Saturday, September 17, 2005

Talafar Sept. 11, 2005 Posted by Picasa

UK forced to scrap Iraq withdrawal plans

"Britain has had to abandon plans for a sharp reduction in its troop numbers in Iraq next year because of fears the country is sliding toward civil war, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.

Britain's Ministry of Defense (MoD) disputed the report, saying it had never set a timetable for withdrawing its 8,500 troops and that any reduction in troop numbers would depend on conditions in Iraq.

But it confirmed that soldiers from the 7th Armored Brigade, better known as the Desert Rats, would be redeployed to Iraq before the end of the year, suggesting thousands of British troops will remain in the country well into 2006.

'The formal announcement of that redeployment will be made during the autumn and they would be scheduled to go out around the end of November,' a MoD spokesman said.

Britain, the main ally of the United States in Iraq, has frequently said its soldiers will stay there 'until the job is done' and until the Iraqi government asks them to leave.

However, a government document leaked to a newspaper in July suggested London hoped to cut its forces in Iraq to 3,000 by the middle of next year.

The Sunday Telegraph said that plan had now been scrapped amid 'growing concerns that Iraq is heading into full-scale civil war.'

It said 6,000 Desert Rats would go to Iraq in what it described as 'an unexpected redeployment.'

The MoD described the figure as speculative and said the redeployment was part of a rotation of troops and did not mean Britain was increasing its presence in Iraq."

Are you ready for some football? A New Orleans Saints fan says yep, come hell or high water. Posted by Picasa

Twenty Militants Arrested In Afghan Dam Bomb Plot

"KABUL, Afghanistan -- Security forces have arrested 20 militants as they were laying explosives to blow up a massive dam in southern Afghanistan on Saturday.

The government said thousands of people live near the Kajaki Dam, where U.S.-led coalition troops and Afghan soldiers arrested the militants.

The arrests come amid stepped up violence in Afghanistan ahead of the country's landmark legislative elections on Sunday.

At least three police officers and nine rebels are dead after fierce street battles.

A district police chief and two of his officers died in an ambush Friday night outside Kabul.

A gunbattle in the south Friday night killed seven militants.
The defense ministry said a battle Thursday killed two more suspected Taliban and captured eight others.

Afghan security forces also say they've broken up plans for three massive bomb attacks.

About 100,000 Afghan soldiers and police and 30,000 foreign troops are on alert this weekend. Checkpoints are in place.

Fears of car bombs have prompted police in Kandahar to ban driving in the city. "

On a beach Posted by Picasa

Hurricane Katrina, Act II - starring George Bush

..."The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of Sept. 8-11 shows that only 44 percent of Americans approve of the job Bush did immediately after the storm. But so what? The same survey shows that 58 percent approve of the work he has done since then in helping New Orleans and the Gulf Coast to recover from the effects of the disaster.

The low job approval of Bush's efforts in the week after the storm will fade into history and take its place alongside similar criticism of his slowness to act after the planes hit on Sept. 11 or after the tsunami struck late last year. What counts for the future is that the ratings on his recent performance are 20 points higher than his overall job approval.

This positive affirmation of the president’s role in the past few weeks is the leading indicator Washington should be following. While all current polls show Bush falling three or four points in job approval to the lowest of his administration, these surveys reflect neither the increasingly positive view of the president’s disaster-relief efforts nor the bounce that he always gets when we are reminded of the horrendous attacks of Sept. 11 on its grim anniversary....

But now Americans want us to face the need not just to recover from the storm but to deal with the underlying poverty it exposed. ...

This positive affirmation of the president's role in the past few weeks is the leading indicator Washington should be following. While all current polls show Bush falling three or four points in job approval to the lowest of his administration, these surveys reflect neither the increasingly positive view of the president's disaster-relief efforts nor the bounce that he always gets when we are reminded of the horrendous attacks of Sept. 11 on its grim anniversary."...

[bth Dick Morris is a sharp poll watcher. The 20 point favorable swing in Bush's recent performance means Katrina marked the high water mark for the Mississippi and the low water mark for President Bush's ratings. The Democrats had better watch out. They are about to be slammed one more time. Instead of getting ahead of the issue of poverty and reconstruction, they let the President declare the New Deal for New Orleans. Another opportunity missed for the Democratic Party.]


"September 17, 2005 -- WASHINGTON - Members of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit known as Able Danger warned top military generals that it had uncovered information of increased al Qaeda 'activity' in Aden harbor less than three weeks before the attack on the USS Cole, The Post has learned.

In the latest explosive revelation in the Able Danger saga, two former members of the data-mining team are expected to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week that they uncovered alarming terrorist activity and associations in Aden weeks before the Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombing of the U.S..."

Iraqi soldiers (Kurdish) search a Turkmen building in Talafar Posted by Picasa

Mt. Lebanon Hotel, Baghdad, March 04 Posted by Picasa

Telegraph | Bombs must not drive the allies out of Iraq

..."This is the time, then, for the United States and Britain to renew their commitment to helping Iraq out of the mess created by their ill-planned occupation, rather than abandoning it to civil war. American electoral considerations must take second place to protecting Iraqis as they seek to throw off Saddam's foul legacy. That may necessitate further troop reinforcements and acceptance that the timetable for elections may have to be abandoned if the draft constitution is defeated in next month's referendum.

