Saturday, July 09, 2005

Sunset December 3, 2004 Posted by Picasa - News - WE CANNOT SURRENDER

... "We know very well what the 'grievances' of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

FOR a few moments yesterday, Londoners received a taste of what life is like for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose Muslim faith does not protect them from slaughter at the hands of those who think they are not Muslim enough, or are the wrong Muslim.

It is a big mistake to believe this is an assault on 'our' values or 'our' way of life. It is, rather, an assault on all civilisation. I know perfectly well there are people thinking, and even saying, that Tony Blair brought this upon us by his alliance with George Bush.

A word of advice to them: try and keep it down, will you? Or wait at least until the funerals are over. And beware of the non-sequitur: you can be as opposed to the Iraq operation as much as you like, but you can't get from that 'grievance' to the detonating of explosives at rush hour on London buses and tubes.

Don't even try to connect the two. By George Galloway's logic, British squaddies in Iraq are the root cause of dead bodies at home. How can anyone bear to be so wicked and stupid? How can anyone bear to act as a megaphone for psychotic killers?

The grievances I listed above are unappeasable, one of many reasons why the jihadists will lose.

They demand the impossible - the cessation of all life in favour of prostration before a totalitarian vision. Plainly, we cannot surrender. There is no one with whom to negotiate, let alone capitulate.

We shall track down those responsible. States that shelter them will know no peace. Communities that shelter them do not take forever to discover their mistake. And their sordid love of death is as nothing compared to our love of London, which we will defend as always, and which will survive this with ease.

Don't even try to connect the two. By George Galloway's logic, British squaddies in Iraq"

Accused Pakistani woman has feet chopped off

"ISLAMABAD, July 9 (Reuters) - A Pakistani man and some of his relatives chopped off his wife's feet after accusing her of being promiscuous, police said on Saturday.

The woman survived the gruesome attack, the latest in a wave of assaults that have raised international concern about the plight of women in Pakistan, particularly in conservative rural areas.

'It is a shameful act of cruelty against a woman and we are taking it seriously,' said Talat Ali, a senior police official in Punjab province. 'Those who have carried out this crime will not be spared.'

The 32-year-old woman told police her feet were chopped off on June 24 by her husband, her father-in-law, a brother-in-law and two others after they accused her of being 'of bad character', a euphemism for promiscuous...."

Which way to go? Posted by Picasa

Telegraph | Opinion | Where is the Gandhi of Islam?

[bth: this editorial is well worth a full read.]

..."In fact, the situation is more serious because we are dealing with a religion, not merely a national aspiration, and the demands of a religion are more absolute than anything else. If fanatics can persuade people that their religion insists that they kill others (and often themselves) in its service, then they will obey. And whereas the IRA, though utterly sadistic and fanatical, kept in mind a political aim which, once achieved, would mean that they need kill no longer, the religious fanatic lacks even this check on his behaviour.
From time to time, perhaps, he will kill for a specific reason - to take power in one country, to drive foreign troops out of another - but, in principle, there is no end to his killing until everyone who does not share his particular version of truth is exterminated.

What strikes one again and again about the reaction of the public authorities, of commentators, of the media, is the terrible lethargy about studying what it is we are up against. We are dealing with an extreme interpretation of one of the great religions of the world.

We flap around, looking for moderates and giving them knighthoods, making placatory noises, putting bits of Islam on to the multi-faith menu in schools, banishing Bibles from hospital beds, trying to criminalise the expression of 'religious hatred', blaming George Bush and Tony Blair. But if we do not know the way the faith in question works, its history, its quarrels, its laws and demands, we will not have the faintest chance of distinguishing the true moderate from the fellow-traveller or of bearing down on the fanaticism."

If you look at the Koran, you will find many glorifications of violence. In Sura No 8, for example, God is quoted as saying: "I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!" This punishment comes to them for having "defied God and His apostle". It seems reasonable to ask Muslims what this sort of remark means in the modern world.

Some will counter that there are plenty of equally nasty dictums in the Old Testament. This is true - though it is surely significant that they are very much harder to find in the New Testament. History is full of violent deeds done in the name of the Christian God.

But it is an important fact about Christianity in the past two or three centuries that it has conducted a great reinterpretation of these texts and of how the faithful should follow them. The struggle against the enemy in the Book of Joshua, say, or in Judges is now seen as a strictly spiritual one. The idea that these are divine 007 licences to kill has been explicitly repudiated.

Has the equivalent happened in Islam? Certainly, most Muslim leaders advocate peace and most are surely sincere in doing so. But push a bit harder, and you encounter some interesting problems.

I have asked, for example, if the Muslim Council of Britain, the mainstream umbrella organisation in this country, will condemn the killing of British troops in Iraq. They will not do so in absolute terms. They prefer instead to condemn the war itself, which is by no means the same thing...

There seem to be two broad reasons why many Muslim leaders appear unable or unwilling to break absolutely with the teachings that give cover to violence. The first is that their religion is much more literal and much more political than modern Christianity. Its Prophet was a political and military leader.

The faith Mohammed taught does not just hope that the world will become Muslim. It wants all human society and politics to be governed by religious law: it draws no distinction between the secular and religious sphere (except to condemn the secular). Therefore, Muslim leaders find it very difficult to resist the hotheads who say that Sharia - the divine law - should be imposed wherever possible.

In addition, the religion is absolute in its attitude to particular bits of territory. It is forbidden, for example, that any other religion be practised in the Arabian peninsula, because that land is considered sacred to Islam. Therefore, it is hard for a "moderate" to oppose the second-class citizenship of Christians or Jews in Muslim lands, or to say that "infidels" fighting in Muslim countries should not be murdered - even when they are his fellow citizens in a Western country.

When someone like bin Laden says that Islam should confront the "Cross-worshippers" and the "Zionists", he is making a claim in which politics and religion dangerously reinforce one another - a claim which most Muslims might not like, but which most of their leaders cannot find quite the right words to resist.

The second reason is that the leaders are frightened. In private conversations with the moderates, one is always told that they are under "enormous pressure", that they risk losing control of their own people, and therefore they cannot say very fierce things against the extremists. One must accept that this pressure exists, which only goes to show how serious the problem is. ...

... Embedded in modern government are too many advisers who believe in a quietist policy. To them, the most important thing is to avoid a "backlash" against Muslims. But the truth is that the backlash only threatens because the terror strikes. Mired in ignorance, our Government (let alone the Opposition) has little idea how to find the trends in Islam that could really improve the life of our country, and run with them.

It is only when you start thinking about what we are not getting from leaders of British Muslims, and indeed Muslim religious leadership throughout the world, that you start to see how much needs doing. The moderates are not pressed hard for anything more than a general condemnation of the extremists.

When did you last hear criticisms of named extremist groups and organisations by Muslim leaders, or support for their expulsion, imprisonment or extradition? How often do you see fatwas issued against suicide bombers and other terrorists, or statements by learned men declaring that people who commit such deeds will go to hell?

When do Muslim leaders and congregations insist that a particular imam leave his mosque because of the poison that he disseminates every Friday? When did a British Muslim last go after a Muslim who advocates or practises violence with anything like the zeal with which so many went after Salman Rushdie?

Why is not more stigma attached to the Muslims who are murdering other Muslims every day in Iraq and the Middle East?

What communal protection is offered to those Muslims who really are brave and confront Islamist violence, or the poor treatment of women, or call for democracy in the Middle East? How much do mainstream political parties with Muslim councillors and candidates really insist on their religious moderation and co-opt them to extrude the bad people lurking within their communities?

I understand and accept that there are many moderates among British Muslims, but I want to know why Britain gets so pitifully little to show for their moderation.

When a nation, a race, a political movement, a group of workers, the followers of a religion have legitimate grievances, there generally arises amongst them a champion who can command respect for his advocacy of peace, his willingness to fight without weapons and to win by moral authority. There may be many such grievances for Muslims in Britain, and in the West, but we are still waiting for the Gandhi or the Martin Luther King to give them the right voice.

We all love it when the British people shrug their shoulders and move stoically on in the face of attack. It is a powerful national myth, and a true one. But it contains within it a great danger - a self-fulfilling belief that there is nothing to be done to avert future disaster. That's not the Blitz spirit - what made London's suffering in 1941 worthwhile was that, in the end, we won.

Air Force General Reassigned After Inquiry

"An Air Force general who oversaw the promotions and development of senior Air Force leaders has been reassigned after an inspector general's investigation into his alleged inappropriate relationships with subordinate women.

Air Force officials confirmed yesterday that Brig. Gen. Richard S. Hassan has been removed from his position as director of the Air Force Senior Leader Management Office and reassigned as special assistant to the deputy chief of staff for personnel. The reassignment occurred last week, when the investigation was forwarded to a top Air Force general for the possible imposition of a punishment."...

