RIP Louis Zamperini: A True American Hero

Louis "Louie" Zamperini was a remarkable man who accomplished more in his lifetime than most people ever dream of.

Zamperini was born in Olean, New York on January 26, 1917.  The son of Italian immigrants, Louie and his family spoke very little English. They moved to California when he was just two years old and a young Louie was often the target of bullies.

Louie's older brother introduced him to the school track team where he went on to set world records, earn a scholarship to the University of Southern California, and eventually qualified for the U.S. Olympic team. At 19 he was the youngest American qualifier in the 5,000 meter race and went on to finish 8th at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

In 1941, Zamperini enlisted in the Army and was deployed to the Pacific as a bombardier. In 1943, Zamperini's plane was damaged in combat and the crew was assigned another B-24 plane.

During a search mission for lost aircraft and crewmen, Zamperini's plane crashed due to 'mechanical difficulties.' Three men survived the crash-- Zamperini among them--and they were forced to subsist on rainwater, raw fish and birds.

After thirty-three days at sea Sgt. Francis McNamara died--fourteen days later Zamperini and pilot/Lt. Russell "Phil" Phillips reached land and were captured by the Japanese Navy. The Army declared the men missing, and a year later they were listed as being killed in action. 

Zamperini was taken to a POW camp where he was beaten and held in captivity until the war ended. He returned home to a hero's welcome in 1945. 

Post-war, Zamperini married Cynthia Applewhite, who died in 2001. He became a born-again Christian and was close with Rev. Bill Graham, who helped him go on to become a motivational speaker. Zamperini believed in forgiveness, and later visited with many of the prison guards he met during his time as a POW to tell them he had forgiven them.

Zamperini's incredible story inspired best-selling author Laura Hillenbrand (author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend) to write about it in her book, Unbroken.

Actress Angelina Jolie produced and directed a movie based on Hillenbrand's book that is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day in 2014 by Universal Pictures. An unlikely friendship between the award winning actress and the American hero quickly developed and Zamperini said he knew Jolie would tell his story "in the right way." 

"It is a loss impossible to describe," Jolie said in a statement about Zamperini's death. "We will miss him terribly."

RIP Louis Zamperini--a true American hero, and a man who never let life break him.

Pictured: Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Louis "Louie" Zamperini, and James Rosen at Fox News--

Did Eric Holder Lie to Congress?

James Rosen on Nixon's Legacy

 

As President Nixon sat in the Oval Office on Wednesday, June 2, 1971, the sun’s rays splashing brilliantly across the blue and gold carpet embroidered with the presidential seal, he brooded about the seemingly endless war in Vietnam. He weighed it against the campaigns of World War II, in which he had served. This awakened the combative instincts in the old anti-Communist, charged him anew, amid the high stakes of the Cold War, to seek not some negotiated settlement or fig-leaf withdrawal, but victory. In his yellow-pad notes of the meeting, previously unpublished, White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman recorded:

P. will not go out of VN whimpering

play hole card in Nov. — bomb NVN    totally

unless we get our breakthrough turn    right all the way

we’re screwing up so many things

have to be tougher on domestic    [policies, too]

P. is not lib — is conserv. –

all our programs are wrong — gain    nothing & wrong for country

This was no fleeting sentiment. A few weeks later, Nixon admonished Haldeman that the president’s aides had been “derelict in not moving on Grt. Society programs.” Why, seven months had passed since the midterm elections, after which all the heavy hitters — Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, Chuck Colson, Don Rumsfeld — had flown into Key Biscayne and the president had ordered: “Go for increases in [the] military budget and military assistance and squeeze the Great Society programs.”

What happened? Why were those programs still flourishing? Why were his goddamn orders always ignored? Hadn’t he instructed them, in April of 1970, to do something about the federal work force? Of the civil service, he’d told Haldeman, “All it’s for is freezing mediocre people into jobs.”

From Haldeman’s notes:

need to move

ahead on gov’t wide [effort]

get a hold of big government

Now, as the summer of ’71 dawned, the White House was reeling from a series of news leaks. Publication of the Pentagon Papers had been followed almost immediately by the even more damaging disclosure, also in the New York Times, of the administration’s fallback posture in its negotiations with the Soviet Union over SALT, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Was there not a single goddamn secret our government could keep? Kennedy never had to put up with this kind of crap! The president longed to punish the leakers and thereby restore, somehow, the powers and prerogatives of the nuclear-age presidency.

