December 8th, 2008
09:18 PM ET

Myth of Shinseki lingers

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/08/obama.shinseki/art.shinseki.gi.jpg caption="Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki was selected by President-Elect Barack Obama to be his Secretary of Veterans Affairs."]Editor's Note: The nomination of retired Army Chief Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of veterans affairs is widely seen as an appointment with a message, since Shinseki ran afoul of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has the inside story of how Shinseki's reputation as a "truth-teller" has been burnished beyond what the facts support.

Jamie McIntyre
CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent

In fairness to Gen. Eric Shinseki, he's never said "I told you so."

But many others have elevated his now-famous February 2003 testimony to the level of Scripture.

Shinseki was right, they say, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee a month before the invasion that something on the order "several hundred thousand troops" would be necessary to keep order in a post-invasion Iraq.

At the time, that observation drew loud scoffs from then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and from his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who dismissed the prediction as "wildly off the mark."

Still, Shinseki wasn't advocating 300,000 troops be dispatched into Iraq. In fact, he said specifically that the forces mobilized in the region to that point were probably enough, and he made it clear he would have defer to the combatant commander, Gen. Tommy Franks.

"I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact requirements," he said.

But pressed by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, to make an off-the-cuff guesstimate, Shinseki said "it would take a significant ground force."


Filed under: Barack Obama • Jamie McIntyre • Raw Politics
December 1st, 2008
08:53 PM ET

Jim Jones and Barack Obama have more in common than meets the eye

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Jamie McIntyre | BIO
Senior Pentagon Correspondent

Probably the biggest unknown factor in the president-elect Barack Obama's national security team is the retired four-star general tapped to be national security advisor: former Supreme NATO commander and Marine Corps Commandant Jim Jones. CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has known Jones for years, traveled with him around the world, and offers his inside take on how Jones is likely to carry out his challenging new assignment.

One stark difference between the President-elect and his new National Security Advisor: unlike Barack Obama, Jim Jones is not a dynamic public speaker.

He stops and starts a lot in his sentences, and he’s not given to emotional or rhetorical flourishes.

It makes it easy to underestimate him.

But Barack Obama sees the qualities in Jones that served him well in his stellar 40-year career in the U.S. Marines.

As the former Marine Corps Commandant and Supreme Allied Commander, Jones combines experience as a military commander with demonstrated diplomatic skills.

I first met Jones back in 1997, when he was three-star military assistant to then Defense Secretary William Cohen.

The job had traditionally been held by a one-star general who would serve as a glorified aide to the defense chief.

But Cohen, who had known Jones since he was a young major serving as a legislative liaison on Capitol Hill, wanted someone with more juice to cut through the Pentagon bureaucracy.

“Jones knew where all the bodies were buried, and made sure mine wasn’t one of them,” Cohen told me recently.

As National Security Advisor, Jones’ role is to get the rest of the team to work out differences and minimize the number of problems the president personally has to solve.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Jamie McIntyre • Jim Jones • Raw Politics
November 19th, 2008
01:51 PM ET

How to beat the pirates? Out-run, and out-gun them!

Jamie McIntyre | BIO
Senior Pentagon Correspondent

As the pirates seemingly pillage with impunity off the Horn of Africa, the U.S. Navy has some advice: the best defense is … well, a better defense!

The problem is once the pirates get on board commercial ships, and take the crews hostages, the options are limited, and most countries or companies just pay the ransom, which only emboldens the pirates to pull off even more high-profile hijackings.

While the U.S. Navy patrols the Gulf of Aden as part of a multi-national force patrolling the waters off the coast of Somalia and Kenya, it can’t be everywhere at once.

The best, simplest answer is better shipboard defenses and smarter protective procedures, one U.S. Navy spokesman tells CNN.

“It like protecting a warehouse on land”, he says “You wouldn’t leave a warehouse full of valuable merchandise unguarded.”

And shipboard defenses don’t necessarily have to involve heavy weapons.

Attacks have been repelled by the use of fire hoses.


Filed under: Global 360° • Jamie McIntyre • Pirates
September 11th, 2008
01:03 PM ET

The story of the century, and the century had just begun...

Editor's Note: We are devoting many posts today to the anniversary of 9/11, with first-hand accounts, insight, and commentary dedicated to that day seven years ago that changed our world.

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Jamie McIntyre | BIO
Senior Pentagon Correspondent

I was just pulling into the Pentagon parking lot at 8:45 in the morning, when my producer Chris Plante called me on my cell phone. "Are you aware of what's happening?" he asked, as I was stepping out of my car. "A plane has just hit the World Trade Center." My step quickened, as I ascended the long driveway to the River entrance of the Pentagon.

Once inside, I rushed to the office of a well-connected military officer on the joint staff and found him watching the coverage on CNN. "Is there any evidence this was a military plane?" I asked.

Another reporter walked in. "Don't laugh," she said. "My desk is asking if this could be an act of terrorism."

Within minutes we got the answer when the second plane hit.