Matthew Hoy currently works as a metro page designer at the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The opinions presented here do not represent those of the Union-Tribune and are solely those of the author.

If you have any opinions or comments, please e-mail the author at: hoystory -at- cox -dot- net.

Dec. 7, 2001
Christian Coalition Challenged
Hoystory interviews al Qaeda
Fisking Fritz
Politicizing Prescription Drugs

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Friday, October 01, 2004
TiVo-blogging the debate: Watching the debate several hours after it actually occurs is a great advantage -- I can copy and paste what I want from a transcript, rather then pausing and typing it myself.

The big problem with this debate format is that the moderator really can't challenge the answers of either candidate, and with the rule that the candidates can't ask each other questions, this is not so much a debate as it is a series of mini-speeches.

KERRY: I believe in being strong and resolute and determined. And I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, wherever they are.

Unless they're in Iraq. Or anywhere else France has economic interests that they don't want the U.S. to meddle in.

LEHRER: New question, two minutes, Senator Kerry.

"Colossal misjudgments." What colossal misjudgments, in your opinion, has President Bush made in these areas?

KERRY: Well, where do you want me to begin?

First of all, he made the misjudgment of saying to America that he was going to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go through the inspections.

Senator Kerry, what makes a "true alliance"? For the first Gulf War we had a coalition of 34 nations. For Operation Iraqi Freedom we had 30. Must a "true alliance" contain France, Germany and Russia? Or maybe any two?

KERRY: You don't send troops to war without the body armor that they need.

I've met kids in Ohio, parents in Wisconsin places, Iowa, where they're going out on the Internet to get the state-of-the-art body gear to send to their kids. Some of them got them for a birthday present.

This is absolutely false.

Kerry's comment is designed to mislead the viewer into believing that our troops are going without needed body armor that is available for civilian purchase on the Internet -- not true.

As of this year, all U.S. troops are being issued the state-of-the-art body armor, so there's no need for family members to go on the Internet and buy it for them.

From a congressional hearing:

Q: Up on the Hill here a number of your officials have been peppered with questions about why there's been a lack of body armor and I ask you now in retrospect, was there a breakdown in the planning for post-war Iraq that failed to anticipate the types of hostilities U.S. troops would encounter and the types of equipment they would need. Body armor is pretty elementary Sir.

Gen. Pace: Every soldier and Marine on the ground over had body armor. The difference is, is that our industry has produced an even better body armor than what we have, so what the folks went over to the war with is what we've been wearing for several years, which is body armor that's very, very good against a certain caliber of munition. The new body armor is better against large caliber munition, industry produced it and Congress funded it and industries producing as fast as they can and as fast as they're making it we're getting it to Iraq. The projection is that by December of this year everybody in Iraq will have the new armor, so everybody has armor it's the difference between whether they have the most recent capacity armor or the armor that we've been wearing - body armor that we've been wearing for a couple years.

Q: I heard there was a shortage of armor like 40,000 troops didn't have armor?

Gen. Pace: No. About 40,000 troops did not have the brand new improved armor. All had body armor available and it's the 40,000 deficits in the new armor that's being corrected between now and December [2003].

Were families trying to buy the newest, state-of-the-art body armor back in 2003? Yep, but it wasn't like it was lying around in shops -- the military was buying it all up -- as fast as it came off the assembly line. Then how did some of these families get it? Well, they bought stolen ones -- armor taken from other U.S. troops. If body armor hadn't have been stolen, then Kerry wouldn't have this little anecdote.

And what's the worst thing about this? Not a single media outlet debunked it in their fact check pieces. Shameful.

KERRY: The only building that was guarded when the troops when into Baghdad was the oil ministry. We didn't guard the nuclear facilities.

We didn't guard the foreign office, where you might have found information about weapons of mass destruction. We didn't guard the borders.

Nuclear facilities? Senator, you've been telling us that Saddam had no WMDs -- therefore where are these nuclear facilities that we were supposed to be guarding? Senator, there were no WMDs -- and Saddam had disclosed everything to the inspectors before we "rushed" to invade -- so wouldn't any "alleged" documents just have been duplicative?

Or maybe the inspectors weren't really working. And maybe you, senator, still believe that Saddam Hussein has WMDs squirreled away somewhere. Or maybe they were smuggled into Syria?

Each of those things is an argument for having gone in sooner, and not allowed Saddam Hussein the additional time to hide them.