A year ago, The Daily Telegraph published excerpts from a paper written on the eve of the invasion by the Overseas and Defence Secretariat of the Cabinet Office. Presciently, it concluded that the removal of Saddam 'could involve nation-building over many years'. Mr Bush and Tony Blair were given due warning about the consequences of their actions.

For them to shirk their responsibilities prematurely would not only be dishonourable. It would also have a devastating effect on the West's credibility and, in so doing, boost the cause of Islamic fanaticism the world over. On Wednesday, President and Prime Minister were forthright in their condemnation of terrorism before the UN General Assembly.

The cockpit of that struggle is Iraq and neither should be in any doubt that defeat there would put America and Britain at greater risk. In facing the greatest challenge of their time in office, both men at least have the freedom of manoeuvre afforded to those not seeking re-election."

Bombing site, Iraq, Sept16 05 Posted by Picasa

KGB records show how spies penetrated the heart of India

"A HUGE cache of KGB records smuggled out of Moscow after the fall of communism reveal that in the 1970s India was one of the countries most successfully penetrated by Soviet intelligence.

A number of senior KGB officers have testified that, under Indira Gandhi, India was one of their priority targets.

"We had scores of sources through the Indian Government " in intelligence, counter-intelligence, the defence and foreign ministries and the police," said Oleg Kalugin, once the youngest general in Soviet foreign intelligence and responsible for monitoring KGB penetration abroad. India became "a model of KGB infiltration of a Third World government",he added. "

...Despite her own frugal lifestyle, suitcases full of banknotes were said to be routinely taken to the Prime Minister’s house to finance her wing of the Congress Party. One of her opponents claimed that Mrs Gandhi did not even return the suitcases. ...

The Indians lifted restrictions on the number of Soviet diplomats and trade officials in the country, thus allowing the KGB numerous cover positions. One of the KGB heads of political intelligence in Delhi, Vyacheslav Trubnikov, went on to head Russian foreign intelligence, became a confidant of President Putin and was appointed Russian Ambassador to Delhi last year.

The Russians were also extremely active in trying to influence Indian opinion. According to KGB files, by 1973 it had on its payroll ten Indian newspapers as well as a press agency. The previous year the KGB claimed to have planted 3,789 articles in Indian newspapers — probably more than in any other country in the non-communist world. By 1975 the number of articles it claimed to have inspired had risen to 5,510. India was also one of the most favourable environments for Soviet front organisations.

Christopher Andrew, the Cambridge historian who co-operated with Mitrokhin after his defection to Britain, says in his account of this huge operation that the KGB fatally overestimated its own influence. It also failed to anticipate the backlash against Mrs Gandhi after her imposition in 1975 of the state of emergency.

“Reports from the Delhi main residency claimed exaggerated credit for using its agents of influence to persuade Mrs Gandhi to declare the emergency,” Professor Andrew writes. “But both the Centre and the Soviet leadership found it difficult to grasp that the emergency had not turned her into a dictator and that she still responded to public opinion and had to deal with the Opposition.” ...

In 1992 the 70-year-old Vasili Mitrokhin, his family and six large containers of KGB documents that he had secretly copied over 12 years and hidden beneath his dacha were smuggled by British intelligence out of Russia. The FBI has called the Mitrokhin archive “the most complete and extensive intelligence ever received from any source”. Mitrokhin died in Britain last year.

US tempers its view of victory in Iraq

"Since the day in May 2003 when President Bush stood beneath a banner proclaiming 'Mission Accomplished,' the course of the conflict in Iraq has been one of optimism followed by revision.

From the earliest battle plans, which called for the quick return home of tens of thousands of troops, to the campaign in Fallujah and national elections that followed, the Pentagon had hoped it could largely eliminate lingering unrest before turning security over to Iraqis.

The increasingly bracing tone from the White House and Pentagon, however, points to a new calculus. The persistence of the attacks, as well as their undiminished capacity - witnessed by Wednesday's bombings in Baghdad, which killed more than 150 Iraqis - seems to have confirmed that the insurgency will probably outlast the American occupation.

Indeed, the inability of American forces to defeat the insurgency through strikes such as the current offensive in Tal Afar raises doubts about the possibility of any clear victory for the administration. And it could leave the Iraqis with a years-long task that many planners had not anticipated.

'There has been a clear realization that this war is not winnable in the short term
,' says Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at RAND Corp. in Arlington, Va.

The change in thinking has come gradually, as pivotal moments in the maturation of the Iraqi state have come and gone - and the insurgency has remained. In the first months after Mr. Bush declared victory, Pentagon officials were loath even to use the word 'insurgency' to describe the attacks that killed some two dozen troops in May and June of 2003."

...Some parts of the administration have been slower to reach this point than others. In the midst of the May attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney famously said that the insurgency was in its "last throes." But less than a month later, on June 26, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said: "Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years. Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency. We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency."

It is this attitude that has moved from post-invasion rhetoric to Pentagon doctrine. In some ways, it is the same measure of victory that the Pentagon laid out two years ago. "At an absolute minimum, we'll be here for [two years], and probably longer, to make sure that [Iraqi forces] are capable of protecting the sovereignty of Iraq," said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez in an Aug. 7, 2003, Pentagon briefing.

Administration officials have always insisted that events on the ground - and not artificial timelines - would dictate American actions in Iraq. Yet today, the finish line is no more certain than it was two years ago - and the threat that Iraqi forces will be facing when US troops leave is more dire than many military officials imagined.

