Friday, January 28, 2005

Peggy Noonan Goes Wobblier and Digs Deeper

She needs to take action soon. I'm concerned. Ms. Noonan's follow-up to last week's column is ... small.

I never thought I'd say that about her, but there it is.

I suggest Ms. Noonan go back and watch the President's address to the nation on September 11, 2001; his address at the memorial service at the National Cathedral on September 14, 2001; his address to the nation and Congress on September 20, 2001; and his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002.

To refresh her memory, below are some excerpts. But I cannot recommend strongly enough that she actually watch and listen to the President as he delivers the addresses. She can find the archives at The White House website or C-SPAN.

His 2005 Inaugural Address is completely consistent with those earlier addresses.

But before the excerpts, I have something to say to Ms. Noonan about this point in her latest column:

"I even took off from the Journal to work for his re-election. I did exciting and I hope helpful work at considerable financial loss."

Is that so? I'm sorry ... sorry that you sunk to crassness and self-pity to whine about your "considerable financial loss."

Do you realize what you wrote? Do you know how that reads?

You see, you lost me there. To me, that one sentence speaks volumes about character. It is hard to believe it came from someone who wrote a book entitled When Character Was King. So I'm gonna be a little hard on you, Ms. Noonan. Maybe a little harder on you than you were on President Bush.

Don't expect any sympathy from ol' Monk about your financial sacrifice. No ma'am, not when so many have sacrificed their lives for this great country. Not when so many sacrifice the comfort of home and family to go abroad and fight so that you may continue to enjoy the comfort of yours.

Stroll through the stone gardens of Arlington and tell it to the ghosts of Champagne-Marne and Normandy and Okinawa and Guadacanal and Pusan and Pan Mun Jom and Ia Drang and Khe Sahn and Panama City and Ar Ruqi and Al Wafrah and Khandahar and Tora Bora and An Nasiriyah and Fallujah . . .

. . . dare utter "considerable financial loss".

The ghosts won't know whether to laugh or cry, Ms. Noonan.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001


Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.

America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.

Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature, and we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Tonight I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me."

President George W. Bush
September 11, 2001
Oval Office

SEPTEMBER 14, 2001


We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who loved them.

Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history, but our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder.

This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others; it will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.

God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that his purposes are not always our own, yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral are known and heard and understood.

There are prayers that help us last through the day or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey, and there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.

This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance and love have no end, and the Lord of life holds all who die and all who mourn.

On this national day of prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. We pray that He will comfort and console those who now walk in sorrow. We thank Him for each life we now must mourn, and the promise of a life to come.

As we've been assured, neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth can separate us from God's love.

May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own. And may He always guide our country.

God bless America.

President George W. Bush
September 14, 2001
National Cathedral
Washington, D.C.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2001


On September the 11th, enemies of freedom committed an act of war against our country. Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941. Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the center of a great city on a peaceful morning.

Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians.

All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us because we stand in their way.

We're not deceived by their pretenses to piety.

We have seen their kind before. They're the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies.

Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.

We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.

And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.

Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment.

Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time, now depends on us.

I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield, I will not rest, I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.

President George W. Bush
Address to the Nation and Congress
September 20, 2001

JANUARY 29, 2002


But some governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about it: If they do not act, America will.

Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens.

Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.

Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world.

States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States.

In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.

We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack.

And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security.

We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons.

Our war on terror is well begun, but it is only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch -- yet it must be and it will be waged on our watch.

We can't stop short. If we stop now -- leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked -- our sense of security would be false and temporary. History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight.

All fathers and mothers, in all societies, want their children to be educated, and live free from poverty and violence. No people on Earth yearn to be oppressed, or aspire to servitude, or eagerly await the midnight knock of the secret police.

If anyone doubts this, let them look to Afghanistan, where the Islamic "street" greeted the fall of tyranny with song and celebration. Let the skeptics look to Islam's own rich history, with its centuries of learning, and tolerance and progress. America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere.

No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. We have no intention of imposing our culture. But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance.

America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. We seek a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror.

Those of us who have lived through these challenging times have been changed by them. We've come to know truths that we will never question: evil is real, and it must be opposed.

Beyond all differences of race or creed, we are one country, mourning together and facing danger together. Deep in the American character, there is honor, and it is stronger than cynicism.

