Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hillary Clinton, state secrets and the Middle East

After the Read More! Andy McCarthy wonders what security clearance Hillary had when she was co-President. Fallon's resignation: what went on?

The NYT found that Hillary Clinton did not hold a security clearance during the period during which she was supposedly co-President. But Andy McCarthy at the NRO thinks a President can clear anyone he wants, so Bill was not violating any law when he discussed matters of state with Hillary; but McCarthy does wonder why the principle didn't protect Scooter Libby.

A related issue came up two years ago when Democrats and the media were erroneously alleging that Scooter Libby had leaked classified information from a National Intelligence Estimate to the press. As I explained at the time, the information was not classified because President Bush himself had decided to declassify it so Libby could speak to the press about it. ...

I don't believe there would have been any bar against President Clinton's giving his wife a security clearance or declassifying information so he could speak to her about it. .... I am talking here, of course, only about a situation in which a president has sought to involve his wife in a formal or quasi-formal policy-making role, which is what Sen. Clinton often suggests she had.

When the media hype about the foreign policy experience and superior "judgment" of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is subtracted there is very little residue. Of course this is described as an advantage, not a liability. One of the things an "outsider" brings to a corrupt system. Yet Hillary and Obama are also the ultimate insiders. How else, besides being on the "inside", could Hillary have accessed the ultimate secrets without a formal security clearance. As as to Barack Obama, his ability to network socially is the ultimate source of his legitimacy. The politician's claim that "I can attract crowds and therefore I am trustworthy" is ultimate form of self-legitimizing leader. "We are the ones we've been waiting for."

AllahPundit at HotAir repeats the blogospheric speculation that Fallon was the only thing "standing between the US and war in Iran "and as such, if he leaves Centcom it’s a surefire sign that he’s lost the debate and the bombs will soon be dropping".

I'm not sure this is true for two reasons. The first is that a the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is an administration appointee. He's a reflection of the current political consensus, not the driver of consensus. Second, any imminent preparation for war against Iran would be accompanied by a plethora of signs, none of which are evident.

It's more likely that Fallon is an indirect casualty of the Surge. The Admiral was appointed at a time when it was widely believed the US had been balked in Iraq and reflected the cautious mood of those days. But now the US has much more confidence in its regional position at a time when dangers have also been increasing. Therefore Fallon's departure may simply reflect that more aggressive position. But a more aggressive stance doesn't automatically equal a war against Iran.

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Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Adm Fallon himself said that the idea that he differed with the Administration's position on Iran was a misperception.

Adm. William J. Fallon, one of the most experienced officers in the U.S. military, said the reports were wrong but had become a distraction hampering his efforts in the Middle East. Fallon's area of responsibility includes Iran and stretches from Central Asia across the Middle East to the Horn of Africa.

"I don't believe there have ever been any differences about the objectives of our policy in the Central Command area of responsibility," Fallon said, and he regretted "the simple perception that there is." He was in Iraq when he made the statement.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a Pentagon news conference that he accepted Fallon's request to resign and retire from the Navy, agreeing that the Iran issue had become a distraction. But Gates said repeatedly that he believed talk of Fallon opposing Bush on Iran was mistaken.

"I don't think that there really were differences at all," Gates said, adding that Fallon was not pressured to leave.

"He told me that, quote, 'The current embarrassing situation, public perception of differences between my views and administration policy, and the distraction this causes from the mission make this the right thing to do,' unquote," Gates told reporters.

3/11/2008 03:41:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

The problem with Fallon is that he signals FEAR on the part of the US NAVY about Iran.

Yep. The USN is AFRAID OF IRAN. At the very top level. Given their historic dominance over the Iranians, this signals a big change. Very likely improved missile technology, "swarming" tactics, and the natural asset of the Straights of Hormuz have made the USN simply afraid of challenging Iran. Willing to surrender to almost anything to avoid a defeat.

Likely, this submissive posturing did not go down well with the USN, which is likely prepared to FIGHT Iran in the Gulf for control of the Gulf.

I don't think we'll go directly to bombing Iran. But I do think we'll start confronting them over who controls the Gulf, and from there we will get to US ships sunk and the possibility of a general war.

Needless to say, a war with Iran after sinking of several US ships perhaps a carrier group would make Barack HUSSEIN Obama (there, I'm guilty of a "hate crime" for using his name) unelectable. Not for his name but position of talking/apologizing first thing to Ahmadinejad.

3/11/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Read the book “Unlimited Access”, written by an FBI agent who worked the White House beat in the era of the Clintonistas.

And he said that both Bill and Hillary Clinton flunked their security clearance. I suppose the FBI should have been guarding them instead of the Secret Service.

And remember - Scooter Libby never was convicted - or even accused - of releasing any classified information. He was convicted of lying about whether he did. Subtle point - but enough to convict him for a prosecutor who was in a race to the bottom with Mike Nifong. Nifong got fired but Fitzgerald won that race.