...Amid this military uncertainty, administration officials have turned to political events as the primary marks of progress. "The referendum on the constitution and the elections at the end of December are the most important aspects of what we're doing now," Gen. George Casey told Congress in June....

Pakistan busts tribal region’s biggest Al Qaeda base

"MIRANSHAH, Pakistan - Pakistan has busted the biggest Al Qaeda base in its North Waziristan tribal zone and recovered huge caches of weapons in a swoop that will cut violence in neighbouring Afghanistan before key elections, the military said on Thursday.

The militant den was in a madrassa, or Islamic school, and a nearby compound owned by the son of a former minister of the hardline Taleban regime that ruled Afghanistan until late 2001, Lieutenant General Safdar Hussain said in the city of Peshawar.

He said the owner, Sirajuddin Haqqani, whom he described as a senior Al Qaeda insurgent, had escaped after a tip off.

"The raid on the Haqqani madrassa and compound is still going on but we can say we have busted the biggest Al Qaeda terrorist den in North Waziristan," Hussain, who commands troops in northwestern Pakistan, told reporters.

"We have recovered 15 truckloads of ammunition and weapons from there and arms and ammunition are still being recovered," he said.

"We also busted a communications centre which was used to coordinate operations in Afghanistan."

Seven militants were captured in the operation, raising the number arrested this week to 28, ...All 28 are Afghans...
The weapons found in 18 compounds in the Miranshah area included anti-aircraft guns, rockets, improvised explosive devices, communication equipment and military fatigues....

Iraq, Sept 14 Posted by Picasa

Why key military units weren't mobilized early

"WASHINGTON - Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush went on national television to announce a massive federal rescue and relief effort.
But orders to move didn't reach key active military units for three more days.

Once they received them, it took eight hours for 3,600 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi with vital search-and-rescue helicopters. An additional 2,500 soon followed from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

'If the 1st Cav and 82nd Airborne had gotten there on time, I think we would have saved some lives,' said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under President Reagan from 1985 to 1989. 'We recognized we had to get people out, and they had helicopters to do that.'"

Federal officials long have known that the active-duty military is the only organization with the massive resources and effective command structure to handle a major catastrophe.

...The delay this time in tapping the troops, helicopters, trucks, generators, communications and other resources of the 1st Cavalry and the 82nd Airborne is the latest example of how the federal response to Katrina lacked organization and leadership. And it raises further questions about the government's ability to mobilize the active-duty military rapidly now that FEMA has been absorbed into the massive, terrorism-focused Department of Homeland Security.

...Several emergency-response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government — including those of the Defense Department.

"To say I've suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security.

During the last great hurricane — Andrew in 1992 — the failure to send food, water and shelter to Florida and to victims highlighted the importance of quickly engaging the Pentagon.

"For such disasters, DOD is the only organization capable of providing, transporting and distributing sufficient quantities of items needed," the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, wrote in a 1993 report.

Indeed, the new National Response Plan, the nation's blueprint for responding to disasters that was unveiled with much fanfare in January by Chertoff's predecessor, Tom Ridge, includes a section on responding to catastrophic events.

"Unless it can be credibly established that a mobilizing federal resource ... is not needed at the catastrophic incident venue, that resource deploys," the plan says. The plan and a 2003 presidential directive put Chertoff, as Homeland Security secretary, in charge of coordinating the federal response.

Chertoff, who aides said has been engaged in the response to Hurricane Katrina, went to Atlanta the day after the storm hit for a previously scheduled briefing on avian flu.

Aides also concede that Washington officials were unable to confirm that the levees in New Orleans had failed until midday Tuesday, Aug. 30. The breaches first were discovered in Louisiana some 32 hours earlier.

Greenberger, the Maryland homeland-security expert, said he wonders whether Chertoff and other top federal officials understand the National Response Plan or even had read it before Katrina.

"Everything he did and everything he has said strongly suggests that that plan was never read," Greenberger said of Chertoff.

Chertoff was in Gulfport, Miss., yesterday to participate in the Harrison County National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. He took no questions from reporters. Homeland Security officials didn't return calls for comment.

Temporary pipes added to pump water out of New Orleans. Posted by Picasa

Iraq's Costs Worry Americans, Poll Indicates

"WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 - With Hurricane Katrina already costing the federal government tens of billions of dollars, more than 8 in 10 Americans are very or somewhat concerned that the $5 billion being spent each month on the war in Iraq is draining away money that could be used in the United States, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."...

Support for the war in Iraq has fallen to an all-time low, according to the poll. Only 44 percent now say the United States made the right decision in taking military action against Iraq, the lowest rating since the question was first asked by this poll more than two years ago.

...When asked how long American troops should remain in Iraq, for example, 52 percent of people interviewed called for an immediate withdrawal, even if that means abandoning President Bush's goal of restoring stability to that country.

Only 42 percent said that troops should remain for as long as it takes to accomplish that mission, 12 percentage points lower than slightly over a year ago, when the question was first asked.

...Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed said the war was having an impact in their communities. Of those, 39 percent said it was a negative impact and 19 percent said it was a positive impact. Here especially, the poll showed a stark racial divide. Fifty-eight percent of blacks said the war was having a negative impact, compared to only 36 percent of whites.

