Thursday, October 14, 2004

Dave's Web Newsletter #70

Date: 10/14/04 00:54:02
Subject: Newsletter #70

Greetings from the Center for an Informed America
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October 12, 2004
Beware the 'Peak Oil' Agenda

[Due to recent developments in the 'Peak Oil' scam, I decided to
put Act III of the new September 11 series on hold for a couple weeks.]

It has become apparent that many people have misinterpreted my
'Peak Oil' rants. I know this because I get e-mail with messages like,
"thanks for giving me hope," and "thanks for changing my view of the
future." I am sorry to have to report here that the newfound optimism of
some of my readers is entirely unwarranted. After reviewing my past
writings, I realize that the fault for this misunderstanding lies with
me, since I haven't done a very good job of articulating exactly what my
position is.

This, my friends, is the harsh reality, so pay very close
attention: the fact that 'Peak Oil' is an entirely manufactured
construct does not mean that the doomsday scenarios painted by the
'Peak' crowd will therefore not become our new reality. This is not just
another scam to further pad the pockets of the oil industry and other
financial elites. The stakes are much higher than that. Much higher.

In order to clarify my position on 'Peak Oil,' it would be
instructive to briefly review the areas of agreement, and the areas of
disagreement, that I have with those who are selling the scam.

The Peakers claim that 'Peak Oil' is the single most important
issue that we are facing today. I agree with that assessment (but not
because 'Peak Oil' is a valid concept).

The Peakers claim that much of America's military might has been
directed in recent years at conquering the key oil and gas producing
regions of the world. And that is obviously quite true. Central Asia and
Iraq have been seized, Venezuela has suffered through constant meddling
by the CIA, the Sudan has been targeted for a future assault, and Saudi
Arabia and Iran have been subjected to saber rattling.

But the Peakers also claim that these military ventures have
been motivated by America's desire to seize what will soon be the last
drops of the world's precious reserves of oil -- and that is entirely

The Peakers claim that we will very soon be facing a world where
chaos reigns supreme -- a world of war, famine and death on a scale
unknown in recorded human history. And that does, in fact, appear to be
the case. And we're not talking about the distant future here, folks;
we're talking about the very near future.

But the Peakers also claim that this global "die off" will be a
regrettable, but quite natural, and entirely unavoidable, consequence of
the world's oil taps running dry. And that is the really big lie. That
is the lie that will very soon be used to rationalize the killing off of
hundreds of millions, possibly billions, of the world's people. There
are, you see, simply too many people in the world who, by merely being
alive, are standing in the way of the aspirations of the global elite.

The people that the 'Peak Oil' pitchmen are fronting for are
deadly serious about selling 'Peak Oil' to the masses -- and not just in
theoretical terms, as a cynical ploy to raise prices and increase
profits. No, it has become clear that the real goal is to actually cut
off most of the world's oil supplies under the ruse that the oil simply
no longer exists. The desired result is massive social unrest,
widespread famine, and endless war. The majority of the world's people
will not survive. Those that do will find themselves living under the
overtly authoritarian form of rule that will quickly be deemed necessary
to restore order. And if you think that we here in America are exempt,
you are sadly mistaken.

In order to pull off this stunt, all the world's major oil
producing regions must be solidly under the control of the U.S. and it's
co-conspirators, otherwise known as 'allies.' In other words, the
puppet-masters have to control all the major oil taps, so that they have
complete control over the flow of oil -- or lack of it. And that, in a
nutshell, is the real reason for America's recent military ventures. The
goal, you see, is not to steal Iraq's oil, or the oil in the 'Stans, or
in the Sudan, or in Venezuela, or anywhere else. We don't want to take
their oil, because the truth is that we don't really need it
What we want to do is sit on the taps so no one else can get to the oil.

The Peakers have claimed that the Central Asian adventure -
launched with the invasion of Afghanistan, but certainly not limited to
Afghanistan - has largely been a bust. We have all heard the spin: the
hoped-for reserves aren't there, what has been found can't be extracted
economically, the grand plan simply didn't pan out, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Frankly, I find all of that a little hard to believe. After all,
hasn't Central Asia been the subject of intense interest and study by
geologists and the petroleum industry for the last century or so? You
would think that the lords of oil were operating on more than just a
hunch when they drafted this gameplan. And I couldn't help noticing that
the United States has established a massive military presence in the
area, and it looks very much like it was designed to be a permanent
military presence. If the oil and gas aren't there, then what exactly is
it that our troops are standing guard over?

At least one researcher has doggedly claimed that the Central
Asian and Middle Eastern military ventures are but a prelude to military
confrontations with Russia and China. But that hardly seems to be the
case. It does not appear as though there is any urgent need for 'regime
change' in Russia or China, since the West seems to already have
'friendly' regimes in place in both countries. And I have to add here
that if the ruling regimes of Russia and China really are enemies of the
United States, they will undoubtedly go down in history as the stupidest
enemies of all time for watching approvingly as the United States
entrenched its military machine in their backyards on the most
transparent of pretexts.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe that the Central
Asian adventure has been wildly successful. True, the West hasn't reaped
the bounty of the region's oil and gas reserves -- but I don't think
that was ever the goal. To the contrary, I think the U.S. has done
exactly what it set out to do: deny anyone else the opportunity - by
force if necessary, and it will become necessary - to exploit the area's

Also contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe that the Iraq
adventure has also been successful. Again, the goal was not to steal
Iraqi oil; the goal was to shut down or severely limit the flow of Iraqi
oil, and that goal has obviously been accomplished. Indeed, some reports
have held that American troops (and American mercenaries) are
responsible for at least some of the pipeline bombings and other attacks
on the Iraqi oil infrastructure.

Interestingly, Michael Ruppert began one of his recent "Peak is
the Word" rants with an ominous quote attributed to an "Anonymous Middle
Eastern Participant at the Third Conference of the Association for the
Study of Peak Oil and Gas – Berlin, May 2004." The quote, which Ruppert
presents without comment, reads as follows:

The one thing that every Middle Eastern leader, manager, and
planner who dreams of holding his country together fears now, is that
there will be a widespread uprising, inspired by the perceived victory
against Spain after Madrid, and Spain's withdrawal from Iraq, that it
might prompt much of the Muslim world to start attacking oil facilities
everywhere. This is the way they see that has worked to defeat the West
and to avenge their grievances. May God help us all if that happens.


This statement, if taken literally, is patently absurd --
beginning with the Bill O'Reillyesque claim that the 'terr'ists' somehow
scored a victory in Spain, and continuing through the astounding leap of
faith required to equate manufactured attacks on commuter trains to
widespread attacks on oil facilities. The only way that the uncredited
statement makes any sense at all is as a tip-off that the CIA's future
playbook is packed with false-flag terr'ist operations directed at
critical oil facilities -- especially in countries that haven't yet been
convinced that their vast oil reserves don't really exist.

In order to carry out the 'Peak Oil' agenda, the powers-that-be
need to have all the major oil producers on board. Some of them have
been on board all along. Some have to be recruited through military
force (Iraq, for example). Some will be compelled to join the team
through covert operations (e.g., Venezuela). And some are being brought
on board through threats, intimidation, and saber rattling.

The two most sought after recruits, of course, are Russia and
Saudi Arabia, since they are the world's two top oil producing nations.
As of this past April, Saudi Arabia apparently hadn't yet received the
latest memos on 'Peak.' Much to the consternation of Ruppert and his
handlers, Saudi officials announced on April 28 that the Kingdom's
estimate of recoverable reserves had nearly quintupled! (The article
below says "tripled," but the math isn't that hard to do.)

Saudi Oil Is Secure and Plentiful, Say Officials
Tim Kennedy, Arab News§ion=0&article=44011&d=29&m=4&y=2004

WASHINGTON, 29 April 2004 — Officials from Saudi Arabia’s
oil industry and the international petroleum organizations shocked a
gathering of foreign policy experts in Washington yesterday with an
announcement that the Kingdom’s previous estimate of 261 billion barrels
of recoverable petroleum has now more than tripled, to 1.2 trillion

Additionally, Saudi Arabia’s key oil and finance ministers
assured the audience — which included US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan
Greenspan — that the Kingdom has the capability to quickly double its
oil output and sustain such a production surge for as long as 50 years.


“Saudi Arabia now has 1.2 trillion barrels of estimated
reserve. This estimate is very conservative. Our analysis gives us
reason to be very optimistic. We are continuing to discover new
resources, and we are using new technologies to extract even more oil
from existing reserves,” the minister said.

Naimi said Saudi Arabia is committed to sustaining the
average price of $25 per barrel set by the Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries. He said prices should never increase to more than
$28 or drop under $22.


“Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves are certainly there,”
Naimi added. “None of these reserves requires advanced recovery
techniques. We have more than sufficient reserves to increase output. If
required, we can increase output from 10.5 million barrels a day to 12 -
15 million barrels a day. And we can sustain this increased output for
50 years or more. There will be no shortage of oil for the next 50
years. Perhaps much longer.”

Note that the oil reserves claimed by Saudi Arabia alone (1.2
trillion barrels) exceed what the Peakers claim are the total
recoverable oil reserves for the entire planet. Let's pause here for a
minute and think about the significance of that: one tiny patch of land,
accounting for less than than 1/2 of 1% of the earth's total surface
area, potentially contains more oil that the 'Peak' pitchmen claim the
entire planet has to offer! Is there not something clearly wrong with
this picture?