If substantiated, the allegations against Hassan would be the second high-profile case of harassment on the part of a senior Air Force officer in Washington in recent months. Thomas J. Fiscus, formerly the Air Force's top military lawyer and a major general, was accused last year of having several affairs and of engaging in improper conduct with more than a dozen women over 10 years. Those charges were substantiated, and Fiscus retired in January at the reduced rank of colonel. He lost nearly $900,000 in retirement pay.

The cases are particularly embarrassing for the Air Force because of the service's efforts to get tougher on sexual harassment after serious problems at the Air Force Academy. A Pentagon joint task force has been developing policy for preventing and dealing with sexual assault and for increasing sensitivity to potential harassment.

"It seems clear that the Air Force continues at its highest level to have difficulty with sexual harassment in the workplace," said David Sheldon, a Washington lawyer who specializes in military law.

"The Air Force continues to treat officer cases much more leniently than they do enlisted service members regarding this issue, which further perpetuates the harm," Sheldon said. "It also further undermines the Air Force's ability to deal with sexual harassment in the service."

Italy Posted by Picasa

The Counterterrorism Blog: Douglas Farah: "On Terror Financing, in London and Beyond"

"Doug Farah is on travel and asked me to post his comments on the London terrorist attacks:
'It has become almost conventional wisdom--pushed in part by the 9-11 Monograph on Terror Financing--that the money used by terrorists is a small sum that is virtually impossible to trace, and therefore should not be a priority in the efforts against global terrorism. The London attacks should serve as a a reminder of the fact that, no matter who was behind the efforts, they had to live in London, establish credible cover, be there long enough to develop a fairly complex plan, and then execute it. We will soon here some number on how much the actual materiel cost, probably less than $50,000, and then the usual line about how that money was impossible to detect or cut off.

The problem with that analysis is that each step of the process requires money for each person, and must usually be multiplied by numerous people involved. The attack will involve safe houses, possibly false id papers, cash for living for a significant period of time, possible escape routes etc. While it may not be an enormous sum of money, it will ultimately be a significant amount, if properly calculated.

The other huge expense, though not directly related to the London attack, is the support for the insurgency in Iraq. My sources tell me that there are now many, perhaps thousands, of wealthy and not so wealthy people on the Arab Peninsula who are sponsoring one or two jihadis. That is, they give the combatants money for travel, visas and other expenses, and send them on their way. This is a far more difficult stream of money to find and combat, and a far cry from the days when the jihadis had outfits like the Third World Relief Agency in Vienna, Austria, funneling tens of millions of dollars to false charities and front groups.

Yet this a huge problem, and a river of money. Estimates of the number of jihadis in Iraq range from 2,000 to 10,000. Each sponsorship per person is at least $10,000, plus the ongoing expenses of feeding, training, arming, etc. It is a very difficult thing to track this kind of micro-sponsorship or hold anyone accountable. Yet as long as these channels remain open, those that enable terrorist actions by financing them will remain a serious threat to the United States, its allies, and anyone else who opposes the militant version of a unified Islamic caliphate under sharia law."

Twilight Posted by Picasa

U.S. Says Iraq Militants Dealt Sharp Blow

"U.S. and Iraqi forces have 'mostly eliminated' the ability of insurgents to conduct sustained, high-intensity attacks in Baghdad, the top U.S. commander in the Iraqi capital said Friday.

Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr. said in a video-teleconference interview from Baghdad with reporters at the Pentagon that offensive operations by U.S. and Iraqi troops in recent weeks had sharply reduced the number of insurgent bombings. But he cautioned against concluding that the insurgency has been broken.
'It's very difficult to know it's over,' Webster said.

There were 14 to 21 car bombings per week in Baghdad before the May 22 start of the U.S. portion of the latest offensive, dubbed Operation Lightning, he said. That has dropped to about seven or eight a week now, Webster said, attributing the improvement to the disruption of insurgent cells and the availability of more and better intelligence.

'There are some more threats ahead,' he said. 'I do believe, however, that the ability of these insurgents to conduct sustained, high-intensity operations as they did last year, we've mostly eliminated that.'

He said that about 1,700 suspected insurgents had been captured during Operation Lightning, including 51 foreigners.
Despite those gains, Webster said the future course of the insurgency was uncertain.

'When you're talking about an insurgency in a country like this where the borders are still rather porous and folks can still come in and there is money available to hire local criminals and others to participate in the fight, it is very difficult to get a day-to-day estimate of the number of people you're fighting,' he said.

On the other hand, he predicted that, "in the next couple of months we will not see sustained, long bloody months in Baghdad."...

By October, when Iraqis are scheduled to vote on a new constitution, there should be a full division of Iraqi army soldiers, numbering about 18,000, sufficiently trained to take the lead in securing the Iraqi capital, he said.

There are now about 15,000 Iraqi soldiers, in various stages of training, in the Baghdad area that Webster commands. Of those, about one-third are sufficiently trained to control territory in the capital city, he said....

Vigilance and the price of peace. Posted by Picasa

Oped: I resent your success. I hate you and your kind. So I bomb you

..."It seems to me that we will be nearer to understanding terrorism if, instead of looking at what terrorists have in common, we look at what is common to their victims. The targets of terrorism are groups, nations or races. And they are distinguished by their worldly success - either material or social."...

Success breeds resentment, and resentment breeds hate. This simple observation was made into the root of his political psychology by Nietzsche, who identified ressentiment, as he called it, as the distinguishing social emotion of modern societies: an emotion once ordered and managed by Christianity, now let loose across the world. I don’t say that Nietzsche’s analysis is correct. But surely he was right to identify this peculiar motive in human beings, right to emphasise its overwhelming importance, and right to point out that it lies deeper than the springs of rational discussion.

In dealing with terrorism you are confronting a resentment that is not concerned to improve the lot of anyone, but only to destroy the thing it hates. That is what appeals in terrorism, since hatred is a much easier and less demanding emotion to live by than love, and is much more effective in recruiting a following. And when the object of hatred is a group, a race, a class or a nation, we can furnish from our hatred a comprehensive stance towards the world. That way hatred brings order out of chaos, and decision out of uncertainty — the perfect solution to the alienated Muslim, lost in a world that denies his religion, and which his religion in turn denies.

Of course hatred has other causes besides resentment. Someone who has suffered an injustice may very well hate the person who committed it. However, such hatred is precisely targeted, and cannot be satisfied by attacking some innocent substitute. Hatred born of resentment is not like that. It is a passion bound up with the very identity of the one who feels it, and rejoices in damaging others purely by virtue of their membership of the targeted group. Resentment will always prefer indiscriminate mass murder to a carefully targeted punishment. Indeed, the more innocent the victim, the more satisfying the act. For this is the proof of holiness, that you are able to condemn people to death purely for being bourgeois, rich, Jewish, or whatever, and without examining their moral record.

The tendency to resent lies in all of us, and can be overcome only by a discipline that tells us to blame faults in ourselves and to forgive faults in others. This discipline lies at the heart of Christianity and many argue that it lies at the heart of Islam too. If that is so, it is time for Muslims to organise against those who preach resentment in the name of their religion, and who regard the crimes of last Thursday as virtuous deeds, performed with God’s blessing, in a holy cause.

[bth: worth a full read.]

Remote controlled Joint Improvised Explosive Device Neutralizer. 12 in production Posted by Picasa

Syrian the prime suspect

"A SYRIAN al-Qa'ida veteran with a $5 million price on his head is the man being hunted over the London bombings.

Within hours of the blasts, British police had identified Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, 46, as a suspect.

He is already being chased by Spanish agencies over his role in the Madrid train massacre in March last year.

Thursday's blitz in London bore many of the hallmarks of the Madrid attacks, which claimed 191 lives and maimed thousands more.

Both were brutal and simple. And both were designed for maximum carnage among morning commuters on packed trains. "...

Islamic Scholar Warns U.S. of 'Two-Faced' Muslims

"WASHINGTON - A leader of the small worldwide Muslim reform movement is warning the West against wishful thinking as the U.S. government promotes an intensive dialogue with Islam.

'The dialogue is not proceeding well because of the two-facedness of most Muslim interlocutors on the one hand and the gullibility of well-meaning Western idealists on the other,' Bassam Tibi said Tuesday in an interview with United Press International...."

This Is 'Peace'?

"First, both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms these mean different things to each of them. The word 'peace,' for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam – or 'House of Islam' – to the entire world," explained Tibi, who is also a research scholar at Harvard University.

"This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought, a concept developed by Immanuel Kant," an 18th-century philosopher.

This Is 'Tolerance'?

"Similarly, when Muslims and the Western heirs of the Enlightenment speak of tolerance they have different things in mind. In Islamic terminology, this term implies abiding non-Islamic monotheists, such as Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, as second-class believers. They are 'dhimmi,' a protected but politically immature minority."