The poll found that the mounting casualties are wearing on the public. A plurality, 45 percent, said there had been more American military casualties in Iraq than they had expected.

The poll also found that nearly 60 percent now disapprove of the way Mr. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq. And nearly half of those surveyed said that they were not proud of what the United States was doing in that country.

The political divisions that have been present all along remain. Seventy-one percent of Democrats said the United States should leave as soon as possible, while 31 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents said the same thing.

The poll also suggests that there is a widespread reluctance among Americans to make any further financial sacrifices to continue waging the war, particularly in the wake of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

Ninety percent of people surveyed, including a majority of Republicans, said they would disapprove of cutting expenditures on domestic programs, like education and health care, to continue paying for the war.

...Americans do not see an end to the war soon, according to the poll. Thirty-eight percent said they expected American troops to be in Iraq for two to five years, while 28 percent said it would be longer. Only 26 percent said they expected the troops to be withdrawn within two years.

[bth: so how are we going to pay for both Katrina and Iraq? Bush and the Repubicans say no new taxes. Bush says we will have to cut spending. If spending isn't cut from defense where will it come from - education, healthcare, highway reconstruction? What's more people are really feeling the pinch on gasoline expenses. Most likely the federal deficit will simply explode.]

Iraq rebels kill Shia worshipers outside mosque

"TUZ KHURMATU, Iraq -- A suicide car bomber killed 10 Shia worshipers as they left Friday prayers in central Iraq, bringing the death toll to more than 20 on a third straight day of anti-Shia violence.

Police said that the bomber blew himself up outside the Rasul Aadham mosque in Tuz Kurmatu, some 170 kilometers (105 miles) north of Baghdad, and that they had arrested a second man about to carry out an attack.

'We arrested a Saudi who was wearing a belt of explosives,' said Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Ali Rashid, adding that police had not yet managed to defuse the bomb."...

[bth: isn't is odd that the Iraqi government isn't making statements toward Saudi Arabia insisting that they control their suicide bombers? Instead all the blasts are targeted at Syria.]

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sept 15 Shiite mosque attacked. Posted by Picasa

Another night on location - Nightly News with Brian Williams

"I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions."...

Katrina Posted by Picasa

Student Arrested After Pilot Uniform Found

"MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A university student from Egypt was ordered held without bond after prosecutors said they found a pilot's uniform, chart of Memphis International Airport and a DVD titled 'How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act' in his apartment.

The FBI is investigating whether Mahmoud Maawad, 29, had any connection to terrorists. He is awaiting trial on charges of wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number."...

Bush returns to Air Force One from New Orleans Posted by Picasa

Exiled Dissident: Iran Hiding Nukes

"WASHINGTON - An Iranian exile who opposes the Islamic regime said Friday that Iran's military is building secret tunnels around the country to conceal materials for a nuclear weapons program. "

Alireza Jafarzadeh, who helped expose key nuclear facilities in Iran in the past, told a news conference that some of the tunnels house secret "military-nuclear factories" while others are used for storage.

He said his information was based on sources inside the country who have proved to be accurate in the past. One example was the disclosure in 2002 of a secret nuclear facility in Natanz, though U.S. officials have judged some of his past assertions to be inaccurate.

Jafarzadeh's presentation included detailed maps depicting measurements and other features of the tunnels....

Patrol in Afghanistan 2005 Posted by Picasa


"Nasiriya, 16 Sept. (AKI) - Despite the deaths of hundreds of police officers and recruits in insurgent attacks in Iraq since the US-led occupation, no less than 27,000 people have applied for 900 hundred police jobs advertised in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriya. 'This shows the worrying levels of unemployment in the province,' said Aziz Alwan, governor of the surrounding Dhi-Qar province.

According to recent data, almost half the 1.5 million residents of working age in Dhi-Qar are currently unemployed. For many Iraqis, especially young people, going into the police is the only way to find a well paid job. But the insurgents view the Iraqi police as United States 'collaborators'. As recently as Thursday, 23 policemen were killed in various suicide bombings in Iraq."


"LONDON [MENL] -- Iran, aided by China, was said to have been producing thousands of gas centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium for nuclear weapons production.

The Iranian opposition said the Islamic regime plans to manufacture 5,000 centrifuges in the first stage of its nuclear program. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, which since 2002 disclosed about a dozen Iranian secret nuclear facilities, asserted that Teheran plans to manufacture 50,000 centrifuges.

'This will be the first phase for the ultimate goal of manufacturing 50,000 centrifuges which would enable them to enrich weapons grade uranium,' Ali Safavi, a member of the council, said.

Safavi told a news conference in Brussels on Sept. 13 that Iran has so far completed the assembly of nearly 3,500 centrifuges. The centrifuges were said to have been based on Chinese and Pakistani systems. "

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at the UN Posted by Picasa

Sources: Pentagon Wants 'Able Danger' Hearings Closed

"WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is pressuring the Senate Judiciary Committee to close to the public next week's hearings on a former secret military intelligence unit called 'Able Danger,' two congressional sources have confirmed to FOX News. "...

St. Rita's nursing home where 34 died. Posted by Picasa

Laboratory did not reveal absence of ricin in plot cited by Blair

"Vital evidence in a terror case that was used by Tony Blair to justify the war with Iraq was withheld by Britain's top chemical weapons laboratory.