And then comes Lehrer's only real gotcha of the night:

KERRY: Well, you know, when I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?

I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right. That's what I learned in Vietnam. When I came back from that war I saw that it was wrong. Some people don't like the fact that I stood up to say no, but I did. And that's what I did with that vote. And I'm going to lead those troops to victory.

LEHRER: All right, new question. Two minutes, Senator Kerry.

Speaking of Vietnam, you spoke to Congress in 1971, after you came back from Vietnam, and you said, quote, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

LEHRER: Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?

KERRY: No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership that we put -- that I'm offering.

Let's cut out the clutter.

KERRY: The president made a mistake in invading Iraq.

LEHRER: Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?


Hello, McFly! *raps on Kerry's forehead*

The terrorism czar, who has worked for every president since Ronald Reagan, said, "Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor."

First, we didn't invade Iraq in response to 9/11. We invaded Afghanistan.

Secont, just a little history lesson for those of you who aren't WWII military buffs.

Question: What was the first place America invaded in response to the Pearl Harbor attack and what was the nationality of those we fought?

Answer: Morocco and the French.

*CORRECTION* The U.S. first invasion was Guadalcanal in the Pacific Theater three months before Operation Torch in North Africa.

KERRY: The United Nations, Kofi Annan offered help after Baghdad fell. And we never picked him up on that and did what was necessary to transfer authority and to transfer reconstruction. It was always American-run.

Yeah, the U.N. did such a good job running that oil-for-palacesfood program, we should've turned everything over the that bureaucracy immediately. How foolish of us.

KERRY: First of all, we all know that in his state of the union message, he told Congress about nuclear materials that didn't exist.

OK, so now the nuclear materials didn't exist. So why the criticism about not securing Iraq's "nuclear facilities." If there are no nuclear materials, you really can't have "nuclear facilities."

Kerry: He also said Saddam Hussein would have been stronger. That is just factually incorrect. Two-thirds of the country was a no-fly zone when we started this war. We would have had sanctions. We would have had the U.N. inspectors. Saddam Hussein would have been continually weakening.

Kerry's "history" is factually incorrect. Let's follow his scenario to its logical conclusion. The inspectors go in, say they can't find anything, but concede that Saddam Hussein hasn't fully disclosed information on his weapons programs. Saddam draws out the inspections, gives a little here or there, but never really comes clean. And then France, Germany and Russia, their eyes wide at the prospect of finally making loads of cash on those lucrative oil contracts, propose to have the sanctions lifted. And they do get those sanctions lifted. And then there are no more no-fly zones. And then the weapons programs that Saddam still had in place are ramped up, because their are no inspectors to look over his shoulders.

So how has Saddam been weakened? He hasn't. He's succeeded after more than a decade of U.N. dithering. He's still in power. He's now got WMDs again and emboldened to take a chance at supplying people like Zarqawi with WMDs for shipment and use in the U.S.

KERRY: If the president had shown the patience to go through another round of resolution, to sit down with those leaders, say, "What do you need, what do you need now, how much more will it take to get you to join us?" we'd be in a stronger place today.

So, the man who has repeatedly called the United States' allies a coalition of the "coerced and the bribed" complains that we didn't offer more or better bribes to the French, Germans and Russians?

KERRY: Thirty-five to forty countries in the world had a greater capability of making weapons at the moment the president invaded than Saddam Hussein.

And of those countries, which ones had shown a propensity to use them in past?

Let's name some of the countries that have the aforementioned capability. United States. France. Russia. Germany. Canada. Mexico. Brazil. South Africa. China. Japan. Italy.

What a phony number.

Overall, I thought the debate was a draw. I don't think any minds will be changed by what happened tonight.

Kerry is a much better speaker than Bush, but we knew that going in. Bush had all sorts of opportunities to slam Kerry for his duplicity, but was unable or unwilling to do it forcefully.

Bush did yeoman's work at making his case, but he could've done much better. As predicted, he stuck to his talking points.

Questions not asked: As should come as no surprise, PBS's Jim Lehrer (aside from the one question I noted above) didn't really hit Kerry with any tough questions. Most of his questions were couched in terms of: "Here's what Bush is doing. Criticize."

Questions Lehrer should have asked Kerry:

Senator Kerry, you've said repeatedly that you would work with our allies to build a true coalition that would enable the U.S. to begin drawing down troops after six months. Both German and French officials have said repeatedly that they would not send troops to Iraq no matter who is president. What makes you think you can change their minds?