And many have discovered again that even in tragedy -- especially in tragedy -- God is near.

President George W. Bush
State of the Union
January 29, 2002

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Brian Lamb: Questions and Answers

Brian Lamb, founder & CEO of C-SPAN, is one of my heroes.

His name is one of the first that comes to mind (besides, of course, Peggy Noonan and Ann Coulter and Stevie Nicks -- yeah, I know that is quite a leap, but my mind works funny) to the question: Who would you like to spend a day with?

He hosted one of my all-time favorite TV programs, Booknotes, for 15 years. I hollered in disbelief when I read that he had decided to put Booknotes to bed. My only solace is that there are 15 years worth of interviews archived on the Booknotes website. Don't ask me how many times I've watched him interview Shelby Foote.

But he has another program now and it is gooooooooood.

Q&A made its debut on December 12th with the slogan: Interesting People. Informative Conversations.


I really enjoyed the Q&A with new NBC anchor Brian Williams. What a good guy! .. although he remains clueless when it comes to the impact of the internet and blogosphere on the 22-minute nightly news. He just doesn't get it. But what a good guy! I mean it. Brian Williams should be with Fox!

Speaking of Fox, Lamb interviewed Roger Ailes. It is a must see.

Did you notice, by the way, that CNN's viewership for the Inauguration dropped by 63% from 2001. Fox News was up 57%.

Anyway, Brian Lamb's Q&A is a delight. If you're not watching, you should.

Peggy Noonan Ain't Gettin' Any

... and I want to help.

OK. So I don't know that for a fact, but I get that impression from reading her latest column.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in a big tent (well, not too big or else we'll have our own lil screamin' Howie Deanies). My beef is not so much with what she wrote as with when she wrote it and while I can understand the timing, I don't like it.

She got the most attention doing it that way, but it cost her a little with the Monk.

And I ask myself why Peggy Noonan, of all people, did it.

I think she needs to get out more. Maybe a little R&R. And I know just the place for her to visit.

Mobile is a laid-back, smalltown city with a rich Catholic history that Peggy would find interesting. Between now and April, the Exploreum is presenting the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit, so that would be a plus.

I'd take her down to Bayou La Batre to watch the shrimp boats, maybe go out shrimping with one of the local families.

Then on to Dauphin Island to explore Fort Gaines and take a ferry ride over to its sister, Fort Morgan. Then to the white sand beaches of Gulf Shores to wade in the warm, emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Then up the road to Weeks Bay (home of that liberal, Jimmy Buffett) for dinner at Lulu's (sister of that liberal). Maybe some of Lulu's homemade gumbo or, to be really cheesy, Lulu's "Cheeseburger In Paradise".

Then over to Fairhope to sip mint juleps on the pier and watch the pelicans roost as the sun sets over Mobile Bay. She might be surprised to see such locals as Fannie Flagg, W.E.B. Griffin, and Winston Groom doing the same.

If she came in the summer, she might even get to witness a Jubilee. Who knows, maybe she'd get lucky. I guarantee ya she'd write about it if she did .. witness a Jubilee, that is.

Nah, summer is too far away. She needs some R&R right now.

It would get her away from all that winter weather and big city stuff.

There would be plenty of time for her to 'splain herself, but more importantly it would give her the opportunity to re-charge her batteries and get in touch with the common man.

I hereby volunteer to be that man.

She needs to pack accordingly.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Cowards Attack Army Recruiter

Sergeant First Class Jeff Due, right (ed. as if we would have any trouble identifying which one he is), a U.S. Army recruiter, is surrounded by protesters at Seattle Central Community College, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2005, in Seattle. After about a 10-minute standoff during which protesters tore up U.S Army literature, the protesters were successful in getting Due and another recruiter to leave their table under escort by campus security officers. Several hundred students walked out of classes at several Seattle colleges and universities to protest the inauguration of President Bush (news - web sites). (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

He serves to protect their freedoms. It doesn't matter if they're ignorant, poorly educated, indoctrinated, ungrateful, classless, spoiled, stupid.

He will lay his life on the line to guard their freedoms.

But no one should have to put up with this.

Will these students go unpunished?

If this type of behavior starts showing up in Alabama (fat chance), somebody is gonna get hurt (reason why the chance is fat).

