Archive for October 4th, 2009

The deadly siege at Kamdeysh

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Michelle Malkin

This Sunday, keep these troops — and all our men and women serving in uniform — in your thoughts and prayers (via the Washington Post):

Firing rockets and rifles, Taliban militiamen attacked American and Afghan military outposts in a daylong siege on Saturday that killed eight U.S. soldiers and two Afghan security forces in one of the deadliest battles in months, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

The fighting began early Saturday morning and raged throughout the day in a remote region of eastern Afghanistan in Nurestan province, which borders Pakistan. Staging their attack from steep mountainsides that overlook the outposts in the valley below, on a morning when weather made visibility poor, the Taliban fighters attacked the small American and Afghan bases using rifles, machine guns, grenades and rockets, according to U.S. military officials.

By Sunday morning, when the U.S. military made the attack public in a statement, the area was “largely secure but I do think there is still some activity,” said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

In addition to the eight soldiers killed, several others were injured, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, but he did not specify the number. The American soldiers called in ground reinforcements, along with attack helicopter, airplanes and surveillance drones during the fighting. U.S. forces eventually repelled the attack while inflicting “a significant amount of casualties” on insurgents, Smith said.

Due to the “very challenging terrain,” the insurgents had “pretty effective firing positions,” Smith said. “It was obviously a very, very difficult day.”

…The U.S. military said it was not immediately clear how many insurgents were involved in the fighting. The attack involved Taliban fighters and appeared to be led by a local commander of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group, which is run by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a former mujaheddin leader during the Soviet war in Afghanistan during the 1980s.

The attack took place in a sparsely populated area of forested mountains near the town of Kamdeysh. The deputy police chief of Nurestan province, Mohammad Farouq, said the insurgents intended to seize control of the Kamdeysh area and that hundreds took part in the fighting. He said more than 20 Afghan soldiers and police have gone missing since the fighting began and may have been taken hostage.

***

Thanks to all of you who gave generously to Lt. Daniel Cnossen’s support fund last week. Lt. Cnossen lost both legs while on a mission in Kandahar and is recovering at NNMC Bethesda — where he recently received both the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for Valor. I heard from LT Brian Ray, his best friend and website administrator, who e-mailed that “directly through your link we were able to raise enough money to move Dan’s mom and sister into an apartment to be near him during his recovery.”

A reminder that you can contribute right here. Michele Malkin

Posted in: Afghanistan
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Sheila Bair and the Black Marker

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Posted by: Matthew Goldstein

Reuters Blog

The other day I wrote a column about a series of meetings FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair had this summer with Citi Chairman Dick Parsons. The column was based on entries in Bair’s datebook, a copy of which the FDIC turned over to me in response to a FOIA request.

But here’s the thing, the FDIC actually tried to keep some of those meetings between Bair and Parsons secret–along with a number of other meetings the FDIC chairwoman had this summer. The FDIC said it needed to redact some of the entries to protect the agency’s work with the banks it regulates. The agency did this by using a simple black marker to cover over the names of some people.

The trouble is the black marker was a dud–and the names of the people Bair met with on those days were clearly visible. That’s a good thing because it would have made it much harder for me to do my story.

Did someone at the FDIC screw up? It certainly seems that way. But the public is all the better for it.

I didn’t point out this market malfunction in the column. I figured people would notice it once they started digging through the 92-page datebook, which was posted along with the column.

The loyal readers of Zerohedge, which blogged on my column, were the first to spot the FDIC’s goof and they are having a field day with this mistake.

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The Biden Plan

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: military | Tags: , , , , , |

The Biden Plan

NYT:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday

Among the alternatives being presented to Mr. Obama is Mr. Biden’s suggestion to revamp the strategy altogether. Instead of increasing troops, officials said, Mr. Biden proposed scaling back the overall American military presence. Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.

The Americans would accelerate training of Afghan forces and provide support as they took the lead against the Taliban. But the emphasis would shift to Pakistan. Mr. Biden has often said that the United States spends something like $30 in Afghanistan for every $1 in Pakistan, even though in his view the main threat to American national security interests is in Pakistan.

