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11 September 2008


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Did everybody notice that Bush declared war on Pakistan?

He did not want to send 10,000 troops from Iraq to Afghanistan despite the wishes of the commander there and the Joint Chiefs. Instead, he opens out-of-line-of-command special operations warfare against Pakistani inside of Pakistan.

The Pakistani General Kayani answered: "The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost."

Hard to misunderstand that, isn't it.

This is another military move where the line of command is from Cheney to Bush to Jack Keane at the AEI to Saint Petraeus at CentCom.

Fortunately they don't have the means to give Israel what it wants. But that can change.


i've been paying attention to jack keane. most recently, he was an advisor to hillary clinton. clearly, he has thoughts of continuing his subversion of the chain of command.

i'd love to know how many millions he's pulling in thru his awesome! advisory abilities (and defense contractor hook-ups).

Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA

We were talking here the other day about commissions and the oath to support and defend the Constitution. Gen Keane, serving pretty clearly at the pleasure of the current president, should have his commission revoked by the next.

And, b, I think the top of the chain should be gov't of Israel, then AIPAC and AEI/PNAC, then Cheney. Otherwise, you nailed it.

William R. Cumming

"Where do we get such men"?
Admiral talking about downed pilot in "Bridges of Toko Ri." Now Jack Keane informs us unwittingly that they are from a military filled with ego and hubris rather than competence. Just saying "No" once in a while should not be grounds for a poor OER. Time for a purge of the upper ranks like FDR did in reaching down for Gen. Marshall. Clearly a political general--one that owes his career promotions to others that may not been fully aware of his lack of integrity as to the processes and procedures of open democratic government. Wants to be in charge and stay in charge. Retired? Makes no difference. By the way Tom P.M. Barnett's blog identifies major inaccuracies in Woodwards's discussion of end of Admiral Fallon's career.


Robert Byrd, often derided as an old fool, was one of the few guys who got it right. Day after day, he railed about Bush’s extreme actions of 2002 and 2003 as Iraq was heating up. He correctly pointed out that Iraq was a sovereign nation and that the United States had never – in its history - pre-emptively invaded a country. Few paid heed; some continue the shameless bullying

The 9/11 mantra has been played over and over again to frighten the public, but that same public draws a yawn when sub-sets of the American military invades smaller nations (mostly Muslim) inviting more 9/11-type attacks. Apparently history (and counter-punching) is meaningless to most Americans while Bush soft-soaps them with crap like "they hate our way of life".

Bush has perverted the entire system of government. General Keane should have refused to render advice to men (Bush and Cheney) who have a track record of violating the spirit, the laws and the rules that apply to basic citizens’ rights and military protocol. General Casey and the rest of them can complain, but they should have stood up and walked en-masse when they learned their roles and responsibilities had been outsourced to AEI. Instead, they nodded off hoping to run out the clock to secure their “next higher rank” retirement and DOD contractor job. Admiral Fallon did the right thing. Much is said about Robert Gates' leadership, but where is he on this?

Something isn’t right. I am in no position to know the facts, but the media paint a grim portrait. Does the government know what it is doing? Probably not. Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes” (May 2008) describes the sorry state of the CIA and intelligence gathering since the end of World War II. It seems that covert action(s) has been the main thrust of this agency and that humint is not. Perhaps today’s military has the same humint problem. It is also asserted that personnel with the right skills (Arabic language, especially) are dismissed or overlooked because some are gay or Arab. What is the truth?

As to Israel's desire to attack Iran: Russia would blow Israel out of the water if they (Israel) pulled that stunt. Americans still think Russia is the CIS, thus screwed-up. What will Bush/Cheney do when Russia establishes bases in Cuba and Venezuela.


the JACOBINS reply that the JCS are not part of the chain of command. The theater commander Petraeus would answer to Fallon (now there would be a violation) who answers to the CIC=POTUS. The JCS are there for support purposes and not for command purposes.