Tests demonstrating that no ricin was found at a flat linked to a gang suspected of planning a poison attack on the London Underground in January 2003 were not disclosed to police and ministers by officials at Porton Down.

The case, in which the suspects were later cleared, was cited by the Prime Minister and Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, in the weeks leading up to the decision to go to war with Iraq.

A spokeswoman for the Defence Science and Technological Laboratory (DSTL), where the tests were done, said yesterday that officials at the establishment knew the results of the final tests three weeks after police had raided the flat in Wood Green, north London, on 5 January 2003. But she said that because of a 'breakdown in communication' this information was not passed to the police for another 51 days.

On 3 February 2003 Tony Blair told the House of Commons that the "ricin terror plot" was "powerful evidence of the continuing terrorist threat". Two days later Colin Powell used the ricin evidence in a speech to the UN Security Council in which he warned of the danger of terror cells spreading from Iraq to Britain.

In April this year eight men, all immigrants, were cleared of involvement in the alleged ricin plot. Four were tried and found not guilty and a further four were acquitted after the prosecution offered no evidence against them.

Kamel Bourgass, 31, was found guilty of conspiring to cause a public nuisance through the use of poisons and explosives. He was also convicted in June last year of the murder of Detective Constable Stephen Oake, who was stabbed to death in Manchester in 2003 as Bourgass tried to escape. He was jailed for life....

Wounded Iraqi boy. Victim of suicide bomber 105 miles north of Baghdad Posted by Picasa

Welcome to civil war

"Undeclared civil war in Iraq has been raging for months. Now it's 'official': using the customary audio clip on a website, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - who may or may not be a cipher, but is certainly the leader of Monotheism and Holy War, or al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers - has declared 'all-out war' on Iraqi Shi'ites.

To prove it, he unleashed Black Wednesday - including a horrendous attack in the Kadhimiyah neighborhood in Baghdad, with at least 112 dead and more than 200 wounded, all of them poor, helpless Shi'ite construction workers, many of them enticed toward the killer with promises of jobs before he detonated his lethal load. Baghdad was paralyzed on Wednesday, trying to cope with more than 150 dead and more than 500 wounded in a string of coordinated attacks marking the bloodiest day in the country since the end of major combat two years ago."...

The long-term strategy of al-Qaeda in Iraq is not Jordanian, like Zarqawi himself: it is dictated by the Saudi branch of al-Qaeda. The strategy has been spelled out in a series of documents supervised by Sheikh Yussef al-Ayeeri. The most strategic of these documents is called Iraq al-jihad, awal wa akhtar (The jihad in Iraq, hopes and dangers).

It's all there: centralized resistance in Sunni Arab cities and villages; close collaboration with Saddam's former Mukhabarat intelligence officers; attacks against other members of the coalition to isolate the Americans and the new Iraqi defense forces; keeping an atmosphere of chaos at all costs; and crucially disrupting by all means the flow of oil. Another point of the document is now becoming clear: the setting up of jihadi networks in the Shi'ite south capable of protecting Sunni minorities in case of civil war - a de facto situation with the escalation of sectarian killings.

Last month in Amman, Jordan, Asia Times Online came across a book by Fouad Hussein, an Amman-based journalist who has shared jail time with Zarqawi. The Arabic-language book, "Al-Zarqawi - al-Qaeda's Second Generation", aims to detail nothing less than al-Qaeda's strategy toward establishing an Islamic caliphate before 2020. The key source that lends credence to the book is Saif al-Adl. ...

[bth: an interesting article worth a full read.]

To have and to hold. Posted by Picasa

Syria denounces Iraq attacks, seeks cooperation with US

"Syria strongly condemned bomb attacks which have killed scores of people in Baghdad this week and said it was ready to do 'whatever it takes' to cooperate with US and Iraqi authorities in bringing security and stability to its neighbor.

In a statement released two days after US President George W. Bush publicly warned Damascus to stop foreign fighters entering Iraq, the Syrian embassy here said the country was making 'great efforts' to seal the border between Syria and Iraq.

'Syria strongly and categorically denounces the terrorist explosions, which have killed and injured many innocent civilians in Iraq during the past couple of days,' the statement said.

'In this hard time, Syria would like to reiterate its position calling for the unity of the Iraqi people as a path to insure stability and security in Iraq."...

The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, issued a strong warning to Damascus on Monday over providing help to radical groups in Iraq and said "our patience is running out."

When asked how the United States could respond, Khalilzad said "all options are on the table," including military. "I would not like to elaborate more, they should understand what I mean."

Asked about the military option Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that was "not the issue right now with Syria."

"The president never takes any option off the table, but I think that's not the issue right now with Syria," Rice told reporters at the United Nations, where she was attending a summit. "I think the issue right now with Syria is that Syria is really internationally isolated."

[bth: more of the same.]

From WWII. How are we going to finance this war and the reconstruction of Katrina without raising taxes? Posted by Picasa

More Iraqis Lured to Al Qaeda Group - Los Angeles Times

"WASHINGTON - Al Qaeda's top operative in Iraq is drawing growing numbers of Iraqi nationals to his organization, increasing the reach and threat of an insurgent group that has been behind many of the most devastating attacks in the country, U.S. officials and Iraqi government leaders say.

The group, headed by Jordanian-born radical Abu Musab Zarqawi, previously was composed almost exclusively of militants from other Arab nations, and has symbolized the foreign dimension of a stubborn insurgency fighting to oust U.S. forces."

