Dec. 10, 2004

1. Rumsfeld Grilling

The “scandal” regarding under-armored vehicles in Iraq has begun to dissipate, due to three factors:

1) Edward Lee Pitts, a reporter for the Chattanooga Free Press Times, egged on the serviceman who raised the issue during a question-and-answer session in Kuwait; 2) Pitts is compromised in several ways. He has never seen combat and his reporting reflects the anxiety of one who has not yet faced fire. More experienced hands support his contention that life is dangerous in Iraq, but they’re not nearly as vociferous about the armor situation. His giddy memo to fellow staffers indicates a tyro’s glee at getting recognized by the Big Boys — the New York Times, the wire services, television!!! — which indicates some misplaced priorities. When he hears the first incoming mortar round, chances are he’ll be looking for an enlisted serviceman or woman, rather than a Times reporter; 3) The “scandal” is wildly misleading.


There are 19,389 Humvees in Iraq. 14,960 of them have armor. Domestic manufacturers are working full-time producing kits to armor unprotected Humvees; and they’re producing 450 fully armored Humvees a month.

Forces in Iraq are fabricating their own armor for medium- and heavy trucks because prior to the conflict, neither Congress nor the Pentagon had insisted on plating them. To this day, nobody has produced a contract for the custom-armoring of such vehicles. As a result, people in the field are using their natural ingenuity to solve the problem. Many units, including Pitts’s, have set up their own customizing operations.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has mounted a furious attempt to up-armor all its combat and non-combat vehicles in Iraq.

Most importantly, Pitts’s most recent article indicates that (a) his unit is armoring all vehicles; (b) it is using air transport to carry people who might not have adequate protection and (c) the unit does not expect heavy hostile action. Nevertheless, the coalition forces have developed a series of methods to protect convoys, including the use of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to strike potential targets; the deployment of gun trucks to seek out and destroy potential enemies; the issuance of special heavy armor to personnel traveling in high-risk zones — this would include not just the standard-issue ballistic vests, but shoulder and arm protection as well.

Meanwhile, the president and defense secretary have done the right thing: They sympathize with combatants’ desire for armor.

2. Supreme Court in Washington State

Eavesdropping is Against Law Even for a Parent, Court Says

In the hot-button court case of the week, the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that a mother may not report the contents of an overheard telephone conversation, even though the chat between her 14-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old boyfriend convicted of mugging an elderly woman — provided evidence that led to the young man’s arrest and trial. The court cited a right to privacy, which apparently is so powerful that it dominates a parent’s obligation to rear a child. In other words, the right to privacy protects the killing of unborn babies, but in some cases can short-circuit parental efforts to raise them right.

3. Christmas Stories: Your bah-humbuggery for the day.

Dickens Classic too Religious for School

A Kirkland, Washington high school principal has cancelled a performance of 'A Christmas Carol' for transparently shabby reasons, including a concern that it might unduly promote the cause of religion. His arguments don’t even impress non-believers.

Christmas in America Becomes Battleground

Here’s some more anti-Christmas hooey.

School Bans Saying 'Christmas'

And more...

School Censors Christmas from Student Performance

And more…

Christmas Show in Public School?

And more…

But will the schools permit this a celebration of drug crime and murder, just in time for the, um, festivus?

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