- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Surge movie

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) on Monday premiered a film to showcase the success of President George W. Bush’s “surge” of troops in Iraq at the National Press Club.

The film, which can be seen at www.understandingthesurge.org, explains the events that fueled violence in Iraq in 2006, such as the Samarra mosque bombings. The bombings appeared to be random to many Americans, but when studied by military experts had very specific intentions; namely, to terrorize the Shi’ites.

The institute’s specialists argue that American troops in Iraq were able carry out the necessary counterinsurgency strategy designed by Gen. David H. Petraeus because of the surge.

“We in Washington have trouble forming the sentence ‘the surge worked,’ and that is unfortunate,” said ISW President Kimberly Kagan.

The movie features extensive interviews with Gen. Petraeus as well as former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker about how U.S. troops built combat outposts in violent neighborhoods and gained the trust of the Iraqis to quell the violence.

U.S. Army Col. David Sutherland - who led the 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Greywolf,” 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Diyala province - spoke at Monday’s event at the press club to give his perspective on how necessary it was for American forces to assist the Iraqis.

He recalled holding a 5-year-old girl who was shot in the face by al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI as it is called by the military, because her father was a Shi’ite policeman.

“At that point, we had to become very aggressive,” he said.

And that was just one gory incident. The colonel also told film viewers, which included ISW Board Member Liz Cheney, about a torture chamber that he discovered where arms, legs, torsos and heads of men, women and children were stacked in different corners of the room.

“They have no capacity for mercy,” he said.

Hate protest

The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church took its inflammatory protests to Washington on Monday, even making a stop at the school that Sasha and Malia Obama attend.

The group, which holds anti-gay rallies across the country, was upset with the school’s support of gay rights.

Megan Phelps Roper — granddaughter of the church’s founder, Fred Phelps — posted photos of the Sidwell Friends School demonstration on her Twitter account of a fellow protester who carried a sign that read: “God is your enemy.”

But that wasn’t the only stop the group made. It also demonstrated at Woodrow Wilson High School, the Department of Education, Washington Marriott Wardman Park and the White House.

Miss Roper also posted photos of other protests, including one of her mother outside the White House holding signs that read, “God sent the shooter” to Fort Hood Army base in Texas last Thursday and “You will eat your babies.”

Going alone

The lone Republican who voted in favor of the Democratic health care bill says Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has the right to “come after him” but shouldn’t if the RNC wants to retain the heavily Democratic New Orleans seat that he holds.

And the Democrats are all to happy to stoke intraparty tensions, although Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao’s staff assures The Washington Times there are no hard feelings.

Mr. Cao, of Louisiana, the first Vietnamese American in Congress, was reluctant to vote for the bill, but after the House passed an amendment to prohibit it from funding abortion, he decided to support it.

“I have always said that I would put aside partisan wrangling to do the business of the people. My vote … was based on my priority of doing what is best for my constituents,” Mr. Cao said after the vote.

But Democratic National Committee is happily hyping that in the run-up to the vote, Mr. Steele issued a warning to people like Mr. Cao. Mr. Steele said in an appearance on ABC’s “Top Line”: “So, candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you.”

On Sunday, Mr. Cao told CNN that Mr. Steele “has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican Party would need.”

The left-leaning Talking Points Memo blog wrote a story about Mr. Steele’s comments in light of Mr. Cao’s vote that the DNC e-mailed to reporters Monday afternoon, stoking the fight.

Mr. Cao’s communications director, Princella Smith, downplayed the conflict, calling it “bunk.”

“The DNC is reaching for something that is not there,” she said. “Congressman Cao has a very good relationship with the party leadership, and they obviously disagreed on this vote, but they respect he voted for what’s best for his district.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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