Needless to say, that sort of candor by the Saudis could put a
serious crimp in Washington's plans to sell the 'Peak Oil' scam. Perhaps
that is why, just three days after that announcement, the Saudi oil
industry was attacked by some of those terr'ists. Not to be deterred,
however, Saudi officials announced three weeks later, on May 21, that
the Kingdom still intended to dramatically increase its petroleum
output. And a week after that, on May 29, those crafty terr'ists
launched yet another brazen attack on the Saudi oil industry. Shit
happens, I guess.

At that very same time, and in the months that followed, the
U.S. was sending clear signals that it would not hesitate to set its
military dogs loose on the Kingdom if necessary. Michael Moore's "the
Saudis are the real enemy" movie, for example, splashed across America's
screens. Various voices involved in both the official and unofficial
9-11 investigations were pointing the finger toward the Saudis as well.
The message couldn't have been clearer: "we can easily drum up public
support for 'regime change' if you won't play ball." The Saudis, it
would appear, have now fallen in line.

Meanwhile, in Russia, the regime of Western puppet Vladimir
Putin has been working diligently to transfer control of Russian oil
production to what the L.A. Times referred to as "more complaint
owners." From a July 23, 2004 report by Kim Murphy:
Since the arrest in October of former CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
now on trial on charges of fraud and tax evasion [editor's note:
probably trumped-up charges], the financial community has debated the
Russian government's decision to assess at least $8 billion in back
taxes against Yukos: Was it to punish Khodorkovsky for his political
activism and alleged financial misdeeds, but leave his company intact?
To hand control of the company to more complaint hands? Or destroy a
company that produces 2% of the world's oil supply?
("Oil Flow Could End, Yukos Says," Los Angeles Times, July 23,

"Yukos," according to the Times, "produces about 1.7 million barrels
of oil a day, equal to some OPEC countries." The turning point in the
case against Yukos, the Times noted, came "when court bailiffs moving to
execute an initial $3.4-billion tax judgment announced that they were
preparing to seize and sell not one of the dozens of small Yukos assets
that might easily settle the tax bill, but the company's production
unit, Yuganskneftegaz ... the two-month deadline for selling the company
means there would be little time to raise financing, and a potential
buyer would acquire it at a fire-sale price, analysts said. The
government listed the unit's official value at about $1.8 billion."

The actual value of Yuganskneftegaz, as the Times admitted, is
probably closer to $30 billion, or nearly 17 times the Russian
government's ludicrous assessment. And who do you suppose will acquire
the assets of Yukos, and the control of Yukos, at these fire-sale
prices? I'm guessing it could very well be one or more of the Western
oil giants. The Russian people, of course, will be less than thrilled
with such a scenario, which is probably one of the key reasons that
Putin has recently opted to reveal the iron fist within the velvet

Michael Ruppert, being the top-notch journalist that he is, has
either completely ignored or grotesquely misrepresented these recent
developments in Russia and Saudi Arabia. The 'Peak Oil' crowd has
claimed, with nothing to offer in the way of supporting evidence, that
the Saudis are lying about their oil reserves and their ability to
increase production. The Peakers have also strongly implied that the
Saudis actually attacked their own facilities, so that they would not
have to deliver on their promises. No logical explanation has been
offered though for why the Saudis would lie and then immediately attack
themselves to cover up the fact that they were lying. It seems to me
like it would have taken less effort to just not tell the lie to begin
with. The Saudis, meanwhile, have insisted that it is the Peakers who
are lying. (
[For a discussion of the 'evidence' presented by the Peakers, see
Michael Lynch at Lynch
concludes: "There literally seems to be no evidence that the Saudi oil
fields are facing any unusual challenges or that Saudi production will
be constrained in the future by anything other than policy ... The use
of vague language ("tired" fields, "challenges") rather than specifics
about efforts and costs indicate that this is one more instance of
Malthusian bias."]

Even if the Saudis could boost production, say the Peakers, no one
would want their extra crude anyway, because, as it turns out, Saudi
crude oil just isn't very good. Who knew? What will we learn from the
Ruppertians next? That you can't get decent champaign in France? That
Russian caviar isn't all it's cracked up to be?

On the FTW website is a re-post of an article that begins: "The
world's oil refiners are unimpressed by Saudi Arabia's boost to
production capacity that would only swell supplies of sour, high sulphur
crude while they hanker for sweet oil ... 'Most refiners couldn't take
more sour if they tried,' said one refiner, who asked not to be named.
'We have a glut of sour crude and a short supply squeeze on low sulphur
crude oil and products, so extra Saudi makes no difference whatsoever,'
a physical oil trader said."

Now, I hesitate to point this out, because I know that Ruppert
prides himself on his journalistic professionalism, as well as his
police training, and I certainly wouldn't want to needlessly embarrass
him, but the truth of the matter is that the article that The Great One
re-posted appears to be a fake -- a fake that was planted, no doubt, for
the 'Peak' team to 'find.'

Here are a few clues that Detective Ruppert missed: the article ran
in the tabloidesque Gulf Daily News, which claims to be the "Voice of
Bahrain," although one wouldn't expect Bahrain to speak in an English
voice; the article has no byline, indicating that no real reporter
wanted his name attached to it; and the two alleged insiders quoted to
establish the premise of the article declined to be identified, even
though they were supposedly voicing an uncontroversial opinion shared
throughout the industry.


What we have here then is an unsigned, unsourced article from the
Middle Eastern version of the National Enquirer being presented as real
journalism. And this from the man who constantly questions the
journalistic ethics and integrity of his detractors! Simply put, if this
was a real news story that Ruppert was promoting, he would have been
able to round up at least one credible report from a legitimate media

Bizarrely enough, Ruppert has headlined the fake article, "Peak Oil
On The Table - Hard To Miss." Really, Mike? It can't be that hard to
miss, because I'm having trouble seeing it myself. I realize that it
might be partly my fault, since I haven't been attending the 'Peak'
indoctrination sessions, but here is what I'm having difficulty with: I
get the part about how we're quickly running out of oil, and I
understand that it is foolish to consider the viability of alternative
energy sources, because only oil will do; but are you now saying that we
also have to be very picky about what kind of oil we use?

That reminds me of a story about a guy who was lost in the desert
and spent days wandering aimlessly in search of water. This guy - we'll
call him Peak Oil Man - was followed by a circling vulture, who
occasionally spoke to him. At one point, the vulture asked Peak Oil Man
why he kept ignoring all the succulent plants along his route, from
which he could extract life-saving fluids. "A waste of time," said Peak
Oil Man, "must have water." Later in the journey, Peak Oil Man stopped
to relieve himself in the sand. "Why do you not capture and drink your
urine, Peak Oil Man," asked the vulture. "It could save your life."
Ignoring the vulture, Peak Oil Man pushed on, still muttering his
mantra: "must have water." Eventually, Peak Oil Man - emaciated,
severely dehydrated, and barely clinging to life - stumbled upon a
stranger, and the stranger extended his hand and offered Peak Oil Man a
container of water. Peak Oil Man raised the vessel to his lips and began
to drink, but quickly spat out the offending liquid. "Is that fucking
tap water!?" asked Peak Oil Man. "Where can I get some bottled water
around here?" And the vulture said: "But Peak Oil Man, how can you
afford to be so picky at a time of such great need? How can you turn
away not only viable alternatives to water, but even water itself if the
water offered to you doesn't meet your high standards? It is almost as
if you don't really need water at all." Peak Oil Man just smiled and
continued on his way.

Meanwhile, Mexico, which also hasn't been reading the 'Peak' memos,
recently announced the discovery of massive quantities of new petroleum
reserves. The Peakers, as we all know, repeatedly claim that no new
reserves of any consequence have been found for years. In fact, they go
so far as to say that there are no new reserves to be found. In one
recent collection of lies posted on the FTW website, Julian Darley
writes: "Major oil discoveries have declined every year so that 2003 saw
no new field over 500 million barrels ... It is well over twenty years
since more oil was found than consumed in a year."

Really, Mr. Darley? Are you sure about that? Let's check with the
Mexican press to see if you are correct:

Three years of exploration has enabled Pemex to map oilfields that
the state-owned oil monopoly believes will more than double the nation's
known crude oil reserves. Luis Ramírez Corzo, Pemex's director for
exploration, told EL UNIVERSAL that on a "conservative" estimate, almost
54 billion barrels lie underneath the oilfields. That would take
Mexico's reserves to 102 billion barrels, more than the United Arab
Emirates (which has reserves of 97.8 billion barrels), Kuwait (94
billion) and Iran (89.7 billion), and almost as much as Iraq (112.5
billion). The official also said the discovery could enable Pemex to
increase Mexico's oil production from the current level of 4 million
barrels per day (bpd) to 7 million bpd. Saudi Arabia currently produces
7.5 million bpd, while Russia's oil output is 7.4 million bpd. Ramírez
Corzo said the exploration, at an investment of US 4.6 billion, led to
the identification of seven separate blocks rich in oil and natural gas.
The most promising blocks are under water in the Gulf of Mexico, thought
to contain around 45 billion barrels.


No new fields over 500 million barrels? How about the 45 billion new
barrels sitting in the Gulf of Mexico, right in our own backyard? Isn't
that just a tiny bit more than is "consumed in a year"?

Of course, the oil will not be easy to extract. Mexico will need
some help, since it "lacks the technology for deep water pumping." And
there is another problem as well: "there are territoriality issues with
the United States and Cuba over the fields." In order to bring the oil
to market, Mexico will need the cooperation of both the United States
government and the major players in the oil industry. In other words,
the newly discovered oil isn't going to be extracted any time soon,
which is why the American media, and the 'Peak' crowd, haven't bothered
to acknowledge its existence.