At the same time, Nixon was consumed by a larger discontent, that disquieting sense of disconnect from his own presidency: “P. is not lib — is conserv. — all our programs are wrong.” Ehrlichman, the domestic-policy chief and resident liberal, was presently butting heads with Commerce secretary Maurice Stans, the fastidious accountant who had been Ike’s budget chief, over the cost of environmental regulations. In adjudicating the dispute, Nixon reckoned that any inherent risk should be harnessed to an overriding goal, as Haldeman captured in his notes in those weeks.

all decisions in environment &     consumer [protection policy]

shld lean tds. jobs . . . [June 8, 1971]

examine all pollution bills

in terms of current economic effect

put brakes on where we can — w/o     getting caught . . .

[If it’s] jobs vs. seat belts . . .     jobs come first . . . [July 23, 1971]

Stans told P. $56 bill of priv.     investment  are being held up because     of environment restrictions

E[hrlichman] says not true — Stans     says is true . . .

[We must] fight for the system

& against welfare, the environ, Grt.     Society, consumer

speak up for Stans views     [August 7, 1971]

All presidents brood from time to time. Plunged into a loneliness only his predecessors would understand, the nation’s chief executive will occasionally entertain deep doubt about the direction in which his administration is drifting. Dreary midterm elections have a way of bringing it on. What’s remarkable about the real-time record Haldeman created is that it contains a modern president’s explicit expression of what he was for and what he believed himself to be.

This is of particular value in the unique case of Richard Nixon, whose centenary was marked on January 9. At 100, Nixon still intrigues and confounds the country in which was on a national ticket five times, a feat shared only by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Books, films, and plays about “RN” are still regularly produced; and while his singular disgrace at having been the only president to resign is unlikely ever to be eclipsed, surveys taken after Nixon’s death, in April 1994, reflected greater appreciation for his foreign-policy achievements. The late Robert Bork pronounced him “probably the most intelligent president of [the second] half of the 20th century.”

Conservatives, especially, should find the Haldeman notes instructive. A few years ago, in the green room at Fox News, I introduced myself to Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader who was then crusading for all 3,067 counties in America to name something after Ronald Reagan. I asked him: Don’t you think Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and John Mitchell, despite their ultimate disgrace, deserve more credit for the postwar ascendancy of conservatism? After all, they championed law and order, and stood against amnesty, abortion, and acid, as well as media bias, when it was least fashionable to do so — the age of Radical Chic — and carried 49 states. Weren’t the Reagan Democrats, in fact, the silent majority that Nixon had rallied a decade earlier? Norquist, returning to his newspaper, dismissed me summarily: “As far as I was concerned, Nixon, Agnew, and Mitchell were on the other side.”

The other side! Nixon had barely concluded his first inaugural address when L. Brent Bozell warned conservatives, in an open letter, that the new president had “rejected every distinctive feature of your movement.” William F. Buckley Jr., soon to orchestrate the issuance of a conservative manifesto declaring a “suspension of support” for the president, was still inclined to a measure of realism. “Did anyone really expect,” Buckley asked in The New York Times Magazine in August 1971, “that Richard Nixon would dismantle the welfare state?” The founder of National Review also allowed that Nixon’s upcoming trip to Peking could, over time, produce a “state of affairs . . . for which American conservatives would concede that our diplomatic détente with Red China was indispensable.” And in crediting Nixon with “an honest try” in the nomination of two strict constructionists to the Supreme Court — both rejected by the Senate — Buckley acknowledged a central truth about the Nixon presidency: It was the first in 120 years in which the president assumed office with the opposition controlling both houses of Congress.

Moreover, to win the presidency when Nixon did, at the close of the Sixties, was to attain the great prize in a time of its diminishment. For two decades, since his election to the vice presidency at the age of 39, Nixon had observed at close range the exercise of power at the highest levels. How much he had witnessed in the Fifties and Sixties! How ruthlessly the Kennedys and LBJ, with J. Edgar Hoover’s slavish complicity, had played the game! Now it was his turn! But, somewhere along the line, the ground shifted. The news media, with newfound speed and brazen slant, began reporting all kinds of things they never had before. Hoover, aged and embattled, was suddenly prudish about the performance of “sensitive” operations. The bureaucracy was in open revolt, emptying whole filing cabinets of classified material onto the front pages. All the institutions of the establishment faced assault from the culture itself: Now, for the first time, we had a “counterculture.” All this talk of Amerikan repression, in the age of Woodstock!

