Saturday, August 27, 2005
"POWs and MIAs: Status and Accounting Issues," updated May 20,
"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons: How Soon an Arsenal?," updated May 12, 2005:
"North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program," updated May 6, 2005:
WAR POWERS: DECIDING TO USE FORCE ABROAD
The process of authorizing the decision to go to war is reexamined in a new report by a bipartisan commission which generally concludes that Congress must be more assertive in exercising its constitutionally mandated role.
"Congress must perform its constitutional duty to reach a deliberate and transparent collective judgment about initiating the use of force abroad except when force is used for a limited range of defensive purposes."
See "Deciding to Use Force Abroad: War Powers in a System of Checks and Balances," The Constitution Project, June 29, 2005:
Relatedly, see "War Powers Resolution: Presidential Compliance"
from the Congressional Research Service, updated May 24, 2005:
"Pakistan-U.S. Relations," updated July 26, 2005:
"Pakistan: Chronology of Events," updated July 25, 2005:
"Supreme Court Appointment Process: Roles of the President, Judiciary Committee, and Senate," updated July 6, 2005:
"Women in Iraq: Background and Issues for U.S. Policy," updated June 23, 2005:
PENTAGON UPDATES POLICY ON LEAKS
The Department of Defense has updated and expanded its policy on investigating unauthorized disclosures of classified information.
"Unauthorized disclosure of classified information to the public reduces the effectiveness of DoD management; damages intelligence and operational capabilities; and lessens the Department of Defense's ability to protect critical information, technologies, and programs," the new Pentagon policy directive states.
"It is DoD policy that known or suspected instances of unauthorized public disclosure of classified information shall be reported promptly and investigated to decide the nature and circumstances of the disclosure, the extent of damage to national security, and the corrective and disciplinary action to be taken."
The directive assigns principal responsibility for dealing with leaks to the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence).
Attached to the directive is a Department of Justice Media Leak Questionnaire which includes "eleven standard questions relating to unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the media" that must be answered.
Among the questions are: Was the information properly classified?
Is the classified information disclosed accurate?
A copy of the new directive was obtained by Secrecy News.
See "Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information to the Public," DoD Directive 5210.50, signed by Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, July 22, 2005:
PENTAGON REPORT ON CONTRACTORS IN IRAQ
The role of private contractors supporting deployed military forces and reconstruction efforts in Iraq is the subject of a new report to Congress from the Department of Defense.
The extensive U.S. reliance on contractors in Iraq is a sensitive subject, involving complex questions of oversight and authority.
"The interaction between U.S. military forces and security contractors in Iraq is one of coordination rather than control because private security contractors have no direct contractual relationship with the Commander," the new report states.
The report describes the legal status of contractors, addresses questions of misconduct, and provides various data on casualty and fatality figures for contractor personnel.
The report, which was required by the FY 2005 Defense Authorization Act, has not been publicly released. A copy was obtained by researcher David Isenberg.
See "Public Law 108-375, Section 1206 Report" here (1.6 MB PDF
FORMER AIPAC OFFICIALS INDICTED
The Justice Department announced the indictment of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), along with former Defense Department official Larry Franklin, for "conspiracy to communicate national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it."
A copy of the August 4 indictment is here:
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty declared firmly that "When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today's charges are about crossing that line."
But the law governing unauthorized disclosures of classified information is not "a clear line."
It is a blurry and discontinuous line. Laws on disclosures of classified national defense information do not apply to disclosures of classified non-defense intelligence or diplomatic information. Laws on classified nuclear weapons information differ from both.
That is what motivated Congress in 2000 to enact an anti-leak statute that would have categorically outlawed all such unauthorized disclosures. The move was vetoed by President Clinton, at the urging of press organizations and open government advocates who saw it as an emerging Official Secrets Act.
"Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation's secrets must remain faithful to that trust," Mr. McNulty continued.
Then he added piously: "Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be."
But as a practical matter, receipt of formally classified information is part of the daily business of national security reporting, and occasionally of government watchdogging. Even Mr. McNulty did not propose to indict the reporters to whom the former AIPAC officials allegedly communicated their information.
In other words, Mr. McNulty's public statement is not a reliable guide to law or policy on national security classification.
A copy of the August 4 Justice Department news release with Mr.
McNulty's remarks is here:
ARMY WARNS AGAINST PLACING SENSITIVE INFO ONLINE
In an internal message sent this month to "all Army leaders," U.S.
Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker warned that sensitive military information is being posted by Army personnel on the internet and that "the enemy continues to exploit such information for use against our forces." He ordered increased attention to operational security to address the problem.
"Some soldiers continue to post sensitive information to internet websites and blogs, e.g. photos depicting weapon system vulnerabilities and tactics, techniques, and procedures," Gen.
"Such OPSEC [operational security] violations needlessly place lives at risk and degrade the effectiveness of our operations."
Gen. Schoomaker appended a related February 2005 alert from the Vice Chief of Staff, who elaborated further:
"The enemy is actively searching the unclassified networks for information, especially sensitive photos, in order to obtain targeting data, weapons system vulnerabilities, and TTPs [tactics, techniques, and procedures] for use against the Coalition. A more aggressive attitude toward protecting friendly information is vital to mission success. The enemy is a pro at exploiting our OPSEC vulnerabilities."