But Zarqawi "is bringing more and more Iraqi fighters into his fold," a U.S. official said, adding that Iraqis accounted for "more than half his organization."

Although Zarqawi is believed to command fewer than 1,000 fighters, the daring and lethal nature of their attacks, coupled with Zarqawi's links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, has made him the most notorious figure in the Iraq insurgency....

The U.S. officials indicated that the infusion of Iraqis, including, apparently, former members of the Iraqi intelligence service and military, represented a change in the group's makeup rather than a major expansion.

...The Iraqis under Zarqawi's wing could provide him with better intelligence, and give legitimacy to a group viewed by many Iraqis as unwanted outsiders. In addition, Iraqi recruits are being exposed to the workings of a highly efficient extremist group.

The influx of Iraqis also would diminish the effect of any tightening of border controls
— a key Bush administration objective — on the insurgency's strength....

"If you use the Koran selectively, it could be a weapon of mass destruction."

Few Iraqis appear to share Zarqawi's goal of establishing a radical Islamic state, but small numbers of Iraqi hard-liners apparently are attracted by the effectiveness of Zarqawi's group.

"They're the best game in town, the most organized organization," said a U.S. official, who added that Zarqawi's network was also a "well-funded organization that is willing to pay people for their work" when many Iraqis, particularly police, have little or no income.

The officials noted that police in three cities, including Mosul, are not being paid. They declined to name the others.

...But the U.S. officials who are familiar with intelligence on Zarqawi's group said the organization had proved remarkably resilient and was organized to withstand losses of key leaders, including Zarqawi.

One of the officials noted that coalition forces thought they had delivered a major blow in January with the capture of Zarqawi's principal bomb maker in the capital. But since then, the official said, "car bombs are way up in Baghdad."

Overall, the officials said, the insurgency in Iraq is divided into three "clumps": religious extremists such as Zarqawi; former members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein; and disparate Iraqi groups acting out of local or national interests.

The officials described a steady flow of Saudis, Yemenis and other Arab nationals into — and, in some cases, out of — the country. But officials said foreign fighters accounted for less than 10% of the insurgents in Iraq.

...The CIA and other agencies have resisted pressure to provide an estimate of the number of insurgents in Iraq, partly out of concern that it would foster the impression that there is a finite population that can be stamped out.

Rather, officials said intelligence analysts had noted that there were about 800,000 to 1 million Iraqi Sunni Arab men of military age who represent the pool of potential insurgents. How many might turn to violence depends on several factors, starting with the extent to which Sunnis are satisfied with their stake in any new government.

Some Sunnis have objected to the draft constitution that is to be presented to Iraqis in a national referendum next month. The community's sense of estrangement could be heightened if the document is passed, as is likely, over its objections.

"They're going to be extremely disappointed when they fail, and they're going to believe this is the result of fraud and being cheated out of what they deserve," one of the U.S. officials said. "There's going to be some real ratcheting up of Sunni disaffection with the process."

The trial of Hussein, to begin next month, is also likely to add to a sense of victimization among Sunnis, analysts say

[bth: this kind of Zarqawi operation requires money. I highly suggest the CIA identify and the president authorize violent action against his financial backers.]

September 16, 2005 Iraq Posted by Picasa

Iraqis' right to life no longer protected -Annan

"UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The right to life of civilians in Iraq has fallen victim to a combination of terrorism, violent crime and military excesses, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan reported on Thursday.

More than 80 percent of the 1,100 bodies brought in to Baghdad's Forensic Institute during the month of July bore evidence of violent death, 'far in excess of the averages in previous months,' Annan told the Security Council in a progress report on the world body's operations in Iraq.

'These figures are indicative of a steadily deteriorating trend and provide an important indicator of the absence of protection of the right to life which prevails at this time in Iraq,' his report said."...

[bth: Annan could care less about Iraqi human rights. He led an organization that looted that country. What he is about is embarrassing the US where possible. I see no statement that attributes atrocities to a sunni civil war. Due process is difficult in a civil war.]

CIA leak investigator warns against document release

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Justice Department and the special counsel investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity pressed Congress to block legislation that would compel the administration to turn over documents related to the case, the department said in a letter released on Thursday.

The Justice Department, in a letter dated September 14, said special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald had advised that producing documents and holding hearings would interfere with his investigation. The letter was sent to the House Intelligence Committee's Republican chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan.

Congressional Democrats have so far failed in their attempts to pass legislation that would force President George W. Bush and the departments of state, justice and defense to provide Congress with documents relating to CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday rejected the legislation on a party-line vote"...

Democrats countered that Republicans were trying to protect Bush and his top political adviser, Karl Rove.

"We have an oversight responsibility regardless of what criminal investigations may or may not be under way," said Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat....

Weldon: Atta Papers Destroyed on Orders

"WASHINGTON -- A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday."...

[bth: I don't think this is new information. Further I don't think this is anything other than standard operating procedure. Why is it now in the Washington Post?]

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Video of IED explosion from Road Debris by a Buffallo

This post was on the Black Five website.

Here's a link to a video of a US Army Buffalo vehicle (Engineers) inspecting a suspicious bag on a roadside.

