Sunday, April 13, 2008
on what frequency will liberation be?:
The new URL is HTTP://WWW.THINKPROGRESS.ORG/ATTACKERMAN.Too Hot For TNR is officially dead. Reset your RSS and edit your blogroll. This is creative destruction. See you at Attackerman.
--Spencer Ackerman
Saturday, April 12, 2008
good times never felt so good:
Soon I'll be on my way to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where I'll be among people who want to kill me simply for being who I am. For practice, last night I went -- for the first time in my life -- to Fenway Park.

On my way to the airport yesterday afternoon, Megan informed me that the first Yanks-Red Sox matchup of 2008 was that evening, and not, as I had thought, Friday the 18th. Oh, nice, I said, maybe I can convince my friend Colin to watch the game with me at some bar. "Or," Megan replied, "you can get tickets on StubHub. I saw some this morning for like $75."

A dam burst. Seeing the Yankees humiliate the Red Sox... in Fenway. Dare I to dream? Si, se puede!

Thanks to the miracle of my broadband card, I opened my laptop at BWI while I waited for my flight and overpaid on StubHub for bleacher seats for me and Colin. But fuck it, right? I don't think I've seen a Yankee-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium, ever. And if you're going to walk into your enemy's house, you do it like a man: right to the bleachers. Sadly I didn't think of this while I was packing my bag, or my Robi Cano rookie shirt would have marched into Fenway. My friend Erica suggested that it wasn't too late to get tattooed.

Fenway was angry that night, my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli. The rain didn't seem like it was going to stop. It was as if God was trying to save the Sox, and their fans, for what He had in store. But Red Sox fans are infidels. Everything you've heard about their legendary classiness and respect for others and even themselves? True.

Now, I welcome the hate. I wouldn't respect the fans if they didn't unleash a whirlwind of bile and invective. It's not something I mind. What I mind is the unoriginality. Did you know that Jason Giambi used steroids? Or A-Rod might be overpaid? A charming fellow behind us, who spilled his beer on Colin, an amateur boxer, thought he was insulting the Yankees, but any cop would recognize what he was hollering as clear solicitation. By the fifth I opted to cheer loudly and openly. Giambi's homer? That was roid rage right there, friend.

To preempt an obvious objection: Yes, Yankee fans are also terrible. On Mother's Day 2006 I bought extremely expensive tickets to the Stadium to cheer up my ailing mom. Behind us two i-banker assholes talked incessantly about how inventively they had recently fucked some girls. They did not respond to the stinkeye. But one difference between Yankee fans and Red Sox fans? Sox fans turn on each other. When the guy next to us stood up and cheered in the 8th in the hope of igniting a Sox rally, an ornery type behind him demanded he sit down. He complied, but not before speaking his mind. "I'll wake you up with a two-by four," Ornery offered. Fenway cops ejected three fans -- and the fans applauded the cops, instead of supporting their fellow fans.

Another guy demanded... chowder. (They sell chowder at Fenway. It was cold last night, but I'm not eating Fenway clam chowder. My mom pointed out that Yankee Stadium doesn't sell Manhattan clam chowder.) "Hey! Chowder! Chowder! Hey chowder guy! Chowder right here!" It went on for five minutes. When he finally got his fucking chowder, his friend shouted, "Hey chowder guy! Go get the peanut guy!"

Since this is almost as long as the Lizza post: Wang threw a 94-pitch two-hit complete game. Yanks took it decisively, 4-1, but weaknesses showed through: they stranded a lot of baserunners. Today is Beckett versus Moose, and it's hard to see how the Yanks take this one. An encouraging sign: Girardi let Wang complete the game given how hot he was, and that's something Torre almost never would have allowed, particularly against the Red Sox. And now I feel prepared to meet the Taliban.
--Spencer Ackerman
Friday, April 11, 2008
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 300-08
April 11, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Jacob J. Fairbanks, 22, of Saint Paul, Minn., died April 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-9966.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 299-08
April 11, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Jesse A. Ault, 28, of Dublin, Va., died April 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered in Tunnis, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 429th Brigade Support Battalion, Virginia Army National Guard, Roanoke, Va.

For more information media may contact the Virginia National Guard public affairs office at (434) 294-1477 or (540) 407-5644.
--Spencer Ackerman
you snitchin where i come from, you gonna get your shit blown:
On Monday, THFTNR goes out of business and Attackerman rises to take its place. That means I have a limited amount of time to take this blog back to its essence: the beef with TNR. And I have one score in particular that I badly need to settle. The story of Snitching Ryan Lizza.

For years, Ryan and I were cool. Lots of people at TNR are lazy -- The Plank got started because Frank, Crowley and Jason Zengerle figured it would be easier to collect their web-writing bonus by blogging instead of writing twice-monthly columns -- but Ryan never was. Remember that obnoxious intern in Shattered Glass who constantly pokes his nose into other people's business because he's desperate to be put on? That's based on Ryan. His specialty was always in schmoozing -- meeting powerful people, ingratiating himself to powerful people, trying to get something out of powerful people. He was the first person I ever met who showed off his BlackBerry. But I never had a problem with Ryan.

By 2006, Frank had instituted a policy of fucking me over. It was harder for me to place pieces in the magazine than it was under Beinart and Scoblic. Even my blog posts were put under a cumbersome series of edits that no other writer -- except, I believe, Lawrence -- had to endure. At editorial meetings I received no support for either pitches or suggestions for coverage. It was, to say the least, frustrating: Frank was one of the people I was closest with at the magazine when we were both writers, and I cheered his ascension to editor. I didn't understand why he was playing me like this.

So one day I was commiserating with Ryan. Just blowing off steam. Understand: the lives of journalists are built around complaining, striving and martyrdom. We're prima donnas. It's unattractive but true. TNR in particular had a kind of conspiratorial atmosphere -- lots of gossip; lots of complex alliances of personal, political and bureaucratic convenience; and an age/status division between the senior editors and up, who were all in their 30s and older; and the associate editor (me) and down, who were all in our 20s. In a moment of blowing off steam, I said to Ryan that maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if I got fired for TNR for being too left-wing. There were probably some editors who'd come to my aid if that happened, since people in The Game know what TNR is really like.

I thought nothing of it. Again, that kind of venting isn't unusual for TNR, and I heard other writers say much worse things about the place over the years. But a couple weeks later Frank asked me to have lunch with him. Great! I thought. Finally an audience with my friend-turned-editor, who seems not to have time for me anymore. We went to the sushi place on New York Avenue and 11th.

"Listen," Frank said, "I know you've been telling people that you welcome getting fired. I want to tell you how unprofessional and immature that is."

Stunning. Lizza had run to our boss and told him something I had said as a way of calming myself down. Now, here it was, ripped from context, and made into a problem between me and my editor. It was the first salvo of much fake outrage from Frank over the coming months. When I grumbled that I knew who snitched on me, Frank -- realizing he had fucked up -- urged me to let it go.