Senator Kerry, throughout your Senate career you have proposed deep cuts in intelligence funding and the cancellation of programs like the Apache helicopter, the B-1 bomber, the MX Missile, the Aegis Air-Defense Cruiser, the Harrier, F-15, F-14A, F-14D fighters and the Phoenix and Sparrow Air-to-Air missiles. You pushed for a nuclear freeze at the height of the Cold War. You voted against the first Gulf War. Some have said that you are dovish and have an aversion to using force. Is this true?

Senator Kerry, you've called the 30 nations with us in Iraq a coalition of the "coerced and the bribed." When Ayad Allawi came to the United States, one of your advisors called him a puppet. You've said you'd do a better job bringing allies on board. Will this be your diplomatic method if you are elected?

*UPDATE* I'll do some more later on issues raised in the comments below, but first I'd like to thank everyone, including critics, for refraining from using vulgarities. That would have gotten your comments deleted, so thanks, and future commenters take note.

Second, regarding nuclear facitilties. Kerry's charge was that the only building we protected when we went into Baghdad was the oil ministry. Implying that there were military facilities in Baghdad. That's not true as far as I can determine.

One commenter mentions Tuwaitha, which was the site of the Osirak nuclear reactor that the Israelis famously bombed back in 1981. Tuwaitha is nearly 20 miles outside of Baghdad and was guarded -- but not before some looting took place. In fact, it was guarded very quickly after we got to the area.

According to this article from the the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Marines were guarding Tuwaitha by at least April 8, 2003. Referencing a timeline [PDF format] for the Iraq conflict, the next day was notable; April 9, 2003, was the day Marines in Baghdad helped pull down that Saddam Hussein statue on live TV. Could the U.S. have secured Tuwaitha sooner? Sure, by dropping paratroopers in behind enemy lines -- but for those concerned with unneccessary casualties, it probably wouldn't have been a good use of highly trained troops.

Also, for clarification, the material at that site was not weapons grade, but theoretically could've been used in a dirty bomb -- just like radioactive material at hospitals could be used.

Regarding the Niger/Yellowcake issue that one commenter raised. Why would Saddam be seeking yellowcake from Africa when he had all of that stuff at Tuwaitha? Easy, the U.N. and IAEA knew about the material at Tuwaitha, and would've noticed it missing. Any more yellowcake imported from Africa would've theoretically been able to be used to make a weapon without the U.N. inspectors' knowledge.

More later, I'm off to work.

*UPDATE* Related/updated posts to this one can be found here and here.

5:04 AM

Paul Z--I got it, but don't understand it. I thought before FDR attacked N. Africa or Italy or France that Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. and that the later two countries occupied both France and N. Africa. Did Iraq declare war on us? I know Bin Laden did, but don't remember Saddam doing it. I guess you could attack Kerry's analogy if you felt that Osama and Saddam were in league with each other, but the 9-11 Commission said there was no evidence of it.
Your nuclear sites/WMD comment: Iraq had a nuclear REACTOR at Tuwaitha. This was known to everyone, and the IAEA had certain non-weapons grade uranium there under seal that Iraq was allowed to have. The UN inspectors visited that site something like 22 times when inspections started again and found nothing illegal going on there. However, after the invasion, no one secured the Tuwaitha site, it was looted and locals got radiation sickness using some of the contaminated containers for water, etc. The nuclear materials there couldn't be used to make a nuclear weapon, but they could have been used to make a dirty bomb. Nevertheless the Coalition didn't bother to secure this site for weeks.
"Were families trying to buy the newest, state-of-the-art body armor back in 2003? Yep, but it wasn't like it was lying around in shops -- the military was buying it all up -- as fast as it came off the assembly line."

I'm afraid this is incorrect. The Interceptor is only one brand of state-of-the-art body armor; there's plenty of other brands available. (As you can imagine, there's a lot of demand, not just in Iraq.) Do a search on Froogle for "body armor ceramic plates", for example.

Journalist Robert Kaplan describes how he shopped around for body armor in an article in the May 2004 Atlantic Monthly, "How Do I Look?"

"For years I had been borrowing this particular piece of sartorial equipment. Now I felt that I had reached the stage in life where I needed something that fit right, set the appropriate tone, and was hanging in my own closet ready for use. I am not talking about a tuxedo. I am talking about body armor: a vest that holds steel, ceramic, or polyethylene plates for protection against 9 mm, 5.56 mm, and 7.62 mm rounds, and also against various fragmentation devices.

