Saturday, April 02, 2005

Fishing thru government intel reports for truth. Posted by Hello

Sad and true. Posted by Hello

LATimes: Europe's Boys of Jihad

"The case file of the French homeboys who joined the Iraqi jihad contains a startling photo.

It's the mug shot of Salah, the alleged point man in Damascus, Syria, who authorities say arranged for guns and safe passage into Iraq for extremists from Paris. Salah has a serious expression beneath a short Afro-style haircut. He looks as if he's posing, reluctantly, for a middle school yearbook. [he is 13 years old]"

This article is about recruitment of muslim teenagers in France for radical islamic causes. A couple of points:
-- Recruits are getting younger, into their teens.
-- Iraq is the rallying point for them, stoked by the internet and satellite tv.
-- Internet chat rooms are often the coordinating tool.
-- Syria is often a destination under the guise telling parents they are going there for religious instruction. From there they move into Iraq and become the untrained fodder of suicide bombings.

BTH Comments:
--Note again the article indicates the use of the internet as a rallying and communication tool. The prison abuse photos definitely played into the propaganda of recruitment.
--Reports in late 2004 of the declining age of insurgents and foreign fighters in Iraq speculated that this was because the older warriors had been killed or captured. This article suggests that this might not be the case; that youth are more inclined to use the internet as a tool of socialization and that teenagers are adopting radical islmanic causes as an alternative to local youth gangs.
--Also of note is the intense savagery of these teenagers such as the killing of VanGough in Holland last year by a 19 year old.

NYT: Sunni Clerics Urge Followers to Join Iraq Army and Police

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 1 - A group of Sunni Arab clerics, including some hard-line figures who fiercely oppose the American presence here, issued a statement on Friday urging their fellow Sunni Arabs to join the Iraqi Army and police.

The edict, signed by 64 imams and religious scholars, was a striking turnaround for the clerics, who have often lashed out in sermons at the fledgling army and police force and branded them collaborators."

Then when you read the fine print, its much less encouraging, but it appears that politicians are scaping for good news and seem to be painting this situation in a glowing color it does not deserve. Here's some fine print:
-- Prominently missing from the signers was Harith al-Dari, the leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars and one of the most influential Sunni Arab clerics in Iraq, who is said to have close ties to the insurgency.
-- But Sheik Abdul Ghafour also made clear that the order was aimed at regaining some control over Iraq's new security forces, not saving Shiite lives.
-- that a new police or army recruit must agree "not to help the occupier against his compatriots."

Fooling Ourselves (

"To the literature on deception in war we must now add a new chapter -- on self-deception. For that is the ultimate explanation for how the American military went to war in Iraq in March 2003 equipped with gas masks and chemical-biological suits to protect itself against weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist.

The presidential commission that released its report yesterday was scathing about this intelligence failure. It described an intelligence community that is 'headstrong,' 'too slow' and 'a 'Community' in name only.' It dissected intelligence reports that were 'riddled with errors,' 'disastrously one-sided' and that relied on information from 'sources who were telling lies.' The commission's conclusion was simply worded but devastating: 'The harm done to American credibility by our all too public intelligence failings in Iraq will take years to undo.' "

The report blamed everyone involved in the WMD fiasco except the Bush administration officials who actually made the decision to go to war. "[W]e were not authorized to investigate how policymakers used the intelligence assessments they received," the commission explained. That omission is unfortunate. If there's one thing that has become clear in the history of U.S. intelligence over the past 50 years it is that the CIA is not in fact a rogue agency. It is shaped, often to a fault, by the priorities and pet projects of whoever is in the White House. Intelligence supports policy, but it doesn't make it. ...

These secret warriors have served the country bravely, but as the commission notes, they have "an almost perfect record of resisting external recommendations." That must stop.

Spying, in the end, is about real spies. The agency's first great spymaster, Allen Dulles, made that point in his memoir, "The Craft of Intelligence," by quoting the 2,400-year-old admonition of Chinese strategist Sun Tzu: "What is called 'foreknowledge' cannot be elicited from spirits, nor from gods, nor by analogy with past events, nor from calculations. It must be obtained from men who know the enemy situation." That's precisely what America lacked in Iraq.

Panel Seeks Intelligence Culpability (

Panel Seeks Intelligence Culpability ( "The co-chairmen of President Bush's commission on intelligence said yesterday that John D. Negroponte, the incoming director of national intelligence, should take action against agencies, and perhaps individuals, who were responsible for the worst of the glaring failures to accurately assess prewar Iraq's weapons programs.

'Wrong calls and failures to correct the record we believe were so serious that the DNI ought to look at those institutions and decide specific remedies,' said former senator Charles S. Robb (D-Va.), during a joint interview yesterday with his co-chairman, retired appellate court judge Laurence H. Silberman. "

...The commission's report, in a section titled "accountability," singled out three agencies for contributing "crucially to the Iraq WMD debacle." The three made such serious errors -- and then resisted admitting them -- that the commission urged the DNI to consider actions including reconstituting or reorganizing the units.

The three agencies were the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), the Pentagon's Defense Humint Service (DHS) -- which specializes in "human intelligence" -- and the CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center, often referred to as WINPAC.

The NGIC, which does intelligence studies on foreign military equipment was "completely wrong" in concluding that aluminum tubes were not useful for rockets, thereby supporting the theory, later discarded, that Iraq acquired them to build uranium centrifuges for a nuclear weapons program. NGIC "did not pursue basic information" that could have prevented the misjudgments, the commission said, even though the subject was "at the core of [its] assigned area of expertise."

The DHS, which handles foreign-agent reports, "inexcusably failed" to rescind information provided by an Iraqi exile after learning he was a "known fabricator," according to the report. DHS then "compounded that error" by failing to notice that the fabricator's information was in Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's February 2003 speech to the U.N. Security Council.

In addition, DHS handled information from another Iraqi defector nicknamed "Curveball," who provided information, later disproved, that Iraq had mobile biological production facilities. DHS disseminated that information "while taking little or no responsibility for checking the accuracy of his reports," which originated with German intelligence, said the commission, which also labeled Curveball a "fabricator." When questioned about Curve Ball's information, DHS called itself a "conduit" for the material and resisted "the idea it had any real responsibility to vet his veracity," the panel said.

WINPAC, which handled all-source analysis on weapons of mass destruction, disseminated what turned out to be inaccurate information on both the aluminum tubes and Curveball's claims about the biological production facilities. WINPAC "showed great reluctance to correct these errors, even long after they had become obvious," the panel said.

The panel found that WINPAC analysts were forced to leave the center after they said reassessments should be circulated as a result of doubts about the accuracy of Curveball's information on Iraq chemical weapons.

An analyst who spoke out about Curveball told the commission he was " 'read the riot act' by his office director, who accused him of 'making waves' and 'being biased,' " according to the panel's report.

The commission was highly critical of the CIA's handling of questions within the agency about Curveball's credibility and why such doubts were not passed on to Powell before his U.N. speech. It disclosed that a division chief had first been told of German intelligence doubts about Curveball in the fall of 2002 and passed them on to other officials.

On the eve of the Powell speech, the division chief told the commission that, in a phone call with then-CIA Director George J. Tenet, he passed on that German intelligence had "problems" with Curveball. Tenet told the panel he does not recall getting that information.

Yesterday, Tenet released a statement disputing the commission's account.

[BTH: unless there is accountability and subsequent action there will be no correction of the problem which will be repeated]

Doubts on Weapons Were Dismissed (

... "That was one among many examples -- cited over 692 pages in the report -- of fruitless dissent on the accuracy of claims against Iraq. Up until the days before U.S. troops entered Iraqi territory that March, the intelligence community was inundated with evidence that undermined virtually all charges it had made against Iraq, the report said.

In scores of additional cases involving the country's alleged nuclear and chemical programs and its delivery systems, the commission described a kind of echo chamber in which plausible hypotheses hardened into firm assertions of fact, eventually becoming immune to evidence. ..."

President Nominates Cheney's Son-in-Law (

President Nominates Cheney's Son-in-Law ( "President Bush has nominated Vice President Cheney's son-in-law, a prominent Washington lawyer who represents companies in the homeland security field, to be the general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security. "

Friday, April 01, 2005

Video of Al-Qaida Roadside Bombing Attack Near Fallujah

Al-Qaida's Jihad Committee in Mesopotamia--led by wanted Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi--has released video footage of a roadside bomb attack targeting a U.S. Humvee in Al-Saqlawiya (near Fallujah), west of Baghdad. The group also took credit for numerous other recent insurgent operations across Sunni central Iraq, including at least two car bombings in Samarra and Mosul aimed at other passing American military patrols.