Mr. Obama rejected Mr. Biden’s approach in March, and it is not clear that it has more traction this time. But the fact that it is on the table again speaks to the breadth of the administration’s review and the evolving views inside the White House of what has worked in the region and what has not. In recent days, officials have expressed satisfaction with the results of their cooperation with Pakistan in hunting down Qaeda figures in the unforgiving border lands.

A shift from a counterinsurgency strategy to a focus on counterterrorism would turn the administration’s current theory on its head. The strategy Mr. Obama adopted in March concluded that to defeat Al Qaeda, the United States needed to keep the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan and making it a haven once again for Osama bin Laden’s network. Mr. Biden’s position questions that assumption.

Mrs. Clinton, who opposed Mr. Biden in March, appeared to refer to this debate in an interview on Monday night on PBS. “Some people say, ‘Well, Al Qaeda’s no longer in Afghanistan,’ ” she said. “If Afghanistan were taken over by the Taliban, I can’t tell you how fast Al Qaeda would be back in Afghanistan.”

Read the rest @www.JulesCrittenden.com  Forward Movement-

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A Simple Invitation

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , |

This week’s promise: God forgives all sins, no matter how big

Just as I Am

 

“Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God I come! I come!”

Charlotte Elliot (1789-1871)

 

 

A simple invitation

The simple message of the song “Just as I Am” was so popular in the early days of Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusades that it became a regular part of the response to each appeal to make a public commitment for Christ.

Charlotte Elliott seemed to have everything going for her as a young woman. She was gifted as a portrait artist and also a writer of humorous verse. Then in her early thirties she suffered a serious illness that left her weak and depressed. During her illness a noted minister, Dr. Caesar Malan of Switerland, came to visit her. Noticing her depression, he asked if she had peace with God. She resented the question and said she did not want to talk about it.

But a few days later she went to apologize to Dr. Malan. She said that she wanted to clean up some things in her life before becoming a Christian. Malan looked at her and answered, “Come just as you are.” That was enough for Charlotte Elliot, and she yielded herself to the Lord that day.

Fourteen years later, remembering those words spoken to her by Caesar Malan in Brighton, England, she wrote this simple hymn that has been used to touch the hearts of millions who have responded to Christ’s invitation to come just as they are.”

from The One Year Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown (Tyndale) entry for June 22

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Opposition to Health Care Reform Grows

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , |

FOX News Poll: Opposition to Health Care Reform Grows

A majority of Americans oppose current health care legislation and think the plans being considered cost too much, give too much power to Washington and take decisions away from them and their doctors.

As Congress takes action on health care reform, public opinion on the issue remains divided and, at times, contradictory. The latest FOX News poll shows a decline in support for health care reform over the past two weeks.

Currently, one-third favors the legislation being considered (33 percent) and a slight majority (53 percent) opposes it. This compares to 38 percent favoring and 48 percent opposing the legislation two weeks ago (15-16 September 2009).

Americans are split along party lines in their support of health reform. A majority of Democrats favors the legislation (60 percent) while a large majority of Republicans opposes it (85 percent). Independents, an important swing group, are more likely to oppose health reform than favor it (57 percent oppose and 27 percent favor).

Click here to see the poll.

The poll was conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corp. from September 29 to September 30 for FOX News among 900 registered voters. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

Americans’ beliefs about what would happen if health care reform legislation were to pass sheds light on why opposition may be growing. Majorities agree the plans being considered cost too much money (62 percent), give too much power to Washington (60 percent) and take decision-making away from them and their doctor (54 percent).

This last number is particularly important. The failure of President Clinton’s attempt at health care reform is often attributed to the public’s belief that it would lead to a loss of personal control over health care decisions.

However, while Americans are concerned about what will happen to their own health care if reform passes, they are also concerned about what will happen to others if reform does not pass. Three out of four are concerned that Congress will pass reform legislation that is bad for them and their family (49 percent very concerned and 25 percent somewhat concerned).

At the same time, a large majority (70 percent) is concerned that if Congress fails to pass health reform, many Americans will be left without insurance (41 percent very concerned and 29 percent somewhat concerned).