The video was taken on Friday, August 26th, 2005 by the 612th Engineer Battalion while conducting a routine improvised explosive device route clearing mission. They came across an improvised explosive device which explodes.

It explodes at around the 2:16 mark on the video.

The video is 3.56MB and you can either download it or stream it.

At Arlington, Sept 11, 2005 Posted by Picasa

Iraq in twilight? Posted by Picasa

Terrorists unite to plot Iraqi civil war - World

"A TERRORIST mastermind has united insurgent groups in Baghdad to target the Iraqi Shia Muslim community with the aim of bringing civil war to Iraq, The Times has learnt.

According to US military intelligence sources, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man responsible for the bloodiest acts of terror in Iraq over the past two years, now commands thousands of fighters from various rival groups and is set to order further waves of bombings.

Yesterday the self-styled "emir" of Iraq was blamed for a dozen co-ordinated bombings in Baghdad that killed 152 people, the single worst death toll in the city since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Most of the dead were poor Shia labourers killed by a huge car bomb in a busy square.

"The al-Qaeda organisation in Mesopotamia is declaring all-out war on the Rafidha [a pejorative term for Shias], wherever they are in Iraq," said the 38-year-old in an audio message released on an Islamic website. He urged Sunni Muslims to "wake up from your slumber" and joint the fight.

Last night the threat was being taken seriously by US and Iraqi officials, who have offered a $25 million reward for his capture. "We have got reason to believe that al-Zarqawi has now been given tactical command in the city over groups that have had to merge under him for the sake of survival," an American intelligence officer in Baghdad told The Times yesterday.

An intelligence summary, citing the conglomeration of insurgent groups under the al-Qaeda banner to be the result of rebel turf wars, money, weaponry and fear, concluded that of the estimated 16,000 Sunni Muslim insurgents, 6,700 were hardcore Islamic fundamentalists who were now supplemented by a possible further 4,000 members after an amalgamation with Jaysh Muhammad, previously an insurgent group loyal to the former Baathist regime.

Al-Zarqawi’s rise to supremacy will cast a long shadow in the run up to the October 15 referendum on Iraq’s new constitution and general elections due in December.

His organisation is believed already to have gained domination of smaller resistance groups in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq and a centre of gravity for the Sunni insurgency. An Iraqi resistance insider there last week told The Times that al-Zarqawi’s men had already caused thousands of Shia to flee the city over the past six weeks.

“His men announced through leaflets that all Shia should leave Ramadi or face ‘the iron fist’,” the Ramadi resident said. “At first local Sunnis didn’t want anything to do with it. But they know how powerful Zarqawi’s group is, that it doesn’t hesitate to kill and is not afraid to die.”

“They control Ramadi now. They have the best weapons and the most money, and more and more men. They walk openly on the streets when the Americans aren’t around. So the Shias left, by their thousands.”

The man, himself a supporter of the insurgency, claimed that public executions of coalition informers were a regular occurrence, and happened during daylight in the street. Such is the breakdown of any official authority in Ramadi that it was impossible to stop.

Coalition intelligence sources said that a culmination of signal, image and human intelligence had alerted the coalition to a huge al-Qaeda attack planned for Baghdad in August, which had been aborted at the last minute.

They said the yesterday’s attack was likely a rescheduling of the original operation, and broadcast for propaganda purposes as retaliation for recent government successes in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. ...

[bth: when minorities evacuate from a town that is a very disturbing sign that they have decided to cut their losses and likely will not return. My guess is that the borders are being defined for the break-up of Iraq. Ramadi may likely become the capital of the Sunni-dominated splinter state. Iran discussed the possibility of Iraq-Syria-Lebanon-Gaza linking up and challenging Israel. While we might dismiss it as propaganda, one wonders whether there may be some reality to it. What happens if western Iraq joins with Syria?]

New Microsoft ad presenting Napoleon Dynamite and that other guy. Posted by Picasa

Beltway vs. Blogosphere

"Sept. 14, 2005 - If I am hearing Simon Rosenberg right (and he is worth listening to), a nasty civil war is brewing within the Democratic Party, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton- the party's presumptive 2008 nominee - needs to avoid getting caught in the middle of it."

It's not a fight between liberals and conservatives, Rosenberg told me the other day. It's between our "governing class" here and activists everywhere else."

In other words, it's the Beltway versus the Blogosphere.

What's interesting is that Rosenberg is himself a Beltway creature, a preternaturally self-assured young insider with a cherubic face and a cold smile. He heads a group called the New Democratic Network and ran his own campaign for DNC chair. But the names he utters with reverence are net-based: organizers such as Eli Pariser and bloggers such as Daily Kos and Atrios.

Rosenberg rejects that notion that the bloggers represent a new "Internet Left." It's not an ideological rift, he says, but a narrative of independence versus capitulation: too many Democrats here are too yielding to George W. Bush on the war in Iraq, on tax policy, you name it. What the blogs have developed is a narrative, he told me the other day, and the narrative is that the official Washington party has become like Vichy France.

The first sign of its re-emergence was Cindy Sheehan (remember her?) on the national stage. Beltway Democrats avoided her like the plague; the Blogosphere embraced her as a heroine of the grass roots. It wasn't so much the content of what she said; she was, after all, claiming mostly to be asking questions. It was the WAY she came to prominence quickly, virally, seemingly from out of nowhere and her stubbornly confrontational tone.