Click to view video excerpts


Major K in his blog from Iraq compares the two weeks of dehydration of Terri Schiavo versus the conviction for mercy killing given this week to Captain Mayaulet. His post is short and worth reading and some thought.

On leaving Iraq

This comment comes from Craig Smith at Operation Truth:

"The question of leaving Iraq has been a problem long before the Bush administration denied that it would ever be a problem. The question still remains how? ... The spooks know it, the top officials know it, but someone has to save face and "stay the course."

The bottom line is that there is no gold lined solution. Either we are going to have to sacrifice our men and woman and withdraw slowly, or we are going to have to sacrifice our pride, and leave this country quickly, and forever."

MSNBC: Saudi clerics still encouraging jihad

The Saudi government claims to be cracking down on clerics that promote terrorism, but that does not appear to be very effective. This article shows a video of a government paid cleric evidently advocating attacks on Americans in Iraq on television. There is a video link attached within the article.

""I praise the jihad against the occupiers in Iraq," said Sheik Ai'dh Al-Qarni on Arabic-TV. "Throats must be split and skulls must be shattered."

Another cleric says suicide bombings are forbidden inside Saudi Arabia, but outside they can be "a good thing."

"There is nothing wrong with [suicide attacks] if they cause great damage to the enemy," said Sheik Abdallah Al-Muslih, also on Arabic-TV.

In fact, in November 2004, 26 Saudi clerics published a religious statement urging Muslims to wage holy war in Iraq. "Jihad against the occupiers is a must," said the statement. "[It is] not only a legitimate right but a religious duty."

NBC News went to Saudi Arabia to talk to some of the clerics, including Sheik Safar Al-Hawaly, who signed the letter.

"It is the right of all the people in the world to push and to resist the occupier," he says.

Sheik Mosa al-Garni — who receives a government salary — told NBC News that jihad is justified because Americans are aggressors against a Muslim country.

"The terrorist in Iraq is the American Army," he says.

He urges young Saudis to go to Iraq to fight.

"If you are physically capable, don't hesitate. Go with God's blessings," he says.

The Saudi government acknowledges that none of the four clerics has been reprimanded or punished.
... The public message says, 'Terrorism is bad.' The private message says, 'Terrorism is bad only when it’s against us.' When it's against the infidels or other people, it's OK and even celebrated," says Ali Al-Ahmed with the Saudi Institute.

MSNBC: Al-Qaida Web message offers missile tutorial

"An Internet posting obtained by NBC News — written mostly in Arabic — details how to fire a shoulder-fired missile and how to overcome security measures.

NBC terrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann says it was posted five days ago on an Internet location used by Iraq's top terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. ..."

This article is far more disturbing than the headline impies. It atually goes into a discussion of shooting down civilian airliners at JFK International from a roof top. There is a video attached to the article.


When officers in Army Col. H.R. McMaster’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment deploy to Iraq early next year, their preparation for countering the insurgency will have included not only a list of arduous military readiness exercises, but also a litany of books on warfighting and Middle Eastern history. [BTH: This article gives an excellent list of reading material on Iraq and counterinsurgency along with regional politics. It is a crying shame that the administration and the senior civilian leadership at DoD did not read this series before they committed the country to a war which has cost it dearly.]

The mandate to exercise the brains of the “3ACR” comes from somebody who knows a thing or two about military history. The brigade’s troops will be led in Iraq by an acclaimed writer whose own book appears on the “must read” lists of other uniformed leaders.

McMaster’s 446-page “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam,” published in 1997, is an indictment of the top political and military leadership of the 1960s and ’70s, based on five years of research into previously classified meeting transcripts, telephone conversation tapes, personal diaries and interviews with participants. Disaster in Vietnam, McMaster concludes, was caused “by uniquely human failures at the highest levels of the U.S. government,” according to the publisher. ... [the article goes on to list a number of excellent old and new publications.]

The Middleman [investigative report on breaking a nuclear smuggling ring]

This is just a fascinating read. Throw sex into it and it would have all the components of a best selling novel.

Learn how a Israeli-South African electronics trading company and rogue business rivals/employees used to working with the S. African government now conspired with Pakistani government trading companies and intermediaries to smuggle trigger spark gaps for nuclear bombs from the United States to Pakistan through the use of little more than a computer, a modem, and an overseas bank account.” ...

A linked article points out, the big question is who was the secret source that fed the information to the U.S. that resulted in the guilty plea. My guess is the fugitive secretary with the kids she smuggled out of the U.S.

Wash. Post: Pentagon Blamed for Lack of Postwar Planning in Iraq

A study of U.S. military operations in Iraq, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, sharply criticizes Pentagon attempts to plan for the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion two years ago, saying stabilization and reconstruction issues "were addressed only very generally" and "no planning was undertaken to ensure the security of the Iraqi people."

The study, done by the Rand Corp., an independent research group that was created by the U.S. government and frequently does analyses for the Pentagon, also says the experience in Iraq has underscored the Pentagon's tendency "not to absorb historical lessons" when battling insurgencies. It notes a lack of political-military coordination and of "actionable intelligence" in the counterinsurgency campaign, and urges creation in the Army of a "dedicated cadre of counterinsurgency specialists."

The study highlights shortcomings as well in the conduct of the invasion. It cites inflated expectations at the outset about airstrikes in toppling the Baghdad government, poor performance by Apache helicopters in attack missions, delays in bomb damage assessments, gaps in tactical intelligence for battlefield commanders, disruptions in supply lines and inadequate coordination between Special Operations units and conventional forces. ...

The full Rand Report is linked here.

4 foreigners [al-Qaeda] arrested in Peshawar [Pakistan]

PESHAWAR, March 31: Four foreigners were arrested here late on Wednesday night for their alleged links with Al Qaeda, well-placed sources said on Thursday.

The arrests were made when an intelligence agency team, with the help of the crime investigation department, raided the house of one Abdul Aziz in the Azamabad area of Pawaki. Mr Aziz belongs to Afghanistan's Kunduz province.

Those arrested are Abdul Aziz; Mustafa, Turk; Sulaiman, Spaniard; and Tulan, Russian Muslim. Sources said that the intelligence personnel seized passports of the suspects, two computers, a PCO phone set, a plastic coating machine and a cellular phone.

The sources said that the foreigners were arrested on the charge of having links with Al Qaeda.

Corvallis Gazette-Times :.Many Guard returnees jobless

.: Corvallis Gazette-Times :. Archives: "About 40 percent of the 700 Oregon National Guardsmen who just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed, according to the U.S. Labor Department." ...

This is not isolated and it should not be happening. It is fixable with a little planning from the State of Oregon and the National Guard there.

Guardian -- US intelligence on Iraq chaotic and incompetent, says Bush commission

"... The incompetence described in the report occasionally descends into farce, particularly over an Iraqi defector codenamed Curveball, whose fabricated tales about mobile biological laboratories and their influence on US decision-makers were reminiscent of Graham Greene's accidental spy in Our Man in Havana. Despite warnings that he was 'crazy', 'a waste of time', and that he had not even been in Iraq at the time of an event he supposedly saw, his claims became the subject of almost 100 Defence Intelligence Agency reports and a focus of the National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002.

Most critically, Curveball's description of mobile laboratories provided one of the highlights of Colin Powell's address to the UN security council on February 5 2003, in which the then US secretary of state laid out the justification for the invasion. Curveball's story has already been told in part, but yesterday's account is the most comprehensive. ...

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Coalition Forces Holding Zarqawi Aide

"U.S. forces in Iraq are holding a senior operative of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who has joint American-Jordanian citizenship, defense officials said Thursday.

The man was captured in a raid by U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq late in 2004, said Matthew Waxman, the Pentagon's deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs."

So if we've held this man since 2004 why is it being announced today of all days and not a long time ago?

"The Pentagon announced his capture on the same day a presidential commission slammed U.S. intelligence agencies for its poor performance in the run-up to the Iraq invasion."

That's why. - Sandy Berger to plead guilty on documents charge

"Former national security adviser Sandy Berger will plead guilty to taking classified material from the National Archives, a misdemeanor, the Justice Department said Thursday" ... He called the episode "an honest mistake," and denied criminal wrongdoing. ...

Shoplifters stuff goods in their pants and socks. He wasn't honest and it wasn't a mistake. I hope the judge takes that into account and actually punishes him.

Lowell Sun: Humvees get armor -- too late for some

Peter Ward from the Lowell-Sun writes this article.

LOWELL -- The Humvee that was ripped apart by a bomb in Iraq, permanently injuring the driver, Marine Cpl. Matthew Boisvert, was different than the Humvee he was following on patrol through hostile territory.

The Marines in the vehicle ahead had put down a heavy floor mat made of Kevlar designed to protect them from shrapnel and low-flying projectiles.