It will no doubt be determined that it is not economically feasible
to extract the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. After all, Reuters has
reported that, "Oil from deep-water reserves could cost $4 a barrel to
extract, nearly double the cost of oil from shallow water." And we
certainly can't expect any responsible corporation to shell out $4 a
barrel to extract something that they can then trade for $50 a barrel,
can we?

Or maybe the Peakers will claim that the oil doesn't even exist --
that Mexico, like Saudi Arabia, is lying about increased levels of
reserves. There seems to be a lot of that sort of lying going around
these days.
[For more on oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and various other issues
directly related to the 'Peak Oil' debate, see:]

The real problem with the Saudi crude, as near as I can determine,
is that the Saudis and the 'Peakers' have entirely different ideas about
what the price of crude oil should be. At the time of the attacks in
Saudi Arabia, it was hovering at about $40.00/barrel, and is now at
about $50.00/barrel. The Saudis would like to bring it down to
$25.00/barrel. And the 'Peakers' would like to see it raised to - are
you ready for this? - a whopping $182.00/barrel -- which would, quite
obviously, place oil out of reach for the vast majority of the world's

The $182.00/barrel figure was provided by Matthew Simmons to a BBC
reporter at the 'Peak Oil' conference held earlier this year in Berlin.
According to Simmons, "Oil is far too cheap at the moment ... we need to
price oil realistically to control its demand." Simmons is described in
the BBC article as "an energy investment banker and adviser to the
controversial Bush-Cheney energy plan." He is, in other words, a
perfectly credible source -- if we choose to overlook the fact that
everyone connected to the Bush-Cheney team reeks of corruption and
outrageous lies.

Nevertheless, the Peakers just adore Mr. Simmons, who was described
by Michael Ruppert as "the de facto star of the [Peak Oil conference]."
'Peak Oil' pitchmen just love to quote Simmons, says Ruppert, "because
his voice is refreshing."

Simmons is a member of ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil),
founded and led by 'Peak Oil' guru Colin Campbell and promoted
relentlessly by Michael Ruppert, who boasts of having "a great many
friends in ASPO." According to the BBC, ASPO includes in its ranks "a
diverse range of oil industry insiders," including a good number of "oil
executives" and "investment bankers." Just the sort of salesmen we
should trust, in other words, when shopping for a suitably apocalyptic

And make no mistake about it: the future that has been scripted by
the architects of 'Peak Oil' is not going to be pretty. Massive
population reduction has always been a key component of the 'Peak Oil'
agenda. Ruppert first acknowledged that fact in an e-mail to this
website in March of this year. This is what he wrote at that time:

I advocate an immediate convening of political, economic, spiritual
and scientific leaders from all nations to address the issue of Peak Oil
(and Gas) and its immediate implications for economic collapse, massive
famine and climate destruction (partially as a result of reversion to
coal plants which accelerate global warming). This would, scientifically
speaking, include immediate steps to arrive at a crash program – agreed
to by all nations and in accordance with the highest spiritual and
ethical principles – to stop global population growth and to arrive at
the best possible and most ethical program of population reduction as a
painful choice made by all of humanity.

At that time, I accused Ruppert of advocating a eugenics program,
and I was, not surprisingly, harshly criticized by the Ruppertians for
doing so. Numerous members of the cult of 'Peak Oil' sent e-mail
accusing me of "putting word's in Ruppert's mouth." But more recently,
while addressing the Commonwealth Club (which apparently just began
extending invitations to dissident journalists; who knew?), Ruppert put
the words in his own mouth when he quoted approvingly from a eugenics
tome penned in 1952 by Charles Galton Darwin. Darwin was, for the
record, a rather notorious figure in the American eugenics movement, as
were other Darwins and Galtons before him. Are we supposed to believe
that there was no significance to the fact that Ruppert referenced a
noted eugenicist while addressing such a distinguished audience?

In a previous newsletter, I reported that Ruppert had briefly
addressed the issue of population reduction during the speech that he
delivered at this year's 9-11 conference in San Francisco. Since then, I
have had the opportunity to review an audiotape of Ruppert's entire
'Peak Oil' presentation at the event. Here is a complete (enough)
transcript of that presentation:

Look, let's talk about Peak Oil quick, and [sounding clearly
irritated] I'm really tired of the debate. I'm really tired of "there's
no proof; there's no evidence." I'm not gonna take time to go through
this, but if we talk about Peak Oil real quickly, who's been talking
about it?

[Ruppert then ran through a lengthy list of mainstream media and
trade journal articles. The presentation went something like this:
"Foreign Affairs Magazine, yadda, yadda, yadda, James Kenneth Galbraith,
yadda, yadda, yadda, Sunday Herald, yadda, yadda, yadda, Los Angeles
Times, yadda, yadda, yadda." Several derisive comments were added about
these sources not being "conspiracy rags." Ruppert then read lengthy and
unsubstantiated excerpts from the writings of both Galbraith and Dale
Pfeiffer, before closing with the following.]

Now the question is: do we want to do it nice or do we want to do it
nasty? The world has chosen to embark on a path that is the worst Nazi
nightmare ever seen. It will be bloody, it will be violent, it will
involve population reduction by the most brutal, venal, underhanded
methods. So ultimately what I have to say to you is that, as I look at
this, and as I've studied this, and as I've worked for 26 years to
unravel this -- this covert mechanism that governs our lives, I'm firmly
convinced that what we are now faced with is a choice offered to us by
our creator: either evolve or perish. Thank you. Thank you.

So what is Ruppert telling us here ... other than that "our creator" is
now apparently now demanding that we evolve?

What exactly is this "world" of which he speaks -- this "world [that]
has chosen to embark on a path that is the worst Nazi nightmare ever
seen"? I don't think that it is the people of planet Earth that have
collectively chosen to take this path. And I doubt that it is the planet
itself that has chosen this path. Isn't it really the case that this
path was forced upon the world by the global elite and their paid

Is Ruppert telling us that we are all facing a violent, bloody death, so
we might as well start taking care of the job ourselves -- in a less
"nasty" and more, uhmm, "nice" manner? Are those the only two options
available? Why is a "bloody," "brutal," "violent" and "venal" future
taken as a given? To be sure, we are certainly heading in that
direction, but we needn't necessarily continue to do so, unless we
blindly accept the manufactured reality as an objective, and inevitable,
reality. Of course, Ruppert and his fellow 'Peakers' seem to be working
very hard to guarantee the arrival of that "Nazi nightmare" future.
The truth is that such a future awaits us only if the claims of the
'Peakers' are true, or, more importantly, if we allow ourselves to be
convinced that the claims are true when they most certainly are not. It
is vitally important, therefore, that the people of the world be given
the opportunity to thoroughly review all sides of this issue. After all,
if the Peakers are right, then all of our lives are very much on the
line. And yet, strangely enough, the majority of the Ruppertians who
have chosen to spew their bile into my mailbox have made it quite clear
that they have no desire to read any opposing points of view.

Could it be any more obvious that these people have no interest in
ascertaining the truth?

Just this week, Ruppert discretely added a new article to his website,
which he posted "on an unpublished URL at the FTW web site" --
guaranteeing that none of his readers will ever know it is there, unless
they learn of it elsewhere. Asked to explain his previous comments on
population reduction, Ruppert does not deny that he advocates some type
of forced depopulation program; he only denies having a specific program
in mind:

I have no list of people who should be in charge of this. Everyone
should have a say. I have suggested that such an endeavor might best
include people of more humane vocations than those of the economists,
politicians, and financiers who are currently in charge of most domestic
and international institutions. I have never said anywhere that there
was a specific group of organizations or people who should run this. I
have listed philosophies and disciplines that ought to be included in an
effort to avoid the sort of draconian disaster that now seems likely.

I wonder why it is that Ruppert continues to shelter his readers from
this aspect of the 'Peak Oil' gameplan? If this is such an important
issue, and if we should all have a voice in the 'debate,' as Ruppert has
claimed, then why has he not brought the issue to the forefront? Why has
he chosen instead to leak it in a limited way? Ruppert claims that, in
order to be "ethical in the face of an inevitable disaster, the entire
human community will have to share useful information as equably as is
humanly possible." Why then is Ruppert not sharing this most important
of information?

We turn now to a disturbing new post on the FTW website, which Ruppert
has modestly titled "WE DID IT!" Before even getting to the actual text
of the piece, we already know, just from the article's lengthy subtitle,
that Ruppert is taking another stroll into Bizarro World. With equal
parts bombast, ignorance, and unintentional irony, he actually refers to
his critics as "Flat-Earth, Abiotic Oil Advocates." This is a guy, it
will be recalled, whose mission in life is to relentlessly promote a
scam predicated on a unproven, 250-year-old theory, while blithely
ignoring an unchallenged body of modern scientific research -- and yet
he dismisses the other side as Flat Earthers!

The full subtitle of the post is "World's Seven Largest Economies Admit
They Have No Idea How Much Oil Is Left - Issue Emergency Call for
Transparency at DC Summit: A Challenge to the Flat-Earth, Abiotic Oil
Advocates and Cornucopian Economists - It's Now or Never."

Ruppert begins by re-posting a Reuters report:
Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers met at the tightly
guarded U.S. Treasury building over lunch and were to work through the
afternoon before a dinner with Chinese counterparts that has currency
reform on the menu.

The officials will set out their world-view at about 5:45 p.m. EDT (2145
GMT) in a communiqué sources said would include a call to bolster
oil-market monitoring to make it easier to discern if scarce supply,
hefty demand or market speculation lay behind crude's drive to record
levels ...