Undubitably though Keane performed an end run around Fallon.

I still don't know what Casey's and Abizaid's plan was? training the Iraki's so the American's could withdraw? but in the meantime the bodycount made it look like we were losing. And that was impermissible. We could not withdraw under circumstances that made it look like we were losing.

Even it we had to spend another trillion dollars and another year there.

From what i read, it was the opposition to the "surge" in the U.S. that finally provided part of the impetus for the "awakening" and other stuff that went on.

Who knows what part the "fusion cells" had to with the progress.



F.Y.I. Last night ABC News showed footage from Battle Company in Afghanistan. Vanity Fair published a companion article Return to the Valley of Death. My old battalion 40 years later is doing the exact same thing, all over again, but with fewer troops and less support; killing the enemy.

Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, can point that a war of attrition is futile but the Joint Chiefs’ advice doesn’t matter if George W Bush or Sarah Palin, have been told by God to kill Muslims.

Stalemated by the Pentagon from bombing Iran and with Senator Obama hitting them on the failure to kill Bin Laden, George W Bush has green lighted Special Operation Forces incursions into Pakistan - opening a third front in the War with Islam in order to give the GOP their October Surprise.

A State has to defend its borders against foreign invaders. If Pakistan does not defend its borders it will spiral downward until it will be a failed state with nuclear weapons. Once again, George W Bush has made a decision without any grasp of its consequences.


B: Only the House of Representatives can issue a declaration of war. This is no such thing. The NYT article is unclear, but this follows the repeated administration statements to the effect of crossing borders in 'hot pursuit' and denial of safe havens. Troubling yes, but not a declaration of war. This is an indication that the previous strategy has not been effective.

The detail further in the article that imply's Pakistan's ISI was potentially involved in the bombing of India's embassy in Kabul is ever more troubling. Who are they sending the message to, the U.S. or India?

"American intelligence agencies have said that senior Pakistani national security officials favor the use of militant groups to preserve Pakistan’s influence in the region, as a hedge against India and Afghanistan. "
Does this mean that Pakistan's central government does not control these territories? Cooler heads and diplomacy will be needed. The neocons are throwing gasoline on the fire following their current strategy.


Col. Lang:
You pointed out that the Israelis need:

"Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) boxes and code settings to avoid being engaged by US aircraft."

....and when they can't get them directly from you, they try and get them from your friends.

Mad Dogs

Even with the apparent loss of Georgia's airfields, I doubt the Israelis are ready to call it quits with regard to Iran's nuclear program. They've made their bed (Strike Iran before they do...something...to us!) and they fully intend to sleep in it!

And as to retired General Keane, in addition to the apparent seditious establishment of Cheney's alternate "chain of command" bypassing the JCS that you describe, the part of Woodward's series that bothered me most was this:

"Let's be frank about what's happening here," Keane told Gates. "We are going to have a new administration. Do we want these policies continued or not? Do we want the best guys in there who were involved in these policies, who were advocates for them? Let's assume we have a Democratic administration and they want to pull this thing out quickly, and now they have to deal with General Petraeus and General Odierno. There will be a price to be paid to override them."
(My Bold)

The idea that Cheney and his Jacobin minions are stacking the future deck against any possible attempt to deter their plans, should give pause to all who'd think that world will suddenly change with a new Administration.

While Bush, and in particular, Cheney's official terms of office may come to a close on January 20, 2009, don't for a moment believe that their Jacobin plotting will cease and its promoters exit the field of battle so quietly!

Patrick Lang


The statutory chain of command runs from the president to the secretary of defence to the combatant commander. Gates was definitely bypassed in what Keane did. p

Clifford Kiracofe

Interesting thread.

1. I have no technical expertise but I do recall that in the fall of 2004 prior to the elections, a huge weapons delivery was made to Israel by the US. Didn't press accounts indicate some very heavy ordnance, bunker busters, etc. were included back then???

