Friday, August 24, 2012

Eid Makes for a Quiet Week

The Muslim world finished up Ramadan just as I returned from leave.  The Eid celebration that followed it was supposed to last three days.  Yeah.  Just like we would have in the US, Afghans managed to stretch it out over a whole week.  Over at the District Center, there were a couple of parties with bands and food and lots of chai and good times.  All offices were closed, meetings cancelled, and lots of people went to wherever "home" was.  As a result, I was able to play catchup without falling further behind.  A pretty quiet week.

I hit the gym the first morning back.  I weighed in, expecting to have gained a few pounds during R&R, but found I hadn't gained an ounce.  Cool!  But I've been exercising every day anyway, taking it easy at first and then upping the strain.  Part of the reason is to try to work off a few more pounds before this tour is over.  Another part is that I've still been waking up at ridiculous hours in the morning, so what else is there to do?  I was in the gym this morning and one soldier was putting all the rest of us to shame.  He was on the leg press and kept adding more and more weights until, finally, he was pushing 880 pounds.  I couldn't believe it.  There I was, sweating away with my measly squats (no extra weights), and he's pushing five of me around.

This week, I learned that there's a Canadian combat artist in southern Afghanistan.  Richard Johnson is on his fourth trip in-country.  His articles and drawings are being published in the National Post newspaper based in Ontario.  He was at KAF at the same time I was, although I didn't know it.  His drawings and writeup are really good and I highly recommend taking a look.

Two bits of news today really sucked.  One was that former Ambassador Ryan Crocker was arrested on a DUI hit-and-run last week.  Crocker has done an amazing job for the US as Ambassador to Pakistan, then Iraq, and then Afghanistan.  Any one of those would have required a superhuman effort from a normal guy, and the fact that he did all three of them, and so well, is unbelievably impressive.  He left Afghanistan early due to some unspecified, but serious, health issues.  This DUI is not excusable, but it pales in significance to what he has done for this country.

The other bit of bad news is the retired SEAL who's publishing a memoir of the Bin Laden raid.  That's just plain wrong.  All of us on government service sign an agreement that we will submit any manuscripts that might contain classified information for a security review.  That's a normal requirement that's been around for many decades.  I signed the agreement.  This guy, though, didn't live up to his obligation.  Especially for somebody involved in the actions of SEAL Team 6 in general and the Bin Laden raid in particular, there is a lot of highly classified information involved and, no matter how careful he is, he's probably going to spill some of it. If he does, I think he should be brought back on active duty and court-martialled.  My message to him and everybody else on active duty (military and civilian): follow your obligations and don't put your teammates and other soldiers in danger.

To cap it off, this morning Fox News, that bastion of right-wing military adventurism, outed the guy, publishing his name for all the world to know.  Now why in the hell did they do that?  They just endangered him, his family, his friends, and his teammates, all to sell newspapers or TV spots.  Now, granted, the ex-SEAL team guy endangered himself by writing the book in the first place, but he used a pseudonym for himself and his buddies.  Now his cover is blown and it won't take much investigative work to find the real identities of some of the rest.  Way to go, Fox News: where money comes before country.

Had the name been published by MSNBC or the New York Times, I bet there would have been a huge outcry from the right.  So far, I haven't heard anything.  I'm waiting.


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