"Remind all personnel that the enemy will exploit sensitive photos showing the results of IED strikes, battle scenes, casualties, destroyed or damaged equipment, and enemy KIAs as propaganda and terrorist training tools.... We cannot afford to have our photos become training and recruitment tools for the enemy," the Vice Chief of Staff stated.
"Get the word out and focus on this issue now," Gen. Schoomaker wrote. "I expect to see immediate improvement."
A copy of Gen. Schoomaker's August 2005 message was obtained by Secrecy News. See:
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads the powerful ultra-conservative Guardian Council, told worshippers in Tehran's Friday prayers, "Fortunately, after years of effort and expectations in Iraq, an Islamic state has come to power and the constitution has been established on the basis of Islamic precepts".
"We must congratulate the Iraqi people and authorities for this victory", he said.
Jannati, who is a top confidant of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that all justice-seeking counties of the world "have no model other than the Islamic revolution in Iran to turn to".
"Lebanese Hezbollah and the state of Iraq are not the only supporters of the Islamic revolution", he said.
Referring to the West as Global Arrogance, the hard-line cleric said, "No matter how many stones they throw in our path, they cannot prevent the spread of the Islamic revolution in the world".
"We are the winners in the nuclear issue, too", Jannati said. "The way is paved for our progress and we just need to work hard".
Jannati said the rising oil prices had placed Iran on a sound financial footing. "We still have problems, but less than before".
In comments directed against other factions within the clerical regime, Jannati called on the new hard-line government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "purge executives who have been within our system, but who have been opposing our system and abusing people's rights".
“These executives must be purged as soon as possible”, the powerful cleric said.
[bth: My son died for this?]
Part of the 100,000 person demonstration organized around Iraq by al-Sadr. I've been watching the photos. Last year there were a number of armed protesters, then earlier this year there were no weapons in sight. Now it looks like selected members of the crowd are carrying weapons again and I understand that in some locations he had armed militia overlooking the event from rooftops. One wonders why al-Sadr has never been brought to justice.
Why do I say that? Because anyone who knows anything about counter-insurgency warfare knows that sweeps don't work. In a sweep, a conventional military unit, designed to fight other units like itself, is sent into bad guy country. It is not going to stay there; it's just passing through. Inevitably, the insurgents know for days if not weeks beforehand when and where it is coming.
Most of the bad guys simply leave. Enough stay behind to set some ambushes and plant mines and booby-traps. The unit doing the sweep comes through like ducks in a shooting gallery. It gets hit, sometimes hard. Maybe it picks up a few insurgent weapons dumps. Typically, it rounds up any young men it finds as 'possible insurgents' (units like 3/25 now report that they find no young men on their sweeps - no surprise). Then it leaves.
The insurgents come back. Nothing has changed, except places like Cleveland hold a lot of military funerals. In the end, it's us that gets swept.
So why do we keep doing it? Beyond the facts that many of our generals are military idiots and more are politicians in uniform (do I hear Lincoln up there sighing?), the standard answer is that we don't have enough troops in Iraq to occupy the place. That is true. But instead of wasting the troops we do have by conducting sweeps, why don't we adopt the 'ink-blot strategy' where we can?
Deriving from British experience in Malaya and what American Special Forces and Marines did in the early stages of the Vietnam war (and it was working when we abandoned it), the ink-blot strategy uses however many troops we've got to come into an area and stay. They move right into the towns and villages. They live with the local people. They provide long-term security, so local people can work with us without getting their throats cut three days later once we've gone.
No, we do not have enough troops to do this in all of Sunni Iraq. But we can start with part of it. Yes, that will give the insurgents a free hand elsewhere, for a time. But sweeps don't change that fact; they only change the appearance, which may be what is wanted for briefings back in Washington but means nothing on the ground. Over time, our ink-blots can slowly expand, as areas become genuinely secure and can be turned over to someone else (probably local militias willing to take American dollars).
The root problem here is one I have pointed to many times before: the seeming inability of the American military's higher echelons to learn. The officers and men of units like 3/25 learn and adapt quickly. But our vast, overstaffed and underled headquarters seem to live on another planet. They don't learn from the experiences of others, through history, and they also don't learn from the experience of 3/25 and other similar units.
They just keep ordering the same failed tactics, like sweeps or dropping bombs on populated towns and cities, over and over again. I'm not a psychologist, but I believe that is a traditional symptom of neurosis.
Yet on another level, their behavior is rational. American generals become senior commanders by pleasing politicians. They please politicians by telling them what they want to hear. The Bush administration wants to be told that what we are doing is working, so that is what the generals tell them. And it's so much easier to tell someone else that it's working if you believe it yourself. It all makes perfect sense – in a closed-system fantasyland that has no relationship whatever to the war units like 3/25 are fighting.
If the people of Cleveland and other places like Cleveland ever figure out what's really going on, there's going to be hell to pay.
Anger is a short step from grief.
Besides the usual polling questions, the last three are of unique interest to me.
- 60% of Americans registered to vote think we should keep troops in Iraq until it has stabilized.
- 87% to 12% think it is OK for Americans to speak in opposition to the war.
- Only 54% of Americans have a friend, colleague or family member who has served in the military effort and 45% have no such connection.