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Combat Commander Speaks Out Against Media

"Gunner, sabot, media, 12 O'Clock, point blank from my position."

"Media identified."


"On the way!"


Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan hit his target, but not with Armored Piercing Discarding Sabot ammuntion.

He hit the MSM with words -- words written by a combat commander who is fed up with their reporting.

Tim Ryan is the commander of 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment from the Blackjack Brigade of America's First Team -- the 1st Cavalry Division.

All right, I've had enough. I am tired of reading distorted and grossly exaggerated stories from major news organizations about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. "The most trusted name in news" and a long list of others continue to misrepresent the scale of events in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a fraction of the events in Iraq and, more often than not, the events they cover are only negative.

The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.

The fact is the Coalition is making steady progress in Iraq, but not without ups and downs. So why is it that no matter what events unfold, good or bad, the media highlights mostly the negative aspects of the event? The journalistic adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," still applies in Iraq, but why only when it's American blood?

As a recent example, the operation in Fallujah delivered an absolutely devastating blow to the insurgency. Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.

More recently, a major news agency's website lead read: "Suicide Bomber Kills Six in Baghdad" and "Seven Marines Die in Iraq Clashes." True, yes. Comprehensive, no. Did the author of this article bother to mention that Coalition troops killed 50 or so terrorists while incurring those seven losses? Of course not. Nor was there any mention about the substantial progress these offensive operations continue to achieve in defeating the insurgents. Unfortunately, this sort of incomplete reporting has become the norm for the media, whose poor job of presenting a complete picture of what is going on in Iraq borders on being criminal.

Read the whole thing -- there's much more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

cBS Report

Grade: Unsatisfactory

The report failed badly in one critical area which earned it an overall Monk rating of UNSAT.

They waffled on the political bias of CBS News.

Let's be clear. CBS News used fake documents to smear a sitting President in the heat of an election while this nation was (is) at war.

That it backfired on CBS News does not lessen the gravity of what they did.

In fact, it's high time for the US Justice Department to launch an investigation to determine if CBS News violated federal election law (re: Mapes/Lockhart/DNC collaboration). While they're doing that, they should investigate the source of the fake documents and present their findings to a grand jury.

Further, CBS News should make a retraction of the September 8th story and issue an apology to President Bush and the American people.

Absent such a retraction and apology, the United States Congress should cause the Federal Communications Commission to revoke CBS's broadcast license.

DDoS: Distributed Denial of Service

While I was away it appears that some of the big blogs have been/are being attacked. Specifically, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.

A DDoS attack, in the simplest terms, is an attack on a computer by tens or hundreds or thousands or even tens of thousands of other computers.

DDoS is against the law. I hope the lawbreakers are caught, but I won't bet a Mountain Dew on it.

I suspect there are few people who know what Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is and even fewer that use IRC.

IRC is the dark side of the internet. Not all of it, but a whole lot of it.

IRC is the home of hackers and crackers and phreakers and pirates and coders of trojans and worms and viruses.

Or in wannabe IRCese - y0 iRC iz dA sC3n3. y0 cHeCk iT OuT! H4x0Rs, cR4k0rz, pHr34KRz, PIrATEZ! y0 we gotz tr0j4Nz, w0Rmz, virii! wE goTz r00t! wE 0wN y0 aZZ! dA sC3n3 rULez!

If that didn't make any sense, consider that the first requirement of the IRC culture is to demonstrate that you don't need no stinkin' education! -- at least education in the classical sense.

Their mumbo jumbo aside, the kids (13-16 year olds) that make up the great majority of the darkside are just that -- kids. These particular kids can be subdivided into 2 groups:

1. Script-kiddies -- Kids who use scripts/programs coded by someone else because they aren't smart enought to write their own original code.

2. l337 (leet or elite) -- Kids who can run circles around most programmers getting paid top dollar in the corporate world.

Do you have one of these kids in your neighborhood? In your house? How would you know if you did?