I tried. Lizza went on smiling at me in the hallways, shooting the breeze, acting friendly. And then things got a little weird. By the fall, I was openly getting in conflicts with Frank and Kate Marsh, one of TNR's deputy editors. Ryan IM'd me one day and told me that if ever I was feeling frustrated, I could always go to him to talk it out.

Now, I can't prove what I'm about to write. But I thought that was really weird on his part, since we were never what you'd call friends. The only time he took any interest in me was when I was involved in inter-TNR controversy. And I'm supposed to confide in him? After he snitched on me and gave Frank the pretext he needed to poison our relationship? My suspicion: he was funneling Frank whatever I told him. Like I said, I can't prove it. But I do know that Lizza, an inveterate gossip and kiss-ass, cannot help involving himself in these kinds of minor intrigues, and he has done that to other TNR writers as well. But those aren't stories for me to tell.

I admit to being blindsided by Lizza. Part of me -- the public part -- puffed up my chest and talked big about how I didn't care what happened to me at the magazine. But most of me -- the part I kept to myself -- was confused, frightened and deeply hurt at being cast out of favor at a magazine and social environment that meant everything to me. So I didn't say much to Lizza. But one thing I did say was that I didn't really mean what I said about not thinking it was so bad if I got fired. He told me I was "back-pedaling."

Two days before I ultimately got fired Ryan IM'd me. It was after I wrote two THFTNR posts: one about how the magazine's content-management-system was appropriately called Coma and the other about how the cool kids hate TNR. Jokey stuff. Ryan contacted me in a snit and told me how deeply I had offended my colleagues and how I was out of control -- but I could always talk to him about whatever I was going through. I told him, first, that I didn't realize I had offended anyone and would write an apology over email, which I did; and second, that what I really wanted was to see if the kind of magazine I believed in could still be saved -- something brave, honest, and penetrative. In other words: I didn't want to be fired, and I didn't want to quit. I didn't want to leave.

And then we took the conversation to a phone chat, and I said something else. How dare Lizza snitch on me? How dare he so casually toy with me? Lizza apologized. I remember this moment so vividly: I was standing on my porch, smoking a cigarette while it rained, my voice trembling, my hands trembling. I called Lizza a lot of colorful names. My friend Kate came up the stairs and looked vaguely frightened at how angry I was. Two days later I was fired.

What I learned from this is something every journalist, every editor, every potential source and every reader should know: Ryan Lizza is not to be trusted. He will betray you, and betray you casually. Whatever helps Lizza get what he want, Lizza will do. It doesn't matter if you and he have a warm relationship. He only -- only -- cares about himself. So congratulations, Ryan! You got what you wanted. You're the New Yorker's Washington correspondent. I hope it's worth it to you to have that job, since the path that you took to get it was to become a sniveling, obsequious, deceitful coward. Or maybe that's what you've always been, and always will be.
--Spencer Ackerman
may the kings all drown in the blood of conquest:
Abu Muqawama surveys Egyptian unrest and says "this isn't an insurgency (yet)":
If the unrest does become an insurgency, one should, unfortunately, probably bet on the Egyptian apparatus of state repression to triumph. The Egyptians do counterinsurgency the old-fashioned way: they kill a lot of people, arrest even more, torture those who they arrest, intimidate the families and professional contacts of those targeted, shut down channels of political dissent, and keep the pressure going indefinitely. How long has Egypt been under a state of emergency? Nearly 30 years, right?

Obviously I think this state of affairs is reprehensible. But to look at it outside the realm of normative judgment, what stands out is that a domestic insurgency really would become a fight for survival on the part of the ruling Egyptian clique. That will make the Mubarak-niks fight with all the brutality a battle for survival entails. To make the obvious point, an army of occupation does not face the same existential imperatives as a government beset with a mass uprising does -- unless the purpose of that occupation is to sustain itself forever. (And even then, the imperative doesn't really exist unless the occupation implicates the survival of the imperial metropole. Not the case in Iraq, despite all the "we fight them over there so we won't fight them over here" lies.) Furthermore, we should be very, very wary of viewing counterinsurgency as a continuum of operations, since doing so could draw us into the mistake of saying, "Well, you know, the Egyptians really know what they're doing..."
--Spencer Ackerman
we can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell:
Brian Katulis and Matt Duss empty a clip into the Kagans:
One of the most skewed analyses of the recent intra-Shiite clashes in Iraq came from two architects of the Bush administration's 2007 surge, Fred and Kimberly Kagan. Writing in the Weekly Standard, the Kagans described last month's battle in Basra as a security operation launched by "the legitimate Government of Iraq and its legally constituted security forces [against] illegal, foreign-backed, insurgent and criminal militias serving leaders who openly call for the defeat and humiliation of the United States and its allies in Iraq and throughout the region."

These depictions ignore an inconvenient truth: The leaders in Iraq's current government are closely aligned with Tehran and represent some of Iran's closest allies in Iraq. This is perhaps best illustrated by the warm welcome Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received in his visit to Iraq last month, which punctures the myth that the current battle is between a unified Iraqi government and fringe groups receiving support from Iran.
--Spencer Ackerman
Thursday, April 10, 2008
did you win that race? did you score that point?:
My friend Ari Berman catches the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallstein relying on a racist rightwinger, Debbie Schlussel, for a piece implying that Barack Obama has some kind of animus against the Jews. Apparently it's impossible to be a friend of both Israel and Palestine! Christ, Wallstein also uses another friend of mine, Hussein Ibish, to say in coded words, See? See? Arabs like Obama! Arabs!
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 297-08
April 10, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Shaun P. Tousha, 30, of Hull, Texas, died April 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 296-08
April 10, 2008
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Tech. Sgt Anthony L. Capra, 31, of Hanford, Calif., died April 9 near Golden Hills, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to Detachment 63, 688 Armament Systems Squadron, Indian Head City, Md.

For further information related to this release, please contact the 96th Air Base Wing Air Force Base public affairs office at (850) 882-5987.
--Spencer Ackerman
it's like asking an orphan to shut the fuck up:
Gregg Easterbrook writes in -- I'm so sorry to say it -- The Washington Independent:
Here is the October 2002 joint congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq. Give it a read in light of what is now known. Needless to say, the resolution cites banned weapons as a justification for war; we can stipulate this was a reasonable belief at the time. Other justifications for war cited include that "members of Al Qaeda… are known to be in Iraq." Whether this was true then or not, members of Al Qaeda are known to be in Britain; is the presence in a country of individual criminals a justification for invasion?
Of course, you didn't have to wait until the invasion occurred to recognize that kind of fallacious reasoning. And I worked with Gregg at TNR at the time -- I even had to waste a weekend combing through his books for potentially-offensive statements after he attacked the Jews on his blog -- and I don't recall him saying a word in opposition to the war at editorial meetings when the magazine was backing the resolution.
--Spencer Ackerman
seen your video:
Attention DC-area THFTNR readers: would you like to be in a music video? (Not for The Surge.) I need a posse for a shoot I'm doing. Email supportthesurge-at-gmail-dot-com. Serious inquiries only please.
--Spencer Ackerman
DJ Scott La Rock has a college degree:
Everyone cheer on my friend and counterinsurgency luminary Erin Simpson, who defends her dissertation today tomorrow. Woo Erin! Doctor Simpson! I bought you a pink Varitek t-shirt to mark your special day.
--Spencer Ackerman
streets is watching:
My summation of the Petraeus hearings is out at the Washington Independent. Can I preach it like I feel it?
Yet Petraeus defied expectations in one sense. He did not exhibit much deference to his potential Democratic bosses. At times, he appeared downright dismissive of the idea that anti-war forces might have a point. He repeatedly said that dire consequences would follow a precipitous withdrawal, but declined to answer a question from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D- Calif.) how he would mitigate those consequences if ordered to implement a withdrawal.