What I find disturbing is how few have any involvement in the war, how many are willing to allow expressions of dissent which is in such contrast to the comments made by the Administration and how many Americans think we should stick it out in Iraq.
An interesting statistical relationship would be to compare those 54% with relatives or acquaintances in Iraq and those 60% that think we should stick it out there.
Bush's upbeat take collides with recent news reports about events in Iraq as well as with the judgments of senior officials within his administration. If the media have got it wrong, then we deserve to get hammered. If, however, it turns out that Bush is not being straight with courageous U.S. service members and their families, then it will be the Bush presidency and his legacy that will pay dearly.
At the moment he's hitting it off in visits to military posts, where he dons his commander-in-chief hat. One Bush line always draws applause: 'We will stay on the offensive. Whatever it takes, we will seek and find and destroy the terrorists, so that we do not have to face them in our own country.' "...
But what if something else is in the works? Suppose staying on the offense "until the enemy is broken," an applause line, is just that -- an applause line?
There are good reasons to ask.
In an Aug. 12 Page One story that included interviews with U.S. officials involved in Iraq policy, The Post's Peter Baker wrote: "Administration officials have all but given up any hope of militarily defeating the insurgents with U.S. forces, instead aiming only to train and equip enough Iraqi security forces to take over the fight themselves." Bush, the piece said, is only trying to buy time until the Iraqi political process moves along and Iraqi troops get up to speed.
Two days later, The Post's Robin Wright and Ellen Knickmeyer reported an even gloomier assessment based on interviews with senior administration officials and analysts who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it," they reported. Said a U.S. official: "We've said we won't leave a day before it's necessary. But necessary is the key word -- necessary for them or for us? When we finally depart, it will probably be for us."
In other words, while Bush is out rallying the troops and reassuring their families that their sacrifices won't be in vain, administration officials in Washington are quietly playing down expectations of what can really be achieved in Iraq.
Far from the cheering crowds, this is the word in the Nation's Capital: Forget all that prewar talk about a secular, modern and united Iraq emerging after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Get ready instead for some form of Islamic republic in Iraq that gives special status to clerics and majority ethnic groups, and less deference to women's rights. A new Iraq free of violence and divisions? Oops, never mind.
Which brings us back to the troops who are doing the suffering and dying. Are their sacrifices worth it?
Consider the Iraq now unfolding on the ground.
What's the value of Americans giving their lives so that cleric-dominated Shiites and northern Kurds can get their hands on political power and oil revenue?
Why are American women and men sacrificing lives and limbs in a country where women may have to settle for less?
Stay the course. What course? So religious-based militia can divvy up the northern and southern portions of the country? So Islam can be enshrined as a principal source of new Iraqi legislation?
Are any of those things worth dying for? Do any of those likely outcomes represent an American victory? They certainly aren't why Bush said we went over there.
Okay, the Bush folks also promised us weapons of mass destruction, and greetings with rice and rose water, and Iraqi oil money to pay for reconstruction, and a model new democracy in the Middle East, none of which has happened.
But this is different.
President Bush is out selling a vision of victory in Iraq while U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad are resigned to settling for less. George Bush can't make good on his original promise, and they know it. They also know that more Americans are going to die in Iraq for what may end up as a theocracy-tinged spoils system.
When those carrying the burden of this war realize what they have sacrificed and died for, the worst days of George W. Bush will have just begun.
Hakim, 34, is the oldest son of Abdul Aziz Hakim, the leader of the Iranian-backed Shiite party known as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is probably the most potent political force in the country today. He now lives in Najaf, the Shiite equivalent of the Vatican, where he helps direct the party's social and charitable network. But he and his family lived 23 years in exile in Iran. To put it bluntly, Hakim represents what might be called the 'Shiite card' in the Iraqi poker game."...
Iraqi federalism will allow regional self-government, as in the United States, but "the Shiites are a majority; they have no interest in disintegration."
Well, of course a leading Shiite cleric would say those things, a skeptic might respond. The Shiites have an interest in keeping American troops around as long as possible to fight their battles against the Sunni insurgency. And the fact that the new Iraqi constitution suits the interests of the Shiite mullahs in Najaf doesn't necessarily mean it serves American interests -- or even those of ordinary Iraqis.
But Americans should ponder the argument that Hakim made to U.S. officials. The way to contain Sunni terrorism and stabilize the Arab world is to develop a strategic relationship with Najaf. Powerful Shiite communities exist in all the region's hot spots: Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and above all Iran. An American rapprochement with Iran is essential, he would argue, but the real fulcrum should be Najaf.
Without a measure of Sunni support for this strategy, it's a recipe for permanent religious warfare in the Middle East. But I suspect that even Sunni stalwarts in Saudi Arabia and Jordan might find Hakim's argument for a Shiite-led restabilization intriguing. In a world of bad choices, this one may be the least bad.
'We vow by the name of God that we are determined to destroy the American empire,' it says.
The book, filled with calls for violence and hate for all but 'true Muslims' -- a group that it says does not include Shiites -- surfaced on an Islamic Web site this week."...
Atamnia Yacine, 33, was detained in the Thai capital on Wednesday and faces charges of possessing 180 fake French and Spanish passports and overstaying his visa.
The Nation newspaper reported on Saturday that police also suspect Yacine may have supplied fake travel documents used in the London attacks which killed 52 commuters and wounded 700 others."...