Here's a profile (oh give it a rest, ACLU/Libs/etc) of a typical kiddie:

1. Spends a lot of time indoors.
2. Spends a lot of time at the computer (usually locked in his room).
3. Has an unhealthy pallor
4. Looks like he slept in his clothes
5. Smells like he's not showered in a couple of days
6. Overweight/underweight -- generally not in good physical condition
7. Drinks a lot of Mountain Dew
8. Eats a lot of junk food.
9. Wears DEFCON T-shirts
10. can't/won't spell/capitalize correctly. modified alphanumerics: 0=o z=s 3=E 4=A, etc, etc -- example: 0wNz for owns.
11. Has a database of hacked XXX porn sites, i.e. passwords for the sites
12. Has lots of XXX on computer in hidden/encrypted folders.
13. Always has the latest copy of Windows OS (why? because Linux is free), and software such as PhotoShop (the $1k version), and games such as Halo 2 and Grand Theft Auto 3, etc.
14. Favorite quote is: There are only 10 types of people -- those who understand binary and those who don't.
15. And there are others, but you get the picture.

93% of the kids fall into Group 1 (or maybe somewhere between Group 1 and Group 2) and while they are not l337, they can do a lot of damage. They have a limited ability to shut down bigtime servers without getting caught. Same is true for stealing passwords and financial information.

It's Group 2 that is the most troublesome. The 7%'ers. They can bring down almost any government, corporate, private server in the world. They can "own" you.

(Percentages are a rough estimate based on having observed the various IRC scenes for 10 years)

Then there are the old guys, the old pros (19-22 year olds). After age 22, the number of hackers, crackers, etc starts dropping off significantly because most of them have jobs ... in the IT department of your company.

The old guys are gods to the kiddies. The kiddies want nothing more than to be recognized by the old guys, to be deemed worthy and the kids dream of some day being a "made" old guy themselves. The kids will do almost anything to get recognized. Website defacements are the most common sign of a kid going through the passage of rites to l337d0m.

Not all of their activity is criminal or even malicious, but a lot of it is.

Not all hackers are bad. Not all hacking is bad. It is what you hack and the way you go about hacking that determine whether you're a good guy or a bad guy -- a white hat or a black hat.

These kids (scriptkiddies, l337 and old guys) are the majority on IRC and most of them are black hats.

They may or may not (unwittingly or otherwise) associate with other hacker inhabitants of IRC: terrorists, Russian mafia, Chinese government, etc.

Every day on IRC, hundreds of new trojans, worms and viruses are written or modified. Each and every day.

Every day hundreds of thousands of corporate and personal computers are scanned with port scanners, looking for a way in. And every day tens of thousands of computers are compromised and become zombies that connect to secret IRC channels under the control of hackers.

Computers with high bandwidth connections, such as T1/T3/Cable/DSL, are the preferred targets. The hackers can get into the home PC using a variety of methods. It might be through email attachments or it might be from hostile code embedded on an otherwise legitimate website that they've hacked. You visit the site and the code is automatically downloaded to your computer.

This computer code/program (known as a trojan) is written so that your computer will connect to an IRC network without you knowing it. Your computer becomes a zombie, or to use another popular term: bot.

If you have KaZaa, or other Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software (but especially KaZaa) installed on your computer, you have made life a lot easier for hackers. Not only is it easier to send trojans to your computer, some "copies" of KaZaa have embedded trojans.

Once on the IRC network, the zombie (program planted, hidden, and running on your computer) will enter a secret channel with hundreds or thousands of other zombies from infected PCs to form a BOTNET (bot network).

With one command, the hacker can direct all of the zombies in his BOTNET to request This DDoS attack will most likely result in a meltdown of the blogspot server hosting The Monk. But heck, The Monk is small taters. Instapundit and Power Line are not. No glory in taking down The Monk (his blog anyway), but take down Glenn Reynolds and now you're talking l337 (elite) status.

DDoS attacks occur every day. Some big. Some not so big. A lot of companies are very hesitant to acknowledge that they've been hit. It could be bad for business if your customers find that your computer network is vulnerable to attack.

I think 2005 could be a very rough year for network administrators. DDoS attacks are on the rise for a number of reasons. More and more homes are being connected to the internet through Cable and DSL, more and more people are using WindowsXP. Steve Gibson has been warning about XP for years -- especially XP Service Pack 1. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Microsoft basher. I admire Bill Gates (Flame away). Just read what Steve has to say. He gives his technical advice for free (and in layman's language) and he is one of the smartest IT types out there.