When asked by Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) -- a decided moderate in both outlook and temperament -- if reasonable people could disagree about the way forward in Iraq, Petraeus replied, "Lots of things in life are arguable." He sounded more like Donald Rumsfeld than the officer who has become a national hero.

More substantively, Petraeus twice refused to say that he would be prepared to either design or execute a plan for withdrawal should a new (read: Democratic) president order one. Aware that what he was saying edged up to the line of insubordination, he added, "Let me state up front that I absolutely support the idea of civilian control of the military. We do not work for ourselves." Yet he did not say either that he would resign on principle if asked to implement a strategy he did not support, or that he would ultimately salute and follow orders.
Brandon at VetVoice reminds us that eighteen Americans have died in Iraq since Sunday.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 291-08
April 10, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Jeremiah C. Hughes, 26, of Jacksonville, Fla., died April 9 in Balad Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident in Abu Gharab, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the 25th Infantry Division public affairs office at (808) 655-6341.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 290-08
April 10, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley, 25, of Hempstead, Texas, died April 8 in Kharguliah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

For more information media may contact the Fort Benning public affairs office at (706) 545-3512; after hours, call (706) 545-2218.
--Spencer Ackerman
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 289-08
April 09, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Maj. Mark E. Rosenberg, 32, of Miami Lakes, Fla., died April 8 in Baghdad, Iraq of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

For more information related to this release, media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at (719) 526-4143; after hours (719) 526-5500.
--Spencer Ackerman
i'm so tired i can't sleep:
Two days. Four hearings. Sixty posts. Well, 62: One I forgot to post -- it was about Barbara Boxer's accent -- and one Laura took down because she didn't like me calling for our readers to storm the C-Span offices and murder the producers who cut away from the House Armed Services Committee. Also a 930-word sum-up that Allison is editing now. I'm exhausted and a bit delirious. So that means it's karaoke time.
--Spencer Ackerman
superman that ho:
Ezra has a great column pivoting off Yglesias's great book:
Yet the internationalist vision was more deeply interwoven into our cultural fabric than we often realize. Superman and Captain America were superheroes of an odd sort: Tremendously powerful beings whose primary struggle was often to follow the self-imposed rules and strictures that lent their power a moral legitimacy. Neither allowed themselves to kill, and both sought to work within the law. Given their strength, either could have sought world domination, and even if they didn't, could have been viewed with deep suspicion and even hatred by those who were convinced they one day would seek world domination. It was only by following ostentatiously strict moral codes that they could legitimize their power, and thus exist cooperatively with a world that had every right to fear them. Indeed, soon enough, both were forming communities of likeminded super beings (The Justice League for Superman, the Avengers for Captain America) and generally operating much like, well, the nation that birthed them. As Spiderman -- a later hero who, like so many heroes, bought into the idea that rules and restraint separated the good guys from the bad guys -- liked to say, "with great power comes great responsibility."
An excellent point. For years I've had a burr under my saddle about an admittedly rare neoconservative trope: to advocate a "heroic" foreign policy. Tom Donnelly and Vance Serchuck wrote a 2004 piece for the Weekly Standard attacking John Kerry for not realizing that the U.S. is Batman. It was admittedly odd: I like my comic books, but I can also distinguish fantasy from reality.

Ezra's making me think twice. Maybe there's something to be said for Justice League or Iron Man approaches to foreign affairs.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 286-08
April 09, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 7 in Sadr City, Iraq, when enemy forces attacked using a rocket propelled grenade. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

Killed were:


Spc. Jason C. Kazarick, 30, of Oakmont, Pa.


Sgt. Michael T. Lilly, 23, of Boise, Idaho.


For more information media may contact the U.S. Army, Europe, public affairs office at 011-49-6221-57-5816 or 8694, or email: ocpa.pi@eur.army.mil .
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 287-08
April 09, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Timothy M. Smith, 25, of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., died April 7 in Baghdad, Iraq of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), located at Fort Polk, La.

For further information media may contact the Fort Polk public affairs office at (337) 531-4630.
--Spencer Ackerman
we gon' do it again, we gon' do it again:
If it was Petraeus you were after, I sure hope you read the Streak yesterday. I'm well on my way to breaking my TPM record from September of 50 Petraeus posts in two days: we got like 40 in on day one. I'll be liveblogging rounds three and four of the Petraeus-Congress bout over at The Streak today, too. Thanks to Holly for taking care of the Obama questioning while I was out Surging.

So, a quick after-action report: it's been nine years since I played a hardcore show. (Maybe I should have titled the post "Nine Years Later.") And the Bobby Fisher Memorial Building was a perfect reintroduction: totally collective-run, in a space covered in Borf-graffiti, that the city's charging the BFMB kids thousands upon thousands of dollars to use. We had to take an extremely heavy generator to the gas station on Florida and North Capitol to acquire the necessary fuel to power the PA. No one complained; they just got to work. The actual staging area looked great, with a small riser for a stage, tasteful lighting, and an extremely live concrete room. Support these guys. They want to turn the space into a real community center. Maybe next up will be a Gestures/Surge extravaganza.

Video coming soon of us. I thought we were pretty good. But Ingrid, who're from around DC, were better. Pulvarizing math-metal. The guitarist could rival Marnie Stern and the drummer was waaaaay better than I am. Luckily she borrowed my snare stand; I told her I hope she some of her style on it. Ryan Harvey sang some great and humorous folk songs about the war and the circumstances that drove it. He works with Iraq Veterans Against the War, so he had me at "I'm not going to use the mic." (The Surge's newest song is called "Winter Soldier," inspired by/a tribute to this.)

Then: From The Depths. My second time seeing them, and after a bit of a disjointed beginning they came back with their blend of operatic anarcho-metalcore. Kids were doing the piano-haul dance. (Sam called it The Rope Ladder. Hardcore kids, what's this actually called? It seems to be the new picking-up-change.) I had some trouble hearing Monica, except when she sang her solo Italian folk song, but no trouble at all hearing the dueling technical guitars, or Jeff's blunt-end-of-the-stick drumming. If you go see them, don't expect Requiem -- they do not sound like Requiem, to *****'s great credit -- but do expect something special.

Even better was getting to see ***** for the first time in about 18 months. He came by the Flophouse and suddenly we were in a long chat about Iraq, troubles with the antiwar movement, and other things we talk about to indicate "I am doing well and hope you are too; now catch me up, it's been too goddamn long." Sam came in from Boston before flying back to Berlin this afternoon, making for an interesting bookend: *****'s old band Catharsis played the first show that Sam and my old band Yakub ever played, in New Brunswick in 1998.