3/11/2008 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger InternetFred said...

Swarming Tactics?

Iran doesn't have enough boats for swarming tactics.

Also, a fleet of small boats is vulnerable to air power (including cluster bombs), flechette artillery, and machine guns. At least.

The US used something like swarming tactics with torpedo boats in WWII, against Japanese battleships.

On the other hand, there was the incident of the Cole.

3/11/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Didn't the US Navy stop being less about boats and more about aircraft ... back in '41 or '42 or so?

Is Adm Fallon the new Gen MacArthur? only rather than overly aggressive, overly standing pat.

3/11/2008 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/11/2008 08:25:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I've heard that about the Clinton's inability to earn a Security Clearance via normal background checks. I do not know that is the case, but given the era (60's) and the place (San Francisco) I would find it difficult to believe the were no flags. As President Bill passed the ultimate check. As First Lady Hillary could not be compelled to testify against her husband. I am aware of no other legal bind.

Mrs Lincoln aroused similar, although not the same, concerns.

3/12/2008 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger PineKnot said...

The U.S. Navy is not afraid of the Iranians. Even in the restricted waters of the Straits of Hormuz, if they choose to use unrestricted power, the Iranians are duck soup.

3/12/2008 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

... if they choose to use unrestricted power, the Iranians are duck soup.

That's an important cravat, pineknot, and a political one. And the Left has been trying to tie our hands for years and has, to some extent, succeeded.

3/12/2008 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger buffy said...

Adm. Fallon should have been dismissed a long time ago. Anyone who doubts that should take a look at how he ran PacCom. I for one am glad to see the guy go. He was a prime reason why we waited so long to deploy the surge tactics. At some point people will realize that the flag/brass at the Pentagon are fighting every day to keep Bush from doing the job. Don't believe me?
"At a Pentagon meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in December 2006, President Bush asked the Chiefs how many supported the idea of a surge — the deployment of more troops (which Petraeus would command) into Baghdad to secure the city and create the conditions necessary for a reconciliation of the various Iraqi political factions. The Chiefs were unanimously opposed."

While Fallon was not a JCS he was an active adviser...just as Mike Mullen who is of the same opinion. The Pentagon needs an enema. The brass there come from the Clinton "get ahead by butt kissing" era. When Rumsfeld came in he stopped them cold in their tracks and they haven't forgiven Bush for it. (You don't get between a ladder climber and his stars). Just look at the leaks coming out. That is why it has taken us this long to subdue the enemy in Iraq. And Fallon like all the other flags/brass will retire with a cushy 6 figure job with SAIC/Raytheon/Boeing/pick one. Just wait...you'll see the announcement any day now. Now I don't particularly begrudge a man that has given 40 years of service to his country in getting the BIG payoff when he retires. What I begrudge is these flags/brass who have had years of influencing where defense spending goes then cash in on that for a lucrative retirement. It's all over the DoD and it smells. Enjoy the read.

3/12/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/12/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

3/12/2008 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

For anyone who believes a ground war with Iran will happen anytime soon...I suggest one read "Troop Density In Contingency Operations"


The 20/20 hindsight view is that the US needed 47 Brigades in Iraq "Post Invasion". Seeing as the entire US Army is 43 Brigades(33 at the start of OIF) obviously this was a bit of a problem.

Iran has 3 times the population of Iraq...so do the simple math...at least 120 Brigades will be needed.

Would anyone like to hazard a guess as to the possibility that the US Congress would agree to tripling the size of the US Army, and approve a full scale draft short of someone detonating a nuke on American Soil?

3/12/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger always right said...

Re: InternetFred
Iran doesn't have enough boats for swarming tactics.


But next time a few Iranian RG speedboats get too 'spirited' in the ME gulf, they will attempt to get even closer than last time. AND there will be prominently displayed 'women and children' in the speedboats to see if we are ready to shoot/disable them.

Remember you hear it here first.

Will any service man and woman (or the chain of command) be able to pull the trigger, knowing 'human shields' are being used, to protect our own?

3/12/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Another possibility for Fallon is Barry's Veep.

Would appreciate any links regarding Fallon/PacCom.

I just remember reading one depressing thing after another wrt Fallon in the Honolulu papers.
...often treating Chi-Com spies as equals to US Naval Personnel.

3/12/2008 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Won't be long til we'll be be back to Pre-Cole no ammo in weapons ROI's.

3/12/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger buffy said...

