Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Col. Boylan Proving Glenn Greenwald Right

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an inept public relations snafu as what transpired courtesy of Colonel Steven Boylan, a top aide to General Petraeus. Gleen Greenwald on his blog wrote an article discussing the politicization of the U.S. Military under the Bush administration. To prove Greenwald’s point, Glenn gets a sharply worded e-mail from Colonel Steven Boylan. I’ll reprint that below:

From: "Boylan, Steven COL MNF-I CMD GRP CG PAO"
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 8:15 AM
Subject: The growing link between the U.S. military and right-wing media and blogs

I had hoped to post this in response to your article, but apparently it is closed already.

I am not sending this as anyone's spokesperson, just a straight military Public Affairs Officer, with about 27 months overall time in Iraq who is concerned with accuracy, context and characterization of information and has worked with media of all types since joining the career field in 1991. The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.

I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say -- based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day.

You do have one fact in your post -- then Brigadier General Bergner did work at the National Security Council on matters concerning Iraq. Not surprising as he had returned from a year plus deployment to Iraq as the Multi-National Division - North Assistant Division Commander. It would seem reasonable that someone with Iraq experience would work issues at the NSC that was familiar with and had experience in Iraq. All else after that portion in your post about Major General Bergner is just your wishful thinking to support your flawed theory.

The claims about Steve Schmidt being out here on the staff in Iraq are just flat wrong. Pray tell, where do you think he is and how long have you fantasized that he has been here? Based on our records of who is in Iraq, I am really sorry to disappoint you, but he just isn't here. You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation -- much like a propagandist.

Schmidt was here, but at the time for the vote on the Iraqi Constitution, October 2005 for 30 days. He was never on the MNF-I staff and for that short period was actually detailed to the Department of State. He hasn't been back since. Sorry to burst your bubble, but a little actual research on your part would have shown that he is actually not here, but that would contradict your conspiracy theory. I am curious as to when you think the media relations or operations changed here in Iraq. I in fact do know exactly the day and time thatit changed and want to see if you are even in the same ballpark as reality.

For the third matter concerning the Beauchamp investigation and the documents that were leaked - it is very unfortunate that they were - but the documents are not secret or classified. So, there is your third major error in fact. Good thing you are not a journalist. The information that was released and it appears that has since been taken off the net is more of a matter concerning the Privacy Act. Since we don't know who released them, we are not able to take the appropriate actions and the media tends not to give up their sources -- good, bad or indifferent...I will not judge. That is our system and we must work with it.

As for working in secret with only certain media is laughable. The wide swatch of media engagements is by far the most diverse it could be. But you might not think it that way since we chose not to do an interview with you. You are not a journalist nor do you have any journalistic ethical standards as we found out from the last time I engaged with you. As we quickly found out, you published our email conversation without asking, without permission -- just another case in point to illustrate your lack of standards and ethics. You may recall that a 30-minute interview was conducted with the program that you claim to be a contributor. So instead of doing the interview with you, we went with the real talent, Alan Colmes.

I also noticed that you fail to mention the amount of material that is leaked to those other publications that I dare you to call right-wing like the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. I do not condone or wish them to happen, but it happens. If you believe they are right-wing, then again, it is nice to live in a fantasy world.

I invite you to come see for yourself and go anywhere in Iraq you want, go see what our forces are doing, go see what the other coalition forces are doing, go hang out with the reporters outside the International Zone since that is where they live and work and see for yourself what ground truth is so that you can be better informed. But that would take something you probably don't have.

Steven A. Boylan
Colonel, US Army
Public Affairs Officer


After reading this, my first reaction was “WOW”. Greenwald to his credit went to great lengths to verify that the e-mail was in fact from Col. Boylan, General Petraeus’s Public Affairs Officer. The e-mail address was the same as the one used in a previous e-mail encounter and Greenwald asked for any experts on IP addresses to verify that the address in question was Col. Boylan’s.

Well enter the denial stage. Col. Boylan, though refusing to engage in dialogue with Greenwald, is responding to e-mails in the published e-mail address from some of Greenwald’s readers who are castigating his behavior. On top of that, he is denying sending the original e-mail. Yep, someone else sent it, despite the fact that the language style used in e-mails to Greenwald’s readers is spot on to the one in the original e-mail. Also, wouldn’t it be a bit troubling that someone other than Col. Boylan, Gen. Petraeus’s public affairs officer could in fact speak for the commanding General of our war in Iraq?