So: probably no THFTNR today either. Petraeus is back on the Hill in a little under an hour. Storm heaven! And unleash hell.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 284-08
April 08, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah E. McNeal, 23, of Norfolk, Va., died April 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, Virginia Army National Guard, West Point, Va.

For more information media may contact the Virginia National Guard public affairs office at (434) 298-6107.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 283-08
April 08, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Richard A. Vaughn, 22, of San Diego, Calif., died April 7 in Baghdad, Iraq from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked using a rocket propelled grenade, improvised explosive device and small arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 282-08
April 08, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 6 in Baghdad, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with indirect fire.

Killed were:

Col. Stephen K. Scott, 54, of New Market, Ala. He was assigned to the 356th Quartermaster Battalion, Laurel, Miss., and

Maj. Stuart A. Wolfer, 36, of Coral Springs, Fla. He was assigned to the 11th Battalion, 104th Division, Boise, Idaho.

For more information on Col. Scott, the media may contact the 81st Regional Readiness Command at (205) 795-1690.

For more information on Maj. Wolfer, the media may contact Lt. Col. Tim Marsano at (208) 422-5268.
--Spencer Ackerman
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
silence kills the revolution:
No THFTNR today. I'll be liveblogging the Petraeus hearings over at The Streak, so check that out. The pregame coverage starts here. Last year I wrote 50 posts in two days for TPM. Can I break the record? We'll see. No video this time around, alas. There's only one Ben Craw.

You know what you should do when the Petraeus hearings end? You should come check out The Surge at the Bobby Fisher Memorial Building at 1644 North Capitol St. NW, just a few short blocks from the New York Avenue Metro on the Red Line. We'll be on around 7:30ish, but you really need to see From The Depths. God, what a day this is going to be.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 280-08
April 08, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Emanuel Pickett, 34, of Teachey, N.C., died April 6 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked with indirect fire. He was assigned to the 1132nd Military Police Company, North Carolina Army National Guard, Rocky Mount, N.C.

For more information media may contact the North Carolina National Guard public affairs office at (919) 664-6242.
--Spencer Ackerman
Monday, April 07, 2008
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 279-08
April 07, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 6 in Balad, Iraq, when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Killed were:

Capt. Ulises Burgos-Cruz, 29, of Puerto Rico, who was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Spc. Matthew T. Morris, 23, of Cedar Park, Texas, who was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information on Burgos-Cruz, media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-3410.

For more information on Morris, media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993; after hours (254) 291-2591.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 278-08
April 07, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Pfc. Shane D. Penley, 19, of Sauk Village, Ill., died April 6 at Patrol Base Copper, Iraq, from wounds suffered while on duty at a guard post. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

The incident is under investigation.

For more information media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at (270) 798-9966.
--Spencer Ackerman
twinkletoes, you're breaking my heart:
Forgive me, but this post is for the dudes. You know how you come out of the shower -- at the gym, say -- and you're toweling off, and you feel all dry, but then you put on your underwear and you realize: Dammit, I forgot to dry under my balls. Sometimes I wonder, could you pay someone enough to dry your under-nut area for you?

Anyway, after I read this review of Heads In The Sand I finally realized: so that's why Marty keeps this dude around.
--Spencer Ackerman
snake, snake-face:
Swinging by Doug Feith's website in an ill-fated attempt to learn when his book is coming out, I saw this in his bio:
He has contributed chapters to a number of books, including James W. Muller, ed., Churchill as Peacemaker; Douglas J. Feith, et al., Israel's Legitimacy in Law and History; and Uri Ra'anan, et al., eds., Hydra of Carnage: International Linkages of Terrorism.
Interestingly enough, this is the only Hydra of Carnage I could find at Amazon.
--Spencer Ackerman
my mind right:
Whoa, Phil Carter's moved Intel Dump to Washingtonpost.com! Read it constantly.

On a related note. Hey Katzie: remember that dude you went to college with? I totally share your feelings about him now.
--Spencer Ackerman
orange gear cuz i just broke out the prison:
Angel Duss versus Fred Kagan. An unfair fight.
There is little actual doubt about who is Iran’s primary proxy in Iraq: The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), formerly the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). SCIRI was founded in the early 1980s by exiled Iraqi clerical activists in Iran, with the blessing and support of Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) created and trained SCIRI’s armed wing, the Badr Corps (now known as the Badr Organization), for the express purpose of eventually serving as an arm of Iran’s Quds Force in Iraq. SCIRI was among the Iraqi exile parties with whom the U.S. worked in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, but maintained close ties to Iran. ISCI continues to receive Iranian funds, and many members of the Badr militia reportedly still receive pensions from the IRGC. Thousands of these Iranian-trained and indoctrinated militiamen have been incorporated into the Iraqi police and army.

Sadr, on the other hand, is seen by the Iranians as an annoyance. This does not mean, however, that Iran has not sought to build ties to his movement. Though initially surprised by the strength of Sadr’s movement, (which they rightly regarded as a hindrance to their quick, easy, SCIRI-facilitated dominance of Iraq), Iran quickly grasped — unlike the U.S. — that Sadr’s political appeal was genuine, and has sought to manage it, rather than simply deny or suppress it, as the U.S. has done.
I'm just happy I'm no longer the liberal blogosphere's number-one Sadr-apologist.
--Spencer Ackerman
change my pitch up:
Anna explains commenting: "Jezebel is not a democracy." Now if only Matt Yglesias commenters had such a helpful FAQ. ("Rule number one: No commenting on Flophouser weight fluctuations. You're ugly, too. Rule number two: when you want to say something about Israel, don't. Neither Yglesias nor Josh Marshall are tools of the Zionist conspiracy, nor do they fly Hamas flags from their windows...")
--Spencer Ackerman
we are reaching a new low:
TNR's new environment blog is "powered by BP." God, it feels good to work in the independent media.
--Spencer Ackerman
Sunday, April 06, 2008
i accept this award on behalf of the unit:
Slate's John Dickerson says in the Washington Post that dropping out of the Democratic primary is a lonely decision. Not if G-Unit has anything to say about it.

On the new anti-Fat Joe mixtape The Elephant In The Sand, 50 and Tony Yayo come out for Obama -- 50 for virtuous reasons, Yayo less so.

Fif: "N***** wanna kill me/ I stay in drama/ say a prayer for me, nah/ pray for Obama/ Ain't nothing changed/ those rednecks got .44 Mags/ KKK masks and Confederate flags/ Black man in the Office/ you know they gon' flip/ put their hand on their rifle/ 'this country's going to shit'"

Talk Of New York: "Funny how time flies/ life turn to memories/ and I can't vote/ too many felonies/ if I could vote, I wouldn't vote for Hillary (why?)/ man, a bitch rule the world? man, you're kidding me"

Those lines aside, judging from Elephant and the previous Bodysnatchers mixtape, I think it's time to reassess Tony Yayo's rap skills. He's showing a lot of improvement.
--Spencer Ackerman
you don't understand us, bullshit, you just fucking fear us:
My life is full of regret. Here's one of my all-time favorite regrets: in May 1998, my friends Jesse and Sam and I put on a 30-band nightmare called Jersey Fest that nearly ruined Sam and Jesse's friendship. (Seriously, you try to put on a festival while your two partners don't speak for two months -- except through you -- while you're in high school.) The redemption was that Los Crudos headlined. If you don't know Los Crudos, know this: there are four great punk bands of the 1990s. Bikini Kill, Rancid, The Refused, and Los Crudos. Proof is here. (Born Against doesn't count because they formed in the 80s.)