According to Tibi, the quest of converting the entire world to Islam is an immutable fixture of the Muslim worldview. Only if this task is accomplished, if the world has become a "Dar al-Islam," will it also be a "Dar a-Salam," or a house of peace.

Tibi appealed to his co-religionists to "revise their understanding of peace and tolerance by accepting pluralism." Furthermore, he said, Muslim leaders should give up the notion of Jihad in the sense of conquest, as opposed to Jihad as an internal struggle of the individual....

The bishop of Hildesheim in Germany paid an imam a courtesy visit in his mosque. The imam handed the Catholic prelate a Koran, which he joyfully accepted. But when the bishop tried to present the imam with a Bible, the Muslim cleric just stared at him in horror and refused to even touch Christianity's holy book.

"The bishop was irritated because he perceived this behavior as a gross discourtesy," wrote Tibi, "but the imam had only acted according to his faith. For if an imam gives a bishop a Koran, he considers this a Da'Wa, or call to Islam."

This, explained Tibi, must be borne in mind when one engages in a dialogue with Muslim "scholars," for it corresponds to a verse in the Koran: "And say ... to those who are unlearned: 'Do ye submit yourselves?'" (Surah 3:20).

Muslims brace for backlash from London blasts - Attacks on London

... "Many people in London's Edgware Road - close to one of the underground railway stations that was attacked and an area that is home to a large number of Lebanese, Iraqi and Egyptian businesses - feared acts of revenge.

"The whole world now will point at me and say I am an Arab and Muslim terrorist," said Zakaria Koubissi, a 29-year-old manager of a Lebanese restaurant. "We expect to be harassed. It is a natural reaction."

...Despite the appeal for solidarity from moderate Muslims, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, a radical Muslim group dedicated to building an Islamic caliphate worldwide, said it would continue to speak out against the West.

"Speaking the truth about the colonization of the Muslim world and the killing, murder and rape of our Ummah (nation) by Western governments is (one) of the highest obligations," the group said in a leaflet distributed among worshippers. "

The group that claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks said on a Web site it responded to what it described as the “massacre carried out by Great Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Many Muslims regard the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, backed by Britain despite broad public opposition, as a campaign against their faith. They also accuse the West of supporting Israel in the dispute with the Palestinians.

“This was the last Western country that had great respect for Arabs and Muslims,” said Ehab Maged, a 30-year-old Egyptian travel agent. “Now no one knows what will happen.”

But Laith al-Taei, an Iraqi who owns a coffee shop near Edgware Road’s underground station disagreed.

“You kill a snake by chopping its head off, not by hitting the tail,” he said. “The head of terrorism is not (al-Qaida chief) Osama bin Laden, but it is America and Britain’s policies against Arabs and Muslims.” “Change them: Terrorism will end.”

[bth: so where are the British muslim imams who organize protests against al-Qaeda and the murder of innocent British citizens? Where is the muslim community outrage that their religion has been hijacked before the world by murders and terrorists?]

'Police shot bombers' reports New Zealander

"A New Zealander working for Reuters in London says two colleagues witnessed the unconfirmed shooting by police of two apparent suicide bombers outside the HSBC tower at Canary Wharf in London.

The New Zealander, who did not want to be named, said the killing of the two men wearing bombs happened at 10.30am on Thursday (London time).

Following the shooting, the 8000 workers in the 44-storey tower were told to stay away from windows and remain in the building for at least six hours, the New Zealand man said.

He was not prepared to give the names of his two English colleagues, who he said witnessed the shooting from a building across the road from the tower.

Reports of attacks carried out by suicide bombers have been rife in London.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported an unconfirmed incident of police shooting a bomber outside the HSBC tower.

Canadian Brendan Spinks, who works on the 18th floor of the tower, said he saw a 'massive rush of policemen' outside the building after London was rocked by the bombings. "

[bth: it would be more trustworthy if this were confirmed by a British news service or by other eye witnesses. Hard to tell if its true or not.]

Friday, July 08, 2005

Black Hawk helicopters at Sunset Posted by Picasa

Report -- "Iraq's Evolving Insurgency"

This link is to an update on the report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies called, "Iraq's Evolving Insurgency" working draft updated June 23, 2005.

UH 60 Posted by Picasa

If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution - New York Times

..."it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden. ..."

Tennesse National Guard on patrol Posted by Picasa

Karzai: Bin Laden Not in Afghanistan

"WASHINGTON - President Hamid Karzai said Friday that Usama bin Laden (search) wasn't in Afghanistan, saying his government has no idea of his whereabouts.

'God knows where he is,' he said. 'We don't know. ... He is not in Afghanistan.'

The comments come just days after Pakisani Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said the Al Qaeda (search) leader wasn't in Pakistan and could be hiding in southeastern Afghanistan.

U.S. officials have said they believe bin Laden to be hiding somewhere in rugged mountains between the two nations.

Also Friday, a purported Taliban spokesman reiterated a claim that a missing American commando was being interrogated by the Taliban and would soon be killed...."

$37.8M for M2/M3 Bradley Reactive Armor

"General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products Inc. in Burlington, VT received a $37.8 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for Reactive Applique Armor Tiles for the M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle System. The Bradleys and AAV7 APCs, which played a central role in the armed operations in Iraq, have been fitted with armor by Rafael of Haifa, Israel in partial cooperation with the American General Dynamics company.

The armor is some of the most advanced in the world, and includes both passive protection of strong material that diverts the rocket, and reactive protection comprised of plates that contain explosives. The add-on armor consists of 105 tiles that attach to the sides, the turret and the front of each Bradley. The tiles, which look like small boxes, contain a very special, insensitive explosive that is detonated only when hit by a missile or rocket and does not react to other heat sources such as small arms or other fragments. The resulting explosion disrupts the incoming, armor-penetrating gas jet produced by a RPG's shaped-charge warhead, for example, so the Bradley remains unharmed."... - U.S. Marine Leader Appeals for Anti-IED Technology

"Private industry isn't doing enough to help the U.S. military combat lethal improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq, Gen. Michael Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, told lawmakers recently. Hagee also criticized the military's own research laboratories for not coming up with desperately needed technologies to help troops in the field battle the IED menace that continues to kill American troops on a near daily basis.
"What I'm not satisfied with is the speed at which our scientific and engineering community "are coming up with new technologies to address this problem," Hagee told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 30.

What the military needs now in Iraq, Hagee said, is sensor technology that can locate hidden or buried IEDs. The most advanced means of detecting IEDs remains the eyes of troops who know an area well enough to spot anything that looks out of place.

Hagee also wants technologies that can detonate an IED before troops approach. But despite work being done by industry, academia and the scientific community, Hagee said there has been no real success in finding technological answers to either of these challenges. ..."

Italy to go ahead with Iraq pullout plans -

"Italy will start withdrawing its forces from Iraq as planned in September, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday.

'We will begin withdrawing 300 men in the month of September,' Berlusconi said at the end of the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland.

Berlusconi also rejected Italian calls to speed up the withdrawal after Thursday's attacks on London.

"We have to fulfill our commitments and cannot leave the job half done," said Berlusconi, who has been facing mounting domestic opposition for the country's military presence in Iraq"...

Seoul vows to bar U.S. strike at North

"President Roh Moo Hyun declared Thursday that under no circumstances would South Korea allow the United States to resort to a military attack against North Korea.

President George W. Bush insists that he wants to resolve the nuclear crisis through diplomacy, but he has not officially ruled out a military option, which he has called a 'last choice.'

Roh made the comment while blaming the nuclear deadlock on the uncompromising attitudes of both North Korea, which he called 'the most stubborn country in the world,' and the United States, which he described as the 'most opinionated country in the world.'

Although a reflection of South Korea's desire to avoid another devastating war on the divided Korean Peninsula, Roh's blunt comment came amid strains in the alliance between Washington and Seoul. It was seen as a warning to hard-liners in Washington who have questioned the viability of six-party talks.

Meanwhile, it was reported that North Korea has invited the governor of New Mexico and a U.S. congressman, both Democrats, to Pyongyang in a symbolic gesture of openness.

Representative Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California, will probably visit North Korea from Saturday to next Tuesday, the Japanese news agency Kyodo reported from Beijing, citing unidentified diplomatic sources.

Lantos's trip could be followed by a visit by the New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, Kyodo said.

It is a long-running North Korean policy to cultivate private and parliamentary channels in a negotiating partner even while escalating tensions on the government level. It has used such means to test initiatives, spread confusing messages or try to build understanding in Washington....

The Bush admin"

Passenger believes he saw bomber

"Richard Jones, from Binfield, near Bracknell, Berks, had got off a bus just before it was blown up in Tavistock Square on Thursday.

