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November 3, 2005 [LINK]

2,000+ dead in Iraq

October was the fourth deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq, and the total number of American military deaths there now exceeds 2,000. How many more? Inasmuch as this war is primarily being fought in the realm of psychology and will, the answer to that question depends, as much as anything else, on us folks on the home front.

Although the recent wave of bombings will probably recede now that the elections are over, it remains to be seen how soon the Iraqi security forces will be able to shoulder more of the responsibility for policing their own country. The huge truck bomb [ten days ago] outside the motel at Firdaus Square, where Saddam's statue was toppled in April 2003, was a potent symbol of the insurgency's deadly capabilities. Demonstrating careful planning and coordination, one truck bomb blew a hole in the protective concrete barrier along the edge of the safe "Green Zone," and a cement mixer filled with explosives drove through and blew up near a hotel used by journalists. Sixteen people died, and it was fortunate that casualties were not higher. The fact that journalists were the target is a good example of terrorist logic.

Secret prisons for terrorists

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the United States has established secret detention facilities for captured terrorists in certain Eastern European countries. I would guess that means Poland and Romania. Some key excerpts from today's online chat with the author, Dana Priest:

I don't actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I've been able to learn about her position. As for my article, we tried to minimize that by not naming the countries involved and, otherwise, no, I don't believe it compromised national security at all.
[The secret prisons] are not illegal under U.S. law, which allows for the CIA to undertake covert actions abroad. Executive Order 12333. Maybe I can get it posted here.
No one from the CIA and no one who used to be in the CIA proposed that I write the article I did. On the contrary.

Well, that last part is reassuring to those who worry that the CIA may be riven by policy disputes, as some have interpreted the Wilson-Plame case. As for the secret CIA-run prisons, that is not terribly surprising to me. Many human rights activists have complained about the "rendition" of terror suspects to countries such as Egypt and Turkey where torture is routinely practiced, and keeping the bad guys locked up by our guys will at least minimize that potential problem.

Bull Moose on Romney

Bull Moose blog (via Instapundit) made the same comparison as I did yesterday between the Senate Democrats and George Romney's "brainwashing" remark that ended his political career. Just remember, you read it here first! Scrupulously fair-minded, the "Moose" concludes,

During the late 90's the Moose was appalled by the behavior of many of his fellow Republicans who ascribed the worst motives to President Clinton for attacking Saddam and going to war in Kosovo. Clinton drove the Republicans to lose all judgement. Although it involves different different players, the Moose is feeling deja vu all over again.

For the record, I gave Clinton the benefit of the doubt on the decision to bomb Iraq during the impeachment proceedings in late 1998, but I strenuously opposed the 1999 war in Kosovo, which had nothing to do with U.S. interests and lacked any authorization from the United Nations. (Either of those criteria could justify U.S. military action, and in some rare cases such as Desert Storm, both applied.) I stand by my original judgment, and see no evidence that the people of Kosovo are becoming inclined to live at peace as part of Serbia. Perpetual de facto partition, courtesy of the U.S.A. In retrospect, however, I probably did let my antipathy toward Clinton influence the tone of my opinions about that intervention, which I regret.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 03 Nov 2005, 2: 09 PM

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