There are also some relatively new twists to DDoS attacks:

1. companies hiring hackers to attack their competitors' networks.
2. hacker groups extorting money from targeted companies. See here and here

The US Justice Department recently returned a 5 count indictment against a "Massachusetts businessman who allegedly paid members of the computer underground to launch organized, crippling distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against three of his competitors, in what federal officials are calling the first criminal case to arise from a DDoS-for-hire scheme."

OK. So what can we do? Something? Nothing? A little? A lot?

1. Everyone should have Anti-Virus software and keep it updated on at least a weekly basis -- daily is better.

2. Get a firewall. Zone Alarm works good and it's free.

3. Don't open email from people you don't know.

4. Don't let anyone put P2P (KaZaa) software on your computer without you knowing. Don't you put it on your computer unless you know what you're doing and understand the risks.

If everyone just followed those 4 little rules, DDoS attacks would decrease dramatically.

And it'd make the little wankers work harder at their mischief.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Mors Et Destructio


Z 260830Z FEB 91

(Note to the security hounds: the above message was declassified in 1991, so chill out)

Yes indeed! Going home! That's what I'm talkin' bout!

And we were waiting to go home when we got word of Bangladesh.

It was April 1991 and we were preparing to deploy back to the United States. We had just fought in a war that resulted in the deaths of thousands of enemy soldiers. Some estimates of Iraqi soldiers killed were as high as 100,000, some as low as 40,000. We weren't counting so I don't know which number is correct -- probably somewhere in between. All I know is that it was a lot and that in some places you couldn't walk 10 paces without coming across a body or body part -- moving through some sectors, you just went "Fuuuuuuck".

We stayed up in Iraq for about 3 weeks after the ceasefire was declared. I can't adequately describe what it was like trying to eat chow with one hand while fanning the flies with the other (think CARE commercial) -- and knowing where those flies had probably dined before trying to dine with us.

It was good to get out of there.

We moved back into Saudi Arabia and after a couple of more weeks out in the desert, we moved to the port and were garrisoned in the now-infamous Khobar Towers, waiting our turn to go home. Not just sitting around waiting, mind you. There were dozens of tasks to be performed as we prepared to be deployed back to the USA. For instance, our vehicles had to be washed so that they would pass the USDA inspection .. which meant about 5 hours per vehicle using high pressure hoses, regular washbrushes, toothbrushes and pipecleaners. Quite a wash job, huh? I do not exaggerate. No one can forget that. To this day I despise the USDA (well, not really .. but I'd make 'em all sit in the desert for 7 months if I could).

As the day drew near for our turn to take the big flight back to America where families and friends waited, the news came of a major cyclone hitting Bangladesh.

The inital reports were very bad. Word spread like wildfire that we would be diverted from the USA to Bangladesh. This was not a happy thought. After 7 months in the desert, the thought of going to Bangladesh was ... well, more than we really cared to think about.

We were spared. The Marines got the call. God bless the Marines!

A friend in the 5th MEB (Marine Expeditionary Brigade) was one of those Marines diverted to Bangladesh.

We met up about a year later. His stories of the death and destruction in Bangladesh and what the Marines did to aid in the recovery are a nearly forgotten part of history. Except for those who were there.

I found this at

Between 10 May and 13 June 1991 Joint Task Force Sea Angel, one of the largest military disaster relief forces ever assembled, was sent to the aid of the people of Bangladesh in the wake of the destruction of the tropical cyclone Marian.

Cyclone Marian (29-30 April 1991) was one of the most catastrophic natural disasters in recent times. Marian's 140 mile-per-hour winds and an eight-meter tidal wave devastated Bangladesh, killing nearly 140,000 people and leaving over 5 million people homeless.

Within 24 hours of a request for support from the government of Bangladesh, Operation Sea Angel was launched, and advance teams from the III Marine Expeditionary Force arrive in country for initial liaison. Operation Sea Angel began on 10 May and involved over 7,000 US soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

A fifteen-ship amphibious task force composed of Amphibious Group 3 and the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, homeward bound from five months of operations in the Persian Gulf, was diverted to the Bay of Bengal to assist.