Mr Jones, 61, an IT consultant, has told BBC News he saw a man acting suspiciously on the bus.

He said the man was fiddling with something in his bag and seemed in an agitated state. "

Mr Jones, who was forced to take the bus from Euston after Tube services were suspended, said: "He was standing next to me with a bag at his feet and he kept dipping into this bag and fiddling about with something.

"I was getting quite annoyed with this because it was a crowded bus.

"Everybody is standing face-to-face and this guy kept dipping into this bag."

Mr Jones, who said he got off the bus because it was in heavy traffic, has given a statement to police.

Police have yet been unable to establish whether a suicide bomber was responsible for the attack on the bus.

Police have said thirteen people were killed on the bus. PROBING AL-QAIDA

"BEIRUT - When Islamic militants massacred 58 tourists in Egypt in 1997, the government issued a list of 14 most-wanted militants it accused of inspiring the attacks. Half were living in London, and none were arrested.

A year later, when suicide bombers attacked two U.S. embassies in East Africa, killing 224 people, three men with ties to Egyptian militant groups were arrested in London for circulating claims of responsibility. They are still fighting extradition to the United States."

For two decades, London has been a haven for Islamic militants fleeing crackdowns in the Middle East. Yesterday, for the first time, the city appeared to fall victim to Islamist violence.

"Britain could become a new front line in the conflict between Islamic militants and the West," said Mohammad Salah, an expert on militancy at the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. "It has become harder for militants to reach the United States. That makes Britain a more tempting target, especially because the militants have had a long time to establish networks there."

For years, the British government monitored Islamic extremists but did not clamp down on them. Officials feared arrests would drive the groups underground, making them more difficult to control. That strategy changed after Sept. 11, 2001. Prime Minister Tony Blair's government tightened asylum and extradition laws and made incitement to religious hatred a criminal offense. Blair gave police the power to hold terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge.

Despite those moves, London is still home to dozens of militants from Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They were attracted to the city because it is a global financial center, an international travel hub and home to a vast immigrant population, including 2 million Muslims. Britain also has a tradition of taking in refugees and asylum-seekers....

[bth: interesting read.]

Diplomat's Case Opens Iraq, Egypt Rift

"CAIRO, Egypt -- Iraq's top terrorist may have achieved something more significant than just scaring away Arab diplomats when he ordered the abduction of Egypt's top envoy to Baghdad -- and then claimed to have killed him.

The crisis may have sown the seeds of distrust between Iraq's Shiite-led government and Egypt -- an Arab powerhouse whose goodwill Iraq needs. ..."

[bth: interesting turn of events as the article goes on to imply the Egyptian diplomat was in contact with the Sunni insurgents.]

Profiles of Saudi Arabian Islamic Militants Killed in Iraq: 2004-2005

This is a link to a Global Terror Alert pdf document profiling brief bios, photos and the nature of their death in Iraq. Evidently it is collected from news accounts, website entries and in some cases direct contact with the families in Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan arrest offered hints, no details on planned hits

"The recent arrest of an al Qaeda terrorist in Pakistan provided some clues that terrorists were planning attacks on trains and buses, but there were no specific warnings of the bombings in London yesterday, U.S. officials said.

The lack of a specific warning highlights continuing U.S. intelligence shortcomings in spying on al Qaeda and related Islamist groups, which are suspected in the attacks.

'I'm not aware of any specific intelligence that suggested this was going to take place,' Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told reporters after the bombings.

Officials said the bombings likely were carried out by a 'pop-up' cell of Islamic militants loyal to, and perhaps supported by, al Qaeda, delivering a stark reminder of how difficult it is to penetrate terror plots by groups that Western intelligence services have not identified.

A U.S. intelligence official said Washington was not aware of the 'Secret Organization Group of al Qaeda Jihad Organization in Europe,' which took responsibility for the four explosions in subways and a double-decker bus.

A government terrorism expert also said the attack is part of a revival of militant activity in Europe as radical clerics recruit jihadists to fight in Iraq against the U.S.-led coalition, of which Britain is a key member. ..."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

9-11 Posted by Picasa

Upi Posted by Picasa

Taliban Claims SEAL Hostage, Threatens to Kill Him

"WASHINGTON -On Thursday a purported Taliban (search) spokesman reiterated a claim that his group is holding a missing U.S. commando and said that insurgent leaders had decided to kill him. No proof was offered to back up the claim.
The U.S. military had no comment on the latest claim, saying only that they are making every effort to locate the commando."...

[bth: some specifics about how the Seal team was engaged.]

North Korean propaganda film backfires with hungry audiences

SEOUL — A North Korean propaganda film about the repatriation of a spy — Lee In-Mo — who had languished for years in a South Korean prison may have a short shelf life, according to defectors now living in the South.

"What we could not believe in the movie was that Lee and others were conducting hunger strikes in the prison," said one defector about the movie.

"Refusing to eat was a form of resistance in the South? Boy, South Korea must be a paradise. That's what we said among ourselves" ...

However, the movie caused many North Koreans to become curious about South Korean society.

Many North Korean defectors said their first reaction upon seeing the film was to ask how people could stay in prison for more than 10 years and remain alive? They say few people survive even three years in North Korean political prisons. Being fed three regular meals a day is utterly unimaginable. ...

[bth: pretty funny story that movie audiences in N. Korea would view 3 squares in a S. Korean prison as preferrable to the workers' paradise of N. Korea.]

Halliburton contract extended - 07/07/05

"The Army has ordered nearly $5 billion in work from Halliburton Co. to provide logistics support to U.S. troops in Iraq over the next year, $1 billion above what the Army paid for similar services the previous year.

The new order, which comes despite lingering questions about the company's billing, replaces an earlier agreement that expired in June 2004, but had been extended through this spring to ensure a continuous supply of food, sanitation, laundry and other logistical services for the troops, said Linda K. Theis, an Army spokeswoman.

The new order does not change the nature of Halliburton's work, but the higher price tag does reflect the growing demand for the company's services as U.S. forces continue to battle a stubborn insurgency two years after the fall of Saddam Hussein."...

[bth: follow the money.]

Al-Qaida Claims Killing of Egyptian Envoy

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Al-Qaida in Iraq said in a Web posting Thursday that it had killed Egypt's top envoy in Iraq, showing a video of the blindfolded diplomat identifying himself. The video did not show his death. "

A statement purportedly from al-Qaida said it delayed claiming responsibility for the Saturday abduction of Ihab al-Sherif "to be able to capture as many ambassadors as we can."

The claim of responsibility was posted Tuesday following kidnap attempts against top diplomats from Pakistan and Bahrain in a campaign to isolate Iraq's U.S.-backed government in the Arab and Muslim world.

"We announce in the name of al-Qaida in Iraq that the verdict of God against the ambassador of the infidels, the ambassador of Egypt, has been carried out. Thank God," a written statement in the Web posting said. ...

Netanyahu Changed Plans Due to Warning - Yahoo! News

"JERUSALEM - British police told the Israeli Embassy in London minutes before Thursday's explosions that they had received warnings of possible terror attacks in the city, a senior Israeli official said. "

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he wasn't aware of any Israeli casualties.

Just before the blasts, Scotland Yard called the security officer at the Israeli Embassy to say they had received warnings of possible attacks, the official said. He did not say whether British police made any link to the economic conference.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the nature of his position.

The Israeli Embassy was in a state of emergency after the explosions in London, with no one allowed to enter or leave, said the Israeli ambassador to London, Zvi Hefet.

All phone lines to the embassy were down, said Danny Biran, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official.

The ministry set up a situation room to deal with hundreds of phone calls from concerned relatives. Thousands of Israelis are living in London or visiting the city at this time, Biran said.

Amir Gilad, a Netanyahu aide, told Israel Radio that Netanyahu's entourage was receiving updates all morning from British security officials, and "we have also asked to change our plans."

Netanyahu had been scheduled to stay in London until Sunday, but that could change, Gilad said.

Iran and Iraq to sign military deal

"Former foes Iran and Iraq have said they will sign a military cooperation agreement that will include Iranian help in training Iraq's armed forces.

The agreement marks a considerable advance in relations between the two countries that fought a bitter 1980-1988 war and comes despite repeated US accusations that Iran has undermined security in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

'It's a new chapter in our relations with Iraq. We will start wide defence cooperation,' Iranian Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani told a joint news conference with visiting Iraqi counterpart Sadoun al-Dulaimi.

'We're going to form some committees which will be involved in mine clearance, identifying those missing from the war and also ... to help train, rebuild and modernise the Iraqi army,' Shamkhani added.

Iran last year offered to train Iraqi border guards, but Baghdad declined the offer. "

US and Iraqi officials have often accused Iran of stirring up instability in Iraq. Tehran denies meddling in Iraq or helping, arming or letting foreign fighters cross its borders.