The theory emerged as three Iraqis were questioned by detectives yesterday after being arrested taking photographs near to the venue for a European Union foreign ministers’ meeting next week, near Newport, Gwent. The men were held under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Saleh al-Mutlaq made the statement on Al-Jazeera television after Sunnis studied compromise proposals offered by the Shiites on federalism and purges of former members of Saddam Hussein�s Baath Party.
"The issue of division through federalism is on the table," al-Mutlaq said. "The Iraqi people have to give their word now and reject the constitution because this constitution is the beginning of the division of the country and the beginning of creating disturbance in the country."
Asked about Shiite offers, he replied: "We are still far from what we need and what the people need."
A Shitte negotiator, Khaled al-Attiyah, said a "consensus" had been reached on the charter and an amended version would be sent to parliament on Saturday. Asked about that, al-Mutlaq said simply: "Let them."
That suggested the Shiites and their Kurdish allies might be prepared to send the document to the assembly without Sunni concurrence.
Government spokesman Laith Kubba indicated that the talks were hopelessly deadlocked.
"This is the end of the road," he told Al-Arabiya television. "In the end, we will put this constitution to the people to decide."
[bth: So what do we know? We know that the Sunnis have evidently rejected the constitution. The get-out-the-vote effort in the rebellious Sunni provinces is about voting down the constitution, not voting for it. The odds that anything constructive will pass with enough votes in October or December is slim to none. We know that al-Sadr has used this opportunity to reassert himself militarily and politically. It is unlikely that the Sunnis have the strength to re-capture territory from the Shia if we left and that the proven oil reserves are in Kurdish and Shia hands which is what much of the debate about federalism is really about -- loot. The Shia in the sourth and the Kurds in the north have it, the Sunnis and the urban impoverished Shia followers of al-Sadr don't.]
The protest could reinforce the opposition of Sunni Arabs who dominate the insurgency and are bitterly against the draft.
Supporters of young Shi'ite firebrand Moqtada al-Sadr, who has staged two uprisings against U.S. troops, also protested against poor services during their marches, stepping up the pressure on the government."...
Peter Ash, 16 with his hamster powered mobile phone charged 'Elvis' at his home in Lawford, Somerset. See PA Story. Peter Ash came up with the idea after his sister Sarah complained that Elvis was keeping her awake at night by playing for hours on his exercise wheel. The teenage inventor was given a C for his project and discovered today he had been awarded a D overall for the course. See PA story EDUCATION GCSE Somerset. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Barry Batchelor
Peter Ash, of Lawford, Somerset, attached a generator to his hamster's exercise wheel and connected it to his phone charger.
Elvis does the legwork while Peter charges his phone in an economically and environmentally friendly way.
He came up with the idea after his sister Sarah complained that Elvis was keeping her awake at night by playing for hours on his exercise wheel.
"I thought the wheel could be made to do something useful so I connected a system of gears and a turbine," he said.
"Every two minutes Elvis spends on his wheel gives me about thirty minutes talk time on my phone."
The teenage inventor was given a C for his project and has been awarded a D overall for the course.
"FALLUJAH, Iraq - (KRT) - Insurgents in Anbar province, the center of guerrilla resistance in Iraq, have fought the U.S. military to a stalemate.
After repeated major combat offensives in Fallujah and Ramadi, and after losing hundreds of soldiers and Marines in Anbar during the past two years - including 75 since June 1 - many American officers and enlisted men assigned to Anbar have stopped talking about winning a military victory in Iraq's Sunni Muslim heartland. Instead, they're trying to hold on to a handful of population centers and hit smaller towns in a series of quick-strike operations designed to disrupt insurgent activities temporarily.
'I don't think of this in terms of winning,' said Col. Stephen Davis, who commands a task force of about 5,000 Marines in an area of some 24,000 square miles in the western portion of Anbar. Instead, he said, his Marines are fighting a war of attrition. 'The frustrating part for the (American) audience, if you will, is they want finality. They want a fight for the town and in the end the guy with the white hat wins.'
That's unlikely in Anbar, Davis said. He expects the insurgency to last for years, hitting American and Iraqi forces with quick ambushes, bombs and mines. Roadside bombs have hit vehicles Davis was riding in three times this year already.
'We understand counter-insurgency ... we paid for these lessons in blood in Vietnam,' Davis said. 'You'll get killed on a nice day when everything is quiet.'
Most of Iraq is far quieter than Anbar. But Anbar is Iraq's largest province and home to the Arab Sunni minority, which dominated the government under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. It's the strategic center of the country, and failure to secure it could thwart the Bush administration's hopes of helping to create a functioning Iraqi democracy.
Military officials now frequently compare the fight in Anbar to the Vietnam War, saying that guerrilla fighters, who blend back into the population, are trying to break the will of the American military - rather than defeat it outright - and to erode public support for the war back home.
"If it were just killing people that would win this, it'd be easy," said Marine Maj. Nicholas Visconti, 35, of Brookfield, Conn., who served in southern Iraq in 2003. "But look at Vietnam. We killed millions, and they kept coming. It's a war of attrition. They're not trying to win. It's just like in Vietnam. They won a long, protracted fight that the American public did not have the stomach for. ... Killing people is not the answer; rebuilding the cities is."