But when a bomb that insurgents stuffed inside a roadside traffic cone detonated in Fallujah, shrapnel bounced off the cement road and tore open the bottom of Boisvert's Humvee on Aug. 17, 2004.

The blast eventually caused him to lose his right leg and use of his right hand.
“If I had those Kevlar blankets, I'd be OK right now,” the 21-year-old Tyngsboro High graduate said this week after a daily session of therapy at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C. “But I can't blame anyone.”

Boisvert won't cast blame.

For one thing, he said insurgents have gotten smarter, making more powerful homemade weapons that can destroy the heaviest of tanks.

Secondly, he said, Humvees weren't designed for the chores they're asked to perform in Iraq. The one he was driving was an Army hand-me-down, retro-fitted only with a bullet-proof windshield. Shrapnel from the bomb stuck in the glass. But things are improving, according to the Army. It announced that by tomorrow, all 22,000 Humvees in Iraq will finally have proper protective plating.

But the news was tempered by published reports that the Pentagon was late responding to the attacks on Humvees and slow to upgrade equipment that would better protect their occupants from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The reports also appeared to contradict the military's claim that it was producing more protective Humvees as fast as possible.

The reports didn't surprise U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan and Brian Hart, father of Army Pfc. John Hart of Bedford, who was gunned down in an unprotected Humvee during an ambush on Oct. 18, 2003.

“The Pentagon knew a lack of armor was costing American lives and it took two years for them to address the issue,” Meehan said. “It's an issue of basic incompetence. The Pentagon -- the administration I should say -- failed to plan properly for the post-war invasion in Iraq and consistently failed to adjust to the changing situation.”

One in four fatalities in Iraq was caused by improvised explosive devices, said the Lowell Democrat.

“The Pentagon reacted too slowly, but part of the problem is the administration. When you don't admit mistakes you can't fix them,” said Meehan.

The Army denies it's been slow in improving Humvees.

“At the end of combat -- around the summer of ‘03 -- the insurgency was not organized and was not attacking us in the way it is now. That began in the fall and it became more vicious,” said Nancy Ray, an Army spokeswoman, adding that to make accusations “is always easier afterwards. In advance it's really not possible to know what will happen. I mean, the term, IEDs, didn't exist then.”

On the charge that the Army failed to issue purchase orders fast enough, Ray said “up-armor” production began in Asia as soon as reports of attacks drifted in.

“I really think it was not slow. It was fast,” Ray said.

In addition, Ray said high-tech jamming equipment and other devices now allows the military to detect the presence of about half the bombs before they detonate -- a fact she said the mainstream media often fails to convey.

Meehan has lobbied for better Humvees, more body armor and cash to reimburse soldiers who paid for body gear out of their own pocket.

But some observers were confused when Meehan recently voted against a $81.3 billion defense supplemental bill, still pending, that would, among many things, authorize Congress to spend $610 million on add-on armor kits and $60 million for devices designed to jam improvised explosive devices.

Meehan complained that the bill, which is in the Senate now, contained many non-essential, non-military items he described as “pork.” Moreover, he said Congress wasn't to blame for the soldiers' lack of Humvee protection.

“The problem has always been the Pentagon in identifying the need (for up-armoring) and its failure to implement purchase orders,” said Meehan aide Matt Vogel. “In some cases, the Pentagon has refused the money or failed to request it. It's not a story about Congress. It's a story about the Pentagon.”

Meehan said it's possible he may support the bill if it's amended when it returns to the House for final approval. And he appeared irked that his critics question his support for the troops based on his position on a large catch-all bill.

“It's part of the political process, give and take. No one criticizes the president for threatening to veto the bill,” the congressman said.

Some 275 U.S. forces have been killed in both unprotected and up-armored Humvees in 2003-2004, according to USA Today.

They include at least seven Massachusetts soldiers, including Hart.

Brian Hart said his son mentioned fears about the vehicle being ill-equipped in a phone conversation exactly one week before he was killed.

In their talk, he described himself as a gunner “exposed” to enemy fire, recalled his father. “They didn't have a gun mount. They didn't have doors. There was no armor on that vehicle. They weren't being retro-fitted. This was in ‘03 and the commanders were told not to modify the vehicles.”


“Because officers were apparently penalized for damaged government equipment,” Hart said.
Hart said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed U.S. production of improved Humvees was at full capacity when it really wasn't.

Sometimes political considerations got in the way. Hart said some Humvees were being retro-fitted at “preferred” military facilities just to show base-closure officials that the bases were still useful. Meanwhile, other facilities that could have been churning out more Humvee plating were idle, he said.

“They used a peacetime procurement process in a time of war, with a callous disregard to urgency. It probably cost us a couple hundred young men,” Hart said.

Hart called it appalling that a soldier had to confront Rumsfeld, visiting U.S. forces in Iraq in December, to demand attention to the problem.

“The sad thing about it was what got publicity got funded,” Hart said.

Peter Ward's e-mail address is

Prisoners used plastic tools such as this one made from a water container to haul dirt out of the tunnel. Posted by Hello

Photo of the 600 foot long escape tunnel dug by prisoners in Iraq. Posted by Hello

Foster-Miller Talon Robot with electric grenade launcher attachment. Posted by Hello - Report: Iraq intelligence 'dead wrong' - Mar 31, 2005

"We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its prewar judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction," said a letter from the commission to President Bush. "This was a major intelligence failure."...

The commission's report said the principal cause of the intelligence failures was the intelligence community's "inability to collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions rather than good evidence." ...

GRENADE BOT BLASTS AWAY has this post on the latest in weapon toting robots. The chassis is from Foster Miller the grenade launcher is from Metal Storm Ltd. of Australia.

Those of you who found the idea of gun-toting robots a little creepy should probably click away right now. Because the Army has just finished testing out a unmanned ground vehicle, or UGV, that obliterates its foes with electrically-fired grenades.

The robot is the same modified Talon UGV that's now on its way to Iraq, to watch the back of Stryker armored vehicles on patrol. But instead of carrying a M249 machine gun, like the Iraq-bound robo-grunt, this Talon has been armed by Metal Storm Limited -- the Australian firm famous for its million-round-a-minute gun.

The robot, which recently wrapped up trials at the Army's Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, only had 16 shots. But they were big ones: 40 mm grenades. And the rounds were loaded four to a barrel, giving the UGV 10 more shots than traditional systems supply. It was enough to waste a variety of mock opponents, "including simulated personnel, an infantry carrier and a bunker," according to Metal Storm. (You can watch video of the bot in action here.) Eventually, the firm thinks it can load the UGV up with as many as 48 grenades at a time.

While Metal Storm seemed pretty psyched about how the Picatinny tests went, there was a bit of bad news for the company. The demonstrations "did not include firings from the Dragonfly DP4X unmanned aerial vehicle as previously planned because of operational restrictions on the range which prevented in-flight live fire trials being possible," Metal Storm sobbed. "Arrangements are currently being made for in-flight test-firings and demonstrations to be lhed in the next few months."

The New York Times Op-Ed: A Science-Fiction Army

"The frustrating thing about futuristic weapons is that the future does not always turn out the way people expected at the start of the decades it takes to design, develop and produce them. As a result, America's armed forces too often end up with enormous shares of their overall budgets committed to expensive toys that have little practical combat use - at the expense of more prosaic but real needs like enlistment bonuses or better armor for Humvees exposed to rocket-propelled grenades." ...

This op-ed piece in the NYTs goes to the heart of the problems with the Future Combat Systems program of the Army. A program designed in a different era for a different enemy that no longer exists. The idea that communications systems are incompatible with armor is nonsense.

The fact is Boeing which is pushing this project just sent their CFO to jail along with the second highest ranking air force civilian. Boeing knows where the money is and where it isn't.

It isn't in body armor, armored retrofit kits for trucks or humvees, it isn't in ammo or tourniquets or walkie-talkies or water. Those life and death items simply don't have massive corporate lobbying efforts behind them because they aren't big profit items. Consequently, they go missing from the field with deadly effect.

I really didn't believe the military-industrial complex talk until I saw it first hand over the last year while lobbying for better protection for our troops. Defense procurement is a big and a dirty business.

The Rapid Fielding Initiative that was so brilliantly executed to identify technologies like body armor and IED jammers, collapsed when it reached procurement. Through a lack of leadership or interest at the top, the procurement dollars weren't allocated and months of time were added to the slightest initiative. The procurement process is now measured in seven year cycles. We would have lost WWII like this. It simply fails to provide a useful function other than to defend entrenched contractors that can manipulate the system. Insurgents can react faster to our new technologies than we can field them in volume. The failed procurement process aids and abets the enemy. The process excludes numerous contractors and prevents the country from utilizing its industrial might.