The G7 gathering comes ahead of weekend meetings of the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank…

Ministers are seeking energy market transparency to discover if world
oil supplies may be scantier than they thought in May when they urged
producers to open the spigots…

Another G7 official suggested the rise in oil costs was rooted in such
fundamental factors as over-estimated supplies and was not solely due to

There is "a recognition that oil resources are scarcer than was thought
a few years ago," the official said. "We agree there is a need for more
transparency on the potential supply of various areas."

Ruppert next segues into a rant of his own -- a rant that may some day
be regarded as the quintessential Ruppert diatribe. In just a few short
pages, he manages to squeeze in virtually all of his most acclaimed
rhetorical flourishes, including:
~ the arrogant self-importance - "We were right and this can no longer
be ignored. We did it."
~ the appearance of Mike the Martyr - "a group of dedicated men and
women, recognized as being in the forefront of the movement to place
Peak Oil front-and-center on the world's agenda, have endured intense
resistance ... I hope I speak for all of us when I say that whatever we
have endured, it was worth it."
~ the bombastic challenges - "Show us the oil! People are dying now ...
Put up or shut up."
~ the bizarre delusions of grandeur - "I do know that the world is
paying very close attention to what I have written."
~ the deliberate misrepresentation of critic's arguments - "That's what
these 'critics' argued would happen when the time came: there would be
some magic switcheroo, and a new energy source would be unveiled."
~ and, the newest addition to his arsenal, the shameless hyping of his
book - "This book may change the outcome of the election."

While Ruppert celebrates his 'victory,' perhaps the rest of us should
pause here and consider exactly what it is that he is celebrating. Just
months ago, Ruppert called for the leaders of the world to meet and
discuss the implications of 'Peak Oil,' including the necessity of
taking "immediate steps to arrive at a crash program" for depopulating
the world. And now we have the global elite meeting behind closed doors
to discuss the implications of a phantom oil shortage, and those elite
are, Ruppert believes, "well into discussing 'options' which they don't
want the rest of us to know about." At stake, Ruppert notes, is
"everyone's chances for survival and, most importantly, the future of
all the world's children."

And we are supposed to believe that this is somehow a positive
development? I don't think so. To the contrary, it would appear that the
call for 'transparency' is a signal that the puppeteers have control of
enough of the global chessboard to begin implementing the 'Peak Oil'
scam. They are not meeting behind closed doors to discuss how to contend
with a global oil shortage; they are meeting behind closed doors to
discuss how to manufacture a global oil shortage.

As I said earlier in this post, these people are deadly serious about
staging this apocalyptic scenario. And the stakes, for all of us, are
very high. Consider that, for many years now, concerted efforts have
been made to program our children to passively accept death as a
mundane, routine occurrence. Do not make the mistake of assuming that
that is a phenomenon unrelated to the 'Peak Oil' agenda.

Television, movies, and video games dwell relentlessly on death,
frequently violent death. Each and every year, the volume and intensity
of such propaganda is cranked up higher and higher. By the time our kids
reach adulthood, they have processed through their malleable minds
thousands of graphic images of death. Many of those deaths they may even
have caused themselves, as operators of graphically violent "first
person" computer and video games.

The next in the series of "Harry Potter" books - promoted endlessly as
the best thing to happen to children's books since Dr. Seuss - will
reportedly feature the death of one of the beloved characters. One of
the new features of the latest version of the wildly popular "Simms"
computer game is that the virtual characters that our children create to
populate their virtual worlds will now die virtual deaths.

Our high schools for some time now have offered students "death
education." The Citizens Commission on Human Rights has noted that, "For
decades, schools around the world have used 'death education,' a
psychological experiment in which the children are made to discuss
suicide, what they would like placed in their coffins, and write their
own epitaphs in an effort to 'get kids more comfortable with death.'"

Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld writes that "Death education has been a part of
the progressive curriculum in virtually every public school in America
for at least the last fifteen years. Yet no one in the establishment,
let alone the U.S. Department of Education, has sought to find out what
death education is doing to the minds and souls of the millions of
children who are subjected to it. But we do have plenty of anecdotal
information on hand."

Why are our children being conditioned to accept death? How thorough
will this depopulation program be? How long will it take to shatter all
remaining social bonds -- to instill in the masses an "every man for
himself" mind set? How quickly will we collectively descend into
barbarism? If the masters of our collective illusion can convince us
that we live in a "kill or be killed" world, how much of the dirty work
of depopulation can they get us to do ourselves? What would we all do to
stay alive in a high stakes game of global Survivor?

The architects of 'Peak Oil' hope to find out soon.

(Permission is hereby granted for this material to be widely distributed
and reposted, in whole or in part, provided that the content is not

How Technology Failed in Iraq

How Technology Failed in Iraq The Iraq War was supposed to be a preview of the new U.S. military: a light, swift force that relies as much on sensors and communications networks as on heavy armor and huge numbers. But once the shooting started, technology fell far short of expectations.

By David TalbotNovember 2004The largest counterattack of the Iraq War unfolded in the early-morning hours of April 3, 2003, near a key Euphrates River bridge about 30 kilometers southwest of Baghdad, code-named Objective Peach. The battle was a fairly conventional fight between tanks and other armored vehicles—almost a throwback to an earlier era of war fighting, especially when viewed against the bloody chaos of the subsequent insurgency. Its scale made it the single biggest test to date of the Pentagon’s initial attempts to transform the military into a smaller, smarter, sensor-dependent, networked force.

