until he was interviewed by a local TV station about 15 years ago. They would visit him on occasions and the subject never came up until after the interview. Fascinating story.
Good News for Gun Owners
Gun Owners just got the best news as Supreme Court helps strike down this law.
Every year, Army cadets and Navy midshipmen spend hours or weeks making spirit videos to taunt the opponent during the week before the annual Army-Navy game.
Once the game is over, most of us never think about them again. This year, we decided to go back and resurface some of the finest spirit videos from the last decade. No matter which side you’re on, these videos feature some sick burns.
The Navy has invested $1 million in devices and uniforms that help pilots relieve themselves in-flight — and it wants to spend $2 million more to complete the effort.
One of the goals of the initiative was to provide female jet pilots with a practical way to urinate on missions that can stretch on for hours with limited mobility, officials said.
Re-screening Saudi Students
The Pentagon has completed re-screening all Saudi students in US military training programs following a deadly Dec. 6 shooting rampage at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Defense Department officials announced.
No indications of additional threats have surfaced, they said.
Moving forward, DoD plans to increase vetting practices for Saudi Arabian and other foreign nationals in training at military bases in the US, including checks of their social media posts.
The recent screenings included about a dozen friends of 21-year-old Saudi Royal Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who was shot to death by a sheriff’s deputy after killing three and injuring eight others in a classroom building at NAS Pensacola.
In a statement read in a conference call with reporters, Garry Reid, the director for Defense Intelligence, said the department ran all of the approximately 850 Saudi students currently in military training in the US through databases and found “no information indicating an immediate threat scenario.”
However, a senior defense official, speaking on background, cautioned that a threat may still exist that was not turned up in the check.
Cadets Earn Scholarships
Several US Military Academy cadets have been selected to receive prestigious scholarships allowing for continued academic study following graduation and commissioning in May from the Schwarzman Scholar Program and the Marshall Foundation.
Each new cohort of Schwarzman Scholars joins a global network of the world’s most talented young leaders, helping to build stronger links between China and a rapidly changing world. This scholar experience is anchored in a rigorous and innovative Master of Global Affairs degree at Tsinghua University, one of the country’s leading universities.
The Marshall Scholar program is a postgraduate opportunity funded by the British government for intellectually distinguished young Americans to study abroad at a university in the United Kingdom, in any field of study. The goal of the program is to strengthen the relationship between the two countries for the good of mankind.
Schwarzman Scholars: Deanna Edgar, Jewett City, Conn.; Samuel Reichenthal, Ellicott City, Md; and Haley Watson, Jefferson City, Mo.
Marshall Scholar: Lynne Mooradian, Hanover, Pa.
Socialism is a Really, Really BAD Idea
Sen. Rand Paul just wrote a book, “The Case Against Socialism.”
I thought that case was already decided, since socialist countries failed so spectacularly.
But the idea hasn’t died, especially amongst the young.
“Hitler’s socialism, Stalin’s socialism, Mao’s socialism. You would think people would have recognized it by now,” says Paul.
Paul echoes Orwell in likening socialism to “a boot stamping on the human face forever” and warning that it always leads to violence and corruption.
“You would think that when your economy gets to the point where people are eating their pets,” says Paul, contemplating the quick descent of once-rich Venezuela, “people might have second thoughts about what system they’ve chosen.”
That’s a reference to the fact that Venezuelans have lost weight because food is so hard to find.
“Contrast that with (the country’s) ‘Dear Leader’ Maduro, who’s probably gained 50 pounds,” Paul observes. “It really sums up socialism. There’s still a well-fed top 1%; they just happen to be the government or cronies or friends of the government.”
Naturally, American socialists say our socialism will be different.
“When I talk about democratic socialism,” says Sen. Bernie Sanders, “I’m not looking at Venezuela. I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark and Sweden.”
Paul responds, “They all wind up saying, ‘The kinder, gentler socialism that we want is Scandinavia … democratic socialism.’ So, we do a big chunk of the book about Scandinavia.”
Paul’s book is different from other politicians’ books. Instead of repeating platitudes, he and his co-author did actual research, concluding, “It’s not true that the Scandinavian countries are socialist.”
Scandinavia did try socialist policies years ago but then turned away from socialism. They privatized industries and repealed regulations.
Denmark’s prime minister even came to America and refuted Sanders’ claims, pointing out that “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy.”
In fact, in rankings of economic freedom, Scandinavian countries are near the top.
Russian Subs Active
The Navy is seeing a surge in Russian submarine activity, and it’s posing new challenges to the US and our NATO allies, a top US admiral overseeing missions in Europe said.
The US Navy is doing more in the undersea domain, Adm. James Foggo, commander of US Naval Forces Europe and Africa, told reporters, as submarine competition with Russia heats up.
“This has been one of the busiest years that I can remember, and I’ve been doing this since 1983,” he said. “… Russia has continued to put resources into their undersea domain. It’s an asymmetric way of challenging the West and NATO alliance and actually they’ve done quite well.”
Russia this fall held a major submarine exercise in the Atlantic. The goal, according to a report from the Barents Observer — Europe’s northernmost English-Russian news outlet — was for at least eight nuclear-powered subs to get as far out into the North Atlantic without detection.
“Such maneuvers haven’t been seen from the Northern Fleet since the days of the Cold War,” the Barents Observer reported.
Marines and the French Fourragere
US Marines and Sailors with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division conduct a French Fourragere ceremony at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Dec. 6, 2019. The country of France awarded the French Fourragere to the Marines and Sailors of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments in 1918 for their heroism and bravery in the battles of Belleau Wood, Soissons, and Champagne during WWI. To this day, the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments are the only U.S. service members authorized to wear the Fourragere.
Retired Navy CAPT Joe John has done many things in his life; I’ve asked him to share a few words of wisdom with us:
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
Here are the new questions:
1.Robert E. Lee was a graduate of what college?
2. Lee was offered command of what army—but he declined it?
3.Where did Lee stand on slavery (for or against)?
Here are the answers to the last issue’s questions:
1. Where is Gettysburg? In Pennsylvania
2. What major event happened there? The Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War.
3. Who spoke there saying, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here…”?
President Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address, speaking at the cemetery that was created there to bury the thousands of dead soldiers. It’s interesting that many have forgotten the battle there, but Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in US history.
The 8th of November — The Vietnam War
Frontlines of Freedom Gear
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Two quotes to consider.
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.
Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast)
28 Dec – 3 Jan : Richard Thompson, the CEO and Lead Council for the Thomas More Law Center will discuss the Impeachment of President Trump; we’ll discuss the crimes the president is charged with. Then US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, will discuss NATO. We’ll learn about the Johnson-Brower foundation that helps veterans, and we’ll review the Movie of the Month.
4-10 Jan: Retired Marine General Arnold Punaro will look back at 2019 and forward at 2020. Mid-east expert Leah Gilbert will discuss our so-called ally, Turkey. And we’ll review the bowl games in which the Navy and Air Force played.
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My mom is a German Jew. Here’s some Jewish Humor.
* I just got back from a pleasure trip.
I took my mother-in-law to the airport.
* Someone stole all my credit cards, but I won’t be reporting it.
The thief spends less than my wife did.
* We always hold hands.
If I let go, she shops.
* My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night; only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.
* My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed.
My wife called it the Dead Sea.
* She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate.
She got a mudpack and looked great for two days.
Then the mud fell off.
* The Doctor gave a man six months to live.
The man couldn’t pay his bill, so the doctor gave him another six months.
* The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying,
“Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. ”
* Doctor: “You’ll live to be 60!”
Patient: “I am 60!”
Doctor: “See! What did I tell you?”
* Patient: “I have a ringing in my ears.”
* A drunk was in front of a judge.
The judge says, “You’ve been brought here for drinking.”
* Why do Jewish divorces cost so much?
*There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins.
*Q: Why don’t Jewish mothers drink?
*A man called his mother in Florida ,
*A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play.
*Short summary of every Jewish holiday:
*Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, “Lady, I haven’t eaten in three days.”
*Q: What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother?
A Couple Interesting Photos – and A Funny One Too
This inflatable mattress turns the back of your car into a bed
Trash cans in Copenhagen are angled so that cyclists can throw their trash while cycling.
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)