Anyway, finally, Crudos played, they ruled, the fest was over at long last. We were hanging out with Martin, Crudos' singer, as we cleaned up the VFW, while soundman Jon Hiltz played some Portishead or something. I turned around to pick up a stray bit of trash -- just for a second -- and when I came back to my friends, their jaws were gaping open and Martin was walking away. What happened? Martin had just just just started breakdancing like whoa. And I missed it.

Los Crudos broke up that year. It was a calamity. Martin, who in addition to revolutionizing punk rock by singing in Spanish revolutionized it even further by proving that the singer for your favorite brutal punk band could be gay, started Limp Wrist, the greatest of all queercore bands. But now, on May 17, Crudos returns. Oh. My. Fucking. God. Los Crudos will play Prank Records' Chaos in Tejas festival with fucking Tragedy!

You know what's fun about not being in high school anymore? I can go to Austin to see Los Crudos if I fucking feel like it. And I fucking feel like it. That's it. It's settled. My trip to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (you read that right) is hereby rescheduled on account of Los Crudos reforming. All good punk-rock road trips require traveling partners. Who's with me? I'm serious. I just bought my ticket. There is no turning back. Holler at supportthesurge-at-gmail-dot-com. Do not e-mail if you do not intend to go.
--Spencer Ackerman
Man keep it real, get your own shit man, and be original:
--Spencer Ackerman
it's my quest, quest for certainty:
This is -- sigh -- probably true:
The president felt frustrated that he could not "get out of either Abizaid or Casey any coherent description of how we were going to defeat the enemy" as sectarian violence spiraled in Baghdad, one former official said. That led Bush to overrule his military advisers last year, order a "surge" of 30,000 additional U.S. forces to Iraq, and search for a new field commander who would be more in line with his views on how best to wage the war.
Yeah, wonder why Abizaid or Casey couldn't offer any coherent description of how to defeat the enemy...

Still, this is surely an effort at washing Bush in the blood of the Petraeus-lamb. Bush was casting about for a commander "more in line with his views on how best to wage the war"? And those would be...? To send more troops to Iraq? People from Joe Biden to the Weekly Standard had been saying that for four years. Bush refused when it might have made a difference and acquiesced when it wouldn't. A blast from the past:
Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don't you send more troops? If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job. Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever, when we are, in fact, working for the day when Iraq can defend itself and we can leave. As we determine the right force level, our troops can know that I will continue to be guided by the advice that matters: the sober judgment of our military leaders.
Wouldn't want to give the impression we're staying forever! That was June 28, 2005. His commanders were John Abizaid and George Casey.
--Spencer Ackerman
if it's what it takes we're ready to fight:
In a forthcoming American Prospect piece, Matthew Yglesias explores the roots of John McCain's bellicosity. The essay is subtle, nimble, and carries a lot of explanatory weight. Unfortunately for Yglesias, it misses the obvious point: he's a frakking Cylon.

Image created (or something) by Metamerist.
--Spencer Ackerman
Saturday, April 05, 2008
je suis le roller-girl, roll-roll-roll-roller-girl:
My ex-girlfriend Sue -- my puppymama, actually -- has the best internet/e-mail narrative voice of anyone I know. For years I've wondered why she didn't have her own blog. (There was a short-lived but great effort on her part to document Kingsley's early months called Dog Blog.) Now that she's moved to Baltimore, she's decided to document her efforts to infiltrate the unique secret society known as Roller Derby. Behold: Rollerkid.

Best roller-derby moniker ever? Joy Collision.
--Spencer Ackerman
got to see that movie stoned drug me:
Jeff Stein splits the uprights:
There can be little doubt now that the government has used drugs on terrorist suspects that are designed to weaken their resistance to interrogation. All that’s missing is the syringes and videotapes.

Another window opened on the practice last week with the declassification of John Yoo’s instantly infamous 2003 memo approving harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects.

Yoo advised top Bush administration officials that interrogators could employ mind-altering drugs if they did not produce “an extreme effect” calculated to “cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality.”

Yoo had first rationalized the use of drugs in a 2002 memo for top Bush administration officials.

But this latest revelation shows Yoo reiterating conditions on the use of drugs a year later, despite the rising resistance to harsh interrogation techniques by military lawyers and the FBI.

“The new Yoo memo, along with other White House legal memoranda, shows clearly that the policy foundation for the use of interrogational drugs was being laid,” says Stephen Miles, a University of Minnesota bioethicist and author of “Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror.” “The recent memo on mood-altering drugs does not extend previous work on this area,” he said. “The use of these drugs was anticipated and discussed in the memos of January and February 2002 by DoD, DoJ, and White House counsel using the same language and rationale. The executive branch memos laid a comprehensive and reiterated policy foundation for the use of interrogational drugs.”
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 272-08
April 04, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Charles A. Jankowski, 24, of Panama City, Fla., died March 28, in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

For more information related to this release, the media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 271-08
April 04, 2008
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of an airman who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin, 28, of Dover, Del., died April 3 near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 377th Security Forces Squadron, Kirtland AFB, N.M.

For further information related to this release, please contact the Kirtland Air Force Base public affairs office at (505) 846-5991.
--Spencer Ackerman
Friday, April 04, 2008
i never saw him i only heard of him:
I totally don't believe in this sentiment at all, OK? At all. That shit is not cool! But I saw this TNR cover and couldn't help but think, "See, it starts out with civil unions, then gay marriage, and before you know it..."
--Spencer Ackerman
we live in the age of faceless, nameless, endless war:
Abu Muqawama and Charlie are in a very interesting debate that might be called "Chickenhawk, Reconsidered." Abu M, angry at the Kagans, assails them for not serving in uniform. Charlie replies that on-the-ground experience is hardly a guarantee of strategic wisdom. In other words, Abu Muquwama calls the Kagans chickenhawks; Charlie calls foul.

On balance, I think Charlie has the better of the argument. That, of course, is predictable, coming from my civilian ass. Indeed, her point was much the same as the one in this piece of mine.

But.

What on-the-ground experience does get you, at least as far as I can gather, is a sense of the costs of war and of strategy. Civilians like myself will never truly understand that. I've had a car bomb explode about a city block away from me once, in Baghdad last March. That's the closest I've come to being in actual danger. Pretty vicarious.

