Read this

A Failure in Generalship, by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling. Yingling basically says that Generals in today's Army have no moral courage. He is basically telling his bosses (who decide how long his career lasts) that they, as a class, are failures. It ends with the understatement of the year:
The views expressed here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the Army or the Defense Department.

Giuliani scares me.

I am worried about the intersection of two aspects of a possible Giuliani presidency. The first is his apparent belief that a Democratic political victory will lead to dead Americans. The second is his natural predilection towards authoritarianism.

I can think of two instances in which two similar factors combined with bad results. The first was in WW2, when FDR and the governors of Western states believed that Japanese Americans were a threat to the United States. That belief, combined with the domestic power of the military (led by some racist generals), led to American concentration camps for 110,000 Japanese Americans. Fred Korematsu challenged the power of the government to implement concentration camps, and the Supreme Court sided with the government. Not a proud moment in American history.

The second instance is Richard Nixon and Watergate. Nixon believed that journalists, protesters, and people inside his administration were deliberately undermining him , the United States, and its efforts in the Vietnam War. Combined with Nixon's fetish for secrecy, covert actions and executive power, this almost led to the implementation of domestic detention camps for anti-war protesters under the Huston Plan. The only reason it wasn't implemented, it seems, was J. Edgar Hoover's personal dislike for Tom Huston combined with a fear for his legacy, as he was getting old. (1)

In both of these cases there were two variables. The first was the identification of a domestic threat. The second was the failure of oversight and of leadership, from FDR and the Supreme Court in the first instance, and from the White House and F.B.I. knowingly and willingly breaking the law combined with the total lack in institutionalized legislative and judicial oversight in the second instance.

A Giuliani presidency would have both variables. He has identified a domestic threat, arguing that Democratic victories will lead to dead Americans. In terms of oversight, Giuliani will be as bad as Bush in terms of secrecy and "Executive Privilege," and some say he'd be worse(2). He's already admitted that, as President, he would want the authority to arrest American citizens with no review (although he'd use the power "infrequently").

Giuliani is not a person I can trust with Presidential power.

(1) Christopher Andrews, For the President's Eyes Only, pages 366-369.

(2) "The first serious problem is structural and political: A man who fought the inherent limits of his mayoral office as fanatically as Giuliani would construe presidential prerogatives so broadly he’d make George Bush’s notions of “unitary” executive power seem soft." Jim Sleeper. Why Rudy Giuliani Really Shouldn't Be President.

Clapper ends TALON

My first round of finals are done, so I'll be posting a bit more.

Jim Clapper, the new (since February 2007) Undersecretary of Defense for intelligence over at the Pentagon, is apparently going to try to end the TALON threat reporting system. This is a good thing, as TALON is basically just a database of unsubstantiated rumor. Here's an excerpt from a paper I wrote on TALON last year:

TALON is a database of raw intelligence managed by CIFA. It, too, has recently been subject to media and Congressional scrutiny.(16) It is a database used by both civilian and military personnel designed to report suspicious activities and possible terrorist threats to military installations. Its original purpose was “a means to capture non-validated threat information, flow that information to analysts, and incorporate it into the DoD threat warning process.”(17) However, once NBC got a hold of four hundred pages of TALON reports, they reported that there were hundreds of reports of Constitutionally-protected activities being monitored through TALON reports.(18) Among these include protests of military recruiters, nuclear weapons, missile tests, the Iraq war, and air show, a planned march down Hollywood in Los Angeles, and “Planned Civil Disobedience”, as well as internet discussion boards and mass emails.(19)
The Department of Defense and CIFA admitted that “mistakes were made” in the retention of the threat reports. The Pentagon said that TALON reports are viewed as “dots” to be validated or connected later in order to prevent a terrorist attack. If the “dots” are not validated as threatening within ninety days, they must be scrubbed from the TALON database.(20) However the dates on the individual TALON reports that NBC released on its website ranged from November 10th, 2004 to May 5th, 2005 – a period of time well over ninety days.
David A Burtt II, the Director of CIFA, chalked the errant TALON reports up to “ambiguity in the sense of the way people interpreted [TALON] policy.”(21) In response to media pressure, the Defense Department ordered “refresher training on the policies for collection, retention, dissemination and use of information related to U.S. persons.”(22) However, even according to CIFA director David Burtt there remained doubt as to whether anything can be totally scrubbed from government databases once it is uploaded to TALON.(23)


(16) During the recent debates over the USA PATRIOT Act extension, Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, in response to disclosures that CIFA had monitored anti-war protests, asked on the Senate floor questions such as “The question is not, is Big Brother watching? The question is, how many big brothers have we?” February 15, 2006. Transcript available at

(17) Paul Wolfowitz. Memorandum. Subject: Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Terrorist Threats to DoD Within the United States. May 2nd, 2003. Available at

(18) Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella, NBC Investigative Unit. Is the Pentagon Spying on Americans? Secret database obtained by NBC News tracks ‘suspicious’ domestic groups. NBC Nightly News, December 14th, 2005. Available at

(19) TALON excerpts, provided by NBC Nightly News. Available at

(20) Steven Aftergood. Pentagon Will Review Domestic Surveillance Procedures. Secrecy News, Volume 2005, Issue 114, December 15, 2005. Available at and
Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a), available at

(21) NOW with David Brancaccio. PBS, March 24th, 2006. Available at

(22) Gordon England. Memorandum. Subject: Retention and Use of Information for the TALON System. January 13th, 2006. Available at

(23) “BRANCACCIO: Can you assure law abiding Americans that the data that was in TALON that shouldn't have been there didn't percolate out elsewhere into other government databases?
BURTT: I can never 100% assure that. I can tell you that this is what we have done. We have looked at the database. We have taken out the information that didn't belong. We have then gone back to the entities that are involved in the database and let them know that that information is out, and they should take it out of theirs.” From NOW with David Brancaccio. PBS, March 24th, 2006.

Here's an eight-page excerpt (pdf) of TALON reports that monitor recruiting protesting, etc.

Clapper is also a professor in my program.

War Czar

Bush has apparently been trying to find someone competent to run his wars for him. The Daily Show just nails it:

Chelsea knocks out Valencia

Chelsea knocked Valencia out of the Champions League in a thrilling game. This sets up a semi-final of Chelsea vs. Liverpool, with the winner meeting either Manchester United or AC Milan in the final. Hopefully Chelsea will get some revenge for their loss to Liverpool two years ago in the semifinals on a dubious goal (the ball didn't look to have crossed the line, and they lost 1-0).

Here are the highlights from Chelsea vs. Valencia, April 10 2007.

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck on his radio show:
I mean, I just can't win. You can't win. And why is it? Because if you are a white human that loves America and happens to be a Christian, forget about it, Jack. You are the only one that doesn't have a political action committee for you.
...Conservatives get no respect.
Glenn Beck has his own TV show on CNN, and a nationally syndicated radio show. But it's true, he just can't win, because America really does oppress its white Christian males (especially the ones, like Mr. Beck, who spew vile nonsense on TV).

I look forward to the day when America is finally ready for a conservative white Christian male for President.