The procurement process simply doesn't work anymore. A lack of courage, integrity and leadership at higher levels of the Pentagon are to blame. Also to blame is a passive elected leadership in this country that panders to big corporations and special interests over the basic needs of our soldiers in the field.

The FCS ignores prosaic and deadly threats like RPGs and armor, not because they don't kill 3/4s of our fatalities, but because there isn't any money in it. Will Rumsfeld grow two legs to stand on and revamp this project or will we be spending $145 billion on a project that is obsolete, too big to manage and guaranteed to be out of step with the future, not to mention the present?

"Mr. Rumsfeld has been a persistent advocate of lighter, more mobile ground forces, but now he needs to recognize that the Future Combat Systems must be radically scaled back. That will provoke howls from the Army brass and companies like Boeing. If Mr. Rumsfeld is reluctant to take them on, Congress needs to stiffen his spine."

Syria Moves to Keep Control of Lebanon (

"Syria is working covertly through a network of Lebanese operatives to ensure Damascus can still dominate its smaller neighbor even after it withdraws the last of 15,000 troops, in defiance of a U.N. resolution demanding an end to Syria's 29-year control over Lebanon, according to U.S., European and U.N. officials, and Lebanon's opposition. " ... The report goes on to say that US intelligence officials think Syria is behind the resent series of bombings.

Wounded Vets Tapped For New VA Program (

The Washigton Post reports on a new VA program. "Lance Cpl. Christopher Johnson lost his right arm to machine gun fire when his squad of Marines was ambushed by enemy fighters near Fallujah in Iraq last summer. Now the 20-year-old Pennsylvania native is on a different kind of mission, trying to start a new life back home and help fellow wounded veterans do the same.
Johnson, who joined the Marines after high school, is training to be a counselor as part of a small, experimental program at the Veterans Affairs Department that provides skills, work experience and the prospect of a VA job for wounded soldiers whose injuries will force their exit from the military. " ...

New York Post Online Edition:

"Officials say a terror suspect imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay is a former Iraqi soldier and al Qaeda member who plotted with an Iraqi intelligence agent in August 1998 to attack the American and other foreign embassies in Pakistan with chemical weapons, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. " ... The article goes on to say there is no indiction that he did this on behalf of Saddam Hussein.

Officials see a drop in attacks against U.S. military in Iraq

"Insurgent attacks in Iraq have fallen dramatically since the Jan. 30 elections, and the number of U.S. deaths reported this month dropped to the lowest in a year.

But the news isn't all good. Militants are focusing their attacks on Iraqi government and security officials." ... It looks like attacks are at 45 per day versus about 60. There appears to be a seasonal pattern and attacks are up year over year for similar time periods.

Study Faults Army Vehicle (

"The Army has deployed a new troop transport vehicle in Iraq with many defects, putting troops there at unexpected risk from rocket-propelled grenades and raising questions about the vehicle's development and $11 billion cost, according to a detailed critique in a classified Army study obtained by The Washington Post.

The vehicle is known as the Stryker, and 311 of the lightly armored, wheeled vehicles have been ferrying U.S. soldiers around northern Iraq since October 2003. The Army has been ebullient about the vehicle's success there, with Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, telling the House Armed Services Committee last month that 'we're absolutely enthusiastic about what the Stryker has done.'

But the Army's Dec. 21 report, drawn from confidential interviews with operators of the vehicle in Iraq in the last quarter of 2004, lists a catalogue of complaints about the vehicle, including design flaws, inoperable gear and maintenance problems that are "getting worse not better." Although many soldiers in the field say they like the vehicle, the Army document, titled "Initial Impressions Report -- Operations in Mosul, Iraq," makes clear that the vehicle's military performance has fallen short. ...

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Easter Service 2005 Posted by Hello

Reading a language translation cheat sheet. Posted by Hello

View from a car window blown out by IED. Posted by Hello

Dumpster diving. Posted by Hello

Gen. Sanchez -- Torture and Testimony

Did Gen. Sanchez make false statements to the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2004?

Exhibit A: Sanchez denies authorizing torture that was in violation of the Geneva Convention at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing in May 2004.

[SEN. JACK] REED [RHODE ISLAND]: "General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison.

REED: Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year."

Exhibit B: It appears Gen. Sanchez did indeed authorize torture using those techniques on Sept. 14, 2003 though he later amended the order. Last Friday, the ACLU obtained the Sanchez memo via the Freedom of Information Act. The Army had been fighting release of the memo on national security grounds for a protracted period.

According to the ACLU, "A memo signed by Lieutenant General Ricardo A. Sanchez authorizing 29 interrogation techniques, including 12 which far exceeded limits established by the Army’s own Field Manual, was made public for the first time by the American Civil Liberties Union today.

"General Sanchez authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army’s own standards," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh."

Oddly I am not aware of any officers being indicted for torture.

Peculiarities in Air Force Procurement

Earlier today I referenced an article by Soldiers For The Truth on the takeover of all major Air Force procurements by the Dept. of Defense. I think big and bad things may be on the horizon (hearings in Senate on April 16) that extend beyond the billions in misappropriated contract awards and overcharges resulting in the criminal convictions of the number two civilian in charge of Air Force procurement and the CFO of Boeing.

Two articles are in circulation on this issue, one by Reuters and another by Associated Press. Here are some high points:

  • The 21 key projects total $180 to $200 billion and include contracts with Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman and Raytheon Co.

  • Key projects include the Space-based Infrared Systems, High Component which just announced is over budget for the third time in three years to a trigger level which will result in Congressional notification, C-17A Globemaster II, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, air-to-air missiles, B-2 bomber radar modification, C-5 cargo plane improvement, propulsion replacement for the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile and a $18
    billion communications satellite program.

  • Virtually all civilian leadership in the Air Force involving senior level procurement has been fired, criminally convicted or resigned for various reasons leaving a vacuum of leadership.

  • The DoD stresses that this is not a punitive action but to maintain continuity in a period of transition. It also indicates that no return of authority to the Air Force will occur for at least six months. The usual oversight at the Air Force level and then at the Sec. of Defense's level will be compressed to only review and approval of the Sec. of Defense.

Mother of Army Ranger Nthan Stahl Posted by Hello

Shirley Schmunk and son. Posted by Hello

Sandra Aceves and Son. Arlington National Cemetery March 2005 Posted by Hello

Sgt. Morrison at Faces of the Fallen Posted by Hello

Tattoo of their brother Chris Ebert Posted by Hello

Rumsfeld And the Generals (

Rumsfeld And the Generals ( this summer President Bush will pick a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to lead a U.S. military that has been battered by the war in Iraq. When you ask military officers who should get the job, the first thing many say is that the military needs someone who can stand up to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. ...

"When Bush thinks about picking the next Joint Chiefs chairman, he might recall an unusual gesture by Myers's predecessor, Army Gen. Hugh Shelton, who told his service chiefs to read a book called "Dereliction of Duty." Its subject was how the Joint Chiefs failed to challenge Defense Secretary Robert McNamara adequately during the Vietnam War. It took the Army decades to recover fully from Vietnam; that's a history the next JCS chairman must not repeat."

To this article I can only say Amen. A lack of leadership and courage at the top of the military and especially the Army resulted in the denuding of our armor in Iraq and the blatant lies told by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and ultimately Bush as regards the supply and support our troops needed and did not get in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a lack of basic courage and integrity among the senior officers of the military that caused this problem. Name one general in recent memory that resigned his commission in protest or publicly criticized Rumsfeld.

My hope is that the mid-level officers in the Army take note and corrective action when their opportunity comes.

Al-Qaeda funding the return of the Taliban, top US commander says

"Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network is making fresh efforts to engineer a comeback by the Taliban and regain a foothold of its own in Afghanistan, the commander of US forces in the country said Tuesday.

Lieutenant General David Barno said the US believed both Bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar were probably still in the region, possibly on the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. " ...

"Barno said Taliban fighters were in disarray and would avoid direct contact with US-led troops, adding that he did not anticipate a "countrywide offensive".

He said that an Afghan government amnesty offer to rank-and file-Taliban fighters would "fracture" the Taliban movement and the US had indications that over 1,000 out of several thousand ordinary Taliban would be eligible.

As the weather warms Barno said the US hoped that Pakistan would continue to keep up the pressure on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda on the other side of the Afghan border.

"Pakistanis have done more than any other single country in terms of arresting Al-Qaeda leadership and breaking down their networks inside of Pakistan," he added. "

TV shows Hariri 'murder footage'

"An Arabic television station has shown a video of the moments before the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February." ...