Minutes after he spoke, two mortar rounds flew over the building where he's based in Hit. Visconti didn't flinch as the explosions rang out.
During three weeks of reporting along the Euphrates River valley, home to Anbar's main population centers and the core of insurgent activity, military officials offered three primary reasons that guerrilla fighters have held and gained ground: the enemy's growing sophistication, insufficient numbers of U.S. troops and the lack of trained and reliable Iraqi security forces.
They described an enemy who's intelligent and adaptive:
_ Military officials in Ramadi said insurgents there had learned the times of their patrol shift changes. When one group of vehicles comes to relieve another, civilian traffic is pushed to the side of the road to allow the military to pass. Insurgents plan and use this opportunity, surrounded by other cars, to drop homemade bombs out their windows or through holes cut in the rear floor.
_ The insurgents have figured out by trial and error the different viewing ranges of the optics systems in American tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Humvees.
"They've mapped it out. They go into the road and try to draw fire to see what our range is and then they make a note of it and start putting IEDs that far out," said Army Maj. Jason Pelletier, 32, of the 28th Infantry Division, referring to improvised explosive devices, the military's term for homemade bombs. "It's that cat-and-mouse game. They do something, we react and they note our reaction," said Pelletier, who's from Milton, Vt.
_ Faced with the U.S. military's technological might, guerrilla fighters have relied on gathering intelligence and using cheap, effective devices to kill and maim.
Marines raided a home near their base in Hit and found three Sudanese insurgents with a crude map they'd drawn of the American base, including notes detailing when patrols left the gate, whether they were on foot or in vehicles and the numbers of Marines on the patrols.
The three men also had $11,000 in cash in an area in which insurgents pay locals $50 to plant bombs in the road.
The guerrilla fighters in Hit have used small, yellow and pink, Japanese star-shaped alarm clocks - similar to those popular with little girls in the United States - as timers to detonate rocket launchers and mortar systems aimed at Marine positions. They frequently use sawed-off curtain rods planted 50 or so yards away to calibrate the ranges to nearby bases. One of the two Marine positions in the city receives mortar fire almost daily. Patrols from the other base are hit by frequent roadside bombings.
Instead of referring to the enemy derisively as "terrorists" - as they used to - Marines and soldiers now give the insurgents a measure of respect by calling them "mujahedeen," an Arabic term meaning "holy warrior" that became popular during the Afghan guerrilla campaign against the Soviet Union.
Military commanders in Anbar hope to combat the insurgency through a multi-pronged strategy of political progress, reconstruction and training Iraqi security forces.
However, there's been less political progress in Anbar than in Iraq's Kurdish north and Shiite Muslim south, the violence there has stymied progress in rebuilding towns destroyed in the fighting and Iraqi forces are still a long way from being able to secure the province.
U.S. officials hope that a strong turnout in national elections in December will turn people away from violence. They expressed similar hopes before last January's elections. However, while those elections were a success in many parts of the nation, in Anbar the turnout was in the single digits.
"Some of the Iraqis say they want to vote but they're worried there'll be a bomb at the polling station," Marine Capt. James Haunty, 27, of Columbus, Ohio, said recently. "It's a legitimate fear, but I always tell them, just trust me."
Less than five minutes after Haunty spoke, near the town of Hit, a roadside bomb down the street produced a loud boom followed by a funnel of black smoke.
Many Sunnis in Anbar say they'll vote against the constitution in October, as they've felt excluded from the process of drafting the document.
While fighting has badly damaged many towns and precluded widespread reconstruction efforts, Marines in Fallujah are working to make that city a centerpiece of rebuilding. Fallujah residences sustained some $225 million in damage last November during a U.S. assault aimed at clearing the city of insurgents, according to Marine Lt. Col. Jim Haldeman, who oversees the civil military operations center in Fallujah.
Homeowners have received 20 percent of that amount to rebuild homes, and will get the next 20 percent in the coming weeks, Haldeman said. Families are walking the streets once again and shops have reopened. The sound of hammers is constant, and men line the streets mixing concrete and laying bricks out to dry.
Even so, of the 250,000 population before the fighting, just 150,000 residents have returned. And the insurgency has come back to the area.
Iraqis are still a long way from being able to provide their own security in Anbar. As with much of the province, Fallujah has no functioning police force. Police in Ramadi are confined to two heavily fortified stations, after insurgents destroyed or seriously damaged eight others.
The Iraqi national guard, heralded last year as the answer to local security, was dissolved because of incompetence and insurgent infiltration, as was the guard's predecessor, the civil defense corps.
The new Iraqi army has participated in all the Marines' recent sweeps in Anbar, in a limited way. While the Iraqi soldiers haven't thrown down their weapons and run, as they have in the past, many of them are still unable to operate without close U.S. supervision.
Lasseter made regular trips to Fallujah in the summer and winter of 2003, interviewing tribal sheiks and residents there before the town fell to insurgents. He wrote extensively about the brewing unrest in the region, and the misunderstandings and conflicts between residents and the U.S. military units stationed there. During that period he was able to walk freely throughout the town with a translator. He was last in Fallujah without military escort in early 2004 when insurgents overran the downtown police station. After men repeatedly pointed AK-47s at his chest and face and threatened to shoot him, he decided not to return except with American troops. Insurgents took over the town that April. He reported on troops in Ramadi last summer, and wrote about the scaling back of patrols there and low morale among troops. He returned to Anbar province in November, when U.S. troops retook Fallujah in the worst urban combat since Vietnam. For this series of stories, Lasseter spent three weeks in the province this month embedded with Marine and Army units in Haqlaniya, Haditha, Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah.