Asked about possible US opposition to Iran-Iraq military cooperation, Shamkhani said: "No one can prevent us from reaching an agreement."

Iraq's al-Dulaimi echoed Shamkhani's comments.

"Nobody can dictate to Iraq its relations with other countries," he said.


"WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The United States has determined that North Africa comprises a major source of funding and manpower for the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

U.S. officials said a study by the military's European Command has traced the flow of money and recruits from such countries as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to Iraq. They said the operatives often travel through Iran and cross into the largely unpoliced border of Iraq.

'The Islamic cells in North Africa have become the No. 2 supplier of funds and foreign fighters for the insurgency in Iraq,' an official said. 'The ties between these cells and Al Qaida in Iraq are very tight.'

The study said nearly 30 percent of all suicide bombers in Iraq come from North Africa. Algeria alone contributes up to 20 percent of suicide car bombers and another five percent come from Morocco and Tunisia"

The Counterterrorism Blog: A Jihad mentor arrested in Jordan - News agency misses the message

"Walid Phares,
Senior Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Washington

When I was watching Isam Mohammad Taher al-Barqawi, also known as Sheik Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi being interviewed on al Jazeera on July 5, just before he was arrested -in real time- by the Jordanian authorities, I was replaying in my mind the arguments displayed by the Salafi ideologues in several spots of the world. Al Maqdisi, although young in age is a refined Jihad mentor. His logic, strategic thinking and smooth talk are found almost systematically in the four corners of the Jihadi world. Before he was noticed by the counter Terrorism community recently, he was shining among the Salafi teachers in the underground world of doctrinal training. No wonder why I often encountered his name while I was reviewing material in Arabic related to three Terrorism cases: The Detroit Terror cell (2002-2003), the Rotterdam Terrorism case (2002-2003), and the Idaho Jihad web site case (2004). All three led me to the same pool of clerics, manuals, tactics and above all strategic doctrines. In the center of these webs, Salafism, and among the names, al Maqdisi...."

[bth: This is an excellent read if you are interested in a deeper understanding of the religious thinking and strategy driving al-Qaeda.]

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Memorial street signs for Kirkuk air field. Deb Y., I just want to let you know that we remember and will not forget. ... By the way if someone reads this in Iraq, please do me a favor an get a photo of these street signs on the road at the air field and also for Hart. I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd email it to me. I can then get the photos to the families. Posted by Picasa

From our family friend John Saucier last year. He is now in Korea and we heard from him this evening by phone. Armored units are being scaled down and turned into infantry, then back to Iraq. The recruitment problems in the Army namely for infantry will cause the same eligible soldiers to be used in Iraq over and over again. Posted by Picasa

Details Released on U.S. Afghan Missions -

"KABUL, Afghanistan - The last radio contact was an urgent appeal for help. Night was falling, a rainstorm threatening, and four Navy SEAL commandos were surrounded by about a dozen militants in rugged, wooded mountains. They needed reinforcements. ..."

Five Pakistanis arrested over 'honor' rape

"MULTAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani police have arrested five men on charges of kidnapping and gang-raping a woman in the latest of a string of so-called honor crimes.

The married woman was attacked because one of her male cousins had an affair with a women whose father disapproved of the relationship, police said on Wednesday.

'The accused say they carried out this horrible act as an act of honor,' said police official Mohammad Mumtaz.

The incident took place in the central Punjab province where the high-profile gang-rape of a woman, Mukhtaran Mai, on the orders of a village council triggered an international outcry.

Mai was attacked because her brother had befriended a woman from a power clan, offending male members of the clan...."

[bth: hard to understand the honor a family preserves by gang-raping a woman from another clan. If the five are hung or castrated by the government as it should have done instead of letting them go with the more publicized gang-rape a year or two ago, this 'honor rape' would likely come to a quick and decisive end.]

Militants target barbers of Baghdad

"They came for Nabras Hamid just after sunset, one car blocking the entrance to Dabbash street, the other two stopping outside his shop. Witnesses did not hear the gunmen say anything before opening fire. There was no need. Hamid's crime was self-evident: he was a barber.

In Baghdad these days that is enough to warrant assassination. Dozens of barbers have been murdered in the past year and the tempo appears to be increasing, with more than 10 reported killed in recent weeks.

'A note was put under my door telling me to quit but I won't. I keep an AK with me at the shop now,' Abu Sajjad, 66, a colleague of Mr Hamid, said yesterday.
Different groups are believed to be responsible for the attacks but they use the same excuse: shaving beards and giving western-style haircuts is haram - forbidden - under Islam. "...

[bth: this article is worth a full read. Hard to believe that this is a religion of peace.]

'Uday had brain damage - and he was already insane'

[bth: this is a fascinating article and worth the full read.]

"Al-Ruwad was known for its delicious ice-cream and the many pretty girls who frequented the place. Good-looking young men from the capital's better-off homes buzzed around the ice-cream parlour like bees round a honeypot...."

Several times, I treated female party-goers who came to my clinic having been knifed, disfigured by burning cigarettes or otherwise ill-treated during the night's frolicking. Uday showed them no respect.

One of his women turned up at my clinic explaining that she had burnt herself on the family's paraffin stove. At least, that was her story. But having examined her, I noticed two identical round burns, each of them approximately 10 centimetres in diameter, on her buttocks. In the centre of each I could read the word ''Shame''. Uday had branded her bottom like an old cow.

Several attempts had been made on Uday's life over the years. One evening, he was accompanied by his friend, Ali al-Sahr. They circled Mansour, driving slowly, in a Porsche Carrera. Uday had just slowed down outside al-Ruwad and let al-Sahr out on to the pavement by the ice-cream parlour when two masked men rushed out from an alleyway, firing Kalashnikovs. The bullets riddled both the Porsche and the President's son....

At the beginning of June, Uday was discharged from hospital after nearly six months. He was barely able to walk. But it was difficult to gauge the extent of any damage to the brain; he was already insane. He now appeared significantly more short-tempered and aggressive towards those around him than before the attempted assassination.

His friend and saviour, Ali al-Sahr, tried to escape to Jordan with his family in the autumn of 2002. He was stopped at the border post and returned to Baghdad. Uday got wind of the attempted escape and called him over. "You'll try again, and like other friends who've cleared off, no doubt you'll blab," he said. "I'll have to make sure that won't happen."

A few days later, Uday sent a gang of his paramilitary Fedayeen militia to Ali al-Sahr's home. There, in front of his wife, children and neighbours, they cut off his tongue.

Al-Qaeda threaten to kill kidnapped ambassador

"The Iraqi and American governments are trying to stop an exodus of diplomats from Baghdad after the Iraq-based wing of al-Qaeda today threatened to kill the Egyptian ambassador who was kidnapped four days ago.

The al-Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq, which is run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted militant, posted a message on a website this afternoon saying that the group had decided to kill Ihab el-Sherif, who was kidnapped in Baghdad on Saturday night as he bought a newspaper.

'The Islamic court of the al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of Two Rivers has decided to refer the ambassador of the state of Egypt, an ally of the Jews and the Christians, to the mujahedeens so that they can execute him,' said the message...."

Pakistani troops arrest eight Afghan terror suspects in tribal region

"Paramilitary troops raided a refugee camp in a tribal region in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, arresting eight Afghans suspected of terrorism links, and seizing grenades, land mines and two gas masks, an official said.

The arrests were made in Bajaur, a tribal region bordering Afghanistan, local government administrator Abdul Qayyum Khan said.

About 100 troops surrounded the Shahjehanabad refugee camp and raided a mud-walled compound where the eight men were arrested, Khan said. "...

The Quiet Man - New York Times

..."Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has made many speeches in support of the global war on terrorism, including his address last week exhorting Americans to stay the course in Iraq. Unfortunately, he has never made a recruiting speech, and his only call to arms came in a fleeting reference at the end of his recent speech. Young Americans (and their parents) need to be told that they have a duty to shoulder the burden of military service when our nation is at war, and that doing so is essential for the preservation of freedom and democracy at home and abroad.

President Abraham Lincoln was able to man the Union Army without conscription for the first two years of the Civil War in large part because of his calls to service. Winston Churchill girded Britain for great sacrifice during World War II with his famous pledge to fight in the streets and on the beaches. Such leaders understood the power of the bully pulpit, and the need for the people to connect their personal sacrifice to a larger national goal.

President Bush's second inaugural address, with its vision of America's mission to spread freedom, offers a good platform for a recruiting pitch. And he could broaden his message beyond just military service by calling for young Americans to serve in all areas where their country needs them, from front lines of homeland security to those of inner-city education.

Still, the military is where the need is most acute. Recruiting duty may be the toughest job in the Army today; many recruiting sergeants would probably rather be with a combat unit in Iraq than hitting the high schools in Illinois.