A majority of Americans are also willing to pay more for their health insurance in order to provide insurance for all Americans (60 percent). Just over one in three would pay $100 more per year (35 percent), while about one in five would pay $500 or more (25 percent). One-third of Americans (33 percent) volunteer the fact that they would pay nothing extra.

Click here for the raw data.

Tami Buhr is a senior project manager at Opinion Dynamics Corporation Fox News.com

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Obama Can’t Outsource Afghanistan

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

By KARL ROVE

So our top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he has spoken with President Barack Obama only once since June.

This is a troubling revelation. Right now, our commander in chief is preparing to make one of the most important decisions of his presidency—whether to commit additional troops to win the war in Afghanistan. Being detached or incurious about what our commanders are experiencing makes it hard to craft a winning strategy.

Mr. Obama’s predecessor faced a similar situation: a war that was grinding on, pressure to withdraw troops, and conflicting advice—including from some who saw the war as unwinnable. But George W. Bush talked to generals on the ground every week or two, which gave him a window into what was happening and insights into how his commanders thought. That helped him judge their recommendations on strategy.

Mr. Obama’s hands-off approach to the war seems to fit his governing style. Over the past year, he outsourced writing the stimulus package to House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, washed his hands of Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to reinvestigate CIA interrogators, and hasn’t offered a detailed health-care plan.

Mr. Obama’s aloofness on the war will be a problem if the recent airing of Joe Biden’s views on Afghanistan is a tipoff that Mr. Obama will rely on his vice president’s guidance. According to reports in the New York Times and other publications, Mr. Biden supports reducing troop levels in favor of surgical attacks—mostly launched from offshore—and missile strikes against al Qaeda, especially in Pakistan.

Such an approach would almost certainly lose the war. Actionable intelligence—key to defeating an insurgency—would dry up. Tribal chieftains would cut deals with the Taliban and al Qaeda. The Afghan government would probably collapse, and the Afghan people would have little choice but to swing their support to the Taliban. Pakistan would likely come to see us as a fair-weather friend and increasingly resist U.S. attacks against al Qaeda on its soil. American credibility would be shattered. And militant Islamists would gain a victory.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal

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Afghan Attack Kills Eight U.S. Soldiers

Posted on October 4, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , |

By ANAND GOPAL

KABUL — Eight American troops and two Afghan soldiers were killed during a firefight in a remote part of Afghanistan Saturday, one of the worst single-day battlefield losses for U.S. forces since the war began. The deaths come at a time the U.S. is studying the possibility of closing remote outposts and shifting troops to more populated areas.

A tribal militia attacked two U.S. outposts in the northeastern province of Nuristan early Saturday, resulting in a prolonged firefight, a U.S. military spokeswoman said. The militia launched its attack from a mosque and a village near the Afghan-Pakistani border, said Muhammad Farouq, the provincial security chief. U.S. military officials declined to release further details of the incident until an investigation was completed. The Associated Press reported that as many as seven Afghan troops died in the attack.

“This was a complex attack in a difficult area. Both the U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together,” Col. Randy George, a commander of forces in the region, said in a statement.

It is unclear if the tribal militia has a relationship with the insurgents. However, insurgents in the area enjoy the support of locals, Afghan government and U.S. military officials said. “It’s very hard to separate the population from the insurgency there,” said Lt. Ryan Keogh, who previously was stationed in an area near the region where the firefight took place. “The population backs the insurgents and often act in conjunction with them.”

The U.S. is considering closing small, remote outposts such as those that were attacked Saturday. The shift is part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s proposed strategy to place forces near population centers and away from isolated areas. “There’s no strategic value to having outposts in places where there aren’t a lot of Afghans,” one U.S. military official based in northeastern Afghanistan said.

Nuristan, a rugged, mountainous province that borders Pakistan, has been the scene of similar attacks. In July 2008, a group of 200 insurgents overran an isolated U.S. combat outpost, killing nine soldiers and wounding 27 in what remains the single biggest U.S. battlefield loss in the war. American forces subsequently withdrew from the area and it has now been overtaken by insurgents, according to local residents.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal

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