Friday, December 07, 2007

By the Numbers

After being gone for a quick vacation four days earlier this week, I returned to the office and was reminded of an “off site” day long planning session looking ahead to the last 12 months of the current administration.

First Number: 410 days -- what's left of Bush's second term.

Second Number: In 2005, the CIA confirmed that it destroyed 2 video tapes of the processes and “methods of interrogation” used on two high-ranking al-Qaeda commanders. The Agency asserts the tapes were made by top-flight interrogators as “training videos” for new interrogators. But, with a looming Freedom of Information Act request, the Agency’s General Counsel is said to have advised destruction of the tapes to preserve the identities of the professionals. Unanswered is the question of why no one -- NO ONE --in Congress, even those with the highest security clearances, was told about the tapes.

Third Number: As in the Tripartite Axis of Evil. If one is keeping score, it is plus one for the administration (Iraq regime change), plus one for the axis (Iran after the latest National Intelligence Estimate); and one undecided (North Korea) but becoming more accessible.

Fourth Number: 24,000, the number of international peacekeepers authorized by the UN Security Council to oversee the security of refugees and internally displaced persons who fled their homes and livelihoods in Sudan’s Darfur region and the border areas of Chad, Central Africa Republic, and Sudan. The 7,000 African Union peacekeepers that are part of the intervention force are on the ground because the AU originally tried to monitor events and stop the bloodshed. The other 17,000, to come from countries outside Africa, are missing in action; they never materialized.

Fifth Number: 200 billion dollars. This is the U.S. Army’s estimate of the cost of fielding the latest military equipment for the forces after the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan return home. It may be a long wait.

And at no cost, simply a reminder that 66 years ago today Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, an act that was the official trigger for President Roosevelt‘s request to Congress to declare war.

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