A presidential recruiting speech may not fill every barracks, nor will it induce every old soldier to sign on for another tour, but it would help remind potential soldiers of what we're fighting for. "

Moroccan Preacher Said to Have Met With 9/11 Plotters

"TANGIER, Morocco - A Moroccan preacher imprisoned here for inspiring deadly bombings in Casablanca and implicated in the Madrid train bombings last year also had significant contact in Hamburg with leaders of the Sept. 11 attacks, say members of a Muslim congregation in Germany.

The preacher, Mohammed Fizazi, frequently gave sermons at Hamburg's Al Quds mosque while three of the hijack pilots were living in the city, attending Al Quds and becoming more involved in radical Islam. ..."

Britain 'to withdraw Iraq forces'

"LONDON: Britain's Defence Ministry has drafted plans for a significant troop withdrawal from Iraq over the next 18 months and a big deployment to Afghanistan, according to The Financial Times.

Without citing sources, the newspaper said the plans represented the biggest operational shake-up involving Britain's armed forces since the Iraq war.
'The first stage of a run-down in military operations is likely to take place this (northern) autumn with a handover of security to Iraqis in at least two southern provinces,' the newspaper said.... "

Syria seen stepping up aid to Iraq-bound insurgents�-�Nation/Politics�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

"Syrians are increasing assistance to foreign fighters preparing to enter Iraq and kill civilians and U.S. troops, despite months of pressure on Damascus from Washington to crack down on the jihadists.

A U.S. official said recent intelligence shows that Syria is the home to Web sites that exhort militants to come to the country for preparation to fight and die in Iraq.

Syrians also are providing barracks-like housing as the recruits from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco and other Muslim countries prepare for a jihad, or holy war. The fighters also receive weapons, training and money in Syria. "...

Palm Beach Post - U.S. service men, women who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan

Palm Beach Post - U.S. service men, women who have died in Iraq, AfghanistanGo to this link for an interactive map showing the home town of servicemen killed in action in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Gunmen Ambush 2 Muslim Envoys in Iraqi Capital - New York Times

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, July 5 - Gunmen ambushed the senior Bahraini and Pakistani diplomats in separate attacks as they drove through the capital on Tuesday, spurring Pakistan to announce the withdrawal of its ambassador from Iraq"...

Army trying out new Humvee seatbelts

"WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is investing in new safety belts and flat-resistant tires for armored Humvees that are sent into war areas, the service said Wednesday."...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Soldiers for the Truth -- A General Discovers Candor Kills Career

"Followers of SFTT have become accustomed to drama and of tales of woe and loss suffered by our troops serving in campaigns in far-distant foreign lands. But there are equally poignant accounts of deceit and betrayal right here at home.

Just ask retired Maj. Gen. John Riggs.

As former Commanding General of the First U.S. Army in 2001, then-Lt. Gen. Riggs was the placed as head of his service's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program and director during 2002-04 of the Objective Force Task Force charged with implementing this transformation effort. The Army has devised FCS as a project to supply the military with a networked family of 18 systems using advanced communications and computer technology to link soldiers with manned and unmanned air and ground platforms and other sensors."

What should have been a stellar assignment at the pinnacle of his career ended abruptly in May 2004 when Lt. Gen. Riggs found himself discredited, publicly demeaned, and demoted to two-star rank because he was the first senior active-duty officer to publicly call for increasing the size of the Army by a minimum of 10,000 soldiers to meet current combat requirements.

That's because in doing that, he defied Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and his politicized military subordinates in the Pentagon....

The retired general himself put it into crystal-clear terms to a Sun reporter: "You've got to do it the Rumsfeld way, or you're not going to move forward."

"When you ask a general officer 'What do you think?' you should be able to answer candidly," Riggs continued. "I think [that Rumsfeld has] politicized the general officer corps by making the personnel selections for everyone."

When general officers can no longer speak candidly about the situations for which they are charged to take responsibility, they are no longer leaders but "yes men" – puppets in a larger scheme bending to the political desires of the Pentagon's civilian leadership. Garner put it best: "The real tragedy here is that none of the leadership of the Army has the guts to stand up and say it's wrong."

This all reminds me of a scene from the Shakespeare tragedy, Titus Andronicus. Titus was a Roman general who had loyally served his emperor and country for 40 years, but was deceived, his family name dishonored, and betrayed by his dead emperor's newly elected son, his trophy wife and her sons. In one moving scene, the Roman general laments before the senators and tribunes, his uniform in shambles, his grand persona muted, pleading, saying:

"Hear me, grave fathers! noble tribunes, stay!
For pity of mine age, whose youth was spent
In dangerous wars, whilst you securely slept;
For all my blood in Rome's great quarrel shed;
For all the frosty nights that I have watched;
And for these bitter tears, which now you see
Filling the aged wrinkles in my cheeks."

Textron Systems Awarded Contract for Production of 724 Additional Armored Security Vehicles for Operation Iraqi Freedom

"WILMINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 5, 2005--Textron Marine & Land of New Orleans, Louisiana, an operating unit of Textron Systems, today announced that it has been awarded an undefinitized contract action by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command to manufacture 724 additional Armored Security Vehicles (ASV). All 724 vehicles have been designated for use by the U.S. Army. Fifty percent funding has been awarded and when the contract is fully definitized is worth potentially $500 million subject to final contract terms.

There are currently 130 ASVs deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Richard Millman, president of Textron Systems, said 'We've been working closely with the Army to expedite getting these important vehicles to our soldiers. We are proud to be building these high quality and highly protected armored vehicles that have proved so successful in Iraq. We've significantly increased our production rate and, with this order, will proceed to achieve a rate of 48 vehicles a month.'
Textron Marine & Land, based in New Orleans, has also been modifying its production line, expanding its manufacturing space and hiring the necessary workforce. 'The company has been building and expanding facilities to meet our customers' needs,' said B. Clay Moise, Textron Marine & Land's vice president of marine and combat vehicles. 'We've hired more than 700 new employees to get the production lines ready for this contract, and we anticipate hiring up to 400 more employees by March of next year.

"We are very pleased and honored to receive this significant order from the U.S. Army. It is a continued vote of confidence in a vehicle that was specifically designed for a threat-rich, urban environment such as what we continue to face in Operation Iraqi Freedom," added Moise.

This latest sole source contract award brings the total number of production vehicles awarded to Textron to 1118. Work for this contract award will begin immediately, with the first deliveries expected by February, 2006 and full delivery to be completed by June, 2007. All work will be completed at Textron's facilities in Louisiana.

About the ASV

The ASV is a 4X4 wheeled armored vehicle that offers exceptional crew protection through the employment of multiple layers of armor that provides defense against medium caliber armor-piercing machine gun fire, large artillery projectile fragments, and land mines. This advanced armor is exceedingly lightweight and allows the vehicle to be able to "roll-on/roll-off" C-130 military transport aircraft. The ASV possesses superior mobility, agility, handling, and ride quality through the utilization of a four-wheel independent suspension system. Textron Cadillac Gage has equipped the U.S. Army Military Police version with a specially designed dual-weapon station that, unlike many other vehicles, enables the crew to load, reload and clear gun jams under full armor protection. Since the introduction of the ASV, Textron Systems has received numerous inquiries from other U.S. military entities, as well as many NATO countries. In response to this demand, Textron has performed studies to determine the ASV's suitability for a variety of missions. With minor modifications and appropriate outfitting, ASV variants include operation as a scout vehicle, armored personnel carrier, reconnaissance, command and recovery vehicle.

[bth: this is an excellent move by the Army in my opinion as it will give convoys a mixture of vehicles each with differing capacities. It also will give them more armor per vehicle. All around a good move in my opinion.]

ABC News: New U.S. Body Armor to Protect Soldiers' Limbs

"ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., July 4, 2005 - Until now, body armor for troops in Iraq has provided protection for much of the body - but not for arms and legs.

Among the thousands of U.S. wounded, an unprecedented 6 percent have had amputations. That's double the rate in previous wars. "

But there is new hope — new armor worn over the combat uniform to protect limbs and other body parts. The protection is provided by several layers of polyethylene fiber.

"The new body armor is excellent," Army Pvt. Ronald Smith said. "Mobility, light, protection — I'll wear it."...

[bth: sounds excellent]

Monday, July 04, 2005

'But it's my country and I love it'

"Exploding fireworks and sizzling sparklers will come later. For Maria Pait of Florida, the nation's birthday celebration came Friday morning in a low lit and quiet chamber of the National Archives, a vault-like granite building centered on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Capitol.

'Oh my God,' the 55-year-old whispered in the spacious half-moon hall.
Then, leaning over the source of her amazement and pointing, she quietly read the fading inky inscription: 'July 4, 1776.'