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In theory, the size of the Iraqi attack should have been clear well in advance. U.S. troops were supported by unprecedented technology deployment. During the war, hundreds of aircraft- and satellite-mounted motion sensors, heat detectors, and image and communications eavesdroppers hovered above Iraq. The four armed services coordinated their actions as never before. U.S. commanders in Qatar and Kuwait enjoyed 42 times the bandwidth available to their counterparts in the first Gulf War. High-bandwidth links were set up for intelligence units in the field. A new vehicle-tracking system marked the location of key U.S. fighting units and even allowed text e-mails to reach front-line tanks. This digital firepower convinced many in the Pentagon that the war could be fought with a far smaller force than the one it expected to encounter.
Yet at Objective Peach, Lt. Col. Ernest “Rock” Marcone, a battalion commander with the 69th Armor of the Third Infantry Division, was almost devoid of information about Iraqi strength or position. “I would argue that I was the intelligence-gathering device for my higher headquarters,” Marcone says. His unit was at the very tip of the U.S. Army’s final lunge north toward Baghdad; the marines advanced on a parallel front. Objective Peach offered a direct approach to the Saddam International Airport (since rechristened Baghdad International Airport). “Next to the fall of Baghdad,” says Marcone, “that bridge was the most important piece of terrain in the theater, and no one can tell me what’s defending it. Not how many troops, what units, what tanks, anything. There is zero information getting to me. Someone may have known above me, but the information didn’t get to me on the ground.” Marcone’s men were ambushed repeatedly on the approach to the bridge. But the scale of the intelligence deficit was clear after Marcone took the bridge on April 2.
As night fell, the situation grew threatening. Marcone arrayed his battalion in a defensive position on the far side of the bridge and awaited the arrival of bogged-down reinforcements. One communications intercept did reach him: a single Iraqi brigade was moving south from the airport. But Marcone says no sensors, no network, conveyed the far more dangerous reality, which confronted him at 3:00 a.m. April 3. He faced not one brigade but three: between 25 and 30 tanks, plus 70 to 80 armored personnel carriers, artillery, and between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi soldiers coming from three directions. This mass of firepower and soldiers attacked a U.S. force of 1,000 soldiers supported by just 30 tanks and 14 Bradley fighting vehicles. The Iraqi deployment was just the kind of conventional, massed force that’s easiest to detect. Yet “We got nothing until they slammed into us,” Marcone recalls.
Objective Peach was not atypical of dozens of smaller encounters in the war. Portions of a forthcoming, largely classified report on the entire Iraq campaign, under preparation by the Santa Monica, CA, think tank Rand and shared in summary with Technology Review, confirm that in this war, one key node fell off the U.S. intelligence network: the front-line troops. “What we uncovered in general in Iraq is, there appeared to be something I refer to as a ‘digital divide,’” says Walter Perry, a senior researcher at Rand’s Arlington, VA, office and a former army signals officer in Vietnam. “At the division level or above, the view of the battle space was adequate to their needs. They were getting good feeds from the sensors,” Perry says. But among front-line army commanders like Marcone—as well as his counterparts in the U.S. Marines—“Everybody said the same thing. It was a universal comment: ‘We had terrible situational awareness,’” he adds. The same verdict was delivered after the first Gulf War’s ground battle, but experts had hoped the more robust technology used in the 2003 conflict would solve the problem.
The Pentagon points to the Iraq War’s many networking successes. During the blinding sandstorm that lasted from March 25 to 28, 2003, a U.S. radar plane detected an Iraqi Republican Guard unit maneuvering near U.S. troops. Bombers moved in to attack using satellite-guided bombs that were unaffected by poor visibility. And the vehicle-tracking system (known as Blue Force Tracker) successfully ensured that commanders knew the locations of friendly units. Overall, command headquarters in Qatar and Kuwait sported “truly a very impressive digital connectivity” that “had many of the characteristics of future network warfare that we want,” Brig. Gen. Robert Cone, then director of the Pentagon’s Joint Center for Operational Analysis and Lessons Learned, said in a Pentagon briefing last year.
Yet connectivity in Qatar was matched by a data dearth in the Iraqi desert. It was a problem all the ground forces suffered. Some units outran the range of high-bandwidth communications relays. Downloads took hours. Software locked up. And the enemy was sometimes difficult to see in the first place. As the marines’ own “lessons learned” report puts it, “The [First Marine] Division found the enemy by running into them, much as forces have done since the beginning of warfare.” Describing the army’s battle at Objective Peach, John Gordon, another senior researcher at Rand and also a retired army officer, put it this way: “That’s the way it was done in 1944.”
On April 2, 2003, army lieutenant colonel Ernest “Rock” Marcone led an armored battalion with about 1,000 U.S. troops to seize “Objective Peach” (inset), a bridge across the Euphrates River, the last natural barrier before Baghdad. That night, the battalion was surprised by the largest counterattack of the war. Sensing and communications technologies failed to warn of the attack’s vast scale—between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi troops and about 100 tanks or other vehicles. The U.S. success in the battle was the result of superior tactics and equipment.
Information is Armor
Military intellectuals call them “revolutions in military affairs.” Every few decades, a new technology or a new “doctrine,” to use the military jargon, changes the nature of war. Single technologies, like gunpowder or nuclear weapons, spur some of these revolutions. New doctrines, like Napoleonic staff organization or Nazi blitz tactics, drive others. And some are the result of many simultaneous advances, like the airplanes, chemical weapons, and machine guns of World War I—which achieved new rates of slaughter.
The newest revolution is known to Pentagon planners as “force transformation.” The idea is that robotic planes and ground vehicles, empowered by an ever expanding range of sensing, targeting, imaging, and communications capabilities (new technologies), would support teams of networked soldiers (a new doctrine). According to its most expansive definition, force transformation is intended to solve the problem of “asymmetric warfare” in the 21st century, where U.S. forces are not directly confronted by conventional militaries but rather must quell insurgencies, destroy terrorist cells, or mitigate regional instability. Among other things, more nimble, networked forces could employ tactics like “swarming”—precise, coordinated strikes from many directions at once.
The technologies driving force transformation are incredibly complicated. It will take at least 31 million lines of computer code to run something called Future Combat Systems, the centerpiece of the Pentagon’s transformation effort. An army-run program expected to cost more than $100 billion, it consists of a suite of new manned and unmanned machines, all loaded with the latest sensors, roaming the air and ground. Software will process sensor data, identify friend and foe, set targets, issue alerts, coordinate actions, and guide decisions. New kinds of wireless communications devices—controlled by yet more software and relaying communications via satellites—will allow seamless links between units. Currently, 23 partner companies, many with their own platoons of subcontractors, are building the systems; Boeing of Chicago and Science Applications International of San Diego are charged with tying them all together and crafting a “system of systems” by 2014.
In this grand vision, information isn’t merely power. It’s armor, too. Tanks weighing 64 metric tons could be largely phased out, giving way to lightly armored vehicles—at first, the new 17-metric-ton Stryker troop carrier—that can avoid heavy enemy fire if need be. These lighter vehicles could ride to war inside cargo planes; today, transporting large numbers of the heaviest tanks requires weeks of transport via land and sea. “The basic notion behind military transformation is that information technologies allow you to substitute information for mass. If you buy into that, the whole force structure changes,” says Stuart Johnson, a research professor at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University in Washington, DC. “But the vision of all this is totally dependent on information technologies and the network. If that part of the equation breaks down, what you have are small, less capable battle platforms that are more vulnerable.”
The Iraq War represented something of a midpoint—and an early proving ground—in the move toward this networked force. The U.S. offensive did include the old heavy armor, and it didn’t sport all the techno-goodies envisioned by the promoters of force transformation. But it did presume that satellite- and aircraft-mounted sensors would support the fighting units on the ground. The war’s backbone was a land invasion from Kuwait. Ultimately, some 10,000 vehicles and 300,000 coalition troops rumbled across the sandy berm at the Kuwaiti border, 500 kilometers from Baghdad. Desert highways crawled with columns of Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers, tank haulers, Humvees, and of course, fuel tankers to slake the fleet’s nine-million-liter daily demand for fuel.
Several communications links were designed to connect these vehicles with each other and with commanders. First, and most successfully, at least 2,500 vehicles were tracked via Blue Force Tracker: each vehicle broadcast its Global Positioning System coordinates and an ID code. This thin but critical stream of data was in essence a military version of OnStar. Commanders in Qatar saw its content displayed on a large plasma screen. Marcone, like some other commanders in the field, also had access to it, thanks to a last-minute installation in his tank before the invasion.
“A Critical Vulnerability”
Once the invasion began, breakdowns quickly became the norm. For the movement of lots of data—such as satellite or spy-plane images—between high-level commanders and units in the field, the military employed a microwave-based communications system originally envisioned for war in Europe. This system relied on antenna relays carried by certain units in the advancing convoy. Critically, these relays—sometimes called “Ma Bell for the army”—needed to be stationary to function. Units had to be within a line of sight to pass information to one another. But in practice, the convoys were moving too fast, and too far, for the system to work. Perversely, in three cases, U.S. vehicles were actually attacked while they stopped to receive intelligence data on enemy positions. “A lot of the guys said, ‘Enough of this shit,’ and turned it off,” says Perry, flicking his wrist as if clicking off a radio. “‘We can’t afford to wait for this.’”
One Third Infantry Division brigade intelligence officer reported to Rand that when his unit moved, its communications links would fail, except for the GPS tracking system. The unit would travel for a few hours, stop, hoist up the antenna, log back onto the intelligence network, and attempt to download whatever information it could. But bandwidth and software problems caused its computer system to lock up for ten to 12 hours at a time, rendering it useless.
Meanwhile, commanders in Qatar and Kuwait had their own problems. Their connectivity was good—too good. They received so much data from some of their airborne sensors that they couldn’t process it all; at some points, they had to stop accepting feeds. When they tried to send information to the front, of course, they found the line-of-sight microwave-relay system virtually disabled. At the command levels above Marcone’s—the brigade and even the division levels—such problems were ubiquitous. “The network we had built to pass imagery, et cetera, didn’t support us. It just didn’t work,” says Col. Peter Bayer, then the division’s operations officer, who was south of Marcone’s battalion on the night of April 2 and 3. “The link for V Corps [the army command] to the division, the majority of time, didn’t work, to pass a digital image of something.”
Sometimes, intelligence was passed along verbally, over FM radio. But at other times vehicles outran even their radio connections. This left just one means of communication: e-mail. (In addition to tracking vehicles, Blue Force Tracker, somewhat quaintly, enabled text-only e-mail.) At times, the e-mail system was used for issuing basic orders to units that were otherwise out of contact. “It was intended as a supplement, but it wound up as the primary method of control,” says Owen Cote, associate director of the Security Studies Program at MIT. “The units did outrun their main lines of communications and networking with each other and with higher command. But there was this very thin pipe of information via satellite communications that allowed the high command to see where units were.”
The network wasn’t much better for the marines pushing forward on a separate front. Indeed, the marines’ lessons-learned report says that First Marine Division commanders were unable to download crucial new aerial reconnaissance photographs as they approached cities and towns. High-level commanders had them, but the system for moving them into the field broke down. This created “a critical vulnerability during combat operations,” the report says. “There were issues with bandwidth, exploitation, and processes that caused this state of affairs, but the bottom line was no [access to fresh spy photographs] during the entire war.”
Fortunately for U.S. forces, they faced little resistance during the Iraq War. The Iraqis launched no air attacks or Scud missiles. Iraqi soldiers shed uniforms and boots and walked away barefoot, studiously avoiding eye contact with the Americans. When they did fight, they used inferior weapons and vehicles. To be sure, U.S. units racing forward would run into stiff “meeting engagements”—jargon for a surprise collision with enemy forces. But such meetings would end quickly. “They [the U.S. forces] would succeed in these meeting engagements,” Cote says. “But we were far from the vision of total knowledge. You can easily see how we would have paid a big price if it were a more robust opponent.”
The problems are acknowledged at high levels. However, Art Cebrowski, retired vice admiral and director of the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation, cites “existence proofs” that networking was generally successful in Iraq. In previous conflicts, combat pilots were briefed on targets before takeoff; hours would elapse between target identification and an actual attack. In the Iraq War, more than half of aerial sorties began without targets in mind, Cebrowski says. Instead, targets were identified on the fly and communicated to the airborne pilots. “Combat was moving too fast; opportunities were too fleeting. You had to be in the networked environment” for it to work, says Cebrowski.
Clearly, networking during the ground war was not as successful. “There were certainly cases where people didn’t have the information they needed. This was a very large operation, so you would expect to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in it,” Cebrowski acknowledges. But it would be a mistake to use these problems as an argument against phasing out heavy armor, he says. Big tanks require not only considerable time and energy to move into battle but also larger supply convoys that are themselves susceptible to attack. According to Cebrowski, by keeping heavily armored tanks your main line of defense, “you simply move your vulnerability to another place on the supply chain.”
Alpha Geeks at War
Some defenders of force transformation argue that the troops’ problems were doctrinal, not technological. According to this line of reasoning, the networking of the Iraq War was incomplete—because it was fatally grafted onto old-fashioned command and control systems. Sensor information went up the chain of command. Commanders interpreted it and made decisions. Then they passed commands, and tried to pass relevant data, down the chain. The result: time delays and the magnification of individual communications failures.
Better, some say, that information and decision-making should flow horizontally. In fact, that’s how the 2001 war in Afghanistan was fought. Special-operations forces organized into “A teams” numbering no more than two dozen soldiers roamed the chilly mountains near the Pakistan border on horseback, rooting out Taliban forces and seeking al-Qaeda leaders. The teams and individuals were all linked to one another. No one person was in tactical command.
But despite the lack of generals making key decisions, each of these teams of networked soldiers had a key node, an animal once confined to corporate IT departments: the alpha geek, who managed the flow of information between his team and the others. The U.S. special forces also maintained a tactical Web page, collating all the information the teams collected. And this page was managed by a webmaster in the field: the metageek of all alpha geeks.
How did the page perform? Postmortems and reports on special-forces operations in Afghanistan are more secret than those from the Iraq War. A report on one major special-forces operation, Operation Anaconda—an attempt to encircle and root out al-Qaeda in March 2002—is due soon from National Defense University. Still, anecdotes are trickling out of the special-forces community. And they provide a startlingly different view of warfare than Marcone’s tank-level vantage. One account, not previously reported, comes from John Arquilla, an expert in unconventional warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
The scene was a cold night in the late fall of 2001. In New York City, the World Trade Center ruins were still smoldering. In Afghanistan, a U.S. Air Force pilot en route from Uzbekistan noticed flashing lights in the mountains below, near the Pakistan border. Suspecting that the flashes might be reflections from hooded headlights of trucks bumping along, he radioed his observation to the webmaster. The webmaster relayed the message across a secure network accessible to special forces in the region. One team replied that it was near the position and would investigate. The team identified a convoy of trucks carrying Taliban fighters and got on the radio to ask if any bombers were in range. One U.S. Navy plane was not far off. Within minutes, the plane bombed the front and rear of the convoy, sealing off the possibility of escape. Not long after, a gunship arrived and destroyed the crippled Taliban column.
The episode, as recounted by Arquilla, shows what’s possible. “That’s networking. That’s military transformation right there,” Arquilla says. “Some of the problems in Iraq grew out of an attempt to take this cascade of information provided by advanced information technology and try and jam it through the existing stovepipes of the hierarchical structure, whereas in Afghanistan we had a more fluid approach. This is war by minutes, and networking technology allows us to wage war by minutes with a great probability of success.” In this case, service members on the battlefield collected data, shared that data, made decisions, and ordered strikes.
Network vs. Insurgents?
Perhaps Pentagon optimists are right. Perhaps the success of Blue Force Tracker, of the special-forces assault on the Taliban column, and of air force operations in Iraq accurately foretell the full digital transformation of war. But to many observers, the disruption of communications between the main ground combat units in Iraq was not a very promising sign at all. “If there is this ‘revolution in military affairs,’ and if this revolution is based on technologies that allow you to network sensors and process information more quickly and spread it out quickly in digestible form, we are still just scratching the surface of it,” says Cote of MIT. “If you look at the performance of a lot of the components of the first efforts in that direction, it’s a pretty patchy performance.” And then there’s the question of terror and insurgency. Even if the Pentagon transforms war fighting, the meaning of the word “war” is itself undergoing a transformation. More Americans died in the September 11 attacks than have subsequently died in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the Iraq insurgency challenges the meaning of the Iraq military victory. Future wars will be fought in urban zones by low-tech fanatics who do not follow the old rules. They are unlikely to array themselves as convenient targets for the U.S. to detect and destroy. Indeed, a leading cause of death among U.S. soldiers in Iraq today is improvised bombs targeting passing vehicles such as Humvees.
Arquilla says some networking technology can be—and is being—brought to bear against the Iraq insurgency. While actual strategies are secret, some general tactics are known. Suspicious vehicles can be tracked, and their connections to other people and locations determined. Small drone aircraft can deliver video feeds from urban buildings as well as from desert battlefields. Sensors can help find a sniper by measuring the acoustical signature of a bullet. And jamming devices can sometimes block radio-controlled detonation of roadside bombs. But old-fashioned tips from humans are likely to trump technology. “Our networks don’t really have the sensitivity to keep up with unconventional enemies. All the network does is move information around, but the information itself is the key to victory,” says Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, VA. “It’s a little hard to derive meaningful lessons from networked war fighting when you are dealing with such modest threats.”
The welter of postmortems from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars tell many stories. But one thing is clear: Marcone never knew what was coming at Objective Peach. Advanced sensors and communications—elements of future networked warfare designed for difficult, unconventional battles—failed to tell him about a very conventional massed attack. “It is my belief that the Iraqi Republican Guard did nothing special to conceal their intentions or their movements. They attacked en masse using tactics that are more recognizable with the Soviet army of World War II,” Marcone says.
And so at a critical juncture in space (a key Euphrates bridge) and time (the morning of the day U.S. forces captured the Baghdad airport), Marcone only learned what he was facing when the shooting began. In the early-morning hours of April 3, it was old-fashioned training, better firepower, superior equipment, air support, and enemy incompetence that led to a lopsided victory for the U.S. troops. “When the sun came up that morning, the sight of the cost in human life the Iraqis paid for that assault, and burning vehicles, was something I will never forget,” Marcone says. “It was a gruesome sight. You look down the road that led to Baghdad, for a mile, mile and a half, you couldn’t walk without stepping on a body part.”
Yet just eight U.S. soldiers were wounded, none seriously, during the bridge fighting. Whereas U.S. tanks could withstand a direct hit from Iraqi shells, Iraqi vehicles would “go up like a Roman candle” when struck by U.S. shells, Marcone says. Sitting in an office at Rand, Gordon puts things bluntly: “If the army had had Strykers at the front of the column, lots of guys would have been killed.” At Objective Peach, what protected Marcone’s men wasn’t information armor, but armor itself.
David Talbot is a TR senior editor.
Copyright 2004 Technology Review, Inc. All rights

