I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Learning and learning and learning

Here is President Bush, yesterday, celebrating the oh-so-promising status of our attempts to train Iraqi troops into self-sufficiency:

Progress by the Iraqi security forces has come, in part, because we learned from our earlier experiences and made changes in the way we help train Iraqi troops. When our coalition first arrived, we began the process of creating an Iraqi Army to defend the country from external threats, and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to help provide the security within Iraq's borders.

The civil defense forces did not have sufficient firepower or training -- they proved to be no match for an enemy armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. So the approach was adjusted. Working with Iraq's leaders, we moved the civil defense forces into the Iraqi Army, we changed the way they're trained and equipped, and we focused the Army's mission on defeating those fighting against a free Iraq, whether internal or external.

And here is President Bush, back on May 24, 2004 -- almost a year-and-a-half ago -- saying virtually the same thing:

In some cases, the early performance of Iraqi forces fell short. Some refused orders to engage the enemy. We've learned from these failures and we've taken steps to correct them.

Successful fighting units need a sense of cohesion so we've lengthened and intensified their training. Successful units need to know they are fighting for the future of their own country, not for any occupying power. So we are ensuring that Iraqi forces serve under an Iraqi chain of command.

Successful fighting units need the best possible leadership. So we improved the vetting and training of Iraqi officers and senior enlisted men. At my direction and with the support of Iraqi authorities, we are accelerating our program to help train Iraqis to defend their country.

The great improvements we made in training Iraqi forces, which Bush was lauding back in May of 2004, haven't resulted in a self-sufficient Iraqi military a-year-and-a-half later. Not even close.

Why would anyone believe that these same exact promises made yesterday, expressed with virtually identical verbiage, will suddenly be fulfilled?

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