And there Abu Muquwama's point really does hit home hard, particularly when he talks about the costs borne by certain families. There is something unseemly about being enthusiastic or cavalier about war, even a just war, and the Kagans exhibit that to the Nth degree. (The only complicating factor is the strange enthusiasm or nostalgia a war veteran can experience, and clearly the Kagans have no relevant experience here.) While I don't think a cry of "chickenhawk!" can end an argument, it's not so inappropriate in certain contexts, as when said-chickenhawk starts to view war as a glorious or pleasurable activity -- for, of course, someone else to engage in. That way pornography lies.

Update: Charlie emails a clarification:
I'm deeply sympathetic to AM's argument, I just worry about fetishizing mil service. And I do think you can (start to) appreciate the costs as you start to tally the number of divorces and broken souls.
--Spencer Ackerman
showed me how to be a man:
David Brooks does what conservatives feel they need to do: pretends he would have supported Martin Luther King Jr when it mattered. But I'm reading Rick Perlstein's masterpiece Nixonland, and he proves it just ain't so. Were Brooks -- the social-climber tribune of safe opinion -- writing in the 50s and 60s, he would have wrung his hands at the radicalism of King's challenge to white America, and fretted over how "divisive" he was. At least Bill Kristol has the honesty -- it's Bull Connor's honesty, but still -- to say we shouldn't ever discuss race in America.

Brooks writes, "If Barack Obama's presidential campaign represents anything, it is the triumph of King's early-60s style of activism over the angry and reckless late-60s style." Weasel words. King became angry. He should have been angry, because to not be angry in late-60s America was to be unaware. His truth was too powerful for the David Brookses. Consider:
Forty years ago today, a madman from David Brooks' America murdered our prophet. For a variety of reasons I obviously wish King had lived. But one of them is so we would have seen the right unmasked. Had King not been martyred, the right would treat him like it treats Jesse Jackson -- as nothing more than a "hustler" or a "huckster." You know, all those two-syllable words that are supposed to mean a different two-syllable word that starts with an N. It will forever be our responsibility to fight them, and it's a responsibility we should relish, savor and enjoy on the way to victory.
--Spencer Ackerman
the internet is a toilet stall filled with jerks and twits:
My role model, Sam McPheeters, has a blog. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Dr. Rafael Haggenbarry. Please put Fear Of Smell on MP3.
--Spencer Ackerman
he talks in maths:
General Petraeus testifies again next week. Here's a decoder ring to understand why he's saying what he's going to say. Fresh out from the Washington Independent kitchen.
--Spencer Ackerman
Thursday, April 03, 2008
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 268-08
April 03, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Dayne D. Dhanoolal, 26, of Brooklyn, died March 31 in Baghdad, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

For further information on this soldier, contact the Fort Benning public affairs office at (706) 545-3512; after hours, call (706) 545-2218.
--Spencer Ackerman
we've got the right to choose and there ain't no way we're losing:
Dave Chappelle once used Twisted Sister as the stand-in music for white dudes who think they're teh awesomez0rs. His insight makes this video especially shrewd.
--Spencer Ackerman
this is how them players do it in the chi:
Yes, I'm guesting on Crappy Hour today and tomorrow. It's like returning to the scene of the crime. Only I'm doing it with Megan this time, not Moe. Don't want to be an underminer!
--Spencer Ackerman
see 106 and Park fans don't even fucking respect you:
Abu Muqawama knows a little something about war, and even more about the Middle East, and even more than that about counterinsurgency. To see him have a boot party with the Kagans' latest piece of propaganda makes me want to have a cigarette again.
Well, what if we stayed in Iraq and ended up backing the preferred choice of the Iranian government at the expense of a popular, nationalist alternative? That would be ironic in a totally non-Alanis Morissette kind of way, huh? Ah, well, at least it's not your kids over there, yeah? What branch of service, by the way, does the Kagan family normally serve in? Because Abu Muqawama's family is split 40/60 between the Marines and Army but he doesn't know so much about yours.
Ohhhhhhhhh shit!

But wait. It's twin Glocks! Joe Klein had to get busy as well!
Fresh from his assertion that the Iraq civil war was "over" a week ago, here's Fred--plus added bonus attraction Kimberly--Kagan reinforcing their profoundly warped view of Iraq in the Weekly Standard. There are several truly disingenuous, and flat out misleading, things here...
I didn't know Joe Klein was thugged out, either.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 266-08
April 02, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt. Jevon K. Jordan, 32, of Norfolk, Va., died Mar. 29 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds suffered Mar. 23 in Abu Jassim, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

For more information media may contact the Fort Stewart public affairs office at (912) 767-2479.
--Spencer Ackerman
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
there are lives in the balance:
Top Chef blogging is going to be preempted by Jens Lekman blogging, as I skipped episode 4 to see... yeah. Jens Lekman is a rare talent: a first-rate songwriter with a beautiful voice; an ensemble leader who enjoys arranging his music; an ironist with the ability to calibrate precisely the right amount of melodrama. His indie-pop isn't fey or twee. He puts on a stunningly good (and choreographed!) performance. How is any of this possible?

My mother loves Jackson Browne. She drove four hours on Saturday, each way, to see him perform in Mystic, Connecticut. I have never, my whole life long, understood my mother's insane devotion to him. Nor, for that matter, do I get his mellow-yellow contemporaries like Carole King or James Taylor. But tonight at the Jens Lekman show I wondered if he's the contemporary Jackson Browne. Perhaps with a broader musical palette and reference base, but with the same discontent beneath the sweetness.

Also, you learn something new every day. Today I learned that women love songs about haircuts, or at least Jens Lekman songs about haircuts.

Update: Yes, this post has been corrected for an embarrassing misspelling. This might be what it feels like when girls spot their white pants.
--Spencer Ackerman
surgery is major with my sneakers stomping on your pager:
Having all the necessary forces in place, The Surge will commence with Operation Phantom Thunder -- a/k/a the Surge of Operations -- on Tuesday, April 8 at 7 p.m. in Washington D.C. A Joint Security Station will be established at the Bobby Fisher Memorial Building, located at 1644 North Capitol St. NW, just a few short blocks from the New York Avenue stop on the Red Line.
We're playing with Ingrid and B-more riot-folk singer Ryan Harvey, but a certain coalition partner holds a special significance for me. That would be From The Depths, a great new operatic metalcore band from North Carolina, which features an old friend of mine, *****, on guitar. ***** used to play in one of my favorite (and best) hardcore bands, Catharsis, and then went on to form another of my favorite (and best) hardcore bands, Requiem. In another coincidence, Catharsis played the first show of my old band Yakub. I'm looking forward to the show, but I'm really looking forward to catching up with *****.