Slouching Toward Washington

Never been too aware of Tina Brown, but have to say this is pretty interesting prose.
Slouching Toward Washington
By Tina BrownThursday, October 14, 2004; Page C01
Election tension is worse in New York now that John Kerry seems to have a chance of winning. It was almost easier when his was a sort of Children's Crusade with no one actually believing he would make it to Jerusalem.
Forget about the wise men who conjure up portentous parallel moments in the nation's history like war president William McKinley's rout of William Jennings Bryan in 1900. It's hard to believe all the passion and rancor can just subside on Nov. 3 like the air from a hissing, gaseous balloon. If George W. Bush is reelected (or if he isn't redefeated, to use the preferred local term), New Yorkers will have to find another way to channel all that neurasthenic rage and tightly wound energy currently vibrating in every part of the city's nervous system.
Last night's debates will only raise temperatures more, because no one was left dead on the floor. In a solid, fun-free slog-out, the two candidates pounded each other with dueling data bombs. The lozenge face of Sen. Kerry maintained an unrelenting top-of-the-class confidence while the president 's incredulous, repudiating smile had the glaze of the rote learner who's overdosed on Cliffs Notes. I predict it will further lift Kerry because of the way he dispatched the wimp factor, with his grinding, bony brandishing of facts. But in the days ahead, the "draw" will go on being decoded like the Dead Sea Scrolls for new clues about how it will play in Peoria.
It's no longer possible to focus on any subject other than the horse race. At 70th-birthday festivities for distinguished architect Richard Meier in the cavernously chic industrial space of a downtown gallery Monday night, the host handed out ballots and tallied them at the end. The surprise in that gathering was not the 133 votes cast for Sen. Kerry but the 20 for President Bush. Eyes narrowed and swiveled among the guests seated at the long trestle tables as a surreptitious hunt went on for the secret saboteurs. Suspicion lighted on a contingent that had flown in from Santa Barbara for the evening. But it couldn't be Outside Agitators alone. The entrepreneur on my left who had staunchly but implausibly pretended to be "undecided" at a dinner in Southampton in August had suddenly gone irritatingly coy about which way he's really going. I think I know why.
"I have no doubt that by November 2nd it's going to be Kerry," the playwright John Guare told me over drinks after an animated discussion about Zogby vs. Washington Post findings. A new poll? "Yes," he declared. "Me. I've decided to decide -- because I can't bear the suspense."
As the days tick by there's a kind of ravenous fatigue on the faces of election junkies. Everyone knows there is no policy left in this political discussion. The candidates can't risk saying anything real or substantive. A ruminative interview is the kiss of death. Kerry's appearance on the cover of the New York Times Magazine last Sunday talking to Matt Bai -- one of those thinky, smarter-than-thou journalists the president has made a career knowing how to avoid -- only got him grief for that unfortunate escapee phrase about regarding terrorism as a nuisance. Well, that's not quite what he said -- it's not even close -- but no one ever pretended in this campaign that context is king. It's too late for a new thought now. The endgame is all about running on empty. You're a liberal! Oh yeah, well you're a liar! Your plan won't work! Oh yeah, well your plan didn't work!
In this atmosphere, TV election gimmicks like the endless focus grouping of studio swing voters have gone on past their sell-by date. At debate supper gatherings there's a collective howl when CNN news twinkie Bill Hemmer starts up with all that affably inconclusive "Let's see a show of hands!" Three weeks ago it may have had a nice reality show flavor to hear from undecided Martians chosen only if they weigh 200 pounds and wear Coke-bottle glasses. But now can we please let recognizably real "real" people in? Like the ones we know on low-carb diets killing each other every day around the water coolers of opinion?
Invitations have already started to arrive for a distressing new genre of fundraisers to underwrite litigation after the polls close. Every lawyer I meet seems to be headed for a swing state to police the process on Election Night. The mounting dread is it will go on and on again like an endless White Night in St. Petersburg.
In one of those crusty Manhattan clubs earlier this week, a lawyer lunching at the communal table described how he had decided that the only way to gauge the effect of the first debate on the American public was to switch off the sound and see how the candidates really appeared! "It alarmed me to see a figure strutting the stage so belligerently. Could this antic figure really be our president?" He was swiftly disabused of his formula by a fellow member at the table who said the only real way of judging the impact was by doing what he's been doing: switching off the visuals and listening only to the sound. The result, he pronounced, was simply amazing. Once again, Kerry won! Perhaps in some apartment house in the city last night, someone was sitting in the lotus position wearing an eye mask, trying both methods of deconstruction at once.
Kerry's tentative lead in the latest polls seems to give Democrats no glee, because they are still bedeviled by their long-standing inferiority complex about strategies of war. There's just such a deeply ingrained perception that Republicans are cannier, better organized and better at winning.
Hence the hilariously long run of the Mystery of the Rectangular Bulge sighted in frozen images of the back of the president's suit jacket at Debate No. 1. The Bulge is a Rorschach test for feelings about Bush. It's also the favorite Dem delusion of the ultimate October Surprise, something to pit against the ever-present possibility that a brand-name terrorist will be captured at the eleventh hour and clinch the deal for the Bushies.
The Bulge or its imagined fallout sweeps away at last the need for all this demeaning, low-tech, door-to-door, vote-begging uncertainty. It offers something decisive, something silly, something disqualifyingly ridiculous. A Milli Vanilli president is something even the red states would understand.
©2004, Tina Brown
© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Drudge Report: Front Page Headline