The heart of this report is that Lebanese intelligence agents presumably working for Syria planted false truck parts in the bomb crater to throw off the investigation. -- Tanks take a beating in Iraq

"In the all-out battles of the 1991 Gulf War, only 18 Abrams tanks were lost and no soldiers in them killed. But since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, with tanks in daily combat against the unexpectedly fierce insurgency, the Army says 80 of the 69-ton behemoths have been damaged so badly they had to be shipped back to the United States." ...

This article is worth the read if you are interested in tanks. Also of note and not mentioned in the article, this time last year as Fallujah exploded, the US only at 120 tanks in Iraq and of those 70 were operational. This point is almost always overlooked by the media. The US pulled out hundreds of tanks and Bradleys and almost all M113/A3s from Iraq in 2003. This gave the widespread uprisings seen in 2004 an opportunity to succeed where they would not have if we had kept our firepower in country.

This observation goes to the heart of the battle in the Pentagon to fight the war on the cheap and is an example of misplanning at DoD. As usual no one will be held accountable except the PFCs and grunts in the field that must pay for these mistakes.

Tanks adapted for urban fights they once avoided

USA Today has two worthwhile articles on Abrams tanks. Here is one. Note the use now in urban warfare, the changes in armor and ammo as a result.

"Visitors to the Army's website on tank warfare won't find a single urban battle among 13 online practice scenarios. After all, for decades the Army rule for bringing tanks into cities to fight has been simple: Don't.

"In classic armored warfare, you bypass the cities," says Montgomery Meigs, retired Army general and 1991 Gulf War tank commander. Nearly invulnerable on the battlefield, tanks lose a lot of their advantage in urban fighting. "It's a completely different ballgame," Meigs says. The enemy "can get a lot closer to you, and he can get behind you and above you" to hit places where a tank's armor is thin.

But the insurgents of Iraq have forced U.S. tanks into Iraq's cities by choosing to fight there. Commanders consider the intimidation and firepower of the Abrams a crucial tool for putting down insurgents. When the Marines crushed insurgent-held Fallujah last fall, they brought in two extra brigades of Army M1 Abrams tanks.
Despite billions spent to build Stryker light-armored vehicles and add armor to Humvees, "the M1 tank is still the platform of choice"

FOIA Obtained memo shows Iraq jail methods authorized by Sanchez

"The top US general in Iraq authorised interrogation techniques including the use of dogs, stress positions and disorientation, a memo has shown. The document was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through the US Freedom of Information Act. The September 2003 document is signed by the then commander of US forces in Iraq, Gen Ricardo Sanchez.
The ACLU says the measures go beyond generally accepted practice and says Gen Sanchez should be made accountable. " This released memo is in contradiction to earlier statements made by Gen. Sanchez.

Pentagon has clearer view of Iraq insurgency

"'The evidence suggests the insurgency has been obviously less active in the past month than it was before,' said Vali Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and author of several books on Islam. 'It is possible to look at this and say it is weakening. But whether it's actually defeated or broken or it might be adopting other strategies remains to be seen.' "

... This report contradicts interviews of generals in the field done two days ago by Australian journalists. They report the field commanders saying that attacks continue at a consistent 50-60 per day but are increasingly targeting the less armored and more active Iraqi National Guardsmen. Its probably too soon to tell but perhaps an early indication of better things to come.

That 1,000 Yard Stare

"So haul out your hankies and read on for some serious uber-reality: ..."

This is an excellent editorial article by David Hackworth about the return of the 8th Marines via Kuwait. Its worth the read.

Hostile Takeover: DoD to Control USAF Procurement

"In an unprecedented move on Monday, the Department of Defense took over all major weapons and systems procurement programs from the U.S. Air Force in the wake of a burgeoning scandal that has already seen two senior procurement officials sentenced to prison with more investigations underway.

Last October, Darleen Druyun, 58, the Air Force�s former No. 2 procurement official, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison after admitting to favoring Boeing in several different contract negotiations before taking a $250,000-a-year job with the Pentagon�s second-largest contractor.

Following her conviction, former Boeing Chief Financial Officer Michael Sears was sentenced to four months in prison on Feb. 18, 2005, for his role in the conspiracy to violate federal conflict of interest laws. In addition to the four-month prison term, Sears was fined $250,000 and required to do 200 hours of community service. Sears had pleaded guilty to conspiring with Druyun to hire her while she was still handling Boeing military contracts for the government. " ...

The last time there was a scandal this big in the Pentagon was during the 1980s. Dubbed Operation Ill Wind, it ended with more than 60 convictions of federal employees and contractors for bribery and contract fraud. As a result, Congress passed the 1988 Procurement Integrity Act, which established tight ethics rules for federal procurement officials and, ironically, was used to put Druyun and Sears behind bars.

[time to take out the trash in pentagon procurement]

Evan F. Kohlmann - International Terrorism Consultant

Evan F. Kohlmann - International Terrorism Consultant: " (3/30/05): The Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) has released video footage of several recent military operations in and around the Iraqi capital Baghdad--including a roadside bomb attack on a U.S. Humvee in Al-Latifiya, a rocket attack on the Al-Mansour Hotel, and a bombing ambush on U.S. soldiers in Taji. In the last attack, American troops were lured to a position in Taji with a decoy roadside bomb. As the arriving soldiers attempted to defuse the first device, a second, larger hidden explosive device was detonated, allegedly killing three of them. [hopefully the links below will work, if not then go to the original link at the top of this post and access them from there. Note the routine pattern now of taking terrorist acts and then posting them on the internet for publicity. While our military tries to control the flow of information and the use of blogs by soldiers and civilians in Iraq, the terrorists are masters of the use of information for propaganda purposes. I think this is the future of warfare.]

- Mar. 23 video of IAI roadside bomb attack on U.S. Humvee
- Mar. 23 video of IAI rocket attack on Al-Mansour Hotel
- Mar. 29 video of IAI ambush bombing attack in Taji"

Al Qaeda and its affiliates: A global tribe waging segmental warfare?

"Al Qaeda and its affiliates are operating much like a global tribe waging segmental warfare. This paper describes the dynamics of classic tribes: what drives them, how they organize, how they fight. Al Qaeda fits the tribal paradigm quite well. Thus, continuing to view Al Qaeda mainly as a cutting�edge, post�modern phenomenon of the information age misses a crucial point: Al Qaeda and affiliates are using the information age to reiterate ancient patterns of tribalism on a global scale. The war they are waging is more about virulent tribalism than religion. The tribal paradigm should be added to the network and other prevailing paradigms to help figure out the best policies and strategies for countering these violent actors." ... [lengthy article]

The Counterterrorism Blog: The Case Against Youssef Nada and Al Taqwa: Will Switzerland Now Prosecute?

The Counterterrorism Blog: The Case Against Youssef Nada and Al Taqwa: Will Switzerland Now Prosecute?: "There are growing signs that Switzerland will soon file formal criminal charges against Youssef Nada and his al Taqwa bank. Switzerland may also be prepared to follow up on a similar case against Saudi businessman Yasin Al-Qadi (see my earlier posting)."

This is encouraging in that it indicates that we may be able to disrupt the Swiss financial hub of al-Qaeda after several years. Personally I believe that the CIA should ahve looked at covert operations inincluding assassination against the financial middlemen who have profited from a world of misery. Also note the use of money laundering techniques similar to the drug trade used to get money to al-Qaeda. The theme that drug/crime activity and the war on terrorism overlap continues.

Amputees Begin Returning to Battlefield - Politics - Amputees Begin Returning to Battlefield: "It used to be that soldiers who lost arms or legs in battle would be headed home for good. But more and more seriously wounded soldiers are telling the U.S. Army (search) that they want to get back to their posts. It's a phenomenon that's caught the attention of the military's top brass and even President Bush."

As laudable as this is, it bears noting that of 200 amputees only 8 have been approved so far to remain on active duty. Whether this is indicative of the entire population or not, I don 't know.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

NBC: USA Today report says Army knew it needed better protecting Humvees

This article isn't exactly a revelation but there is a video attached to it which discusses uparorming with a guy from the 1st Cavalry which is worth watching. Note his comment that after armoring they had not additional casualties in his unit. Video link.

Monday, March 28, 2005

USATODAY -- Army late with orders for armored Humvees

By Tom Squitieri

WASHINGTON — In June 2003, the U.S. Army realized that it didn't have enough armored Humvees in Iraq to protect soldiers from a growing number of attacks by insurgents. By Friday, officials expect to correct that problem by having almost 22,000 armored Humvees in Iraq — up from 235 when the war began.

Why did it take the government almost two years to remedy a deficiency that the Army acknowledges was costing soldiers' lives?

