We have good…er bad…news

It’s tough being a member of Congress. Even if you’re in the majority, as is Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda of Kansas, you never know when your ears may be assaulted by outrageous and offensive ideas.

Like what? At a recent hearing of the Armed Services Committee, retired Gen. Jack Keane said “progress is being made” by U.S. military forces in Iraq; “We are on the offensive and we have the momentum,” he added. The freshman congresswoman was so distressed by these remarks that she got up and walked out.

There was “only so much” she could take, she explained, so she “had to leave the room … after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to.” She said she was worried, too, that General Keane’s remarks “will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country.” Hey, that could happen!

Lucky for Rep. Boyda, Congress in August goes on vacation. One hopes she can rest and recover, while blocking out any unwelcome and divisive news about American military successes in Iraq resulting from the new strategy being pursued by Gen. David Petraeus and his troops.

For example, let’s hope she never hears what General Petraeus’ top deputy, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, recently reported: A “growing list of cities” that until recently were under al Qaeda control have now been “liberated.” Odierno added that “greater than 50 percent of Baghdad is currently in control of coalition or Iraqi security forces. … I can think of no major population center in Iraq that is an al Qaeda safe haven today.”

If Rep. Boyda is careful about which television stations she watches, she need never learn who is primarily responsible for the carnage in Iraq. Fox News’ Chris Wallace recently asked Petraeus if most of the violence is the result of a Sunni-Shia civil war. The general replied that, in fact, it is al Qaeda that is “carrying out the bulk of the sensational attacks, the suicide car bomb attacks, suicide vest attacks, and so forth …. all of the individuals in the intelligence community, General (Stanley) McChrystal, the head of our Joint Special Operations Command, all of us feel that the central front of al Qaeda’s terror war is focused on Iraq.”

Nor does she need to know that, according to Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, in Iraq today “al Qaeda is on the run … We are going into places that the coalition has not had the sufficient troop strength and force size to go before, and we’re going after them, and they will not find safe haven in this country.”

With a little effort, the congresswoman can remain ignorant of the likely consequences should Congress force the administration to withdraw American troops before their mission is completed. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, told CNN’s Jamie McIntyre: “Those surge forces are giving us the capability we have now to take the fight to the enemy, and the enemy only responds to force and we now have that force. … If those surge forces go away, that capability goes away … if you did that … you’d find the enemy regaining ground, re-establishing a sanctuary … Over time we can turn the area over to Iraqi security forces, and then we’ll be ready to do something that looks like a withdrawal. … People keep wanting to put a timeframe on this. It’s just not possible.”

Surely you can see how possession of such information would make it more difficult for Congresswoman Boyda to do her job — second-guessing military commanders? And she’s right that such information can divide Americans. It might even stimulate serious debate — a frightening thought.

As House Majority Whip James Clyburn suggested this week, success in Iraq also would be awkward for those who have bet their political chips on American failure.

To be precise, Clyburn said that it would be “a real big problem for us” should General Petraeus return to Washington next month and present a positive report on progress in Iraq. Moderate Democrats might listen and decide that for America to be defeated in Iraq by al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias is neither inevitable nor in the national interest. These same moderate Democrats also might decide that, for them, the national interest trumps the partisan interest.

If Congressman Boyda were to hear that, she wouldn’t leave the room — they’d have to carry her out.

(Clifford D. May is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.)


  1. Electric Bill

    If Clifford Mays sounds a bit like a reading list of GOP talking points, it’s because he is. The FDD is a radical right wing neo-con think tank. Bill Kristol, Zell Miller, and Newt Gingrich are among its distinguished board members and fellows. website: http://www.defenddemocracy.org/biographies/biographies.htm.
    This is the same crew that has been wrong about everything else up to now and is asking us to let them be wrong again. Their version of democracy has very little room for dissent and they specialize in emotional fear mongering and attack writing. They want to spread their “democracy” in the Middle East but have no problems with denying it to Americans.

  2. old_curmudgeon

    I agree with Electric Bill about Mr. May’s rightwing leanings…I also understand CHB’s wanting to sometimes provide “both sides of the story.” But Mr. May is and has been from the start a ravenous supporter of the Iraqi invasion and occupation, always ready to tag someone with differing views as unpatriotic and sometimes treasonous usually in belittling and arrogant tones. As EB says, there is little room for a different point of view with these people. Providing these brownshirts a platform to vent their vile and pernicious rantings is in my opinion, below CHB. But, that’s just this old curmudgeon’s opinion…

  3. JerZGirl

    Yes – this is a very “right” toned article. I, personally, don’t believe what they say because this administration has been so filled with lies and misleading information. But, even if it happens to be true, we simply don’t belong in Iraq. We need to get out. The only al Qaeda we’re fighting there are only there because of us. We never went there to fight them – they were in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We went there to take down Saddam for GWB – nothing more. We are not there for any honorable purpose and therein lies the problem. We have lost our standing of honor throughout the world. It is time we began fighting to regain it….at home.