The show is a benefit for Elizabeth Sanders' legal defense fund. According to the information I've been provided, Elizabeth is "a member of the activist community in DC. She is being falsely charged with participation in a mass grocery walkout at Whole Foods. On the eve of the October 22nd No War No Warming actions, while outside the convergence center, Elizabeth was snatched off the street by undercover police and interrogated. She was falsely identified, based on a physical resemblance to a person the police were seeking in connection to the incident at Whole Foods." Hard-working promoters are requesting a $7-$10 donation. E-mail supportthesurge-at-gmail-dot-com for more information. Come early, as we're playing first.
--Spencer Ackerman
pablo picasso never got called an asshole:
Doug Feith -- he of the Office of Special Plans, holder of the title "fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth" (given to him by the second-stupidest) -- has this to say about those concerned about torturing dudes. Via Paul Kiel, when Feith was asked by a Vanity Fair reporter if he was concerned that denying Geneva Conventions protections to suspected terrorists in U.S. custody would harm America's moral authority, he sagely replied:
"The problem with moral authority," he said, was "people who should know better, like yourself, siding with the assholes, to put it crudely."
OK, show of hands. Who wants me to violate ground rules and tell you all about my off-the-record lunch at TNR with Doug Feith in 2003?
--Spencer Ackerman
everything in its right place:
I'll be on Sam Seder's "Pretend I'm Randi Rhodes" radio show at 5:15. I know, again. Sigh.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 0264-08
April 02, 2008
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Maj. William G. Hall, 38 of Seattle, died March 30 from wounds he suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq, on March 29. He was assigned to 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Media with questions about this Marine can contact the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing public affairs office at (858) 577-6000.
--Spencer Ackerman
you can't kill us all:
Great piece from the Los Angeles Times's Sebastian Rotella on al-Qaeda commander Abu Ubaida al Masri.
If Al Qaeda strikes the West in the coming months, it's likely the mastermind will be a stocky Egyptian explosives expert with two missing fingers.

His alias is Abu Ubaida al Masri. Hardly anyone has heard of him outside a select circle of anti-terrorism officials and Islamic militants. But as chief of external operations for Al Qaeda, investigators say, he has one of the most dangerous -- and endangered -- jobs in international terrorism.

He has overseen the major plots that the network needs to stay viable, investigators say: the London transportation bombings in 2005, a foiled transatlantic "spectacular" aimed at U.S.-bound planes in 2006, and an aborted plot in this serene Scandinavian capital last fall.

But pursuers have captured or killed his predecessors and have been gunning for him. He prowls Pakistani badlands one step ahead of satellites and security forces.
--Spencer Ackerman
silence kills the revolution:
Just out from The Washington Independent: How Sadr's uprising killed the surge. (Not my band, the thing we named the band after. The band's still around.)
The trend toward increased violence in early 2008 does not rise to the level of the bloodshed Iraq experienced in mid-to-late 2006, before the surge began. But it does underscore the limits of what the surge achieved, according to U.S. government officials and outside experts, even on the security front where the Bush administration argued it was most successful. "The fact is, the ISF [Iraqi security forces] couldn't fulfill a major campaign against an insurgent group on its own," said a U.S. intelligence analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I personally think that's the real story. The ISF , despite the surge, and despite the [rhetoric from the Bush administration that] 'they'll stand up as we stand down,' couldn't fulfill their core requirement."
--Spencer Ackerman
to be someone must be a wonderful thing:
Hey, after reading that New York Observer piece, Leon, in a fit of status anxiety, finally launched a personal blog!
--Spencer Ackerman
transmission:
Retiring Army Lt. Col. John Nagl -- look for him in a forthcoming installment of 'The Rise of The Counterinsurgents' -- has an op-ed in The New York Times reiterating an idea he put forward last year: the need for an institutionalized corps of counterinsurgency advisers to foreign armies.
Doctrine — a standard enumeration of the purpose of a military organization and how it will accomplish its goals — is still nonexistent for the adviser mission. Organization is inconsistent, for example, with most Afghanistan teams consisting of 16 soldiers with no medic, while most Iraq teams contain 11 soldiers, including a medic. The fact is, both types of teams are too small for the tasks they have been assigned, and many consequently have been augmented on the ground by regular troops on an ad hoc basis.

This is simply because not enough advisers are being produced — just 5,000 per year. We are going to need ever more experienced, trained advisers as the size and complexity of the Iraqi and Afghan police forces and armies grow and as the combat burden increasingly shifts to them.

Part of the problem is institutional. The United States military’s ability in battle is unmatched, but we have a spotty history in terms of helping allies fight for themselves. Advisers who live and fight with a struggling “poor cousin” local army often do their dangerous and sometimes frustrating work out of sight of the brass, and it can be a career-killer for ambitious young officers.
It's an interesting proposal especially in light of the Iraqi Army's poor performance in Basra. More interesting still: Nagl is "transitioning" out of the Army -- a term I believe he learned from his friends in the transgendered community.

(Via Abu Muqawama)
--Spencer Ackerman
you're old and your hands are grey:
David Hershey complains:
“Thirty years ago, you worked at a newspaper, you moved to a magazine, and then you wrote books or screenplays. Today you can be a blogger who writes books or you can be a stripper who wins an Academy Award for Best Screenplay.”
By far the best part of the Observer piece:
One 23-year-old political journalist told The Observer that the New Republic reporter-researcher job—famed for launching the careers of Slate editor Jacob Weisberg, New Yorker Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza, Atlantic editor James Bennet and author Hanna Rosin, among others—is no longer quite the coveted position it once was. “Part of the reason why the TNR internship isn’t as big as it used to be is that if you were a young sharpie on the make in 1990 or even 1995, there just weren’t that many places where you could get your start,” the political journalist said. “But the rise of the kind of whole bloggy progressive thing has, I think, really kicked off the careers of some people, or at least for smart liberal college students.”
Plus Ryan is thoroughly untrustworthy.
--Spencer Ackerman
his life was warfare:
As promised a long time ago, here's a clip from The Surge's March 15 show at the Velvet Lounge. The song is titled "Silence During Wartime." video
--Spencer Ackerman
tell your friends and your cousins we need you:
New Flophouser Sam Boyd mentioned last night that Gawker writers need a union. I didn't realize, despite Sam referencing Valleywag, that he was justly pissed off about this:
Since this plan was announced in late December, we've known that the pay rate is to be changed on the first day of every quarter. I expected to be informed of the pay rate before the month started, but that hasn't happened, even after repeated requests to my superiors. We're working in the digital equivalent of a sweatshop, effectively being paid based on how many views we can drum up — and now the goalposts are being moved mid-kick. This is unnerving and a slap in the face to the "creative underclass" that writes for Gawker's blogs.
Denton, you cocksucker, pay your writers fairly. It's always pathetic to see a guttersnipe put on a suit and join the overclass.
--Spencer Ackerman
i say we line em all up and we gun em all down:
In the summer of 2003, former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger investigated the Abu Ghraib torture atrocities at the behest of Donald Rumsfeld. That August, he delivered his pronouncement: interrogation techniques authorized for use at Geneva Conventions-exempt Guantanamo Bay had "migrated" to Geneva-protected Iraq. As befitting a whitewash, Schlesinger didn't say how that happened. But now we know that Schlesinger didn't tell the whole story: the Pentagon relied heavily on a breathtaking memo from the Justice Department, authored by John Yoo, that recommended immunizing interrogators against any illegality. There were no limits.

