Politics Rules

President Obama continues to drag his feet over Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops in Afghanistan, and his closest advisors aren’t the generals who know most about it. The “national security team” — retired Marine General Jim Jones the lone grownup among them — seems to be dominated by the White House political team of Rahm Emanuel, Joe Biden and David Axelrod.  

The goal of Gen. McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy is to deploy more troops to stabilize the major population centers of Afghanistan.  The alternative counterterrorism strategy — advocated earlier by Biden — is to pull back to remote areas and try to pickoff al Qaeda fighters while they try to pick off our dangerously downsized and isolated troops.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke with HUMAN EVENTS yesterday about ground truth in Afghanistan and political truths in Washington, D.C.  Rogers is a former U.S. Army officer and company commander as well as a former FBI Special Agent.

“I know General McChrystal personally,” Rogers said.  “I have worked with him on some issues when he played a key role in some Special Forces operations [in Afghanistan].  He is a leader’s leader.  He’s thoughtful.  And he puts the welfare of his troops and the completion of the mission at the top of his list.  If he believes he needs [more troops], he needs them.”

I asked Rogers for his overall assessment of the Obama administration’s handling of Afghanistan.

“It has been confusing at best,” Rogers said.  “They came in March to offer a plan.  They briefed the plan.  No one was happy with the briefs the way they tried to lay it out at different committees.  It was not a very coherent plan.  That was clear.”

“Then they came up several weeks ago to brief the entire Congress and said everything is fantastic,” Rogers continued.  “Oh, yeah, there’re a few problems.  Nobody — Republican or Democrat — was happy with that briefing.”

“Now, obviously they’ve asked the commander in the field to give the evaluation,” Rogers said.  “It sat there for awhile.  It was described to me that they’ve got three or four different layers of people looking at what they’re going to do.  Three or four different layers.  So it’s taking too long, and in the meantime, they’ve got very unclear guidance on what the rules of engagement for our soldiers are.”

What would you like to see happen?

“We have to make it very clear that our soldiers who are out in remote posts will have every piece of equipment they need,” Rogers said.  “They have to have the ability to engage bad guys… if you’re going to put them into harm’s way with a convoluted way of them being able to defend themselves, we’re going to lose more troops.”

“This has already happened in Afghanistan.  There was a case where they requested air support and artillery support and it was not allowed,” Rogers said.  “We lost four soldiers.  That is maddening.”

In early September, four Marines were killed near Ganjgal when they encountered enemy Taliban and al Qaeda insurgents near the village and were denied air and artillery support as a result of Obama’s new rules to avoid civilian casualties.  However, the battle was near not in a village.

“That kind of confusion in the battlefield leads to more recruits for the Taliban, then touting victory, them becoming more confident — them being the enemy — when they have those kind of days like they’ve had in Afghanistan, it works against us,” Rogers said.  “We need to let our military be the military and then have a solid civilian component to it, but you can’t mix them up.  If you mix them up, then we’re in for a long, convoluted, bloody war.”

What’s the worst Afghanistan policy that could come out of the White House?

“Just keep stalling around for more time which it seems like they’re doing,” Rogers said.  “My concern is they’re more concerned about the political ramifications than they are the national security ramifications.”

On a side note, as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, one of the committees with jurisdiction over the health care “reform” bill, Rogers’ opening statement  at the hearing on H.R. 3200 has received nearly four and one half million views on YouTube.

Democrats Pass Orwellian Hate Crimes Legislation in Defense Bill

The overwhelming majority of Republicans yesterday voted against the National Defense Authorization Act when Democrats included the unrelated and unconstitutional “hate crimes” legislation in the conference report reconciling the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bills.  The legislation passed on a vote of 281-146.

 “The inclusion of ‘thought crimes’ legislation in what is otherwise a bipartisan bill for troop funding is an absolute disgrace,” said Rep. Tom Price, M.D., chairman of the Republican Study Committee. “Today, an overwhelming number of House Republicans repudiated the Democrats’ inclusion of unconstitutional language which undermines the First Amendment and the principle of equal justice. Republicans have a long history of strong support for our troops, yet this ‘thought crimes’ legislation is simply unacceptable. The Democrat majority should be ashamed at the way it has used the needs of our men and women in uniform as a platform for a partisan agenda.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a former appellate judge, addressed the gravity of the legislation in remarks from the House floor (Video).

“There is nothing accomplished by this hate crimes legislation that is not already accomplished by current law in this country. There has been no poster case that hate crime advocates have pointed to where the outcome would have been changed by this bill. It will also have a serious chilling effect on the freedoms of speech and religion, affecting many who preach on sexual immorality as addressed in the Bible, the Koran, and the Torah.

“We even tried to limit the heightened ‘sexual orientation’ protections to heterosexuals and homosexuals, but that too was defeated. The Democratic majority wanted the definition wide open to include all types of sexual orientations, even those that are illegal. For example, another limiting amendment was attempted so as not to give additional protection to child molesters, but that too was defeated. Our amendment that would have given the elderly the same extra protection that homosexuals get under the law was also defeated. Overall, hate crimes legislation sends a dangerous message that random, senseless acts of violence are far more preferable in society than violence with a motive. All crimes of violence are already forbidden in every state in the country. This bill is about social engineering, not protection.”

Rangel Ethics Investigation Expanded — Again

Reacting to the Privileged Resolution offered in the House Wednesday by House Republican Conference Secretary and ethics hawk John Carter (R-Texas), the House Committee on Ethics and Standards has again expanded the scope of its 16-months-long and counting investigation of multiple tax, federal disclosure, and ethics violation charges against House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).  The Carter resolution asked for an up or down vote to remove Rangel from the chairmanship of the tax writing committee until the investigation has concluded.  Through procedural moves, Democrats instead referred the resolution to the Ethics Committee, again deflecting a vote on Rangel’s removal.

“Given the expanded investigation announced today, it is past time for Speaker Pelosi to insist that Chairman Rangel step aside until the Ethics Committee completes its work,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner.  “The American people won’t stand for having a chairman of the House’s tax-writing committee who is under investigation for not paying his taxes.  What more has to happen before Speaker Pelosi does the right thing?”

“Clearly, this investigation is far from over and we still see this as a dark cloud over Mr. Rangel’s head,” Carter said. “Someone with confessed tax writing mistakes shouldn’t be in charge of the tax-writing committee, especially while he is under investigation.”

Rangel repeatedly failed to pay taxes on income and repeatedly failed to disclose income. The Ethics Committee is expanding its investigation to include Rangel’s August revelation of a minimum of $500,000 in undisclosed income.

According to the Ethics Committee, the investigation to date has issued nearly 150 subpoenas, interviewed 34 witnesses resulting in more than 2,100 pages of transcripts, reviewed more than 12,000 pages of documents and held more than 30 subcommittee meetings.

“We’ll continue to ask that he step down from his position until the investigation is complete and pressure Speaker Nancy Pelosi to do the right thing,” Carter said.