Not a prayer that Fallon will be veep. Too much money in the "private sector" and Obama hates the military more than Hillary. Oh, the ex-brass will show up for the photo op because their egos and hate for Bush demand that they do it. But make no mistake...you won't find a more oppositional candidate to the US military than BHO and any military man knows it. They'll run like chickens...except for Clark who is a narcissistic butt boy for the Clintons (..what an embarrassment for any dedicated soldier). As for Fallon.. just keep watching the press releases from the big defense contractors. He'll show up. My bet is on SAIC or Lockheed Martin. Lots of history there. Just pull up the various defense contractors websites and take a look at all the DOD luminaries that have moved directly into the roles of VP and biz dev directors. Those big boys don't pay premium unless they get results.
As for wanting info on PacCom under Fallon...
Here is just one example of the incompetency of the command:

You can do the research. It's on the net.

3/12/2008 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

If Always Right is On THIS occasion Right and the Iranian swarming boats approach the US Navy ships in the Straights of Hormuz with human shields on board, the response should be to first fire across their bows (i.e., in close proximity to their craft) and if they do not INSTANTLY reverse course, blast them to Kingdom Come.

Any craft approaching a warship at high speed in international waters must be assumed to know exactly what the score is. To continue approaching after being warned by gunfire indicates without any ambiguity HOSTILE INTENT.

Simple test: reverse the roles in your mind, and ask whether if U.S. boats approached Iranian ships at high speed in international waters, and refused to turn away after warning shots were fired, the Iranians would be justified in blasting them?

It's so SIMPLE when you do that, isn't it?

3/12/2008 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Max Boot seems to echo what buffy says, that this is really more about the Surge than it is about Iran:


3/13/2008 01:45:00 AM  
Blogger buffy said...

Here is another article (this one by Mack Owens at the Naval War College - a man with an impeccable reputation) that confirms my view:
"Some observers contended that the civil-military tensions of the 1990s were a temporary phenomenon, attributable to the perceived anti-military character of the Clinton administration. But the tensions did not disappear with the election and reelection of George W. Bush. If anything, civil-military relations became more strained as a result of clashes between the uniformed services and Bush's first secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, over efforts to "transform" the military from a Cold War force to one better able to respond to likely future contingencies and the planning and conduct of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. This was highlighted by the so-called revolt of the generals in the spring of 2006, which saw a number of retired Army and Marine generals publicly call for the resignation of Secretary Rumsfeld, criticizing him in language that was intemperate, if not downright contemptuous.

With Rumsfeld's departure and the apparent success of the "surge"
in Iraq, some expressed hope that harmony might return to U.S. civil-military relations. But as the case of Admiral William "Fox" Fallon illustrates, the state of civil-military relations remains turbulent."

Once you've personally witnessed the garbage that comes out of the DOD, your whole viewpoint changes.
Now let me insert here that I love our military. Some of the finest, bravest, unselfish people who have ever walked this earth are and have been in uniform for this country. They are the backbone of our democratic republic. Without their sacrifice we would be toast. Knowing and working with many of them I can attest that they are a breed apart and a force to be highly praised. They deserve our unending gratitude. But the Pentagon brass (and the civilian counterparts in the agencies) are a different story. Once they reach a certain level they get what is known as the generals disease. It is a phenomenon where they consider themselves above reproach and many slide into self-promoting, self aggrandizing behavior. Throw a little CYA into the mixture and their ambition gets the best of them. That's what happened with Fallon. His subordinate (Petraeus) and by proxy Bush proved he was wrong about the Surge and it was public payback time. It's disgusting to watch years of service come down to the "Eliot Spitzer" moment because of hubris.

3/13/2008 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...


Of course I am right. I have no doubt whatsoever of the right course of actions. But that is not my question.

Knowing full well the 'other side' have played the mass media like they owned them, put yourself in those young service men and women's shoes. Will you be able to pull the trigger, having seen the faces of the 'human shields'? I imagine it would be very different from in the case of sending a missile to strike over Baghdad.

Even if you can follow the order, would you be in intense 'soul-searching' (hounded by msm to get the 1st person perspective)? I have no right answer, every person will behave differently, but I have no doubt our enemy will TEST us (rather sooner than later).

3/13/2008 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger buffy said...

More concerning Fallon's incompetence:
"The fact is that [Central Command] had the external responsibility to protect our troops in Iraq from the outside and under Fallon they failed to do it," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a military analyst. "We have done nothing to protect our soldiers from external threats in Iraq."

Others said Adm. Fallon was pushed to resign.

"No matter what [Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates] said [Tuesday], we know for a fact Admiral Fallon was fired," said a former senior Defense official who works closely with military officials in the region. "We have kids — soldiers — getting killed because Iran, Syria and other foreign fighters are coming across the border into Iraq, and yet Fallon was unwilling to do anything to hold [those nations] accountable."


Fallon's hatred for Bush cost us soldiers lives. He probably thinks it is the cost of an unneeded war. It was actually the result of his hubris and incompetency.

BTW - Paul Vallely lost his son, Scott, at Fallujah. He speaks from experience and revelation.

3/13/2008 01:47:00 PM  

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