An examination of Army records, correspondence with members of Congress and Pentagon documents shows that the military repeatedly underestimated the need for more armored Humvees. Even after recognizing its miscalculations, the Army was slow to order more armored Humvees, and then transported them to Iraq from its existing worldwide supply in fits and starts. Officials also failed to take full advantage of a defense contracting firm that says it could have increased production to meet the Army's needs.

The Defense Department had assumed that armored Humvees wouldn't be needed once the invasion of Iraq was over. Original plans called for the Pentagon to pull back most tanks and other armored vehicles to reduce the U.S. military profile as soon as Baghdad fell, because strategists had projected that Iraq would quickly become peaceful. But violent attacks by insurgents, never anticipated by the Pentagon, meant that troops traveling in unarmored Humvees faced grave risks.

The Pentagon says it does not keep figures on how many soldiers have died or suffered serious wounds in unarmored Humvees. But at least 275 troops were killed in Humvees in 2003 and 2004 — one of every four American troops killed by hostile action during that period — according to news accounts, Pentagon records and figures compiled by the staff of the members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees.

It could not be determined whether those troops were in unarmored or armored Humvees, boxy-looking trucks that replaced the Jeep as the military's all-purpose utility vehicle. Armored Humvees, however, are reinforced to protect against the roadside bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons used by insurgents. In the summer of 2003, most Humvees had little armor, which made them much more vulnerable to attacks than the heavier Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Abrams tanks.

The Pentagon “thought we would be pelted with rose petals and not RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades),” says Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “I don't blame them for getting it wrong. I blame them for not understanding and adjusting fast enough, and the result is there has been a tremendous casualty list.”

Armoring a Humvee is no guarantee of invincibility.

Insurgent bombs have destroyed heavily armored Humvees and even crippled 60-ton tanks. But military personnel — from troops in the field to Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — say that soldiers have a better chance of surviving attacks in an armored vehicle.

Critics say the Pentagon was not quick enough to see the need, and then reacted too slowly.

“There was a reluctance on the part of the Pentagon to take it seriously and get as many of these vehicles as quickly as possible,” Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, says. “It was almost as if they were in a defensive posture, that to make any changes or to acknowledge any shortcomings would somehow be an acknowledgment that the planning had not been perfect.”

In April 2004, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, criticized the Army's efforts to get more armored vehicles or armor kits to Iraq, telling Army officials they were afflicted by a “case of the slows.”

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army's deputy for acquisition and systems management, disputes that charge. “To say that the Army has been unresponsive and been slow to respond is an inaccurate statement,” Sorenson says. “Everybody can be the Monday morning quarterback. … We did not think there was a major insurgency. Commanders in the theater were not asking for the vehicles. Who is to blame? I have no idea.”

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested the lack of armored Humvees was simply beyond the Pentagon's control.

When Tennessee Army National Guard Spc. Thomas Wilson asked during a public session with Rumsfeld in Kuwait last December why the Army didn't have enough reinforced Humvees, Rumsfeld replied, “You go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

By the time Rumsfeld said that, the Army had been working for almost a year and a half to gradually increase the number of armored Humvees in Iraq. But Rumsfeld's encounter with Wilson appears to have spurred the Pentagon: Two days later, on Dec. 10, the Army asked the sole company producing factory-armored Humvees to boost its production by more than 20%.

Rumsfeld declined to comment for this story.

The insurgents' weapon of choice for attacking Humvees is the IED, or “improvised explosive device,” a homemade bomb cobbled from whatever explosives are on hand — frequently, large artillery shells. The Army acknowledges that the power and proliferation of the bombs came as a surprise. “The extent and the violence of the IED, the sophistication of the IED, was not anticipated,” Sorenson says.

Each time the Army thought it had a fix on how many reinforced Humvees and armor kits it would need in Iraq, Sorenson says, another surge of attacks pushed the number higher.

But official records and correspondence raise questions about whether the Army acted aggressively enough:

•In August 2003, the Army officially increased the number of reinforced Humvees it said it needed for Iraq. Military officials in Iraq increased the requirement for factory-built armored Humvees twice that month, first to 1,233 and then to 1,407 in late August, according to a February 2004 Pentagon “information paper” and other documents.

Sorenson says the initial attacks on unarmored Humvees could have been “random” events. When attacks multiplied in the summer of 2003, senior officials asked field commanders whether they needed more armored vehicles, and the commanders at first “said they did not want them,”Sorenson says.

•In October 2003, the Army began moving reinforced Humvees to Iraq from U.S. bases around the world, where it had more than 3,000 of the armored vehicles. In response to written questions, the Army said it took time to locate the strengthened Humvees elsewhere in the world, determine what their missions were, and make decisions about whether they could be shipped to Iraq.

“Before such vehicles could be moved, the units had to be given other vehicles to perform their missions,” the Army wrote. “Shipping the vehicles after they were identified also took a certain length of time, even with everyone's best efforts.”

The Army says maintenance and transit alone took about two months. Even so, the process that began in October 2003 was not complete until March 2004.

•In November 2003, the Army officially declared a need for more add-on armor kits to modify Humvees already in Iraq. The armor plates could be bolted or welded onto existing vehicles, adding protection while forces waited for the delivery of more factory-built armored Humvees.

The Army tripled the number of factories from which it was buying the kits, from seven to 21, and the first shipments of kits began arriving the next month.

•By February 2004, the Army knew that Armor Holdings, the lone U.S. company that built reinforced Humvees, could increase production to at least 450 a month, according to a memo prepared for Strickland after a congressional briefing by a Pentagon official.

But for months, the Army did not take advantage of that production capacity. Rather than asking the company to increase monthly production to 450 as soon as possible, the Army stuck to the contract that did not call for that level of production until November 2004.

Only after Spc. Wilson questioned Rumsfeld in Kuwait last December did the Army redo the contract to push monthly production to 550. Sorenson says the Army had trouble paying for increased Humvee production, and in the congressional briefing, a Pentagon official cited “funding problems” for not pressing for more production sooner, according to the memo prepared for Strickland.

Members of Congress, including Strickland, say that's not a valid excuse. Had the Army asked, Strickland says, Congress would have provided the money.

“If at any time the Pentagon had said to the Congress, to any of us, ‘We need more money for protective equipment for our troops,' they would have gotten it that day, I could guarantee you that,” Strickland says.

The Army first asked Armor Holdings officials in the fall of 2003 whether it would be possible to increase production of the armored Humvees, according to Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group. A subsidiary, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt of Fairfield, Ohio, is the sole U.S. company building specially armored Humvees.

“We said, ‘Yes, it would take up to six months, depending on steel, the hiring of people' ” and other items, Mecredy says. “From the fall of 2003 we said, ‘Yes, we can ramp it up.' ”

Mecredy says the company had, and continues to have, a good working relationship with “my premier customer, the Army.” But he says when no request to increase production was made, he invited Les Brownlee, then the acting secretary of the Army, to the Ohio plant where armored Humvees were made to push the issue in February 2004.

During his tour of the plant, Brownlee promised workers a “plan for getting these vehicles into the hands of our troops just as fast as we can.” But the Army did not change its contract to increase Humvee production, according to Mecredy and Strickland. Mecredy says the Army never said why.

Members of Congress also say the Pentagon didn't move quickly to ramp up production. “People in the Pentagon were aware these vehicles could be produced in larger numbers,” says Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., but “they have consistently underestimated the need for this kind of protection for our troops. … Unfortunately, soldiers have been killed because of that.”

House Armed Services Chairman Hunter adds that Congress must “continue to push to provide (the troops) the best equipment and gear to keep them safe so they can get the job done.”

Sorenson insists the Army quickly rewrote contracts to build more armored Humvees. But even efforts to add bolt-on armor to existing vehicles encountered delays. Testing was needed to ensure that the extra 2 tons of armor didn't make the vehicles unwieldy and dangerous, Sorenson says. In fact, the Army is looking at a recent spate of Humvee rollover accidents to see whether bolt-on armor was a factor.

“When division commanders say they don't want the equipment, … what are you going to (do)?” Sorenson says. Had he been the father of someone killed in an unarmored Humvee, he says, “I would be as outraged as anyone. I completely understand that, and there is really nothing I can say to make them feel better.”

The outcry over the lack of armored Humvees is loudest among troops' families. When soldiers or Marines die in inadequately armored vehicles, friends and relatives ask why it's taking so long to get better equipment to Iraq.

Army Pfc. John Hart and 1st Lt. David Bernstein of Phoenixville, Pa., were killed in their unarmored Humvee on Oct. 18, 2003, in Taza, Iraq, when enemy forces ambushed their patrol using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. According to Hart's father, they were killed by the small-arms fire that penetrated the Humvee.

