Sunday, May 10, 2009

General James L. Jones' Banner Day

President Obama's National Security Adviser used his time on television to clarify issues, while muddying others. Here's a rundown. On Israel:

"We understand Israel's preoccupation with Iran as an existential threat. We agree with that."
Great timing for Iran's upcoming election. How does such language impact reformer candidates' chances of winning the Iran's Presidency?

On Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

Jones said he does not know if the policy, known as "don't ask, don't tell," will be overturned, and indicated a cautious approach.

"We have a lot on our plate right now. It has to be teed up at the right time ... to do this the right way," Jones said on the ABC program "This Week."

Asked if the policy will be overturned, Jones said, "I don't know. ... The president has said that he is in favor of that. We'll just wait. We'll have to wait and see."

How hard is it to remove a disciplinary policy? The military already does outstanding diversity training.

On Guantanamo:

Hundreds of people went through Guantanamo and were released. Many of those are back on the battlefield right now waging war against us again.
Did the Pentagon ever get that return to the battlefield number resolved? Was it 5, 18, over 30, dozens, or many of hundreds? One might expect General Jones to know the official number.

On Afghan President Karzai's request that U.S. stop air strikes on villages:

I think that we're going to take a look at trying to make sure that we correct those things we can correct, but certainly to tie the hands of our commanders and say we're not going to conduct air strikes, it would be imprudent.
Stop summary executions? It's called collateral damage. The U.S. knows full well innocents will be killed by drone fired missiles or bombing runs. It takes the edge off by saying the U.S. doesn't target innocents. Horse hockey!

On intelligence on Osama bin Laden (this is almost Bush worthy):

JONES: I think the best intelligence is that we gauge our reaction based on what intelligence we have. And it is inconclusive. Secondly, we wait and see how long it has been before we've seen him actually make a statement, release a video, and make our judgments on that.

The truth is, I don't think anybody knows for sure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me ask you about that, because we saw some audio tapes from Osama bin Laden in both January and March of this year, and it's my understanding that U.S. intelligence thought that those were authentic.

JONES: Mm-hmm.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what has changed since then to make the intelligence inconclusive?

JONES: Well, as of March, they thought it was authentic, but we don't have any firm information that says that that has changed one way or the other. So I think we'll just continue to press on and we'll see what happens there.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What does your gut tell you?

JONES: I -- my gut -- I would like to know conclusively if that's not the case. And I think we have that evidence.

Gut evidence! Beautiful...put the man in charge!

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