In Rosenberg's view, that's the tone Democrats need to adopt now, especially after Hurricane Katrina. Too many governing Democrats, he says, wrongly assume that their party's traditional vision of competent, benevolent government has beehasn'tjected by the voters. It hasn't, he says.

There is no need, Rosenberg says, to wander in the desert in search of a new theoretical synthesis, the way conservatives did a generation ago. What the Democrats need, he says, is an unforgiving toughness and a mastery of new means of communications and all of this is more likely to be accomplished in the Blogosphere than inside the Beltway.

...Strategically, Clinton has no higher priority than reaching out to what Rosenberg calls the emerging activist class and word is that, through aides and advisors, she is doing just that: they have set up meetings with key bloggers....

[bth: President John Kennedy was the first to use television effectively. The internet was uncovered as a wonderful tool for politicians by Howard Dean. The blogosphere remains to be claimed. The jack-boot republicans like the FreeRepublic folks have certainly put forums to use. The Democrats hardly used it. Surprisingly the liberatians haven't used blogs or forums to much effect as it would seem a natural medium for their philosophy. In my opinion blogs offer a tremendous future for grass roots politicians and single interest politics. I've used it for issues of body armor, armored humvees and so on with effect as many important discussions would never make the mainstream media but need to be recorded for future researchers investigating a topic. I feel it can be expanded upon with ease and offers a means of vastly expanding the public discourse. Imagine what someone like Benjamin Franklin could have done with a blog and a PC. Where is a Thomas Paine when you need one?]

1 ugly girl Posted by Picasa

FEMA Versus Wal-Mart

... "Well before Katrina reached New Orleans, when it was still just a tropical depression off the coast of Florida, Wal-Mart was rushing electric generators, bottled water, and other emergency supplies to its distribution centers along the Gulf coast.

Nor was Wal-Mart unique. Federal Express rushed 100 tons of supplies into the stricken area after Katrina hit. State Farm Insurance sent in a couple of thousand special agents to expedite disaster claims. Other businesses scrambled to get their goods or services into the area.

Meanwhile, laws prevent the federal government from coming in without the permission or a request from state or local authorities. Unfortunately, the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana are of a different party than President Bush, which may have something to do with their initial reluctance to have him come in and get political credit.

In the end, there was no political credit for anybody. There was just finger-pointing and the blame game.

Politics is only one of a number of reasons why governments are not the best handlers of many emergencies. Nor is the United States unique in this respect. "...

Federal Discretionary Spending as a Percentage of GDP Posted by Picasa

The Australian: Terror cells in for the long haul [September 15, 2005]

"AL-QA'IDA and its affiliates are constantly able to adapt to concerted international counter-terrorist action and see their struggle as one that will last generations, one of the US's top terrorism experts has warned.

Bruce Hoffman of the Rand Corporation said that, unlike recent conventional military conflicts that were notable for their relatively short duration, Islamist terror groups were prepared for a long war lasting decades.

He said US coalition forces were in effect fighting two wars against global jihadists - a war of attrition that had had some success in diminishing al-Qa'ida's ability to carry out spectacular attacks, and a war of words 'that we are losing'.

'Today there is not one al-Qa'ida, there are many al-Qa'idas,' Dr Hoffman told an international conference on terrorism organised by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Herzliya.

The Islamist organisations 'don't see the resolution of this struggle in their own lifetimes', he said. "...

Federal Discretionary Spending Posted by Picasa

Investigation finds Red Cross agreed to withhold Orleans aid, operates in tandem with Homeland Security

"New information surrounding relief efforts by the American Red Cross in New Orleans raises questions about whether the organization provided adequate relief and whether funds are actually being directed to Katrina victims, RAW STORY has found.

Previous investigations have shown that the Red Cross mishandled its 9/11 fund, attempting to divert more than half into a 'war fund' before Congress intervened, and moved $10 million from a fund in 1989 for earthquake victims towards other uses. Allegations of similar holdbacks following the Oklahoma City bombing and several later disasters, coupled with the discovery that the Red Cross, mandated by its Code of Conduct to remain independent of government, is officially part of the Bush Administration's national security apparatus, led RAW STORY to dig deeply into the Red Cross and its recent disaster relief efforts."...

Amid reports that thousands were trapped in the Superdome and the Convention Center, the Red Cross did not distribute or drop supplies to either location. The group's explanation that its presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city mirrors a National Guard decision not to drop food supplies, saying they did not want to spark riots.

The Red Cross is still not distributing supplies in the city....

As of Sept. 11, 2005, the American Red Cross estimated that it had received $578 million in gifts and pledges for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

During previous disaster relief efforts, however, the Red Cross has withheld funds intended for victims and placed them into a reserve fund for future use, including for what one Red Cross president described as a “war fund."

The Red Cross has repeatedly been cited for poor handling of donations for disaster victims. Some have even referred accused them of "bait-and-switch fund raising."

An investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight panel after 9/11 revealed that while pledging that 9/11 donations (minus overhead) would all go to victims, the Red Cross held back more than half of the $543 million it had raised.

The Red Cross says they funneled these monies to prepare for terrorist attacks.

"We had planned for a weapon of mass destruction attack," former Red Cross President Dr. Bernadine Healy said, saying funds were diverted to a "Liberty Fund."

"The Liberty Fund is a war fund," Healy added. ...

Hell freezes over. Posted by Picasa