'If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a 'pre-emptive strike''...The DRUDGE REPORT has obtained a 66-page mobilization plan to be issued by the Kerry/Edwards campaign and the Democratic National Committee...


Comment: Nice to see our contributions are being wisely used to unseat the unelected Pres. Think of what a pest Drudge is going to be when Kerry is elected, and with any luck sworn in rather than tossed-out by the Supreme Court.

Going to war in Iraq was a mistake

Doonesbury's Cartoon and related letter to the editor.

LOCAL VIEW: Going to war in Iraq was a mistakeBY REP. DOUG BEREUTER
It is a painful and disturbing process, but America and everyone involved in the decision-making and oversight process (the Executive Branch and Congress) must learn from the errors and failures related to waging a war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the aftermath of that war. The toll in American military casualties and those of civilians, physical damages caused, financial resources spent, and the damage to the support and image of the United States abroad, all demand such an assessment and accounting.
Certainly, all the facts and impacts are not yet apparent, and the violence and financial and diplomatic costs of the Iraqi aftermath continue to accumulate. However, I must give this account before I leave Congress on Aug. 31.
The first, and most basic, conclusion is that it appears there was a massive failure or misinterpretation of intelligence concerning the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and supply stocks of Saddam, both by the U.S. agencies and leading decision-makers, but also on the part of allies and other leading countries.
The fact that Saddam had used chemical weapons against Iran and Iraqi Kurds, that chemical weapons and biological and nuclear development programs were discovered after the first Gulf War and that Saddam so strenuously resisted unfettered international inspection efforts in recent years all contributed to the general conclusion that he had reconstructed his chemical weapons stock and was weaponizing biological agents. There was also the suspicion that his efforts to surreptitiously import certain dual-use technology were part of an effort to reconstitute his nuclear development program. The conclusion generally reached was that he had at least some of these types of WMD and that he would use them again against countries of the neighborhood. Even more directly troubling to the United States was the concern that he would share them with terrorist groups. It was a combination of these conclusions and fears that were the primary justification for pre-emptive military action against Iraq. Most importantly, however, it was the fear that his WMD would be shared with terrorists when it served his purposes. These concerns caused this member of Congress to vote to authorize the use of military force by the president, even pre-emptive military force, if the conditions specified in House Joint Resolution 114 of October 2002, were judged by the president to have been met. That resolution, which authorized the use of military force, was passed by large majorities in both houses of Congress, and I believe that for most members the element of a WMD-terrorist link was a key factor.
Evidence that substantial Iraqi chemical and biological WMD stocks existed at the time the war began or that they covertly had been destroyed just before the conflict began still may be discovered. Certainly, there were such chaotic conditions after the "military war" ended, with huge weapons dumps and laboratories left unguarded or undiscovered for months, that evidence and supplies could have been hidden or destroyed.
However, revelations in the unredacted portions of reports recently released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence point to a massive intelligence failure by the U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies, and even more disturbingly, leave unresolved whether inadequate or questionable elements of intelligence and sources of intelligence were used to justify military action. (Many members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, on which I serve, have also reached some of the same conclusions as the Senate Committee - and that includes me.)
Knowing now what I know about the reliance on the tenuous or insufficiently corroborated intelligence used to conclude that Saddam maintained a substantial WMD arsenal, I believe that launching the pre-emptive military action was not justified. However, the inability of the administration to clearly establish a link between al-Qaida and Saddam, despite the intimations of various administration leaders such as Vice President Dick Cheney, is no surprise to me. In my floor statement of Oct. 8, 2002, during the debate on the "military use of force" resolution, I said, "the administration cannot yet present incontrovertible evidence of a link between al-Qaida and Saddam."
Of course, one of the major controversies yet remaining is whether key individuals in the administration skewed the intelligence made available to them to justify military action against Saddam's Iraq or, whether coerced, intimidated or sympathetic U.S. intelligence analysts and managers gave them the findings they seemed to want in order to justify military action. The Senate Select Intelligence Committee report finds no evidence of such pressure and I do not believe that individual members of the House Committee have such evidence. Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action. That would be difficult to determine definitively without "a smoking gun."
I was very interested to read Paul Krugman's column in the New York Times on April 23, 2004, because his words, which follow, succinctly mirrored my own thoughts:
"Just as experts on peacekeeping predicted before the war, the invading force was grossly inadequate to maintain postwar security. And this problem was compounded by a chain of blunders: doing nothing to stop the postwar looting, disbanding the Iraqi army, canceling local elections, appointing an interim council dominated by exiles with no political base and excluding important domestic groups.
"The lessons of the last few weeks are that the occupation has never recovered from those early errors. The insurgency, which began during those early months of chaos, has spread."
Of course, that insurgency has grown dramatically since Krugman wrote those words in April. While the U.S. military deaths have declined from the highest levels of April and May, which was during the U.S. offensive against the terrorists, there still were an average of a tragic 50 U.S. military deaths per month at the time this is being written.
It should be noted, too, that the administration received many warnings not to make those very errors. Perhaps the warning most frequently given by reputable sources was to avoid disbanding the Iraqi army, but to instead immediately reconstitute it. Many of those Iraqi army personnel became insurgents or, at best, disenchanted. Now that an army and police forces are being trained and deployed, they are targets for the organized and increasingly motivated insurgency. The same is the case for the Iraqis who have assumed leadership roles at the national or local level; that violence has intensified since the "hand-over" in late June.
In my view, another fundamental and predictable failure was placing the responsibility for reconstruction and interim governance in the hands of the Department of Defense. The Department of State, and particularly its Agency for International Development, would no doubt have handled these responsibilities more expeditiously and economically, and with less questionable procurement and contractual practices. These are responsibilities normally assigned to State, and it has a better experience base for such programs.
Finally, I would reiterate the frequent criticism that the U.S. and coalition forces were inadequate in number to take effective control of Iraq when the initial military action was complete. This was a misjudgment from the top levels of the Defense Department and contrary to the estimates of the former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, who was sharply criticized by the DOD civilian leadership. Of course, that inadequacy was accentuated by both the unexpected rejection by Turkey for the movement of one U.S. Army division across that country to enter northern Iraq and by the unwillingness of a number of European countries to supply troops for the coalition because of their opposition to the war.
The Middle East neighborhood and the rest of the world is no doubt safer from attack and subversion now that Saddam has been removed from power. The oppressed Kurdish and Shiite Iraqis no longer have to fear for their lives from his government, and the same is true of other Iraqis he punished as enemies of the state.
Was the pre-emptive military strike to remove Saddam in America's best interest? That is a question that receives a sharply divided response in our country with the trend being against the pre-emptive military action we launched. I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action, especially without a broad and engaged international coalition. The cost in casualties is already large and growing, and the immediate and long-term financial costs are incredible. Our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened. From the beginning of the conflict it was doubtful that we for long would be seen as liberators, but instead increasingly as an occupying force. Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world.

Doug Bereuter will step down from his 1st Congressional District seat effective Sept. 1 after 26 years in the in the House of Representatives.

Grand Slam: Kerry crushes Bush in the third debate.