“My son called me the week before he was killed,” says Brian Hart of Bedford, Mass. “He said they were getting shot at all the time. They were in unarmored Humvees and were out there exposed to fire. He was concerned they were going to get hit. He was literally whispering this into the phone to me. He was right. That's how he died.”

Robotic 'trauma pod' sought - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics - March 28, 2005

While I like cool stuff as much as the next geek, it seems to me issuing $20 tourniquets, $35 blood clotting agents and some improved trauma training for all soldiers in a combat area would be a much better use of time. Providing these two lifesaving items that would likely reduce combat deaths by about 20% and would cost about $8.25 million hasn't been done. Yet we have money for a system that won't be fieldable for 10 years at the earliest.

"The Pentagon is awarding $12 million in grants today to develop an unmanned 'trauma pod' designed to use robots to perform full scalpel-and-stitch surgeries on wounded soldiers in battlefield conditions.
The researchers who pitched the Defense Department on the idea have prepared a futuristic 'concept video' that seems straight out of a teen fantasy game, showing with full color and sound effects the notion that robots in unmanned vehicles can operate on soldiers under enemy fire and then evacuate them. " ...

The New York Times > National > Some Creditors Make Illegal Demands on Active-Duty Soldiers

"Sgt. John J. Savage III, an Army reservist, was about to climb onto a troop transport plane for a flight to Iraq from Fayetteville, N.C., when his wife called with alarming news: 'They're foreclosing on our house.'
Sergeant Savage recalled, 'There was not a thing I could do; I had to jump on the plane and boil for 22 hours.'
He had reason to be angry. A longstanding federal law strictly limits the ability of his mortgage company and other lenders to foreclose against active-duty service members." ...

How a Lone Diplomat Compromised the Hunt for Bin Laden - March 28, 2005 - The New York Sun

How a Lone Diplomat Compromised the Hunt for Bin Laden - March 28, 2005 - The New York Sun: "A lone U.S. ambassador compromised America's hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan for more than two years, The New York Sun has learned.
Ambassador Nancy Powell, America's representative in Pakistan, refused to allow the distribution in Pakistan of wanted posters, matchbooks, and other items advertising America's $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of Mr. bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders." ...

Iraqi Scientist: We Destroyed Anthrax

"In early 2003, as war fever built in Washington, an Iraqi scientist faced a fateful choice.

Rihab Rashid Taha (search) could try to lower the heat by finally telling U.N. inspectors what happened to Iraq's 'missing' anthrax.

Or she could remain silent, rather than risk Saddam Hussein's (search) wrath."

It seems incredible that she didn't want to admit what happened to it because she dumped it close to a presidential palace. To think this is what wars are fought over. Incredible.

NYT: An Army Program to Build a High-Tech Force Hits Cost Snags

"The Army's plan to transform itself into a futuristic high-technology force has become so expensive that some of the military's strongest supporters in Congress are questioning the program's costs and complexity."

-- "We're dealing today with a train wreck," Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a March 16 Congressional hearing on the cost and complexity of Future Combat Systems.

-- "We're left with impossible decisions," said Mr. Weldon, a strong supporter of Pentagon spending who was lamenting the trillion-dollar costs for the major weapons systems the Pentagon is building. One of those decisions, he warned, might cut back Future Combat.

-- Army officials say the task is a technological challenge as complicated as putting an astronaut on the moon.

-- "There is a substantial gap between what the Pentagon is seeking in weapons systems and what we will be able to afford and sustain," said Mr. Walker, who oversees the Government Accountability Office, the budget watchdog of Congress. "We are not going to be able to afford all of this."

He added, "Every dollar we spend on a want today is a dollar we won't be able to spend on a need tomorrow."

-- "If everything goes as planned, the program will attain the level of knowledge in 2008 that it should have had before it started in 2003," Mr. Francis said in written testimony. "But things are not going as planned."


Sunday, March 27, 2005

Governor Romney and wife trail Major Dennis Saucier at memorial service for PFC John D. Hart October 2003 Posted by Hello

Lowell Sun Online - Iraq war still divides, two years later

By PETER WARD, Sun Staff

Brian Hart is of two minds.

He wants Iraqis liberated from tyranny.

But the war that frees Iraq already cost him dearly.

His son, Army Pfc. John D. Hart, was killed Oct. 18, 2003, when Iraqis ambushed his infantry unit north of Baghdad. The 20-year-old's machine gun ran out of bullets.

So when Hart hears politicians talk grandly about spreading freedom around the world, he quietly challenges them to sacrifice their sons and daughters for the cause.

After his son died, Hart launched his own mission -- to lobby the Pentagon to equip U.S. fighting force with body armor and Humvees with plating. Sending troops onto the battlefield unprotected constituted “incompetence,” as he put it.

Dismayed though he is with the war, Hart stops short of calling on the United States to withdraw.

“There are positive signs occurring in Iraq, but it's come at a terrible price for us and our country,” he said.

Americans, like Hart, are divided.

No one likes the human and monetary costs.

Since the war began two years ago, more than 1,520 Americans have been killed, 27 from Massachusetts
including the state's first casualty, Army Spec. Mathew Boule of Dracut. More than 11,220 have been wounded. The question is whether the war is achieving its aims.

“We're doing a lot of good over there but people have a lot of misunderstanding. Iraq had a successful election,” said Lance Cpl. Kevin Jones, 20, a Lowell Marine who has seen heavy combat in Iraq and expects to the battlefield return by year's end. “People don't always see it.”

Then again, he concedes that if people could see what's going on in Iraq, they might not like what they see.

It irked Jones, for instance, when Iraqi civilians, after a deadly suicide bomb attack, wouldn't help U.S. troops hunt down the killers.

Back in the United States, especially in northern states, he sees troop support waning.

“At first a lot of people put ‘Support Your Troops' ribbons on the back of their vehicles but I don't see that support. It's like the flags waving after 9/11. Now it's almost a forgotten thing,” Jones said.

Steve Nathanson, Northeastern University professor of philosophy, never accepted President Bush's rationale for starting the war: that Saddam Hussein developed weapons aimed at the United States.

Since then, he said the U.S. media's tilted coverage has helped foster a rosy image that the war is succeeding. U.S. media shows images of insurgent attacks but fails to convey civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. troops, he said.

Moreover, he denounced the war's costs, now more than $200 billion after Congress recently approved $81.3 billion.

“This at a time when all sorts of programs necessary for Americans' well-being such as Social Security, are being cut. It's like an open faucet for money going to Iraq. It's a disaster from every perspective,” Nathanson said. “Even if a year from now Iraq has a functioning democracy, you can't bring back all those people. I regard the war as a total disaster.”

The human and cash costs also bother U.S. Rep. Charles Bass of New Hampshire, a fiscal conservative who supports the war.

But sacrifice is warranted if Iraq spawns democratic movements elsewhere in the Middle East and if it develops a free market.

“The Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis are making every effort to work together. They understand the consequences of not doing so. The infrastructure in Iraq is better now than when Saddam Hussein was in power. And there are ripple effects in Libya and among the Palestinians, Lebanese and Afghanistan,” said Bass. “This will provide for long-term economic stability of the country and ultimately it will have huge impact on the global economy.”

Bass is pleased the United States plans to reduce troops in Iraq from 160,000 to 135,000 later this year as pro-U.S. Iraqi forces ramp up.

“It will be hard (for Iraqis) to be mad at Americans when you're safe and have a job,” Bass said.

But retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University, said the war has intensified anti-American feeling in the region and helped boost recruitment of terrorists.

Had the United States left Iraq sooner, this could have been avoided, he said.

Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran, believes Bush damaged the military.

“Our forces are badly over-stretched, So the Bush administration made a basic decision to liquidate our military commitment by turning it over to the Iraqis for them to win or to lose. That's why there's been so much emphasis of late on trying to upgrade Iraqi forces,” Bacevich said.

Even so, he said “the effort will probably succeed and we'll be able to reduce our presence over the next couple of years. But whether the Iraqis are able to prevail over the insurgents is anybody's guess.”

Now, two years after the war began, some Americans may feel the war is dragging out like Vietnam.

Bass said the insurgents' suicide bombs signifies “desperation,” as he put it, and shows their defeat is near.

And besides, events after a war ends never proceed in an orderly way, said Dr. James Carafano, senior fellow for national security and homestead security at the Heritage Foundation.

He recalled Americans' patience after World War II when the allies occupied war-ravaged Europe.

“Europe was decimated too. Those were terrible conditions, millions of displaced persons, a black market, shortage of fuel, people freezing. It wasn't until 1948, three years after the occupation, that people got back to their feet,” Carafano said. “No war goes according to plan.”

Carafano said an occupying nation must accomplish three tasks:

* Prevent mass deaths, disease and starvation.