Zebari, on a two-day trip to Italy, also said the next few months would 'make or break' Iraq but that allies should stick together and not send what he called mixed or confused signals. "
He said he sympathised with anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan and others who have lost loved ones in Iraq but that it would be "disastrous" if the protests led to any cracks in the coalition or premature withdrawal.
"I fully understand the feelings of this lady and how she feels about the loss of her son and we sympathise with her and our prayers go to her and to all those who have fallen," Zebari said of Sheehan, who has been camping out at President George W. Bush's Texas ranch.
"But these times, these remaining months, are really the make or break of Iraq. These months are critical to the success or failure of this project of democratisation, of regime change, whether for the United States, its allies or for us," he said.
Zebari was asked about the growing anti-war movement, symbolised by Sheehan and other protesters who have garnered international media coverage at a time when more than 1,800 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq conflict.
"We are definitely monitoring this development very closely, very carefully, but at the same time we have a very clear political programme. We know where we are going," he said.
"If people don't see some progress, if the American public or any other public do not see a plan, that there is progress, that there is movement, definitely they will get frustrated, this is natural, this is true even for us, for the Iraqi public," he said.
Parents of soldiers killed in Iraq plan to follow Bush around the country in the coming months, hoping to generate nationwide anti-war sentiment.
According to a July 27 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, a majority of the U.S. public doubts the United States will win the war in Iraq and believes the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans over Iraq's weapons capabilities.
Asked if he was worried about changing feelings in the United States, Zebari said:
"These are the times to stand firm, not to give any mixed signals or confused signals or weak signals to our adversaries, to our enemies, especially the terrorists and all those who support terrorism," he said.
"A premature withdrawal would be a disaster for Iraq and for the cause of freedom and democracy throughout the world. Nobody can afford it, really, despite the pain, despite the losses."
Earlier on Thursday, Zebari briefed Pope Benedict on the situation in Iraq and was told that all sectors of society and religious groups should have a say in the future of the country.
The Vatican opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the late Pope John Paul was part of an international campaign to try to avert it.
[bth: note the change in Iraqi attitudes with regard to the US presence in Iraq. Last year we were occupiers and they wanted us to leave. Now we are occupiers and they want us to stay. On the theory that they really don't give a rat's ass about America or its soldiers when they are in a political fight within Iraq which is a life or death struggle for them, I'd submit that we are setting ourselves up to fight their civil war or are doing it for them already.]
Mr. Bush intervened when some senior Shiite leaders said they had decided to bypass their Sunni counterparts, as well as Iraqi lawmakers, and send the document directly to Iraqi voters for their approval.
The calls by Shiite leaders to ignore the Sunnis' request for changes to the draft constitution provoked threats from the Sunnis that they would urge their people to reject the document when it goes before voters in a national referendum in October.
At day's end, American officials in Washington declared that the Iraqis had made "substantial and real progress" toward a deal on the constitution. And senior Iraqi leaders said they would make a last-ditch effort on Friday to strike a deal.
But after so many days of fruitless negotiations, some senior political leaders here suggested that time had run out.
"There are still some negotiations, but if we don't have any compromise, then that's it," said Sheik Khalid al-Atiyya, a Shiite negotiator. "We will go to the election to vote on it."
A decision by the Shiites to move ahead without the Sunnis would be a considerable blow to efforts by the Bush administration to bring the leaders of the Sunni minority into the negotiations over the constitution....
[bth: it would appear to me that Sadr is maneuvering to be the swing vote on the constitution, perhaps aligning with the Sunnis in opposition.]
The articulated wings - with a span of 60 centimetres - were inspired by the way seagulls alter their wing-shape during flight, says Rick Lind, an aerospace engineer at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, US.
The robot plane, or drone, has a joint halfway along the leading edge of both its wings. Actuators at this
'elbow" joint and at the "shoulder" joint of each wing, where it connects to the fuselage, allow the wing structure to shift from an "M" to a "W" configuration, as viewed from the front or rear.
With the elbow lowered, the "W" configuration produces a highly manoeuvrable aerodynamic shape, says Lind. In contrast, the high elbow "M" shape is less manoeuvrable but highly stable, perfect for gliding and conserving battery power.
The change in flight performance comes partly from a shift in the aircraft's centre of gravity, says Lind: "With the wing position higher than the centre of gravity it is stable like a pendulum."
Reversing this -the 'W' position - produces low stability, like an inverted pendulum. See a movie of the craft showing off its different in-flight configurations, here (Mpeg format)."...
Thursday, August 25, 2005
The joint forces Tuesday surrounded a house in Sahak, a remote village in the restive southern province of Zabul, where the rebels were manufacturing remote-controlled roadside bombs, said spokesman Gulab Shah Ali Khail.
"After more than one hour's exchange of fire, six Taleban were killed and lots of weapons, explosives and remote-control devices were seized,"Khail said.".l..
