Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, is a senior reporter for The Washington Independent.

Recent Articles

LIBERALS DON'T TAKE THEIR OWN SIDES IN AN ARGUMENT.

LIBERALS DON'T TAKE THEIR OWN SIDES IN AN ARGUMENT. About our preemptive who-lost-Iraq back and forth, I have to say Scott makes an excellent point . Of course the right will blame liberals, the press, the public, etc., for losing the war -- especially if it's a war the right prosecuted exclusively. My concern is that, right now, it's precisely the neoconservative project that bears the exclusive blame for the war, and in the broader sense of the public, my guess is that most people think it's Bush 's war, full-stop. As liberals, with a better answer to the pressing challenges of national security, we owe it to ourselves to make sure it stays that way. Scott is surely right that the conservatives will shift the blame. But we shouldn't forget how readily we as Americans don't want to accept having lost a war. It was a mere five years between the fall of Saigon and the return-to-glory election of Ronald Reagan , who successfully peddled the noble-cause myth -- and remember, Vietnam was...

SISTANI GETS HIS HANDS DIRTY.

SISTANI GETS HIS HANDS DIRTY. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim has evolved politically, and he has a plan. In short, he seeks to form an anti-Sadr government of "national unity" between his SCIRI party and their Shiite bandwagoners; the largest Sunni party; and the Kurds. Left out in the cold are all the rejectionists -- the hardcore anti-occupation Sunnis; the more intransigent Sunni political bloc, led by Saleh Mutlaq ; and Moqtada al-Sadr and his Shiite satellites, including PM Nouri al-Maliki . Now, according to The New York Times , Hakim has the backing of the once-indispensable Shiite figure, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Well, sort of. Sistani loudly withdrew from day-to-day politics last year, recognizing that he was diminishing his influence by association with a government that couldn't deliver anything. According to the Times , he's backing the Hakim faction out of frustration with the civil war. You might be surprised to learn I think this is fraught with peril for Sistani! The...

MOVEON HAS INFILTRATED THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF.

MOVEON HAS INFILTRATED THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF. Bush wants to "surge" up to 30,000 combat forces into Iraq for six to eight months. The Joint Chiefs of Staff say no. And take a look at their argument : The Pentagon has cautioned that a modest surge could lead to more attacks by al-Qaeda, provide more targets for Sunni insurgents and fuel the jihadist appeal for more foreign fighters to flock to Iraq to attack U.S. troops, the officials said. The informal but well-armed Shiite militias, the Joint Chiefs have also warned, may simply melt back into society during a U.S. surge and wait until the troops are withdrawn -- then reemerge and retake the streets of Baghdad and other cities. Notice that this argument isn't merely an argument about a surge. Its logic applies to the entire combat mission in Iraq. (And if you think the "training mission" entails a lack of U.S. combat, there's a bridge I might be able to interest you in.) Apparently after six years of Rumsfeld -enforced docility,...

IRAQ: GROTESQUER AND GROTESQUER.

IRAQ: GROTESQUER AND GROTESQUER. Sam sounds a powerful call in his last post : While Reid's line on this, taken word for word, is quite logical and in keeping with his call for withdrawal, I too must admit to yearning for a cessation of all deliberate ambiguities and bank-shot calculations in Democrats' stated reactions to the president's Iraq plans, now that the policy direction under discussion is set so squarely in the face of overwhelming public opinion, as well as basic humanity. Of course I'm sympathetic to this. But I don't want to see the right succeed at hoisting the albatross of the lost Iraq war around the left's neck. That will get us two, three, many Iraqs. It goes a little something like this (hit it): Democrats take over Congress in 2007. Bush begins a troop increase, allegedly in the name of bringing the war to a desirable conclusion. It has all sorts of anticipated ill effects: increased deaths, increased chaos, mounting strain on the military. Bush demonstrates no...

SCHOOMAKER: I AM NOT A SHILL!

SCHOOMAKER: I AM NOT A SHILL! I caused a bit of a kerfuffle on my blog today when I suspected General Peter Schoomaker , the Army's chief of staff, of shifting his views on whether or not the Army is breaking under the strain of current deployment to suit the tenure -- and now departure -- of Donald Rumsfeld. After I wrote the post, I spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Gary Kolb, Schoomaker's spokesman, who "absolutely" denied that pleasing Rumsfeld played any role in his shifting stance on the health of the Army. "I'll personally vouch that General Schoomaker will tell you what's on his mind, and he'll be blunt and candid," Kolb told me. Kolb emphasized that what Schoomaker is worried about is the Defense Department's policy regarding how long after a deployment a National Guard or Army Reserve unit can be certified as fit to redeploy, without what's called "cross-leveling" -- that is, taking soldiers from other units to get the full unit back up to deployment readiness. And in Schoomaker...

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