Clearly, Col. Boylan has been caught in a lie, and trying to cover it up is making him look even more stupid and irresponsible. And on top of that, Col. Boylan’s e-mail proved Greenwald’s point about the politicization of the military under George W. Bush. That the public affairs officer for the Commanding General would be sending curt, patronizing e-mails to liberal bloggers is the very thing Greenwald was addressing.

Gen. Petraeus must be thoroughly ticked to have a subordinate behaving in such a way. Totally amazing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

PCE and Huntsman

Like every other Utahn, I witnessed PCE's last gasp in an efforts at making vouchers a reality. You've got Rob Bishop, a Congressman who as a teacher and a legislator undermined public education during his tenure at the capitol using that status as a former teacher coming out for vouchers. Having spent enough time up at the hill, I can guarantee you that Bishop wasn't a teacher legislator, but a legislator teacher looking to get out of the teaching career for higher office. His support for public education was always conditional and tepid at best.

Now, PCE also has an ad using Jon Huntsman jr., calling him a "champion of public education." Listen PCE, let us be the judge of who's a champion of public education, not you. In his tenure as Governor, I can't think of a single innovation regarding public education coming from the Governor's office, nor can I think of a single tangible accomplishment in any realm by his administration. Huntsman's adminstration appears to me to be even more obsessed with image over substance than the high fallutant Leavitt administration, which is saying something. Huntsman's endorsement is irrelevant, because frankly, Huntsman himself is irrelevant as a Governor. Ask Huntsman to give a speech, cut a ribbon or kiss a baby and he's in his element. Ask Huntsman to make a principled and reasoned policy decision and you'd might as well listen to the crickets chirp.

Huntsman's allowing his name to be used by PCE because frankly, he fears the crazies in his own party and is doing so for purely political purposes. In that regard I don't blame him. If I was a Republican Governor in Utah, the only worry I would have politically is a primary challenge. Too many voters in this state would vote for any Republican for Governor because they feel that is their duty. This reality creates alot of power to the fringe element of the Republican party. Gayle Ruzika and her fanatical fringe may make up only 10% of the population, but they represent 35% of the effective political power in Utah due to Utah's single party dominance. That is why PCE has picked Utah as their test case. Utah is to be the guineau pig for this right-wing gambit and our school children are the ones being injected.

Disclaimer: I normally don't like to sound as strident as I do in this post. However, I have to admit, that PCE has a way of getting under my skin. The dark side of the force is indeed strong with them.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Okay, I've had enough

Let it be known, from this time foreward, that Obi wan liberali has declared his candidacy for President of the United States. Ok, let's be real, that this is no more than a cyber-presidency. But looking at the candidates on either side of this contest has made believe that I am as well qualified to be President as any of the current candidates. This is not based upon any hubris that I have served in office and have been blessed with the support of powerful lobbyists representing great U.S. manufactueres or retilers. I base this upon a great concern that our Republic is in danger. That we as a nation have thrown off the ideals of the Geneva Conventions, that we have justified spying on our own people (for their own good) and have thrown away the freedoms that Thomas Jefferson fought for us.

When we surrender the freedoms that our founders guaranteed us over fear of terrorism, the terrorists have won. I for one despise the idea that the terrorists will determine our level of freedom. I for one challenge this worthless Bush Adminstration for surrendering our moral authority in the world because of his fear of being outdone by people who believe in a religion a majority of Americans despise.

Listen, I announce my candidacy because I am bewildered by my Democratic leaders and Presidential candidates for their failure to speak against tyranny when that tyranny is so obvious to so many Americans. This is the time for those who truly believe in our Republic to stand against the tyranny that is the Bush Administration. I offer myself as a viable option. I have more relevant business experience than Hillary Clinton and have been involved in Democratic politics since 1970 when I campaigned for Frank Moss (the man that should have defeated the moron we know as Orrin Hatch).

I can say with every fiber in my being, that I have managed more people than Hillary Clinton, that I've read 20 times the books of George W. Bush (admittedly no great feat) and that I may look a little haggard, I can provide more experience and wisdom than Barak Obama.

All I can say, is "Vote Obi".

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Blackwater- The Neo-con Private Army

Welcome to Blackwater. Here is a security contractor under contract with the State Department to provide security. Since the early stages of this conflict, contractors have had a more significant role in the military situation in Iraq than the total “coalition of the willing” minus Great Britain. No one knows for sure how many private contractors are in Iraq, but one thing is for sure, they are making an impact. The first battle of Falluja was fought due to some contractors making a wrong turn and ending up in hostile territory, ultimately getting killed and hung from a bridge. Estimates of the numbers of these contract employees is hard to gauge, but most estimates conclude that there are at least 100,000 of them. Blackwater just happens to be the biggest.

