RUSH: Rob in Greenville, South Carolina, you’re next. Great to have you with us here.
CALLER: Rush, second-time caller dittos. Again, it’s my honor.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: Rush, all this talk about leaving Iraq is political positioning, as you’ve spoken to, and it’s simultaneously in complete opposition to two facts on the ground I’d like to point out. First, we have been building one of the largest military bases in the world, 43 miles north of Baghdad, a/k/a Balad Air Base, or it’s also referred to as Area Anaconda. Newsweek reported that there are 27, 500 landings a month at that base, which makes it only second to Heathrow as an air base in the world. Second, we’re simultaneously building the largest embassy in the world with a price tag that has been reported in the neighborhood of $800 billion. So my point is simply this. No matter what anybody says, these two things point out we’re not going anywhere. And all this talk about leaving is not real; it’s simply political talk, as you’ve pointed out, we’re positioning people in the public for the ’08 election. It’s not reality.
RUSH: No, it’s not reality, but even if the Democrats win the White House, they’re not pulling us out of there. I’ve said that. Not if it means defeat. They’re not going to have defeat saddled on their shoulders. I hadn’t heard about this base. You said this is in Newsweek?
CALLER: It is in Newsweek. I believe it was actually last month, Balad Air Base, and they reported —
RUSH: Wait. Is this a permanent air base? Because I think there are some arguments going on, the Democrats are trying to argue against any permanent base there. We haven’t started building a permanent base in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan people want us to. They’re making big lobbying efforts, unless I’m, you know, behind on this.
CALLER: No, that’s part of the point of my message, Rush, is that this base, which has basically been being built 43 miles northwest of Baghdad, it’s 15 square miles in size. And as reported in Newsweek, it is the second busiest air base in the world, second only to Heathrow.
RUSH: Yeah, but Heathrow is not an air base, you’re just talking about general landings —
CALLER: I’m talking about the number of landings per month, one landing every two minutes. And as you know, I mean you’re not exactly landing in Baghdad for the tourism.
RUSH: Well, yeah, but Baghdad International Airport is still around.
CALLER: Yeah, but I mean that’s Baghdad International Airport. That’s not this airport.
RUSH: I know. But you’re not landing at this place for tourism, either.
CALLER: No, that’s my point, 27, 500 landings a month, one landings every two minutes, you don’t hear the media talking about the size of the footprint we have put down.
RUSH: Well, but you just did, you said Newsweek has reported this.
CALLER: Oh, no, yes, I agree with that. I mean in the broader picture, as you just said, you’re a little bit behind.
RUSH: Well, that’s because I don’t waste my time with the news magazines. I really don’t.
CALLER: Yeah. No, I didn’t know about this until this weekend. I started reading about it —
RUSH: Why? Because I actually got an e-mail through a friend that I work with, who is an ex-West Pointer, and he mentioned this air base, which I had never heard of.
RUSH: Well, all right, I’m going to send the research time out and try to find this. Newsweek is hard to come by these days. There aren’t that many copies published anymore, but we’ll see if we can find one somewhere, and I want to read this for myself. It’s not that I don’t trust you.
CALLER: No. Don’t. Don’t. Again, I’m reporting what I’m reading, so —
RUSH: Well, I know, but you are a rank amateur, and I’m a highly trained specialist. I gotta learn this stuff for myself.
CALLER: This is true.
RUSH: So — (Laughing.)
CALLER: I am willing to take the title of rank amateur.
RUSH: Well, but it could prove that you are going to end up being a first-rate reporter here and rise above your rank amateur status. We all have to sometimes rise above principle.
CALLER: That ought to be good for a Gitmo T-shirt then, if I’m right.
RUSH: If you’re right. Okay. You know you’re right. Well, you think you are. Tell you what, Snerdley get his address, I got cornered into this. Don’t hang up out there —
CALLER: All right.
RUSH: — Rob, and we’ll get an address to send the Gitmo T-shirt and maybe a mug. You never know what else. Thanks much. 27,500 landings in a month, every two minutes. We’ll have to find it. It’s the first I’ve heard of this. My awareness is that people have been arguing against the establishment of a permanent base there, the Democrats have, so very rarely is your host shocked and surprised. This may be one of those rare moments.
RUSH: Well, Rob was right. He almost had it word-for-word, verbatim from the Newsweek story. It’s April 23rd of 2006. It is 15 months old, this story. ‘Balad Air Base in Iraq Evidence That U.S. Planning to Stay For a Long Time; 15-Square-Mile Mini-City One of Four ‘Superbases’ Where The Pentagon Will Consolidate U.S. Forces — New $592 Million ‘Massive’ U.S. Embassy Being Built in Baghdad — In-depth coverage,’ it says here. ‘Despite all the political debate in Washington about a quick U.S. pullout from Iraq, the vast Balad Air Base, a 15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots located 43 miles north of Baghdad, is hard evidence that the Pentagon is planning to stay in Iraq for a long time-at least a decade or so, according to military strategists. With 27,500 landings and takeoffs a month, Balad is second only to London’s Heathrow Airport in traffic worldwide, Brig. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the base commander, tells Newsweek Senior Editor Michael Hirsh in the current issue. In an interview with Newsweek, Gorenc said he’s ‘normalizing’ the giant Balad airfield, or gradually rebuilding it to U.S. military specs. The Saddam-era concrete is considered too substandard for the F-16s, C-130s and other aircraft that fly in and out so regularly they crack the tarmac. ‘It’s safe to say Balad will be here for a long time,’ says Gorenc, who feels at home in Iraqi skies,’ because we own the airspace. We own it!