* Establish a democratic government.

* Create a stable domestic security force.

“We've completed two out of three. We're finally on track,” he said.

“Iraq's taking over responsibility, that's the real key,” he said. “What we can do to make Iraq a success is really up to the Iraqis. Can we win? Only the Iraqis can make it work.”

Feb. 13, 2004 Posted by Hello

March 04 Posted by Hello

Army says Afghan insurgent leader was killed in firefight

"A 'high-level' commander of the insurgency in Afghanistan was killed in a firefight with U.S. forces along the rugged border with Pakistan, according to an Army announcement." ...

The New York Times: Baghdad and Beirut: What Set Loose the Voice of the People

An excerpt:

"'Saddam's survival created an atmosphere where people literally got away with murder,' Mr. Mallat said. 'His removal became a precondition for change in the region.'
When the Americans finally returned to topple Mr. Hussein two years ago, and, more important, when millions of Iraqis risked their lives to cast ballots in January, the country emerged as a symbol for change across the region.

'Suddenly, there was a demand for democracy,' Mr. Mallat said.

Mr. Mallat's view, compelling though it is, is a minority one in Lebanon. Most Lebanese will tell you that Iraq had nothing to do with the popular upheaval now gripping the country, and not just because they opposed the American invasion of their Arab neighbor. Unlike Iraq, Lebanon has been a functioning democracy since 1990, when the civil war, which killed 100,000 people, finally came to an end. Lebanon's press is vibrant, with newspapers and television stations largely free to criticize the government in Arabic, English and French. While Iraq still requires billions of dollars to repair its crumbling public works, Lebanon, thanks in no small way to Mr. Hariri's efforts, has largely rebuilt itself.

Indeed, it is no accident that the main slogan of the Lebanese opposition is not 'Democracy,' but 'Sovereignty, Independence and Freedom.' The goal is to expel Syrian forces, who have been in Lebanon for 30 years.

At least to an outsider, the main difference between Iraq and Lebanon seems not just Iraq's inexperience with democracy, but its all too dreadful experience with terror. In Iraq, political discourse often seems stunted, if less by a lack of practice than by the lingering shadow of Mr. Hussein. In Lebanon, with some exceptions " ...

Closing a Peephole Into Iran

"In its scramble to marshal resources for gathering intelligence on Al Qaeda and Iraq, the CIA shut down a spy ring it was operating in South America that was providing a rare glimpse of the activities of Iranian militants and intelligence networks, according to a former agency official involved in the operation.

The program, which had taken five years to assemble, penetrated Iranian intelligence operations in South America and succeeded to the point that several of the CIA's informants were taken to Iran for religious training, the former official said." ...

US warns of ‘multiple’terror attacks in RP

Al-Qaeda-linked groups and the radical arm of the largest Muslim separatist rebel organization in the Philippines are planning to stage 'multiple' attacks throughout the archipelago, the United States has warned. " ...

FBI Admits Mistakenly Giving Man Back Secret Files He Took (

FBI Admits Mistakenly Giving Man Back Secret Files He Took ( "BOSTON, March 26 -- The FBI admitted Saturday it accidentally gave classified documents back to the American translator who pleaded guilty to taking them from the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, who was released from jail earlier this month, contacted the FBI's Boston office Tuesday after he realized agents had inadvertently given him the computer disk containing the secret files along with his personal property. " ...

Past Arguments Don't Square With Current Iran Policy

Dafna Linzer of the Washington Posts writes an informative piece on March 27, 2005, about earlier attempts, recently declassified, by the U.S. to sell nuclear technology to Iran. This was done by none other than Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Kissinger during the Ford Administration. Here are some excerpts.

Lacking direct evidence, Bush administration officials argue that Iran's nuclear program must be a cover for bomb-making. Vice President Cheney recently said, "They're already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear as well to generate energy."

Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld made exactly the opposite argument about Iran and nuclear power in the 1970s.

Yet Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and outgoing Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz held key national security posts when the Ford administration made the opposite argument 30 years ago.

Ford's team endorsed Iranian plans to build a massive nuclear energy industry, but also worked hard to complete a multibillion-dollar deal that would have given Tehran control of large quantities of plutonium and enriched uranium -- the two pathways to a nuclear bomb. Either can be shaped into the core of a nuclear warhead, and obtaining one or the other is generally considered the most significant obstacle to would-be weapons builders.

"I don't think the issue of proliferation came up," Henry A. Kissinger, who was Ford's secretary of state, said in an interview for this article.

After balking initially, President Gerald R. Ford signed a directive in 1976 offering Tehran the chance to buy and operate a U.S.-built reprocessing facility for extracting plutonium from nuclear reactor fuel. The deal was for a complete "nuclear fuel cycle" -- reactors powered by and regenerating fissile materials on a self-sustaining basis.

That is precisely the ability the current administration is trying to prevent Iran from acquiring today.

The U.S.-Iran deal was shelved when the shah was toppled in the 1979 revolution that led to the taking of American hostages and severing of diplomatic relations.

The Ford administration -- in which Cheney succeeded Rumsfeld as chief of staff and Wolfowitz was responsible for nonproliferation issues at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency -- continued intense efforts to supply Iran with U.S. nuclear technology until President Jimmy Carter succeeded Ford in 1977.

That history is absent from major Bush administration speeches, public statements and news conferences on Iran.

In an opinion piece on Iran in The Post on March 9, Kissinger wrote that "for a major oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources." White House spokesman Scott McClellan cited the article during a news briefing, saying that it reflected the administration's current thinking on Iran.

In 1975, as secretary of state, Kissinger signed and circulated National Security Decision Memorandum 292, titled "U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation," which laid out the administration's negotiating strategy for the sale of nuclear energy equipment projected to bring U.S. corporations more than $6 billion in revenue. At the time, Iran was pumping as much as 6 million barrels of oil a day, compared with an average of about 4 million barrels daily today.

Requests for comment from the offices of Cheney, Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld went unanswered.

"It is absolutely incredible that the very same players who made those statements then are making completely the opposite ones now," said Joseph Cirincione, a nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Do they remember that they said this? Because the Iranians sure remember that they said it," said Cirincione, who just returned from a nuclear conference in Tehran -- a rare trip for U.S. citizens now.

In what Cirincione described as "the worst idea imaginable," the Ford administration at one point suggested joint Pakistani-Iranian reprocessing as a way of promoting "nonproliferation in the region," because it would cut down on the need for additional reprocessing facilities.

Broken Trust.

Gary Sick, who handled nonproliferation issues under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, said the entire deal was based on trust. "That's the bottom line."

"The shah made a big convincing case that Iran was going to run out of gas and oil and they had a growing population and a rapidly increasing demand for energy," Sick said. "The mullahs make the same argument today, but we don't trust them."

At this point in my life, I think trust is an overrated concept.

Business Sees Gain In GOP Takeover (

"Fortune 500 companies that invested millions of dollars in electing Republicans are emerging as the earliest beneficiaries of a government controlled by President Bush and the largest GOP House and Senate majority in a half century. " ...

The Clown Show Continues from the Road to Surfdom blog

Yes! There are no guerillas! There is no insurgency!

I guess the reason I don't use the phrase "guerrilla war" is because there isn't one, and it would be a misunderstanding and a miscommunication to you and to the people of the country and the world.

Yes! There are guerillas! There is an insurgency:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged today that the United States failed to predict the strength of the insurgency in Iraq, but he defended the size of the US force deployed to stabilize the country.

We didn't stop them because the invasion was so successful and we were just so damn quick:

In an interview with The New York Times, the president said for the first time that he made a "miscalculation of what the conditions would be" after U.S. troops went to Iraq and toppled Saddam's regime in May 2003. The insurgency, he maintained, was the unintended result of a "swift victory" that led to Iraqi troops disappearing into cities and mounting a rebellion.

Hang on. We didn't stop them because Turkey slowed us down!

"Given the level of the insurgency today, two years later, clearly if we had been able to get the 4th Infantry Division in from the north, in through Turkey, more of the Iraqi, Saddam Hussein, Baathist regime would have been captured or killed," Mr Rumsfeld told Fox News. "The insurgency today would be less."

The archetypal Bush declension: There is no problem; there might be a problem; it's only a small problem; we've got this huge problem; X caused this problem.

Jazeera TV Says Threatened Over Beirut Blast Report

"DOHA (Reuters) - Popular Arabic television Al Jazeera said Sunday it had received a bomb threat against its Beirut office over its coverage of a Beirut blast, which included interviews with leading anti-Syrian politicians.

'The Saturday evening phone call warned that the central Beirut office would be bombed if the television channel did not stop its coverage of the recent explosions in Beirut,' " ...