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Top 10 Letters

"Guernica," liberal pundits, Iraqi museums, and more.

12:00 AM, Apr 28, 2003
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THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.

*1*

In her article on the controversy surrounding Colin Powell's February 5 address to news reporters at the United Nations (The "Guernica" Myth), Claudia Winkler suggests I was repeating an unsubstantiated story circulating in the antiwar movement. In fact, I based my comments on an article published on Saturday, February 5, 2003 in the New York Times ("Powell Without Picasso"). The Times article reported on plans to cover the mural the day before Powell's address and, incidentally, it contradicts Winkler's account.

--Allan Antliff

Claudia Winkler responds: Allan Antliff's letter perfectly supports my remark that some professors are less than meticulous with their sources. The opinion column on which he says he based his claims does not substantiate the assertion that Colin Powell, or his "handlers," or any other American sought the covering up of the "Guernica" tapestry at the United Nations. On the contrary, the Maureen Dowd column he cites, like my reporting, traces that action to "the U.N." It ascribes a vague interpretation of it--"too much of a mixed message"--to "diplomats." Even the columnist doesn't pretend to present the smear of Powell as anything but her own trademark insinuation.

To be clear, here is what Dowd wrote: "Mr. Powell can't very well seduce the world into bombing Iraq surrounded on camera by shrieking and mutilated women, men, children, bulls and horses."

*2*

As the individual who has oversight of the mail processing and delivery for all of our ground forces in both Kuwait and Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I was initially both disappointed and concerned by Jonathan Foreman's The Scandal of the Army's Mail). However, regardless of the reasons, the soldiers' discussed in the article were not getting their mail--a situation that had been rectified as Foreman's article went to press.

In his article Foreman discusses a deployed unit, the 54 Engineer Battalion, that experienced problems with their mail. This is a serious issue and I would like to shed a bit of light on the situation. This unit was assigned to Kuwait prior to the commencement of hostilities and during that period, it was reassigned from one major command to another and because of it, its mail had to be rerouted and delayed. Under normal circumstances, their mail would have caught up with them in a relatively timely fashion. However, for operational reasons, and at the direction of the combatant commanders, the flow of mail was stopped for the units going into combat in Iraq just as the war started. It was not reinitiated until the combat situation stabilized roughly three-plus weeks later. At that time convoys were able to go forward and the soldiers were in a relatively stabilized environment.

During the period of time the mail was being held, it continued to flow into Kuwait where it was broken down and sorted by APO (zip code) and unit. The soldiers and Marines in our Joint Mail Terminal then stored the mail in 20 foot containers that we would be able to place on the back of flatbed trucks and ship north when the combatant commanders determined the situation was stable enough for mail to flow roughly 350 miles through the combat zone. When, as Captain Watkins in his quote indicated ". . . it's not just us, the whole 3rd ID hasn't been getting its mail," he was correct and it was done for operational reasons. In the article Master Sergeant Ruehl expressed concern that mail was not delivered when units first stopped for a breather before the move to the Karbala gap. He also was right. Although consideration was given to moving mail forward at that time, the decision was made that because of the on-going combat situation, the priority would be to send food, ammunitions, and other logistics items forward. The decision was made to flow the mail forward on April 11. Since that date, well over 210 connexes (roughly 1.6 million pounds) of mail has been forwarded to our soldiers and Marines in Iraq. We currently are sending roughly 175,000 pounds per day forward. There is no question that in prioritizing the flow of mail in theater, the first priority is to move mail to our Soldiers and Marines engaged in hostiles in Iraq.