NOTE: One potential solution is to use private military forces (PMCs) to provide IED detection and clearing services to US military units on patrol. Small PMCs would be able to circumvent the military acquisitions system to source, test, and deploy the best equipment faster.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The beating which is only prescribed in the case of disobedient wives is intended to serve as a remedy in an unusual situation. If the husband feels the wife is behaving in a disobedient and rebellious manner, he is required to rectify her attitude — first by kind words, then gentle persuasion and reasoning. Beating as a last resort must never be understood to entail using a stick or any other instrument that would cause pain or injury.
A rebellious woman who is not moved by kind works, persuasion and admonition is a woman of no feeling and must therefore be punished by beating. Psychiatrists tell us of people, including women, for whom a cure lies in beating.
The controversy over the beating of disloyal and rebellious women is part of the campaign against Islam. If beating disobedient wives was advocated by Western scientists, it would have been widely supported by the same people who criticize Islam and special centers would have been set up all over the world to train husbands on how to beat their wives.
Our scholars should focus on explaining to people, especially the young, the real teachings of Islam in order to avoid causing uncertainty and confusion.
[bth: incredible nonsense.]
Major-General Douglas Lute, the director of operations for US Central Command, which is responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan, said yesterday that once Iraq was stabilised, al-Zarqawi might head for the Horn of Africa to find a "safe haven'. He listed Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia as "ungoverned spaces"where al-Zarqawi might seek sanctuary to run his terrorist operations. "...
If only the commission could have given them some submarines.
While supporters of undersea warfare cheered Wednesday's news, the submarine fleet's future remains uncertain. Navy shipbuilding projections show it dwindling from 54 subs into the 30s.
"You find yourself in a position, you've just got a lot of parking spaces you're not going to use," said former U.S. Rep. James V. Hansen of Utah, the only BRAC commissioner to vote in favor of closing the Groton base.
The Navy builds one submarine a year or fewer. It needs to increase production to two a year to keep pace with the old submarines that go out of service, said Neil Ruenzel, a spokesman for Electric Boat, which builds submarines in Groton.
"You're going to have a submarine base that's not going to have any submarines. You're going to have a repair facility without any submarines to repair," said John Pike, a military analyst with globalsecurity.org. "Maybe they can carve scrimshaw. The reality is, you've got too many shipyards chasing not enough submarines. They're just going to be standing around twiddling their thumbs for some time."
Had Groton and Portsmouth closed, congressional officials said it would have been much harder to boost submarine production.
"If you're going to destroy the submarine capitol of the world, it means you no longer need submarines to protect the nation in future wars," U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., said. "I don't buy that and I don't think the commissioners buy that."
But simply keeping the bases open doesn't guarantee new subs will be built, officials agreed.
"What do we need to do? We've got to convince people of the importance of building two a year," U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., said. "We've got a case to make here, to prove the value of it, and that's the next step."
That's why, within hours of hearing that Groton and Portsmouth had been spared, Gov. M. Jodi Rell called on Congress and President Bush to boost submarine production.
"At no time in the future do we want to see New London on that list," she said.
The debate is expected to begin late this year or early next year, when the Pentagon releases its Quadrennial Defense Review, its four-year review of the nation's military strategy. That should signal whether the Pentagon remains committed to reducing the size of the fleet.
If submarine production doesn't increase, Pike said, Groton and Porstmouth will find themselves on a future BRAC list.
"The arguments in favor of closing it were pretty persuasive," he said. "They can kick the can down the road but it's going to come right back
[bth: this country can spend over a billion on a submarine to fight the Soviets - which no longer exist - yet it can't spend money on body armor or vehicular armor. Our priorities are all screwed up.]
Maj Gen Douglas Lute, director of operations at US Central Command, yesterday said the reductions were part of a push by Gen John Abizaid, commander of all US troops in the region, to put the burden of defending Iraq on Iraqi forces.
He denied the withdrawal was motivated by political pressure from Washington.
He said: "We believe at some point, in order to break this dependence on the . . . coalition, you simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward.
"You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country."...
Last week, Gen Peter Schoomaker, US army chief of staff, said his office was planning for the possibility that troop levels could be maintained until 2009. But Maj Gen Lute said such a worst-case scenario was unlikely.
“I will tell you this, as the operation officer of Centcom, if a year from now I've got to call on all those army troops that Gen Schoomaker is prepared to provide, I won't feel real good about myself,” he said. Gen George Casey, commander of allied forces in Iraq, made similar comments last month on reductions that could come by early next year but they were quickly played down by the White House....
[bth: Keep in mind that the Defense Authorization bill hasn't cleared Congress. I think the Pentagon is playing it two ways at once. One the one hand, it plans to bring troop levels down by next summer as much by necessity as for the simple reason that they see no way to win 'victory' in Iraq. On the other, the Pentagon has consistently underestimated war expenses and its land fleet of vehicles is collapsing from abuse and will likely have to be replaced in its entirity within Iraq within a few years. Thus it needs the money, so it must talk up the level of occupation.]
But military ruler Musharraf, who made the statement to Japan's Kyodo news agency, added that the equipment handed over by Dr Khan did not in itself give the Stalinist state a nuclear weapons capability.
"Yes, he passed centrifuges - parts and complete. I do not exactly remember the number," Musharraf said when asked about reports that Islamabad had told Tokyo that Khan provided North Korea with about 20 centrifuges.