With Stalinist zeal, the latter-day American Right, elevating wage and price controls and Watergate above all else, has airbrushed Richard Nixon from postwar history. And yet, as today’s GOP wonders how to adapt to changed demographic realities and appeal to new voters, its leaders could do worse than to regain their vision of Nixon and his crucial role in the rise of the Right. His capture, in 1960, of 32 percent of the black vote stands as the modern record for a Republican presidential nominee. And the ’72 landslide was accomplished before the advent of the religious Right or the conservative commentariat. Nixon hadn’t been president 60 days when he began hounding Haldeman to get busy on building a national conservative infrastructure.

Wants list re: building new establishment [March 19, 1969]

Need to build a new estab.

build our kind of people — intellectuals

do this all thru [society] –

i.e. business community etc.     [May 1, 1969]

Try to mobilize 8 like [Ross] Perot –

to buy [a TV] network [August 5, 1969]

develop a money group for the future

expand our lists –

don’t just keep asking the same people

develop our own establishment

across the country [February 4, 1970]

build our establishment –

press, acad, business, labor  [Aug-      ust 8, 1970]

have to build our own estab.

we’re in a deadly battle w/ estab.     on many fronts

press, civil rights, education, political . . .

E[hrlichman] shld shape policies . . .

to move our way [August 9, 1970]

Nixon, in short, saw the future, the need for a kind of counterculture to the counterculture, and he did much to create it.

Yes, besides declaring himself a Keynesian, Nixon joined the Watergate cover-up. But it should be noted that Nixon’s involvement in Watergate commenced much later than is commonly recounted; that his actions were predicated on false information fed to him by John Dean, his deeply complicit and inherently untrustworthy counsel; and that the conspiracy was one whose origins Nixon never fully grasped and whose byzantine layers and players he never mastered.

Indeed, Nixon’s ineptitude in Watergate spoke to his inexperience in such grimy precincts. “Maybe,” he shrugged, during a typically desultory discussion of money laundering, “it takes a gang to do that.” Paradoxically, this justified his removal from power: Any chief executive who cannot accomplish the necessary rounding up of a relatively trivial sum of cash, for the benefit of former and current CIA men whose silence would greatly benefit the national security, is simply not up to the job. One imagines Bill Clinton dispensing with the task in minutes, pausing only to inquire as to the desired denominations.

Even Dean, the president’s chief accuser, ventured during his often dishonest testimony before the Senate Watergate committee that the American people would eventually take a “balanced” view of Nixon’s legacy.

Now more than ever! And the means are freshly at hand: Easton Press has teamed with the Nixon Foundation in Yorba Linda, Calif., to reissue all ten of RN’s books — from Six Crises (1962) through Seize the Moment: America’s Challenge in a One-Superpower World (1992) — in handsome leather-bound editions. They make a fine addition to any library, but those who would profit most from reading them, one suspects, are Nixon’s successors at the helm of the Republican party.

– Mr. Rosen is the chief Washington correspondent of Fox News and the author ofThe Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate.

 

 

 

 

BENGHAZI: Documents show Stevens worried about security threats, al-Qaeda

BY: JAMES ROSEN


Across 166 pages of internal State Department documents – released today by a pair of Republican congressmen pressing the Obama administration for more answers on the Benghazi terrorist attack – slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and the security officers assigned to protect him repeatedly sounded alarms to their superiors in Washington about the intensifying lawlessness and violence in Eastern Libya, where Stevens ultimately died.


 


On September 11 – the day Stevens and three other Americans were killed – the ambassador signed a three-page cable, labeled “sensitive,” in which he noted “growing problems with security” in Benghazi and “growing frustration” on the part of local residents with Libyan police and security forces.  These forces the ambassador characterized as “too weak to keep the country secure.” 


 


In the document, Stevens also cited a meeting he had held two days earlier with local militia commanders.  These men boasted to Stevens of exercising “control” over the Libyan Armed Forces, and threatened that if the U.S.-backed candidate for prime minister were to prevail in Libya’s internal political jockeying, “they would not continue to guarantee security in Benghazi.” 


 


Roughly a month earlier, Stevens had signed a two-page cable, also labeled “sensitive,” that he entitled “The Guns of August: Security in Eastern Libya.” Writing on August 8, the ambassador noted that in just a few months’ time, “Benghazi has moved from trepidation to euphoria and back as a series of violent incidents has dominated the political landscape…The individual incidents have been organized,” he added, a function of “the security vacuum that a diverse group of independent actors are exploiting for their own purposes.”