For the best legal analysis of this now-released 81-page memo, see Marty Lederman:
This is the version of the 2002 Torture memo, which was addressed only to the CIA and the torture statute, as applied to the numerous statutes restricting the conduct of the armed forces. None of those statues, you see, limits the conduct of war if the President says so. It is, in effect, the blueprint that led to Abu Ghraib and the other abuses within the armed forces in 2003 and early 2004.
Remember: there is no such thing as a little torture. The slope inevitably slips. Throw this memo in the face of any rightist who hectors that liberals don't "understand" evil.

Emily Bazelon at Slate:
On page 47 of the Yoo memo, if I'm not mistaken, there's the amazing assertion that the Convention Against Torture doesn't apply whenever the president says it doesn't. "Any presidential decision to order interrogations methods that are inconsistent with CAT would amount to a suspension or termination of those treaty provisions." Doesn't this mean that whether or not a treaty has been ratified, with or without express reservations, Yoo is saying that the president can implicitly and on his own authority withdraw the United States from the treaty simply by not abiding by it? Is there precedent for such a claim? In my quick scan so far of the tortured (sorry) reasoning here, I can't find anything other than ipso facto, because I say so, the president says so.
--Spencer Ackerman
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
on the banks of the old raritan:
Come on, Knights. Fuck UConn up.

Update: What a disaster! From a 14-point first half lead to a heartbreaking 66-56 loss. Essence, you'll always be a champion.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 261-08
April 01, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died March 29 in Baghdad from wounds suffered when they encountered an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Killed were:

Spc. Durrell L. Bennett, 22, of Spanaway, Wash., and

Pfc. Patrick J. Miller, 23, of New Port Richey, Fla.

For more information related to this release, the media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at (785) 239-3410.
--Spencer Ackerman
all the beating drums, the celebration guns:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 259-08
April 01, 2008
DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Cpl. Steven I. Candelo, 20, of Houston, died March 26 in Baghdad, when his vehicle was struck by a rocket propelled grenade. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

For further information on this soldier, media may contact the U.S. Army, Europe, public affairs office at 011-49-6221-57-5816/8694.
--Spencer Ackerman
i can see you but you can't see me:
I broke some news (I think) about an update to August's Iraq NIE getting delivered to Congress this morning. Whatever. It won't be declassified.
--Spencer Ackerman
can it be that it was all so simple then:
Best April Fool's joke ever. But, all joking aside, I can't believe that Conde Nast bought Jezebel! W, T and F!
--Spencer Ackerman
lift me up, burn it down, we may suffer and we may die:
Anna Holmes eloquently defends baseball to her skeptical female friends. She makes the point that baseball is a thinking woman's game. I don't want to get into what can become an elitist argument, but I'll point out that many of the female fans of my acquaintance tend to have a grasp of the game on both a statistical, historical, player-based and strategic level -- Erin Simpson, Emma Daly, Jill Greenberg, Samantha Power, Rabbi Leslie Bergson, my mom -- that, on average, surpasses that of the male fan. If young Claire Schmitt, the world's smartest six-year old, decides to add baseball to her sporting repertoire, Bill James will be out of a job.

Meanwhile: Opening Day. Or rather, Real Opening Day, as a rainout moved the Yanks-Toronto game to this evening. I'm perpetually optimistic about the Yankees, in spite of all cross-cutting evidence, but even in this year of rebuilding, the next 162 games look promising. The Yankees' weakest defensive position is -- yes -- shortstop. Jeter's defensive prowess has dropped off just as his offense has expanded. But the outfield is very solid; we're giving Giambi another chance at first (playing in Oakland, with its massive foul territory, made him a better 1B than he gets credit for); and, most importantly, the pitching is tremendous all throughout the rotation and the bullpen. The future is brighter still: an onslaught of young pitchers and outfielders, along with the coming payroll drop after this year, when Pavano, Pettitte, Mussina, Farnsworth and Abreu (I think) depart. Damon's gone after 2009. (The payroll/departure stuff is all stolen from commenter UFred.) We just need a new shortstop and a new catcher after that. There, I said it.

ESPN Magazine has a piece that I haven't yet read about the seemingly intractable difference in quality between American League and National League play, something even the casual fan picks up on immediately. But I wonder if, even without rules changes, there's a growing American League-ization of the NL. Omar Minaya's Mets were the first to build an NL team around a slugger's lineup. Now Chicago and Milwaukee, to lesser degrees, have done the same. I only saw the final three innings of yesterday's Chicago-Milwaukee matchup, but it was like watching an AL game, particularly with the feat of Kosuke Fukodome, today's big story. I saw the home run. It was thrilling. I actually threw my arms up and nearly fell off the elliptical machine. If I'm not mistaken, the last time a Japanese position player had such an amazing MLB debut, it came from a porn addict named Hideki Matsui. What league does he play in, again?

So, yeah, whatever, Opening Day does not a season make, and perhaps the more important point was that both teams experienced the excruciation of their closers failing miserably. (Tres NL!) My female-fan friends could have told me that.
--Spencer Ackerman
public witness ain't seeing too much:
Paul Berman did a BloggingHeads with Heather Hulburt in which the arch liberal-Iraq-hawk strongly suggests that he didn't support the war. You be the judge. Relevant section is about 2:30 in.
On the Iraq war, I myself wrote a piece in The New Republic on March -- which came out in the March 3, 2003 issue saying George Bush was leading us over a cliff. And that his notion of how to deploy power was lacking in liberal principle and that his use of power was going to turn out to be no power at all. In short it was going to be a disaster. I published this before the war. I made that prediction before the war. It's true that afterward I haven't made a career of running around saying I told you so, but if you look it up, the major article ... yeah, I was in favor of getting rid of Saddam but Bush's way of going about it was quite bad, and I pronounced myself, I used the word 'terrified,' of what would come of it.
TNR's messed-up web archives have erased Paul's article, and for some reason I can't find it on Nexis, either. But it doesn't say what Paul says it says. I know because I factchecked it and discussed it with Paul on the phone pre-publication.

Leave aside his odious arrogance. (He told me so?) Paul says his piece recognized Bush's strategic foolishness and illiberalism. He's right. The trouble is he recognized it as a caveat to his enthusiasm to the war, not as an impediment. In other words, Berman wanted a war for liberalism, recognized that it wouldn't be one, and backed it anyway. That -- to say the least -- implicates his judgment.

In order to whitewash this, he pretends his caveat was his argument. He did this before, in the New York Review of Books, where he quoted his caveat and said it rose "rising to what I like to picture as a crescendo." Well, it wasn't a crescendo. It would only have been a crescendo if it stopped him from backing the war. Instead he took the opposite approach. Fine. But own up to it, don't pretend that wasn't your judgment.

Update: Oh God. Toward the end of the clip, Paul says:
Then there's the intellectual debate. The intellectual debate should always tell the truth. It should never be modest. It should always be grandiose.
Please, please, please, step back from the cliff.

Late Update
: I should have mentioned that Matthew Yglesias was catching Paul Berman misrepresenting his position on the war before it was cool.
--Spencer Ackerman
this is a public service announcement with guitars:
You need to read Gridskipper this afternoon. Trust me.
--Spencer Ackerman