"I thought that buying a bulletproof vest and helmet would be simple, but it quickly became complicated--so many choices, so many Web sites, so much conflicting advice from friends. In the early twenty-first century there is a big demand for this type of thing. There are waiting lists for certain vests, and not all sizes are in stock. Just as there are people who attend soirees, company dinners, awards nights, and charity balls, there are people who find themselves in war zones, and they need to be protected but also to look right."

Russil Wvong
"Nuclear facilities? Senator, you've been telling us that Saddam had no WMDs -- therefore where are these nuclear facilities that we were supposed to be guarding?"

My you are informed. Just fyi, the IAEA had accounted for and secured a substantial amount of natural and lowly enriched uranium subsequent the first gulf war. This material- not suitable for use in weapons but with the potential to be enriched or in any case to be used in dirty bombs- was for 10 years kept under lock and key and monitored right up until our commander in chief's headlong rush to make us all safer. Headlong since inserted in rectum that is. Unfortunately, we didn't know our own strength- we won too quickly and easily, leaving a lawless state in our wake. Ooops. In the ensuing mayhem, that previously controlled facility was looted, and some of it's radioactive material is no longer accounted for. I don't expect you to grasp the irony of that, but figured to inform you anyway, lest you continue to refract your ignoramus through the lens of the world wide web.

Here endeth the lesson.
"First, we didn't invade Iraq in response to 9/11. We invaded Afghanistan.
Secont, just a little history lesson for those of you who aren't WWII military buffs.
Question: What was the first place America invaded in response to the Pearl Harbor attack and what was the nationality of those we fought?

Answer: Morocco and the French."
According to http://www.army.mil/cmh/reference/apcmp.htm

On 7 August 1942 the first stage of the offensive began with landings by a Marine division on Guadalcanal and nearby islands.
And http://www.army.mil/cmh/reference/eacmp.htm says:

On 8 November 1942 the U.S. Navy put U.S. Army Forces ashore near Casablanca (Morocco), while the British Navy put other United States forces and contingents of British troops ashore near Oran and Algiers.
George W. Bush, 30 September 2004:

In Iraq, we saw a threat, and we realized that after September the 11th, we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize.
Game, set, match!
Scarecrow says: Don't play with facts - you might get burned!
The following post was originally above and posted by "JayR" I deleted the post and am reprinting it here because one of the links he posted was too long and was making the link unreadable for Internet Explorer users. The full text of his post follows with a couple of carriage returns inserted.

You make a mistake about the Body Armour.

First not every soldier going to Iraq received Body Armour. Having been a Marine, I can tell you generals in Washington DC do not always know what is going on in the field.

When I served in the first Gulf War I was issued a M-79 grenade launcher, a Vietnam issue weapon, because they were running out of weapons for all the troops, and our unit was supposed to have so many grenade launchers. They could not even find ammo for this weapon, but I had to carry it.

General Pace is also mistaken in his discription of the old body armour. The old stuff was actually Flack Jackets, decent in protection against shrapnel, not anything close to the body armour of today.

Not as many troops as you would think have the new stuff, and not always the right troops get it first. If you know anything about the military, then you know logistics is always a CF.

When you add to it the number of Guardsmen and Researvists, who get hosed on gear, then you will realize that there have been people who have sent body armour to their family members.

Look at these stories:

By the way, you are also wrong about your rant on Nuclear facilities. Saddam did not have WMDs -- but there are nuclear facilities in Iraq. Power plants not capable of making weapons, but still that we were needing guarding. There were also stockpiles of old "yellow cake" you remember the stuff Saddam was supposed to be buying in Niger, which didn't make sense since everyone knew he had some. This had been reported and cataloged back in 1996 by the UN. It was cataloged again by inspectors when they returned, and all was still where they left it. It was the second thing the UN did when they returned to Iraq before the war.
It is always funny seeing americans fumbling around with historic facts.

Marocco and France were invaded not as a response to Pearl Harbor, buit as a response to the german declaration of war against the US.

FDR was prudent enough to first throw down the nazi armies in Europe before turning his attention to Japan.

This whole election is so stuffed with hilarious historic perspectives it demonstrates what a nation of know-nothings can evolve if you just refrain from teaching history in school.
^^ Not to mention grammar and spelling...
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