It was the Declaration of Independence. Mostly unreadable, a hand print visible.
'I didn't think it would be so faded,' Pait bubbled. 'But 'Free and Independent,' those words stand out.'"...

War is a pervasive topic of debate and discussion in Washington. But as the Fourth of July approaches, it seems to gain emphasis.

"I have a great deal of hope for America," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in an interview. "But I'm troubled we don't have a real plan to wrap up the war in Iraq and bring our troops home."

Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., said: "I think it's a time to think about the men and women who're sacrificing for the nation, and for those who have paid the ultimate price."

"The challenges we face are enormous," he added. "But the country does survive, and when you compare it with the rest of the world, it's still the best country in the world."

In what other country can a citizen ride an underground little train with no roof from the Senate office buildings to the Capitol?...

The nation was forged in the War of Independence. And that heritage is again at the surface, said Mark Robbins.

"This country had to fight for its independence from Britain; this country has to fight for its independence from terrorism," he said. "War is here, war has been here, war is gonna be here. It's just never ending. There has to be a sacrifice for a people to be free."

The National Archives is guarded by a statute of a behemoth Roman sentry. He's seated, holding a war helm in one hand, a sword and scrolls in the other.

"Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty," reads the inscription below him...

Who's in the Army Now? - Why we can't send more troops to Iraq.

"...The fact is, the U.S. Army has substantially shrunk since the Cold War ended 15 years ago-to the point where it simply cannot fulfill the Bush administration's global dreams.

The Army is making some adjustments to fill the gap-mainly by restructuring its brigades so that each one has more combat troops and fewer support-and-service personnel. This process has been going on for a couple of years now. Once the process is complete, the Army will have 43 or possibly 48 combat brigades (in 2000, it had 33)-each brigade smaller but loaded with 20 percent to 30 percent more fighting power. (For more on this, click here.)

With this reorganization, the Army will be able to maintain its current level of troops in Iraq without having to rely so heavily on the Guard and Reserve. (According to an Army spokesman, the last time U.S. troops rotated into Iraq, they consisted of 10 brigades from the active Army and seven brigades from the reserves. The next rotation, later this year, will consist of 15 active brigades and just two from the reserves.)

John Pike, director of, describes the result of the restructuring this way: 'We'll be able to fight the war we're fighting, indefinitely.'

In short, it's a smart gap-filler, but little more. It won't allow George W. Bush to send more troops to Iraq or Afghanistan, much less to other countries that he might like to liberate."...

Almost no one in the executive branch wants a draft, because it would instantly give every American family a stake in U.S. foreign policy. With a volunteer Army, issues of war and peace are almost abstract; only a tiny portion of the population is directly affected. With a draft, everybody's life is on the line—a turbulent state that can energize and unify a country under serious threat but tear the same country apart in a war of stalemate or dubious motive. President Bush could not possibly want the intense debate that even the prospect of a draft would inspire.

And yet, draft or no draft, the country is headed toward that debate. Does America want to be—can it be—the world's policeman, colossus, liberator, call it what you will? If so, with what resources? By itself or with allies? Through international law or by whim?

Whatever the answers, there is a potentially calamitous mismatch between the Bush administration's avowed intentions and its tangible means. They can print or borrow money to float the national debt. They can't clone or borrow soldiers to float an imperial army.

UK aid funds Iraqi torture units

"British and American aid intended for Iraq's hard-pressed police service is being diverted to paramilitary commando units accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture and extra-judicial killings, The Observer can reveal.

Iraqi Police Service officers said that ammunition, weapons and vehicles earmarked for the IPS are being taken by shock troops at the forefront of Iraq's new dirty counter-insurgency war.

The allegations follow a wide-ranging investigation by this paper into serious human rights abuses being conducted by anti-insurgency forces in Iraq. The Observer has seen photographic evidence of post-mortem and hospital examinations of alleged terror suspects from Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle which demonstrate serious abuse of suspects including burnings, strangulation, the breaking of limbs and - in one case - the apparent use of an electric drill to perform a knee-capping.
The investigation revealed:

� A 'ghost' network of secret detention centres across the country, inaccessible to human rights organisations, where torture is taking place.

� Compelling evidence of widespread use of violent interrogation methods including hanging by the arms, burnings, beatings, the use of electric shocks and sexual abuse.

� Claims that serious abuse has taken place within the walls of the Iraqi government's own Ministry of the Interior.

� Apparent co-operation between unofficial and official detention facilities, and evidence of extra-judicial executions by the police.

The issue of increasing human rights abuses has been raised with the new Iraqi government by the Foreign Office, the US State Department and the United Nations. British Embassy officials in Baghdad have been briefed on the crisis by concerned senior..."

Poll: U.S. patriotism continues to soar

"Whether or not patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, ' as the British writer Samuel Johnson observed more than 200 years ago, it may be the first refuge of a broad cross-section of modern-day Americans, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation...."

The poll, conducted by the Roper Reports unit of NOP World, is based on personal and telephone interviews over several years. It found that 81 percent of Americans believed patriotism is “in,” meaning it is an important factor in their individual identities, compared with 14 percent of Americans who believed patriotism is “out.”

The Roper/NOP poll found the gap was the widest since 1991, after the first Persian Gulf War, and far wider than during the mid- to late 1990s.

“That [patriotism] appears so long after the period of frenzied flag-waving following 9/11 suggests that it is settling in as a fixture of American perceptions,” according to Roper Reports....

The pattern of support remains consistent, even allowing for distinctions along the great divide of politics. The survey found that “only 2 points separate the shares of Democrats from Republicans and liberals from conservatives.”

“What's interesting is how unifying the concept of patriotism is today,” Silvers said. “All groups in red states or blue states lay claim to it. We’re a country that agrees to disagree, but the overriding theme all groups can claim is that they're doing it out of patriotism.”

Two missing US troops 'are dead'

"Two of the three US special forces soldiers missing in eastern Afghanistan for almost a week have been found dead, US officials tell the BBC.

The whereabouts of the other team member remains unclear, while a fourth soldier was found alive on Saturday.

The governor of Konar province has spoken of reports that an American is being cared for in a remote village.

The US launched a major hunt for the men after a Chinook helicopter sent to find them was shot down last week.
The 16 US soldiers on board the helicopter were killed. ..."

Help From France Key In Covert Operations

"PARIS -- When Christian Ganczarski, a German convert to Islam, boarded an Air France flight from Riyadh on June 3, 2003, he knew only that the Saudi government had put him under house arrest for an expired pilgrim visa and had given his family one-way tickets back to Germany, with a change of planes in Paris.

He had no idea that he was being secretly escorted by an undercover officer sitting behind him, or that a senior CIA officer was waiting at the end of the jetway as French authorities gently separated him from his family and swept Ganczarski into French custody, where he remains today on suspicion of associating with terrorists."

Ganczarski is among the most important European al Qaeda figures alive, according to U.S. and French law enforcement and intelligence officials. The operation that ensnared him was put together at a top secret center in Paris, code-named Alliance Base, that was set up by the CIA and French intelligence services in 2002, according to U.S. and European intelligence sources. Its existence has not been previously disclosed.

Funded largely by the CIA's Counterterrorist Center, Alliance Base analyzes the transnational movement of terrorist suspects and develops operations to catch or spy on them.

Alliance Base demonstrates how most counterterrorism operations actually take place: through secretive alliances between the CIA and other countries' intelligence services. This is not the work of large army formations, or even small special forces teams, but of handfuls of U.S. intelligence case officers working with handfuls of foreign operatives, often in tentative arrangements.

Such joint intelligence work has been responsible for identifying, tracking and capturing or killing the vast majority of committed jihadists who have been targeted outside Iraq and Afghanistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to terrorism experts. ...

[bth: this is a fascinating article and well worth a fully read. It certainly changes the complexion of the US-French relationship. It also shows that while the CIA and State were working effectively with the French especially on counter-intel, the Sec. of Defense was going out of his way to destroy the relationship.]

Suspected Insurgent Houses Raided in Iraq

"U.S. and Iraqi forces raided suspected insurgent safe houses near Baghdad International Airport on Monday, arresting at least 100 suspected militants, including foreign fighters, the U.S. military said.

In Cairo, the family of Egypt's top envoy to Iraq, who was abducted over the weekend in Baghdad, pleaded for the diplomat's speedy release and said it had heard nothing of about his whereabouts. Ihab al-Sherif's abduction was an apparent bid to dissuade Arab governments from strengthening ties to the U.S.-backed government."...

Sunday, July 03, 2005

U.S. Army seeks to improve intelligence work in Iraq

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army will launch a joint intelligence operations center in Iraq next month as part of a drive to improve its ability to fight insurgents, but a top official warned on Friday the effort would take a while. "...

"That will take a while," he said, noting an initial intelligence database and network would be in place by December. "It's a problem of technology and fielding it across the force," Alexander added. ..