Army spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan confirmed the president had made the comments.
In February 2004, Dr Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, admitted selling atomic secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran. He said he acted without government or military support.
Dr Khan is already known to have supplied Tehran and Tripoli with centrifuge parts. Centrifuges are used for producing enriched uranium, which can be fuel for civilian nuclear power reactors or the raw material for nuclear bombs.
Isolated North Korea declared in June that it has a stockpile of nuclear weapons and is producing more.
President Musharraf said Dr Khan's help would not have been decisive for North Korea's efforts to become a nuclear power, because he was not involved in other crucial areas of technology.
"So if North Korea has made a bomb... Dr AQ Khan's part is only enriching the uranium to weapons grade," Musharraf told Kyodo.
"He does not know about making the bomb, he does not know about the trigger mechanism, he does not know about the delivery system."
Pakistan has consistently refused to let international investigators question Khan. The scientist has been officially pardoned by Musharraf but he has remained under virtual house arrest since late 2003.
However, Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan said Pakistan had already informed the UN nuclear agency and other “affected” countries about the centrifuges, and he too played down the importance of the equipment.
“Saying that someone made a bomb because Dr Khan passed on a couple of centrifuges to them, maybe a dozen of them, this does not mean they can make a bomb,” he told AFP.
Six-party nuclear talks on denuclearising the Korean peninsula, also involving the United States, South Korea, Russia, China and Japan, are due to resume in the week of August 29.
On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency said that enriched uranium particles found in Iran were from smuggled Pakistani centrifuges, backing Iran’s claims that it is not involved in enrichment work.
The United States says such activity would show that Tehran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.
[bth: Its really hard to believe that Pakistan is praised regularly by Bush and is considered a US ally. If one looks at the facts here, Pakistan via Dr. Khan, who has usually worked with the full sanction of the Pakistani government, has given nuclear capabilities to our most ardent enemies around the world. He is also rumored to have large houses on the Caspian in Iran.]
The bombs are built and placed by one of several dozen independent gangs, each containing smaller groups of people with different skills. At the head of each gang is a guy called "the money man." That tells you something about how all this works. Nearly all the people involved with IED gangs are Sunni Arabs, and most of them once worked for Saddam. The gangs hire themselves out to terrorist groups (usually al Qaeda affiliated), as well as Baath Party or Sunni Arab groups that believe the Sunni Arabs should be running the country. You got the money, these gangs got the bombs."...
The stunned Palestinian-American opened the letter that began with the salutation, "Dear Palestinian Bomber."
"I thought it was a joke or something," he said. "I'm very sad - devastated."
Habbas telephoned JPMorgan Chase & Co., which sent the solicitation, on the company's toll-free number, provided his ZIP code and invitation number from the form and two operators addressed him the same way: "Yes, Mr. Bomber, what can we do for you?"
Habbas, 54, a grocer who has lived in the United States since he was 3 and has served in the U.S. Army, said he was shocked.
"It's very upsetting," he said. "I'm not what they are saying, a Palestinian bomber. That's uncalled for. I have a name. My name is Sami Habbas."
Chase Card Services, the Delaware-based credit card line of JPMorgan Chase & Co., is investigating the solicitation....
According to a McCormick Tribune Foundation/Gallup poll scheduled for release today, Americans are more interested in national security than they were in the past. But only 54 percent of Americans say they feel the military keeps them well informed, down from 77 percent in 1999 -- before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."
Similarly, the public grew increasingly skeptical of the news media's efforts, with 61 percent of Americans saying that the media keep them well informed on military and national security issues, down from 79 percent in 1999. More than three-quarters of Americans also believe that the military occasionally provides false or inaccurate information to the media, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,016 adults during the first two weeks of June.
Media and military experts said the data are troubling at a time when Americans are becoming more savvy about the information they receive and are seeking their news from an increasing number of sources.
Retired Maj. Gen. David L. Grange, executive vice president of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, said he believes the round-the-clock news cycle and perceived biases within media organizations have hurt public confidence in their information.
"The mass media gets negative points from the people because they think that the big media is taking a position and shaping stories to fit their agenda," said Grange, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division. "The military gets negative points because they come across sometimes as being deceptive or using [operational security] as an excuse."
Cori Dauber, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said, "One of the most important findings here is how interested the public is and that both the military and the media underestimate how many national security topics the public cares about."
The clashes broke out in Najaf between supporters and opponents of al-Sadr, who led two uprisings against U.S. forces in central and southern Iraq last year.
The clashes, which left at least four dead, began when al-Sadr's group tried to reopen their office across the street from the Imam Ali Shrine, the most sacred site in Iraq for Shiites.
Officials said al-Sadr's opponents set fire to the office during the confrontation.
That enraged al-Sadr's followers and prompted those in parliament and the Cabinet to announce they would no longer carry out their official duties until the Shiite-led government punishes those responsible.
The incident is likely to fuel tensions between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and the largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Cruz was one of the two U.S. Army soldiers who hauled the deposed Iraqi dictator out of the spiderhole where he was found hiding in December 2003. He has the pictures to prove it.
``He smelled like one of the homeless men on the street. He said he was Saddam Hussein, but to be honest, I didn't believe him,'' Cruz told the New York Post...."