And who is Blackwater? had a story on providing some good background on the company, it’s founder and it’s contacts. From the Salon article:

"Erik Prince, founder and CEO: How did Blackwater go from a small corporation training local SWAT teams to a seemingly inseparable part of U.S. operations in Iraq? Good timing, and the connections of its CEO, may be the answer Prince, who founded Blackwater in 1996 but reportedly took a behind-the-scenes role in the company until after 9/11, has connections to the Republican Party in his blood. His late father, auto-parts magnate Edgar Prince, was instrumental in the creation of the Family Research Council, one of the right-wing Christian groups most influential with the George W. Bush administration. At his funeral in 1995, he was eulogized by two stalwarts of the Christian conservative movement, James Dobson and Gary Bauer. Edgar Prince's widow, Elsa, who remarried after her husband's death, has served on the boards of the FRC and another influential Christian-right organization, Dobson's Focus on the Family. She currently runs the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, where, according to IRS filings, her son Erik is a vice president. The foundation has given lavishly to some of the marquee names of the Christian right. Between July 2003 and July 2006, the foundation gave at least $670,000 to the FRC and $531,000 to Focus on the Family."

"Both Edgar and Elsa have been affiliated with the Council for National Policy, the ecretive Christian conservative organization whose meeting have been attended by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, and whose membership is rumored to include Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Dobson. The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation gave the CNP $80,000 between July 2003 and July 2006."

"The former Betsy Prince -- Edgar and Elsa's daughter, Erik's sister -- married into the DeVos family, one of the country's biggest donors to Republican and conservative causes. ("I know a little something about soft money, as my family is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party," Betsy DeVos wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.) She chaired the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000 and again from 2003 to 2005, and her husband, Dick, ran as the Republican candidate for Michigan governor in 2006."

"Erik Prince himself is no slouch when it comes to giving to Republicans and cultivating relationships with important conservatives. He and his first and second wives have donated roughly $300,000 to Republican candidates and political action committees. Through his Freiheit Foundation, he also gave $500,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries, run by former Nixon official Charles Colson, in 2000. In the same year, he contributed $30,000 to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. During college, he interned in George H.W. Bush's White House, and also interned for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. Rohrabacher and fellow California Republican Rep. John Doolittle have visited Blackwater's Moyock, N.C., compound, on a trip arranged by the Alexander Strategy Group, a lobbying firm founded by former aides of then House Majority Leader Tom Delay. ASG partner Paul Behrends is a longtime associate of Prince's."

So they are well-connected and making a lot of money in Iraq, something that seems to happen to a lot of well-connected Republicans. And isn’t it reassuring to know that Republicans have their own private army to call upon.

Blackwater got some bad press recently when they allegedly killed 11 unarmed Iraqis on September 16. They also had a situation where one of their employees, while drunk, shot one of the bodyguards of the Iraqi Vice President. As it turns out, contractors have been a great cause of concern for our military in Iraq. These amateur soldiers, not sworn in like the regular military, have more or less operated under their own guidelines, and have often taken a shoot first policy and have been notorious for driving civilians off of Iraqi roads. Just as General Petraeus has tried to reconfigure our strategy in Iraq to a counter-insurgency, working on winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis, time and again, contractors have undermined their efforts.

One of the most significant aspects of this use of contractors, is that the true costs of the war only show up in the bottom line, not in the numbers of actual casualties. Deaths of contract employees affects the insurance claims of the contractor, but are not counted as casualties in the Iraqi war effort. Another issue with contractors, is that they pay more money for their employees than does our military.

And what drives the contractors? Is it to accomplish a peaceful exit out of Iraq? What is their incentive? The war has made millionaires out of contractors in Iraq. Perpetual war is what will gain them future profits. And certainly, among there will be a supply of retired military personnel who will seek to make a fortune playing in this war for profit, rather than democracy.
We as a nation need to be very careful before we start privatizing the functions that have been served by our military. Our military personnel swear an oath to our country to protect us. Contractors sign a “contract” with specifications that may be vague or hard to enforce. And in the end, are we really happy to have a security company with it’s own para-military force that is committed to the Neo-con wing of the Republican party? If the war ever ends, what will be the role of these companies and their employees? I see many scenarios that should send a shiver down your spine if you believe in our Republic.