A new Army report underscored the need for "a dramatic improvement in intelligence capabilities" and said the new Joint Intelligence Operations Center would help consolidate existing intelligence networks, integrate data gathered by sensors on the ground and in the air and improving training.

The Army will also add 3,000 intelligence officers through fiscal year 2009, said Collin Agee, director of Army intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance integration.

Starting in August, the Army will distribute 600 to 700 personal digital assistants to Army forces, giving them the ability to receive Global Positioning Satellite data, a wide variety of intelligence imagery and data as well as the ability to enter intelligence they gather while on patrol.

The Army aimed to increase the number of devices to 1,000 by December. They could later be upgraded to record biometric data, such as eye scans, to help identify extremists, as well as more extensive data-mining applications, Agee said


"ABU DHABI [MENL] -- Al Qaida was determined to have a budget of more than $500 million for its insurgency campaign in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi security sources said Al Qaida has the assets in cash, property, firearms, munitions and precious metals throughout the kingdom. The sources said Al Qaida has used the budget to recruit and train insurgents in both Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Saudi authorities said Al Qaida network leaders might have raised the money from abroad. They said that neither Abdul Aziz Al Muqrin, killed in a Saudi shootout in June 2004, nor his predecessors were regarded as wealthy. Salah Al Awfi was also not regarded as the source of the funding.

The sources said raids on Al Qaida strongholds since May 2003 have turned up huge amounts of cash. In many cases, they said, sums of more than $150,000 were found in the possession of Al Qaida cells."

US delight as Iraqi rebels turn their guns on al-Qa'eda

"American troops on the Syrian border are enjoying a battle they have long waited to see - a clash between foreign al-Qa'eda fighters and Iraqi insurgents."

Tribal leaders in Husaybah are attacking followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist who established the town as an entry point for al-Qa'eda jihadists being smuggled into the country.

The reason, the US military believes, is frustration at the heavy-handed approach of the foreigners, who have kidnapped and assassinated local leaders and imposed a strict Islamic code....

But the extent of the jihadist presence in Hasaybah - and therefore the subsequent tension - is unique.

Foreign fighters first started to arrive two years ago after Zarqawi bought properties to use as safe houses for arrivals before they could be funnelled east towards Baghdad and other major cities.

The police fled in November. In mid-June, al-Qa'eda units took over key buildings, including mosques and government offices. "Al-Qa'eda in Iraq" flags were raised.

The city, 240 miles north-west of Baghdad and adjacent to the insurgent centre of Qaim, is so dangerous that soldiers in the US base sleep in bunkers because of mortar and rocket attacks.

Following al-Qa'eda's seizure of the main buildings a number of residents fled. Arkan Salim, 56, who left with his wife and four children, said: "We thought they were patriotic. Now we discovered that they are sick and crazy.

"They interfered in everything, even how we raise our children. They turned the city into hell, and we cannot live in it anymore."

Critics Call Radio Hosts' Trip Propaganda Mission

"WASHINGTON - A contingent of conservatives talk radio hosts is headed to Iraq this month on a mission to report 'the truth' about the war: American troops are winning, despite headlines to the contrary.

The 'Truth Tour' has been pulled together by the conservative Web cast radio group and Move America Forward, a non-profit conservative group backed by a Republican-linked public relations firm in California.

'The reason why we are doing it is we are sick and tired of seeing and hearing headlines by the mainstream media about our defeat in Iraq,' Melanie Morgan, a talk radio host (search) for KSFO Radio in San Francisco and co-chair of Move America Forward, said.

Morgan said the media is 'imposing a Vietnam template on this war.'
'This is not Vietnam,' she said. 'War is war, and it's dangerous, and the killing is taking place all of the time. At the same time, where there is danger, there is success and there is a mainstream media that is determined to shut out that success.'"...

"This is the most pathetic thing I've heard in a long time. They should be ashamed of themselves," Peter Beinart, editor of left-leaning The New Republic magazine, said.

"They have no idea what journalism is, and to pretend they are journalists is laughable," Beinart said. "You do not achieve victory by not facing reality. I think these are the kinds of people that will lead us to lose there."

The delegation, which Morgan said is being funded by individual radio stations and the hosts themselves, will be leaving on Friday for about a week.

They will be broadcasting from U.S Central Command headquarters in Baghdad's Green Zone (search) and will be traveling with the troops daily.

The group will kick off the trip with a "Thank You BBQ" for the troops at Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Fla., before traveling to Kuwait to visit with soldiers. They will be flown from there to Iraq via military transport and will be sleeping in tents inside the secured Green Zone.

According to retired Col. Buzz Patterson (search), host of "The Buzz Cut" on Rightalk, the delegation of seven to 10 conservatives will also include two writers from the Web site FrontPage Magazine, which is published by David Horowitz (search) and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture.

"The war is being won, if not already won, I think," Patterson, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, said. "[Iraq] is stabilized and we want the soldiers themselves to tell the story."...

We believe that the emphasis has been placed on the negative and if Americans knew what really was going on over there they would have an entirely different picture," said Williams.

"We are Americans first and journalists second, as opposed to the crop of 'pinkos' that tell us on the news every night that America is going to hell in a hand basket," he said.

Steve Rendall, senior analyst for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting and author of "The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error," said with an attitude like that, the trip will probably be useless in terms of real news-making.

He pointed out that not a single "mainstream" newspaper has editorialized in favor of a military withdrawal from Iraq and challenged the radio jocks to get any unfiltered information during their "velvet rope" treatment.

"If these talk show hosts are going over there to find good news no matter what, their trip is useless," he said. "It would be laughable if it wasn't as troubling as it is when they call it 'The Truth Tour.'"...

Putin Calls for World Cooperation on Iraq

Putin Calls for World Cooperation on Iraq: "President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called on the world community to work together to bring stability to violence-wracked Iraq, saying after meeting with French and German leaders that past disputes should not prevent future cooperation.

'All of the disagreements on the Iraqi problem must remain in the past,' the Russian leader said.

All countries should join together in efforts to stabilize Iraq, he said, 'so that the Iraqi people can take responsibility and take their fate in their own hands....'"

Saudi Arabia says kills top al Qaeda militant - Yahoo! News

"RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's security forces killed the man at the top of its list of most wanted al Qaeda leaders in a clash in Riyadh on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said. ...

"All but two men on a previous list of 26 wanted militants, published in December 2003, are believed dead or in custody.

Hagel Says `Stay the Course' Isn't a Viable Policy in Iraq Top Worldwide: "July 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, said the Bush administration must adjust its policies in Iraq and set standards to determine progress.

``People need to have some kind of measurement standard in Iraq,'' Hagel said on the NBC's ``Meet the Press.'' ``So that we don't drift and just every now and then get a new speech saying, `Well, we're doing fine and just stay the course.' Stay the course is not a policy.''

The U.S. has about 135,000 troops in Iraq and 18,000 in Afghanistan. U.S. casualties have risen to 1,740 in Iraq and 149 in Afghanistan as of July 1. Many Democrats and some Republicans, including Arizona Senator John McCain, also have criticized the administration's handling of military operations in Iraq.

Bush, in a nationally televised June 28 speech to troops at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, urged ``perseverance'' in support of the war effort.

Hagel said he will continue to question the administration's policies in Iraq.

``I will do everything I can to ensure that we have a policy worthy of these brave young men and women who are sacrificing their lives and doing the things that they do for this country,'' Hagel said. ``I don't think that policy is there today.'' ..."

Arsenal ends mission to armor Army trucks - The Quad-City Times Newspaper: "Feverish work by welders, assemblers and other Arsenal employees came to a successful end Friday as the last of 1,115 armor kits for military trucks was packed and shipped off to soldiers fighting in the Middle East.

Hundreds of employees gave up weekends, vacations and family time as they worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day to fulfill the urgent need, said Col. Bruce Elliott, commander of the Arsenal's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center.

'Our soldiers are placed in harm's way every day, and these kits they are installing are giving them a degree of safety and comfort,' he said. 'Our workers here know they have made a difference.'
Joe Ford of Colona, Ill., said the overtime he has been paid is great, but added that he would do the extra work for nothing if asked.

'It's for the soldier in the field and for saving lives,' he said.
Since February, he has worked many strings of seven-day weeks, with only a couple days off in about six months. Basically, he worked, ate, slept and then worked again.
'I've got a very understanding wife,' he said moments after shooting nails into the last wooden crate cradling a M939 5-ton truck armor cab.

The armor fits around the cab of the military's workhorse transport vehicles that are threatened daily by improvised explosive devices and insurgent attacks, armor kit project manager Michael DeWitte said.
His workers were churning out 100 kits a week this month, with an average of two weeks needed to complete a single kit from scratch..."