You can talk about the insurgents and Al-Qaeda, but whoever owns the airspace over a country owns the country, and he said the United States owns the airspace. So, yeah. I don’t know how I missed this. It was in Newsweek, and nobody picked it up. Well, ten years is certainly not getting out tomorrow. Ten years is certainly not getting out in ’08. Ten years may not be permanent, but the Drive-Bys knew this. It just went against the template that Bush lied. Bush is failing. We’re losing. We gotta get out of there. You know, oftentimes in this program, we theorize, ‘Why the bad mood here? Why the angst if it exists,’ and everybody chalks it up to, ‘It’s just Iraq. We’re losing, and we’re the US, and we’re winners. We’re losing.’
RUSH: Martinsburg, West Virginia, this is Nate. Great that you called, sir. Welcome to the program.
CALLER: I really appreciate you taking my call, Rush.
RUSH: You bet, sir.
CALLER: I wanted to call and let you know about my experience at Balad Air Base.
CALLER: Okay. I can’t say that I disagree with the Newsweek article now because I worked for General Gorenc while I was there. I was assigned to finance under his command —
CALLER: — in the fall of ’05.
CALLER: But what I told your call screener and what I want your audience to know, is that Congress had so much stipulations on the money being spent to build up that base as to make it more of a commercial airport than a footprint for soldiers and airmen to have a long-term presence there, and my example I gave the call screener is, we wanted hard billeting, concrete dormatories for the troops there, okay? Congress had made stipulations that there was to be no hardened structures like that, no permanent presence. So we had to buy these lousy trailers that are nice because they’re air-conditioned, but that base is mortared on a daily basis. So here we are in these trailers that are no different than a travel trailer that you would set up in the woods of West Virginia, you know what I’m saying?
CALLER: And mortars come in, and there’s very little protection from that, and that’s all because the US is trying to minimize its footprint there. And when we leave, Congress wanted us to be able to tear up everything that we had put down and take it with us, including our dormitories that we are staying in.
RUSH: What about the idea that it’s being built to last for ten years to house people like you?
CALLER: Negative. No. General Gorenc said it to Newsweek, so he would know more than I had, but I would say that what the idea there is that there would be a minimal military presence there and the whole base, every expenditure on the Air Force — I can’t speak for how the Army was spending their money there — but every expenditure was under close scrutiny by my boss, who is the wing comptroller as to whether or not —
RUSH: Okay, what’s it going to be used for when we leave?
CALLER: I guess the whole idea was that it would be a commercial airport.
RUSH: Are the statistics about 27,000 landings and takeoffs a month accurate?
CALLER: Doing the math, if they’re saying 27,000 a month, did I hear that correctly?
RUSH: Yeah, 27, 500 landings and takeoffs a month, second only to Heathrow. Who’s going in there?
CALLER: There’s no way. There’s absolutely no way. From what I saw sitting out on the runway, every single day we’d have the US military. You know, we have our C-5s or C-130s coming in and out; we had permanent F-16s stationed at that base.
RUSH: Yeah, it says that here.
CALLER: But there was maybe like one Russian airline coming in. You’d see a white jet sitting out there, every once and a while. We’re talking about —
RUSH: You had commercial traffic at this base?
RUSH: You’d almost have to, for that kind of activity, for that many planes.
CALLER: There’s no way, unless they’re counting each time a drone takes off, but even then, you’d see those go out maybe two or three times a day. I mean, if we’re… There’s just no way, because the Air Force, our billeting was right next to the flight line.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: We wouldn’t get any sleep. We wouldn’t get any work done if we were sending out 27,000 flights a day. It would be impossible. We’d have to have 40,000 airmen there, and there’s only two runways at that base. It’s just not possible. So maybe they were wrong on that figure, and General Gorenc has since set them straight on it, but I’ll tell you, we’re not setting up a permanent military footprint there, or at least if we are it’s being done in such a haphazard way as we’re going to be replacing these trailers every five or ten years.
RUSH: That’s what surprised me about the call because I am familiar with this. It’s a sticking point in the Democrats. They want out of there. They don’t want us anywhere near there. You know, any time a discussion comes up about, ‘Hey, we need a permanent base there, to protect our interests, like we had permanent base in Germany,’ I’ve always heard they’re opposing it left and right. This piece in Newsweek makes it sound like all this is just for show, that we got a permanent footprint being built there — well, ‘permanent,’ ten years. Look, I’m glad you called out there, Nate. I appreciate it. The water is a little cloudier now, requiring further research from us here at the EIB Network. That’s our specialty.