I've been dubious of William Saletan's columns in the past, but it's hard to not publish this seemingly intelligent analysis.

ballot boxGrand SlamKerry crushes Bush in the third debate.By William SaletanPosted Thursday, Oct. 14, 2004, at 4:07 AM PT
A week ago, I compared the debates to the final inning of a postseason baseball game. The Democrats trailed entering the ninth. John Kerry led off with a single. John Edwards singled him to third. I'll need a couple of pinch runners to keep the metaphor going, since Kerry came to the plate again Friday and struck out, leaving runners at the corners. The Bush campaign liked my headline so much—"Strikeout"—that they sent it around to the rest of the press corps.
They won't be sending this one around. Because tonight President Bush walked the bases full, and Kerry hit a grand slam.
I counted one exchange that Bush won tonight and another that Kerry lost. The topic Bush aced was Social Security. His answer was brave and thoughtful. He pointed out that "the cost of doing nothing, the cost of saying the current system is OK, far exceeds the costs" of taking painful steps to fix it. Kerry responded with a shameful dodge: "If, later on, after a period of time, we find that Social Security is in trouble, we'll pull together the top experts ... and we'll make whatever adjustment is necessary." Bush promptly nailed him: "I didn't hear any plan to fix Social Security. I heard more of the same."
The exchange Kerry lost was on affirmative action. He chose to defend its worst form—minority-owned business set-asides, which compensate the wealthiest blacks and Latinos for wrongs suffered primarily by the poorest. He also falsely accused Bush of never having met with the Congressional Black Caucus. When Bush corrected him, Kerry stared down at his podium with an expression of fear that he might well have screwed up.
If you're one of those Bush supporters who just want the good news, you'd better stop here, because the rest of the night was Kerry's. Let's start with body language. Kerry's was excellent. He has improved on this score in every debate. I don't know why it took him 20 years in office and two years on the presidential campaign trail to look into the camera. Maybe that guy with the tax question in the second debate got him over the hump. Whatever the reason, Kerry is now doing it in the debates and in his ads, and he turns out to be damned good at it. Tonight he explained in simple terms the good things he would do and the bad things he wouldn't. "Medicare belongs to you," he told the viewer. "I don't force you to do anything. ... You choose your doctor." I caught him shaking his head just once. Another time, he grinned inappropriately when Bush was talking about abortion. The rest of his performance was flawless. His answers were crisp. His smiles recalled the good-natured confidence of Ronald Reagan.
Half an hour into the debate, as Kerry spoke about respecting gay people, a look of sincere attention passed across Bush's face. I remember that look, because it was the only time I saw it. The rest of the night, Bush labored unconvincingly to look as though he was listening. He seemed to be trying to rectify his listless, annoyed performance in the first debate. Eventually, he confirmed that his wife had told him "to stand up straight and not scowl." But tonight he overcompensated, as Al Gore did after getting bad reviews in the first debate of 2000. Bush blinked, bubbled, giggled, and blurted at odd moments. He grinned strangely as he talked about tax increases, entrenched special interests, defeat in Iraq, and contaminated flu vaccines. He held his chin up and tried to smile each time Kerry rebuked him, but the expression on his face was that of a fraternity pledge struggling to look like he was having a good time in the midst of a spanking. The picture of the senior and junior Bonesmen cried out for the caption: "Thank you, Sir, may I have another?"
The sound bites both men brought were awful. Bush's snort about Kerry being on the "far left bank" was dumb; Kerry's analogy of Bush to Tony Soprano was dumber. Bush hammered tax relief, tort reform, government-run health care, and No Child Left Behind. I could swear he said 277 times that Kerry voted to bust the budget 277 times. But Kerry got in more licks, repeating that five million people had lost health insurance, that Bush was the first president in 72 years to lose jobs, that he had turned a huge surplus into a huge deficit, that he had blocked prescription drug imports from Canada and bulk drug purchasing for Medicare, and that Democrats would cut taxes for the middle class and raise the minimum wage. Kerry also invoked John McCain three times.
After the last debate, I chided Kerry for failing to rebut Bush's attacks effectively. Not this time. Bush said Kerry would raise taxes; Kerry made clear that he would raise them only for the rich and would cut them for the middle class. Bush said Kerry's health care plan was government-controlled and would deprive patients of choices; Kerry made clear that it wasn't and wouldn't. Bush said Kerry would let other countries veto American security decisions; Kerry made clear that he wouldn't and that the "global test" he had embraced was simply the "truth standard." The more Kerry explained himself, the more I came to understand his recovery in the polls. For seven months, Bush buried Kerry under negative ads. Now tens of millions of people who saw those ads are seeing Kerry for themselves. The debates are washing out the ads.
After the last debate, I chided Kerry for failing to point out Bush's evasive answers. Not this time. Three times tonight, Bush ducked tough questions—on unemployed workers, the minimum wage, and affirmative action—by changing the subject, absurdly, to educating children. Kerry nailed him: "I want you to notice how the president switched away from jobs and started talking about education." When Bush said young people should be allowed to shift their retirement contributions to "a personal savings account," Kerry replied, "You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security." And when Bush dodged moderator Bob Schieffer's question as to "whether you would like to overturn Roe v. Wade," Kerry pointed out, "The president didn't answer the question. ... Clearly, the president wants to leave an ambivalence or intends to undo it."
Kerry also won the honesty contest. All politicians distort their opponents' views. The practical test is whether they're capable of shame and self-correction once their distortions are exposed. Tonight Bush repeated his widely debunked insinuation that Kerry considered terrorism no more serious than prostitution. In the evening's most revealing exchange, Kerry complained that "America now is paying already $120 billion—up to $200 billion before we're finished, and much more probably"—for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Until now, Kerry has used the $200 billion figure to describe the war's current cost. He backed off because independent fact checkers calculated that only $120 billion had been spent so far, though $200 billion would probably have to be spent before our troops could get out. How did Bush respond to this concession? By repeating, contrary to the analysis of independent fact checkers, that in the first debate Kerry had said "in order to defend ourselves, we'd have to get international approval." One candidate yielded to the truth. The other did not.
My favorite moment was Bush's answer to a question about partisanship. Fifteen minutes in, he joked, "When you're a senator from Massachusetts, when you're a colleague of Ted Kennedy, 'pay-go' means you [the taxpayer] pay, and he goes ahead and spends." Later, Bush told Kerry, "Your record is such that Ted Kennedy, your colleague, is the conservative senator from Massachusetts." A bit later, Bush scoffed, "Only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough." Finally, Schieffer asked the candidates what they would do "to bring the nation back together." Bush replied, "My biggest disappointment in Washington is how partisan the town is. ... The No Child Left Behind Act, incredibly enough, was good work between me and my administration and people like Sen. Ted Kennedy." Pose with Kennedy, punch Kennedy, pose with Kennedy again. Two presidential campaigns—the uniter of 2000 and the steady, principled leader of 2004—self-discredited in 90 minutes.

I lost count of Bush's goofs—his unexplained allusion to "pay-go," his recollection of "the buggy and horse days," and his dead-end, mumbling defense that "Mitch McConnell had a minimum-wage plan that I supported." When Schieffer asked whether the Bush administration was responsible for the rising cost and declining availability of health care, Bush blurted out, "Gosh, I sure hope it's not the administration." And after Kerry observed that "two leading national news networks have both said the president's characterization of my health care plan is incorrect," Bush replied, "I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations about—oh, never mind."
Really. The president of the United States said that.

All the strengths and themes Kerry had failed to clarify in two years of campaigning, he clarified tonight. He spoke frankly and comfortably about his faith. "We're all God's children," he said as he defended the right of gays and lesbians "to live [as] who they were, who they felt God had made them." He defended his Catholicism against bishops who opposed him. "My faith affects everything that I do," he said, but "faith without works is dead. ... That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. ... God's work must truly be our own." He spoke about family values and rewarding those who "play by the rules." "Five hundred thousand kids lost after-school programs because of your budget," he told Bush. "That's not in my gut. That's not in my value system."

After the last debate, I chided Kerry for expressing his abortion position poorly. Not this time. "It's between a woman, God, and her doctor," he said. "I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade. The president has never said whether or not he would do that. But we know from the people he's tried to appoint to the court [that] he wants to." Kerry went on: "I'm not going to appoint a judge to the [Supreme] Court who's going to undo a constitutional right, whether it's the First Amendment or the Fifth Amendment or some other right. ... The right of choice is a constitutional right."

Kerry patched up his troubles with women voters, noting his efforts to get them equal pay for equal work. But his most important assurance to them—and to men—came in his answer to the debate's sole question about national security. He spoke fluidly of the military's overextension and the additional special forces and active-duty divisions necessary to alleviate it. He described how he would deploy the National Guard to protect the homeland. He reminded the audience that he was a gun owner and former prosecutor. He paraphrased a terrorism handbook captured from al-Qaida. Everything he said, and the facility with which he said it, conveyed a man ready to assume the presidency in wartime.

By the time the clock had ticked down to 15 minutes, the balance of power onstage had shifted. Kerry was the one talking like a president. He complimented his opponent as a leader and father, pledged to work across the aisle, admitted with a twinkle that "I can sometimes take myself too seriously," and joked to Schieffer, "The president and you and I are three examples of lucky people who married up." The audience laughed, and Kerry, growing looser by the minute, took another poke at himself: "And some would say maybe me more so than others." The audience laughed again, and Kerry relaxed into the smile of a man who has been humbled by the toughest campaign of his life and believes that despite it all, he is about to win. "But I can take it," he shrugged, beaming through a goofy grin. Bush, sensing that everyone else was having a good time, tried to smile along, but all he could do was twist up one corner of his mouth. His eyes darted around the room as though trying to make sense of a nightmare.

The closing statements confirmed the tide of the race. Kerry spoke like a man closing a deal. He recalled his service to his country, promised "tested, strong leadership that can calm the waters of the troubled world," and vowed to protect the nation in the tradition of FDR, JFK, and Reagan. Bush spoke like a man pleading for a second chance. He fumbled his opening sentence. He talked about the hard times we'd been through and the good things he'd do in a second term that he hadn't done in his first. He called for faith and optimism. Kerry ended with the words of a president: "Thank you, goodnight, and God bless the United States of America." Bush ended with a plea: "I'm asking for your vote. God bless you."
I wasn't surprised when the instant polls showed Kerry winning the debate handily. I bet Bush wasn't, either. All night long he looked like a pitcher who knew his stuff wasn't working and was stuck out there, alone on the mound in front of millions of people, with no idea what to do next. Now he's given up four runs and the lead. But he's still got the home field. And he's got half an inning—the bottom of the ninth—to turn things around. William Saletan is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.Article URL: