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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:03 AM
Original message
New Dem House Intel chief can't answer 'fundamental questions'
from rawstory.com:

In an interview with the editor on national security for Congressional Quarterly, the incoming Democratic chairman for the House Intelligence Committee was unable to answer "fundamental questions" related to the Middle East, including which sects terror groups adhere to.

Last October, CQ's Jeff Stein interviewed Washington counterterrorism officials and two Republican Congress members who oversaw spy agencies at the time for an Op-Ed in the New York Times, and found that they could also use "crash courses" in al Qaeda and Hezbollah. In an effort to be fair, Stein asked similiar questions of Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes, recently selected by incoming House Leader Nancy Pelosi to chair the House Intelligence Committee.

"Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week," Stein writes for CQ. "Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East."

"The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

"Al Qaeda, they have both," Reyes said. "Youre talking about predominately?"

"Sure," I said, not knowing what else to say.

"Predominantly probably Shiite," he ventured.

He couldnt have been more wrong.

http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/New_Dem_House_Intel_c...

*****

What the fuck is wrong with these people? Aren't they even curious? They should have to pass a basic competency exam to get on these Intel and Defense committees. It's worth noting that, further down in the story, even Raw gets it wrong about Iran and Hezbollah. Really, it's not that freaking complicated.
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AnnInLa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
1. And the repukes were no better
"Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI," when Stein wrote about them in October.

Willie Hulon, Executive Assistant Director for the FBI's new National Security Branch, falsely answered that Iran and Hezbollah were Sunnis, while the Republican House intelligence subcommittee chairs couldn't tell the difference between either Shiites or Sunnis, although they both admitted that such knowledge was "very important."

At the time, Media Matters questioned why The New York Times let the news that top terror officials couldn't tell Shiites from Sunnis left to be reported by an Op-Ed contributor on the back page, instead of by its own reporting staff.

"While Stein raises an important question, the fact that this information first appeared in the Times on its op-ed page raises another question: How is it that the Times has let this simple, yet critical, piece of information regarding the basic competencies of the Bush administration officials and Republican legislators managing U.S. national security go unreported in its news pages?" Media Matters' S.S.M asked.

same link as OP
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. That's not the point.
Being "no worse" or "no more ignorant" than the Repukes is the definition of idiocy and failure. Pelosi has clearly screwed the pooch with this appointment.
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Nite Owl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:11 AM
Original message
She should have gone with
Holt. He was military intelligence and would know his stuff. This seniority stuff can mess us up, chairmanships are not entitlements.
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goclark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:11 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. He is a fast learner? If so,Pelosi can get him up to speed


Sad but this is the only option IMO.

Don't think he will step down because he didn't answer one question.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. He should take my freshman English class--
We do a whole section on Iraq. I could have him up to speed in about five hours. Then he could do the research paper: "Unwhack Iraq," in which he has to ppropose and defend his strategy for producing the best possible outcome from the current disaster.
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featherman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #1
10. Frightening and embarrassing
Edited on Sun Dec-10-06 10:31 AM by featherman
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #1
14. I still screw up
which side is catholic and which side is protestant in Ireland. Of course, we don't have 150,000 troops in Ireland.
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iamjoy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
2. And Dubya Didn't Even Know
there were multiple factions of Islam. Really.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:10 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. That's not the point, either.
Of course the Republicans are morons--if they weren't, they wouldn't be Republicans. We should really be able to expect a modicum of intellectual curiosity from Democrats in government, if you ask me.
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librechik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:07 AM
Response to Original message
3. we are so screwn n/t
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
8. I agree and it is shameful
these people need a minimum requirement to head committees. This makes me sick. :puke:
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Tinksrival Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:47 AM
Response to Reply #8
15. So what would be your answer to the question?
Edited on Sun Dec-10-06 10:51 AM by Tinksrival
If al Qaeda was trying to recruit Iraqis.......then who which would you say is more subseptible to that recruitment...Sunni or Shia?

I have read a lot on Iraq these last three years and it seems the different fractions are fighting each other on different levels but that wasn't the question. If I had to answer the question I would have answered the same as Congressman Silvestre Reyes.

In his defense all I can say is General Clark had confidense in Pelosi's choice of Congressman Silvestre Reyes. He has been doing a lot of work with her and the Congressional Dems on the mess in Iraq, so I think it's a little to soon for a pile on of one of our own.

http://securingamerica.com/node/1996

Wes Clark's press release:

Statement of General Wesley K. Clark (ret)
On the Appointment of Silvestre Reyes to the Chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee

December 1, 2006. Little Rock, AR.

Silvestre Reyes is well regarded by the military and known for asking the right questions and for his follow through. He is a well respected public servant who has for years taken a deep abiding interest in matters of national security. I know him too as a man with high standards of integrity and a great patriot.

"The American people should see this selection as proof positive that Speaker Pelosi and House leadership take seriously their pledge to put our national security at the top of the national agenda.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #15
20. You're completely wrong.
So was Reyes. Al Qaeda is largely motivated by Wahabbist teachings; Wahabbism is a very strict fundamentalist Sunni sect. Al Qaeda in Iraq is Sunni, and is working more-or-less independantly of both the Sunni Ba'athist insurgency and the Shi'ite militias/death squads--although ideologically they have more in common with the Sunnis, and are responsible for attacks on Shi'ite shrines and have committed massive and bloody car-bombings in Sadr City, the sprawling Shi'ite section of Baghdad. You might want to acquaint yourself with the basic facts here, before you jump in and start talking crap. Oh, wait--too late.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #20
25. lol!
well done!

:applause:
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Tinksrival Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #20
26. Thank You for the info
I am always open to learning about the different fractions in Iraq, that is why I asked the question, and it was a question and my opinion so thank you for your reply. :)
This being a discussion board I guess makes it susceptible to crap......so EXCUUUUUSE ME for the question. :shrug:
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #26
32. If you'd just asked the question
instead of rushing to Reyes' defense with misinformation, I'd have answered more politely.
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Tinksrival Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #32
34. Ok sorry
I'll just have to remember to be careful how I reply to your posts. Thank you for the good info though.
It is interesting and I will study up on what you said.
Bye :hi:
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. No prob.
Sorry if I was a bit sharp in my response. This all seems like pretty basic stuff to me. Here's a great source for info on the situation in Iraq:

http://www.juancole.com/
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pk_du Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
9. Sorry - but what a bogus f*cking question..
Its like assuming the Terrorist protagonists in Northern Ireland were Catholic and Protestant. Their religious "affiliantion" is bogus - they are violent criminals with no more connection to religion than Dumya has to Conservatism.
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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:33 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. Wow
So wrong.
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pk_du Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 12:43 PM
Response to Reply #11
31. Really - pray tell why I should join the circular firing-squad? n/t
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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:36 AM
Response to Reply #9
12. You are right. What difference does the religious belief make?
When people are intent on causing death and destruction, they could worship Bozo the Clown and not be any less dangerous.

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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #12
17. Right. Ignorance is really okay, because they're bad guys, and we don't have
anything to gain by trying to understand how they think. That about right? As Sun Tzu famously didn't say, "it's okay not to know your enemy."
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Richard Steele Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Just as I don't need to learn the names of chess pieces to be a GrandMaster.
As long as I can tell the colors apart, there's
really no need to learn what the different shapes
and sizes are all about, right?

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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. Right.
Now, what does this little horsey guy do, again?
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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:01 AM
Response to Reply #17
19. Knowing your enemy doesn't mean
you need to know if they are Sunni or Shia.

Knowing you enemy means you need to know who they are, how big a force, what they want, how well are they armed and funded, and are they willing to talk.

But I guess you think you are well informed if you only know if they are sunni or shia. If you know that, then I guess you figure that is all that is needed. Bombs away!
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #19
22. Don't be an ass.
You're not going to win any arguments by putting words in people's mouths. Knowing your enemy means knowing everything there is to know about them--not just how many they are and how well armed, but how they think. That's obvious, and it's obviously what Sun Tzu was talking about. If you haven't read "The Art of War," it's available for free at your local library (that's the big building with all the books, in case you've never been there).
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Robbien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. Being a Sunni or Shia makes a difference in how one makes war?
Al Queda is a deadly force.
Whether they are shia or sunni makes them no more nor less a deadly force.

You say "Don't be an Ass"
You then say "free at your local library (that's the big building with all the books, in case you've never been there)."

I say, thanks for the demonstration of being as Ass.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 12:28 PM
Response to Reply #24
28. You sound exactly like Bush before the invasion of Iraq.
Edited on Sun Dec-10-06 01:25 PM by smoogatz
Ignorant and proud of it. You display exactly the kind of non-thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. As Trent Lott said: "I don't know why they're killing each other. They all look the same to me."

On edit: I should add that knowing your Iraqi factions makes a HUGE difference in how one makes war (or ought to), because if you don't know who the players are inside Iraq, AND you don't know who their allies and supporters are in the region (i.e., which side Syria, Iran and the Saudis are on), then you don't actually know jack shit about what's going on in Iraq. Does that clarify it for you, or should I go into further detail?

I'm always amazed when people try to make the case that ignorance is somehow a good thing. But keep going--it's fun watching you wriggle on your own hook.

Additional edit: The fact that Bush and his minions either did not know or wilfully disregarded this particular information--who's the majority, who's the minority, why they hate each other and who's backing who--is what allowed them to formulate their disastrously naive predictions for a happy outcome in Iraq. The lesson is that in order to be effective in either exploiting or altering the regional politics of the middle east (or any region in which we have an interest), you MUST know the basic history and sociology of the people you're dealing with. There's just no excuse for not doing this basic homework.
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Richard Steele Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:09 AM
Response to Reply #19
23. Well, you've disproven your own arguement right there.
"Knowing you enemy means you need to know
who they are,
how big a force,
what they want...
"


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Igel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 12:37 PM
Response to Reply #19
30. Nowing they are Sunni or Shi'a
is shorthand for a whole lot of likely wants, desires, and aspirations.

Once you get them to the table, do you want the first words to be, "So, who are you and *why*, exactly, are you fighting?" No. You want to have at least a vague idea what they're about. Well, at least an informed and experienced negotiator would want to have an idea.
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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #19
38. Sure...it is ok if one knows the distinction without perhaps knowing the name. However, not
Edited on Sun Dec-10-06 01:38 PM by MJDuncan1982
knowing the name is a very strong indication that one doesn't know the distinction.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. Knowing both doesn't seem like too much to ask.
I mean, since that's what these people are presumably getting paid to do.
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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #39
40. I completely agree. But I guess the labels aren't that important as long as you know
the distinction.

Call them Group X and Group Y for all I care, so long as you know the difference.
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pk_du Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:01 PM
Response to Reply #17
33. My point exactly - dont stick a "Sunni" or "Shia" label on them
as the question tried to do .....it just leads to the shortsightedness/ignorance you abhor.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #33
35. Oh, for God's sake. I was being sarcastic.
Here, I'll repost my response to Robbien just now:

You sound exactly like Bush before the invasion of Iraq--Ignorant and proud of it. You display exactly the kind of non-thinking that got us into this mess in the first place. As Trent Lott said: "I don't know why they're killing each other. They all look the same to me."

On edit: I should add that knowing your Iraqi factions makes a HUGE difference in how one makes war (or ought to), because if you don't know who the players are inside Iraq, AND you don't know who their allies and supporters are in the region (i.e., which side Syria, Iran and the Saudis are on), then you don't actually know jack shit about what's going on in Iraq. Does that clarify it for you, or should I go into further detail?

I'm always amazed when people try to make the case that ignorance is somehow a good thing. But keep going--it's fun watching you wriggle on your own hook.

Additional edit: The fact that Bush and his minions either did not know or wilfully disregarded this particular information--who's the majority, who's the minority, why they hate each other and who's backing who--is what allowed them to formulate their disastrously naive predictions for a happy outcome in Iraq. The lesson is that in order to be effective in either exploiting or altering the regional politics of the middle east (or any region in which we have an interest), you MUST know the basic history and sociology of the people you're dealing with. There's just no excuse for not doing this basic homework.
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pk_du Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #35
41. You seem intent on answering questions that arent posed
....fun maybe - but not a game I'm interested in.

The question posed by the article was "Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?"

Now you may claim your post was sarcastic - are you also claiming the overly-simplistic ( and ignorant) question was also being sarcastic ?

My point was its a bullshit question as posed...an error which he compounds by drawing an analogy with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. There is a similarity , but not the one he infers. The perpetrators in both conflicts are , for the most part , violent thugs , hiding behind a facade of religion.

So , far from glorifying ignorance , or defending Reyes , or anything else you wish I 'd said - I'm merely pointing out the ignorant nature of the question and the author's analogy with the sectarian conflict in N.I.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 02:00 PM
Response to Reply #41
43. The implications of Reyes' inability to answer that simple question
Edited on Sun Dec-10-06 02:02 PM by smoogatz
are pretty freaking alarming, if you ask me. It means he hasn't been paying particularly close attention to the conflict he is now responsible, to some extent, for overseeeing. He hasn't bothered to educate himself--which means he may, like Bush, lack the intellectual chops required to understand and come to grips with what's going on. His suggestion that sending 20-30,000 more troops might serve some useful purpose is equally disturbing, IMO. But you're right--I should have answered your previous post more directly. Sorry.
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pk_du Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #43
45. Apology accepted. And (for what its worth) I'm more than a little
disappointed in his response. Given Stein's history in asking these "self-admittedly gotcha questions ", Reyes should have read up a little on Stein before the interview ( not to mention Al-Qaida ).
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Richard Steele Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. Whatever you're smoking...it's working. Just WOW.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #9
16. So, you're trying to make a case for ignorance?
It's sure worked well for us the last six years.

Lordy.

It's really more about knowing who's on what side, and what their motivations are. It's about having command of the (most) basic information about your adversary before you wade into a conflict. You know--"know your enemy." Sun Tzu 101--pretty rudimentary stuff.
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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #9
37. No it's not a bogus question. The particular religious affiliation is a very
important piece of the puzzle regarding Iraq.

Not to mention the people in charge of a particular topic should know the absolute basics of that topic.

I thought we were getting rid of this level of incompetence when we kicked out the Republicans...
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 12:15 PM
Response to Original message
27. WTF is wrong with these people? They're frauds.
they're politicians aren't they?

I saw an ad recently for a masters in business administration. It was pushing a lot of personality, positive attitude, image and crap like that.

In America today, if you know what you are talking about and say it, you're dead meat.
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 12:28 PM
Response to Original message
29. I consider myself reasonably well informed...
... and I would have answered wrong too.

Given the Sunni Saddam's animosity toward Al-Q, I had assumed that Bin Laden and his supporters were, like Hezbollah, Shiite.

Had I thought it through a bit more, I should have realized that their Saudi background implies a Sunni history.

I guess I'm not a good candidate for the chairmanship of the house intelligence commitee.
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smoogatz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 01:56 PM
Response to Reply #29
42. It's not your job to know.
It IS Reyes' job, however. I guess we can hope he'll get up to speed before January. This is really pretty simple stuff.

The antipathy between Saddam's Ba'athists and Al Qaeda is, surprise surprise, largely due to ideological/religious difference. The Ba'athists are a secular/socialist movement; Al Qaeda is all about restoring the Caliphate and enforcing 12th century Islamic purity.
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many a good man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 02:22 PM
Response to Original message
44. He should be kicked off the Intel committee
Forget chairmanship, how many years has he been on the committee? Any Congressperson who couldn't answer basic questions like those should resign immediately. I can't even believe there are some DUers who don't know those answers or, worse, why they're so important.

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