    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.

    Wisdom is knowing not to put it in fruit salad.

  4. the Don

    Sounds just like the crap we heard during the VietNam War! There was no honor in that war and there is no honor is this one.

    An invading force can never defeat the “homeland” without massive and overwhelming force (the Powell Doctrine) which is genocide. We’ve already irradiated the cradle of civilization for 4 and a half billion years, the present age of our planet. And that radiation is moving around the planet as did the radiation from Chernoybl.

    There is neither knowledge nor wisdom in our current political and corporate leadership. And we put these idiots in power and keep them there. HAHAHAHA!!!

    We are freaking doomed!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    The White House has switched back & forth between Al Qaeda being a danger to it not. Whatever suits its needs at the time.

    For the longest time we never hear about Osama Bin Laden, and PRESTO, BushCo decides to break Osama out of
    his Jack-in-the-Box.

    The Dems are just as much to blame with its enabling of
    the Chimp. On a previous CHB article, ‘Voters fed up with Democratic failures’, a commentator who posted a rant was soft pedaling Nancette Pelosi’s decision to take impeacment off the table stating, “Imagine the angst that an impeachment would cause against the Democrat party”

    Well, that’s the problem of the Democrat Party, they ‘imagine’ too much with no decisive action.

    With all respect to the commentator who postulated if
    Dems had started impeachment hearings that the result would be a groundswell of support for the Chimp and Dick, manifesting itself in making it harder for the Dems to extract our troops from Iraq, all of this if Pelosi became president as a result of impeachment: this is ludicrous logic. With the Chimp’s abysmally low ratings and Big Dick Cheney even more so, I don’t believe the downside of impeachment would make it harder to change course in Iraq. The Dems already have proved its ineptness by not doing anything anyway when they had a clear chance last May with the spending bill.

    The commentator also said: “They [Democratic Congress] see the bigger picture better than we who rant in the blogosphere”.

    The Dems in their vaunted prescience by and large are dedicated to just wet-nursing thier own re-election, and I for one, and I’m sure many other CHB commentators don’t care to have their intelligence insulted with comments like this when the actions of the Dems speak louder then words.

    Dems problems are the Chicken Feathers glued to their arms. If Bush and Cheney got impeached and Pelosi became president and things got all shaken up, then so be it. Shake up is good, anything that would rattle the status quo in Washington DC, but will never know because they are always looking ahead at their re-election prospects and the MIC that by and large wet nurses them.

    The old standbye of blaming Nader for the Democrats misfortune is so tired. It’s just an excuse to hide the Democrat parties ineptness and spinelessness such as the way Kerry Tip Toed through the tulips on abortion rights in the debate with the Chimp in 2004;
    Kerry acted apologetically for being Pro-Choice.
    No one respects anyone who dosen’t have conviction and apologizes for a bedrock Democratic principle.

    Howard Dean would have had the best chance to beat
    the Chimp in 04′ but the Jack-Ass party purposely
    sabotaged his run and got him ejected out of the race, and then co-opted some of his succesfull tactics with no success. As screwed up as the Elephant party is, they don’t equivocate like the Jack-Ass party does when expressing itself.

    Tactical retreats! That is all the Democrats largely ever do.

    If the situation were reversed and the
    Republikaners had a chance to impeach a Democratic president and VP they would be on it as bees in honey drown.


    If the Democrats had campaigned for Congress on censure of the president and passing non-binding legislation to get us out of Iraq, do you think they would have won the House majority they have now.

    Congressional poll ratings are as low as the Chimps are now since last May when the Jack-Ass party folded to the Chimp.

    I wonder why.

    We don’t want Democrats to be clones of the Chimp. We don’t need a house full of retarded Chimps.

    Democratic politicians are Scheisen-Meisters, Ya!

    (except Henry Waxman, Barbara Lee & Dennis Kucinich)

    PS: whoever the wonderful soul is that came up with the term ‘The Chimp’ for Bush, my hat is off to you, it
    makes me laugh uncontrollably

  6. shag11

    There are two hours a day of electricity in Baghdad, there is virtually no running water, 19 billion dollars of weapons are missing, our soldiers are being killed by some of the same people they are training; where’s the progress.