I would like to speak today about quail hunting, specifically its connection to Iraq and international politics.

OK, OK, get it out of your system - the reference to the vice president and that unfortunate incident in Texas. I'm not talking about that, nor about Dan Quayle, remember him? But please go ahead and get it out of your system so we can get on to the real issue. Ready? One, two, three. BWWWAaaaaahahaha, BWWWAaaaaahahaha. Yeah, good joke, I saw it too.

Right. Now what I am talking about is what happens when a predator in the wild comes too close to a nesting quail. The quail invariably sees the predator first, because it is hidden and eternally vigilant.

As soon as the quail is certain that the predator is heading straight to the nest, it slips into the brush, then appears a short distance away directly in the predator's sight and creates a commotion, appearing to be injured. This gets the predator's attention, and it begins stalking the quail figuring it has an easy meal.

But when the predator gets within striking distance the quail miraculously regains its flight abilities and flies away from the nest, landing within the predator's sight, again feigning injury. The predator resumes stalking, further from the nest all the time. This ruse is repeated as often as necessary until the predator has been led far away, at which time the quail "recovers" and by a circuitous route returns to the nest.

Now let's talk about Iraq. In 2001, more than two decades of increasingly devastating terrorist strikes against the US and the free world by Islamo-fascist extremists culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, leaving nearly 3,000 people dead in a matter of two hours, and thousands more injured. Unfortunately, the previous two decades had been marked not by eternal vigilance, but by a form of denial whereby Americans maintained a false sense of security, thinking the battle would never be joined on our shores.

Rather than guarding our own nest, America also conducted a futile and ill-conceived search for a latter day Wyatt Earp who would hit the terrorists over the head with his pistol and throw them into the hoosegow for the night to teach them the error of their ways - the law enforcement vs. military option.

Didn't work.

We finally responded to the 9-11 attacks by taking the fight straight to the terrorists' lair, Afghanistan, and put a beating on most of those directly responsible. But some of them slipped away to Iraq, where they were given sanctuary, medical treatment where necessary, and aid to begin rebuilding their terrorist network prior to launching new strikes against us.

But this time, we went to Iraq, where we have been playing the wounded quail for three years. Instead of flying further away when the predators come near, however, we draw them into a fight where we kill them by the thousands. We have in effect drawn the predators far from the nest, but unlike the quail that can use only flight in its defense, we unleash our military on them.

Some say we don't have enough troops in Iraq and that we should have sealed off all of Iraq's borders, and formed a police force to patrol all of Iraq's cities. Aside from the fact that those tactics would have required millions of troops (just check the length of Iraq's borders with Iran and Saudi Arabia for example)it would have been such an overwhelming show of force that the terrorists would have avoided direct confrontation and adapted their tactics to ambush us elsewhere.

Although casualty figures are often cited by critics of the present policy as reason why we shouldn't be in Iraq, those figures actually show that our troops are far better armed, trained, and equipped than the terrorists, and far, far more capable. Yet, the terrorists see the whining on the home front, and continue to stalk, thinking that just by showing up we will fold and they will have an easy meal.

Rather than folding under the criticism of people who know nothing about warfare, street fighting or quail hunting, America has continued the fight in Iraq and has continued to draw the extremists into our trap where they are captured or killed.

I have said in the past, and will continue to say, that I feel every death of every American service member as I would my own family, and as I did the deaths of my fellow Marines in Vietnam. But I also know that if we weren't there, creating just enough of an impression of vulnerability to the Islamo-facists that they continue to confront us, and continue to die, they most certainly would have attacked us on our shores again by now.

When they come at us again, it will be with biological or chemical weapons, you can count on it. A more remote likelihood, for the time being, is the use of a nuclear weapon. But whichever weapon is used, the extent of the devastation will be biblical in scope.

To prevent this, we must continue to draw the terrorists away from our nest, even if it means fighting them in someone else's country. I expect that in time the Iraqi people will come together to stop their attacks against each other, and will kill or expel the outsiders who come to their country to build bombs and murder innocents.

By then, the toll on the terrorists and their organization will have been devastating. By then, we can only hope that America's politicians, as well as the public, will understand that our shores will never again be totally safe, and we must always guard over the nest.

Did the NY Times Get Suckered on the NIE Report?

Did they? Who cares? Some say the Times printing a partial except from a six-month old National Intelligence Estimate report, and inaccurately portraying its conclusions, was a stroke of genius and malice, either by someone in the intelligence community or presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Again, who cares? The Times screwed up royally because of its zealotry and its blind impatience to sink the Bush Administration.

When I was an investigative reporter we were required to confirm all controversial information not only by complete documentation, but also by three independent sources who would verify its legitimacy.

Obviously the Times has long since forgotten the tenets of good investigative journalism. The NIE report didn't say that the war in Iraq has caused an increase in global terrorism, as the Times claimed, and if it had every thinking journalist in America should have jumped all over it as being implausible.

OK, we don't have that many thinking journalists, point taken. Nonetheless, in days gone by, that story would never have seen the light of day without being checked and counter-checked at multiple levels throughout the Times system, including its lawyers.

But the extremism that is so evident in that paper is and will be its downfall. Some in Washington now say that Rove deliberately leaked a part of the report knowing the Times would leap on it and print anything that is unflattering to President Bush.

But President Bush released all the report's conclusions yesterday, which still doesn't satisfy his critics, and now Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid wants all of it released, including the parts that show what methods we use and the sources of our information. Breach of national security here, just plain stupidity, or both?

And another Democratic leader on the Intelligence Committee says she "heard" that another report is floating around somewhere that the White House won't release because it says what the report that was just declassified was alleged to have said in the NY Times story on Sunday.

This is a true conspiracy theory in the making.

As far as I am concerned, the Times reaped the fruits of its own labors. It abandoned all the provisions of solid investigative journalism, and if it further loses prestige, readers and advertisers, tough. The Times got what it asked for and whether it was a genius of a move by Karl Rove or just sloppiness by the Times is irrelevant.