warrantless wiretapping is not really an accurate description, but i'll accept it since that's what it has been called. 1st, it was not a new policy, but it was badly in need of updating due to advances in technology. presidents since lincoln have used this method of intel gathering. it was limited, to our detriment, by congress later. the problem with any regulation, or deregulation is that it's use and abuse and in the hands of the current admin. as pointed out, the obama admin has not only kept, but expanded on some patriot act provisions. must be driving the NYT gang nuts! what are they to say?
my view on iraq has evolved. i was not in favor of that war at the time, even though it was totally justified under previous agreements and international law. i thought we should concentrate our attacks on afghanistan. after much study and after my brother has (by his choice) worked in afghanistan for 4 years, i believe my original assessment was incorrect.
first afghanistan: it is a s***t hole. fighting can only be done 6 months out of the year. the other six months, the enemy holes up and resupplies to come out just as strong in the spring. it is tribal. there is no way to "win hearts and minds". the people will always go with whomever offers the best deal. we call their government corrupt, but to them, it is the way things have always been done. we can not out spend radical islamists, neither can we out-terrorize the population. there is a way to win, but it would require flattening both afghanisan and parts of packistan. for a number of reasons, that is not wise or practical, not to mention that no leader has the stomach for it.
iraq: it needed to be done. it should have been done in the 90's but it was fortunate for us that it was left. there are limited ways to fight a war. you can overwhelm the enemy. you can outlast them. you can assassinate the leaders. you can make them fight on your terms. logistics in afghanistan made the 1st 3 next to impossible. the last was to make them come fight us in a place better suited to our capabilities.
in any organization there are many foot soldiers, a good number of middle management who would really like to be in charge, and the real leaders. by drawing AQ into iraq, we degraded their leadership in a way we could not have done in afghanistan. we did not get osama, but he is their messianic leader, not their tactical leader. those middle management tactical leaders that were captured in iraq gave us good intel to capture and kill many others including some of the higher level leaders. while we were keeping many occupied in iraq, we were able to work the intel and capture/kill many others. http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/profiles/al-qaeda_leadership_losses.htm
do i think mistakes were made in iraq? yes. does that happen in every war? yes. we fight based on what we have learned in previous wars, but the last war is never the same as the next war.
the problem we have now is that we have muddled the mission and changed the rules of engagement. until we get that part straight, we have no business throwing more kids at afghanistan. are we fighting a war, or are we nation building in a country that does not consider itself a nation? the taliban is nothing to us. we do not need to fight them. we only need to make sure they do not give shelter to international terrorists. we can do that with the odd well placed bomb.
in the mean time, we have degraded once again our intel gathering capabilities. we have an internationally active enemy and we are fighting like school kids.
that's my short version :-)
BTW, i am not a republican. i am a conservative. i owe allegiance to no party, only to ideals.....not to be confused with ideas :-)