Over the next month, 6,700 Navy and Marine Corps personnel working with U.S. Army, Air Force, and multinational forces, provide food, water, and medical care to nearly two million people. The relief efforts of U.S. troops are credited with having saved as many as 200,000 lives.

Read it all

In August 1992, less than 18 months later, I was back in Southwest Asia -- an emergency deployment to Kuwait. It was an election year and Saddam was rattling his saber.

On about July 25th of that year, he moved an armored division and a mechanized infantry division into southern Iraq. The infantry division was positioned only a few kilometers from Kuwait's northern border.

Here we go again.

On July 30th, 1st Cavalry Division was conducting a change-of-command ceremony. Major General Wesley K. Clark was taking over from Major General John Tilelli.

As we stood in formation on the parade field, LTC Kevin Reynolds, our brigade executive officer, informed us that we had received a Warning Order: our brigade was ordered to be prepared to deploy to Kuwait.


Start getting ready after the ceremony. It might be tomorrow.

Fortunately, we had started planning back in May to go to Kuwait in October 1992 to participate in Exercise Intrinsic Action, the first in a series of military exercises as part of a new 10-year security agreement between the U.S. and Kuwait.

With Saddam threatening to take the Raudhatain and Sabriya oilfields, our deployment date was pushed up and the "exercise" morphed into an "operation".

On August 11th at approximately 1400hrs, we received orders to deploy to Kuwait. We flew out of Robert Gray Army Airfield that night at about 2300hrs.

When we stepped off the plane at Kuwait International, it was 122°F. We would be replacing the 11th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) who were due to go home, but were now being diverted to Somalia. They would become the spearhead for the relief efforts in that pitiful war-torn place.

We had our hands full in Kuwait. We were outnumbered by a factor of about 6 to 1. If Saddam attacked Kuwait again, our mission was to fight and delay his advance until the U.S. Embassy and the like could be evacuated. Then we were to move south to defensive positions in Saudi Arabia and hold on there until reinforcements arrived. Some of the troops dubbed the plan "Operation Taco Bell" -- run for the border. Black humor runs wide among soldiers in dire circumstances.

It was an "open-ended" deployment, meaning we didn't have a set date to return home. As the weeks went by, we learned that we might be out by Christmas -- replaced by either a Stateside or Europe-based unit.

This was good news.

The bad news was that we might be diverted to Somalia. We started paying close attention to the situation there while at the same time keeping an eye on the Iraqi divisions just north of us.

Somalia = Hell.

At least that was how I entitled my first briefing chart to the Task Force Commander. By September 1992, the estimates were that about 600 people were dying per day.

Tribes and clans loyal to Mohamed Farah Aideed were fighting tribes and clans loyal to Colonel Omar Jess, a Somali warlord who controlled Kismayo. The fighting was savage.

All food supplies were controlled by Aideed and Colonel Jess and their clans. Of course, part of what Aideed and Jess were fighting over was food. Meanwhile, thousands of Somalis were starving to death. It was a very, very bad situation.

Reading the daily intel summaries about Somalia, I knew I didn't want to go there.

As it turned out, the 10th Mountain Division was deployed to Somalia.

God bless the 10th Mountain Division!

In 1991-1992, over 300,000 Somalis died of starvation and famine-related diseases as a result of the fighting between rival clans.

If this seems like rambling, it kinda is. A small data dump from my memory banks which are imperfect at best. But there is a point to my stroll down memory lane and it is this:

The tsunami that hit South Asia is bad, but we've dealt with bad before. Americans deal with bad things and we try our best to fix broken things. We take action. It's who we are.

Our military is once again leading the way in disaster relief operations. Our government will spend many millions of dollars to help those affected by the tsunami. American citizens will open their checkbooks to help the tsunami victims.

I'm proud to be an American and I get mighty riled up when others disparage us.

I've had enough of the United Nations.

The UN is as worthless as tits on a boar hog. Worthless. You hear me? They can't pour piss out of a boot without instructions on the heel. Nearly everything that organization touches turns to shit.

If we pull the plug, it will die. And it's time for the UN to die.

If we're going to be a part of any international body, let it be one made up of democracies who share our vision of liberty for all. Membership closed to the likes of Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc etc etc. No more Boutros Boutros Bygollees. No more Kofis. What a ridiculous person. He needs his ass kicked.

It's time for something new.

It's way past time.