Naturally, the delivery was made in such a way so that if Bush lost the election the Israelis would still have the heavy stuff. Will this be repeated or is it now being repeated?

2. We should note the very close integration of the Israeli military-industrial complex with the US military-industrial complex during the Bush years.

Just because we may have not given them something doesn't mean that they have not acquired it through espionage and other means.

3. The Keane case is another illustration of the Cheney-Neocon method of end running (not to mention subverting) our institutions of government.

From our national experience in the past 8 years, one might conclude Keane is just another useful whore like Alcibiades, and that we find them also at State and in the intell community.

Perhaps if the counterintelligence community would be successful putting Neocons and their like behind bars we would not be in the position in which we currently find ourselves. Of course, this would depend on the Judiciary not being corrupt itself and also on the White House not intervening to protect such types "for national security reasons."

Mad Dogs


Thanks for the correction regarding the JCS and "chain of command"!

As to DoD's Secretary Gates and Centcom's Fallon, yes, that was indeed a bypass of the "chain of command".

What retired General Keane and Cheney also did was bypass the statutory responsibilities of both the JCS and the Chairman of the JCS as the chief military advisors to the President and the Secretary of Defense.

That was probably of little concern to Cheney (or to Keane for that matter). As Bob Woodward pointed out, Cheney told Bush that he didn't agree with Bush's decision to force Rumsfeld out.

And then Cheney did what he always does when he doesn't agree with a given policy, which is to act to void or neuter that policy and replace it with his own.

This is also likely to continue even after Cheney "formally" leaves office.

I've got a nickel that says it will be so. *g*


my bust. i left out the sec of def Gates in the chain of command. But the JCS are not in the chain. they are there for support purposes.

It is understandable that their feelings would get ruffled when the American Enterprise Institute has more input about war policy then they do!

Patrick Lang


The Joint Staff is there for "support" of SECDEF and JCS planning.

The Joint Chiefs themselves are the collective statutory military advisers of the president. pl


There are now so many moving parts I'm not sure how one keeps it all straight.

There are EOs that authorize special forces to conduct missions in Pakistan, probably Iran and who knows where else. There are other EOs that make Cheney the "de facto" President or at least he thinks he is as he conducts his own foreign and covert action policy.

The entire legal system from DoJ on down the chain has been completely politicized and made into a cheap comedy. The administration makes up whatever it wants and there are absolutely no checks and balances.

The financial system has unhinged and now the Treasury and Fed are rapidly back-stopping the entire banking system while the Wall Street casino gyrates from day to day waiting for the trap door to open.

All the major economies in the world are rapidly being engulfed by recessionary forces while the global financial mechanism is close to seizure.

Russia and China have begun to assert themselves and are taking unilateral action in their interests. Israel has its own domestic political instability that may manifest in ill conceived adventures. Pakistan is one assassination away from possible meltdown.

It seems the probability for miscalculation and error have increased by an order of magnitude.


things are moving very quickly in caucasus. So many agreement, diplomat in and out, meetings. ..

Cheney was there.

so something is up


Syria: US Rejects Indirect Israel Talk

Damascus, Sep 11 (Prensa Latina) Syria confirmed on Thursday it has reliable evidence that the US refuses to resume indirect talks with Israel, held with the mediation of Turkey, and France and Russia likely to join them.

“We have information from Israel that the US administration rejects the resumption of the indirect talks,” Syrian Foreing Minister Walid Al-Moallem told Al Jazeera TV network.

The minister indicated Damascus received information that the White House refused to attend the talk as mediator or observer, with France and Russia invited to attend in similar conditions.

The alleged US participation was commented by the Arab Al-Sharq al-Awsat daily, but spokespersons of the Israeli government denied it, and admitted a fifth round of talks is to be held within 15 days in Istanbul.

frank durkee

Is it not any presidents perogative to seek any advice he wants on any issue. including and not limited to those who bear the statutory authority?



So at last, the Washington Post and other so-called major media outlets pull back a bit more of the curtain surrounding this President, the usurper VPOTUS, their acolytes and the simply compliant senior uniformed military leadership. Pardon me if I yawn a bit. Nice that the MSM finally got around to it... its only been going on since 2001. Surely they surely did this out of the goodness of informing the public and not trying to boost yet another Woodward book about the Bushes at War (TM), no?

Much of the Keane+Surge story is and was well known at the time. As I recall, it was a race between the Iraq Study Group and AEI (at the time, one of the military-age Kagan boys was leading the "charge") as to the next step in Iraq as the civil war there went into hyperdrive. Moreover, at the time, Keane was front and center in the fight to get the surge rolling. This might jog some memories: The Right Type of 'Surge'

Since Keane wants to be so much like another retired interloper named Maxwell Taylor, he should have at least been appointed Ambassador or recalled to the colors. At least then he would be in the formal pay of the government vice merely earning a $105,000/yr taxpayer-funded retirement to spend time at the AEI dreaming about glories past and yet to come.

Even assuming that Mullen, Casey and the rest of the Chiefs were unaware of Keane's machinations (a flawed assumption given the Woodward account of the Bush/Cheney "let Jack travel" letters to the JS J3), their collective and individual failure to make a strong, public stand for the chain-of-command at this point is shameful. At the least, their private consultations are fruitless and ineffective. Mullen has gotten into a habit of decrying and warning against the uniformed involvement in politics and the ongoing political campaign. But what did he do when his peer, Admiral Fallon, was hung out to dry by the more-war Jacobins? Rather than stand up for what he (apparently) believes to be the right course in Iraq, Casey accepted the CSA position... and still could not get Keane under control! Where oh where did we get such men? Especially when I know of many other men who prove their courage, skill and leadership on the battlefield daily in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One hopes that the next President is prepared to do some VERY SERIOUS house cleaning of the current GO/FO ranks. I am with Will Cummings upthread on this issue. Start retiring the GO/FOs selected during the Rumsfeld era and replace them with the actual combat tested and experienced COLs, LCOLS and MAJs. Trust me, the retirement package is so sweet that any GO/FO refusing should be offered a judicial proceeding that will trim their retired rank a few notches - or simply boot them from the service with nothing (a penalty often applied to lower ranking but high seniority recalcitrant soldiers and sailors).

One would also hope that the supplicant Congress would awake and exert its Constitutional perogatives to control the CIC's penchant for war expansion. Did the Gang of Eight get briefed on the new Presidential finding authorizing SOF on the ground in Pakistan? Did they ask what happens when US soldiers are captured and paraded thru Peshawar or Rawalpindi? Did they ask what happens when the new, unstable President Zardari defends his nation using a WMD?

These are a long wish list... and wishes I am certain they will remain. Someone here mentioned recently that we as a nation have yet to hit rock bottom. This is true on so many levels. I hope the rocks are not too pointed down there... but given the way today's Washington crew has alienated the global community, its more likely that those rocks are gonna be like granite spikes!


Mad Dogs

frank durkee wrote: "Is it not any presidents perogative to seek any advice he wants on any issue. including and not limited to those who bear the statutory authority?"

Yup, even out-and-out loony-toons folks like Norman Podhoretz (which he did and does), but that does not allow Bush, and certainly not Cheney, to violate statutory laws with regard to the chain of command (SecDef Gates, Centcom Fallon) and bypass links to give direction and orders to folks further down the chain (General Petraeus).

Regardless of one's political leanings, the rationale for adhering to a chain of command has been developed over thousands of years of human experience in conflict.

Doing stuff like this can lose a battle, lose a war, break a military, wipeout a squad or devastate even a nation.

Only fools throw away the value of thousands of years of "lessons learned".

Of course, fools being fools, do really foolish things for foolish reasons.

Smart folks try not to hang out with fools. Military folks are no exception.

robt willmann

Assuming that the stories of resistance to Israeli requests for material to help it attack Iran are true, the likely reason for the resistance is the hand of consigliere and former White House Chief of Staff, Treasury Secretary, and Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

Baker is the only known political appointee who has successfully steered U.S. positions in spite of opposition by the Israeli government.

I have often thought that current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is a "mole" for some folks on the outside of the government. His benefactors are not neocons. Yet, he would not seem to have persuasive influence over Bush jr.

In my opinion, Baker, with the backing of some persons in the military-- but not Gen. Petraeus, who is likely playing both ends against the middle--is keeping the lid on an attack against Iran.


frank durkee wrote:

"Is it not any presidents perogative to seek any advice he wants on any issue. including and not limited to those who bear the statutory authority?"

I think that's true, Frank, but I think there's two other kinds of things going on here that rightfully gets people upset:

Firstly, there's been a huge amount of thought and experience—from both the legislative and past executive branches—that has gone into the statutes decreeing the chain of command, who is supposed to do what, when, and why and etc. And it's more than a little troublesome when a President, especially one like Bush who is so obviously callow as regards foreign and military affairs generally, and for no other reason than, apparently, some kind of quasi-religious sense of self-rightousness, goes about ignoring the spirit if indeed not the letter too of that statutory scheme.

Indeed it's more than just a little scary to have a President who really cares not what, say, the Joint Chief's of Staff's advice is, or the Secty' of Defense, or others, or puts pressure on same to determine what they advise or etc., etc. Even if it's not illegal—and here much of the question would be what does "illegality" mean if there's no sanction possible—I think people rightly look upon this kind of thing as evidence of something deeply worrisome in our President.

Secondly is the pretty clear efforts of Mr. Cheney to not just stick his finger into the system, but indeed to manipulate it also. And of course with Cheney he is Mr. Bush's vice-president, and so Mr. Bush again should be rightfully pegged as being responsible for allowing this to happen, if indeed he is bright enough to know what's gone on which is questionable.

So I think that what drives people kind of crazy is that, at best, there's a kind of a pantomime that's gone on under Bush of minimally going through the motions of observing what laws that exist and etc. when absolutely necessary, (if that), but clearly having a deep deep disdain for them in spirit and substance otherwise. So that even if he can't quite be pegged here or there with "breaking the law," I think that's not the most important point really with this kind of "process" law. The deeper point is that we don't just want someone who pays minimal, disdainful attention to that law, but one who at least seems to recognize firstly that there are limits to their own authority, and secondly that the laws that contain those limits contains some hard-won wisdom too.

It's like living next to a propane-tank farm and having a new manager take over who goes through the minimal motions concerning safety—obeying this or that rule to meet with neighbors once a month to listen to their safety concerns, pretends to listen to his safety personnel and etc., etc. Yet, obviously, he is also one who is just clearly and utterly disdainful of the whole issue.

You might not always be able to precisely define the totality and/or specifics of what he's doing "wrong," but you know damn well that he ought not be doing that job.



rw, I'm a great fan of Baker's loan-freezes with Shamir. I'm also aware of his ties to the Bush family. Aside from these two points, what else convinces you he's behind the wheel. Cheers, Trent

Clifford Kiracofe

Biden says:

"We don't want to have any enemies with the Arab states; we will treat them fairly, and we will do what we can to be a fair agent of change. But the idea that we are 'evenhanded' -- meaning that we make no distinction between Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Israel -- is simply not the case. Israel is our ally. If Israel did not exist, we'd have to invent it for our own national security."

R Whitman

We may be off track here. Perhaps the rumor of a deal between the US and Iran is true. We do not attack them and restrain the Israelis from doing so;they refrain from supplying arms and IED's in Iraq and restrain the Shiite militias. Supposedly this deal was done during the meetings in Iraq between Crocker and the Iranians.

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