 


“Islamist extremists are able to attack the Red Cross with relative impunity,” Stevens cabled. “What we have seen are not random crimes of opportunity, but rather targeted and discriminate attacks.” His final comment on the two-page document was: “Attackers are unlikely to be deterred until authorities are at least as capable.”


 


By September 4, Stevens’s aides were reporting back to Washington on the “strong Revolutionary and Islamist sentiment” in the city.


 


Scarcely more than two months had passed since Stevens had notified the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and other agencies about a “recent increase in violent incidents,” including “attacks against western [sic] interests.” “Until the GOL [Government of Libya] is able to effectively deal with these key issues,” Stevens wrote on June 25, “the violence is likely to continue and worsen.”


 


After the U.S. consulate in Benghazi had been damaged by an improvised explosive device, earlier that month, Stevens had reported to his superiors that an Islamist group had claimed credit for the attack, and in so doing, had “described the attack as ‘targeting the Christians supervising the management of the consulate.”


 


“Islamic extremism appears to be on the rise in eastern Libya,” the ambassador wrote, adding that “the Al-Qaeda flag has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities…”


 


The documents also contain evidence that the State Department’s denials of requests for enhanced security in Benghazi in the months leading up to 9/11 may have contributed to the ability of the attackers to plan their assault on the consulate and annex grounds without being detected.


 


“I’ve been placed in a very difficult spot,” said Eric A. Nordstrom, the regional security officer who testified before a House hearing last week, in a February 12 email to a colleague, “when the ambassador [Gene Cretz, at that time] that I need to support Benghazi but can’t direct MSD [a mobile security detachment] there and been advised that DS [Diplomatic Security] isn’t going to provide more than 3 agents over the long term.”


 


“DS is hesitant to devout [sic] resources and as I indicated previously, this has severely hampered operations in Benghazi,” wrote Karen Keshap, a State Department manager, to main State in Washington the day before.  “That often means that DS agents are there guarding a compound with 2 other DOS [Department of State] personnel present.  That often also means that outreach and reporting is non-existent.” 


 


Earlier that day, February 11, a colleague of Keshap’s, Shawn P. Crowley, had apologized to her and other officials in an email for “being a broken record” on the subject of inadequate security in Benghazi.  Crowley added: “[T]omorrow Benghazi will be down to two [DS] agents….This will leave us unable to do any outreach to Libyan nationals…and we will be extremely limited in the ability to obtain any useful information for reporting.”


 


These exchanges followed a dire report to top DS officials a few days earlier from Nordstom.  In a February 1 memorandum, the officer warned that “Al-Qaida affiliated groups, including Al-Qaida In the Islamic Magreb (AQIM), and other violent extremist groups are likely to take advantage of the ongoing political turmoil in Libya.  The U.S. Government remains concerned that such individuals and groups…may use Libya as a platform from which to conduct attacks in the region.”


 


By February 20, Nordstrom was noting the easy access that neighborhood militias enjoyed to “military grade weapons, such as RPGs and vehicle mounted, crew-served machine guns or AA weapons (23mm),” as well as “AK-47s, heavy weapons, and vehicle mounted weapons.”


 


In the days leading up to 9/11, warnings came even from people outside the State Department.  A Libyan women’s rights activist, Wafa Bugaighis, confided to the Americans in Benghazi in mid-August: “For the first time since the revolution, I am scared.”


 


The documents were released by two lawmakers who have been active in probing the Benghazi case, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).  In a letter to President Obama, dated October 19 and accompanied by the documents, the lawmakers faulted the administration both for providing inadequate security before 9/11, and for allegedly obfuscating the nature of the events on 9/11.


 


“Multiple warnings about security threats were contained in Ambassador Stevens’ own words in multiple cables sent to Washington, D.C., and were manifested by two prior bombings of the Benghazi compound and an assassination attempt on the British ambassador,” the congressmen wrote.  “For this administration to assume that terrorists were not involved in the 9/11 anniversary attack would have required a willing suspension of disbelief.”


 


 


At the State Department briefing today, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declined to comment on published reports alleging that an official working for the Central Intelligence agency had informed the Obama administration on September 12 that the Benghazi murders were an act of terrorism.

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