Saturday, April 08, 2006

Iraq discovers oil in Kurdistan - Yahoo! News

Iraq discovers oil in Kurdistan - Yahoo! News: "ARBIL (AFP) - Iraq has announced the discovery of oil reserves in the mountainous Kurdish region of Zakho, close to its border with Turkey. "

We have discovered oil at Zakho, 470 kilometers (292 miles) north of Baghdad," announced Iraq's deputy oil minister Motassam Akram.

He said Saturday the oil wells were drilled by a Norwegian company, DNO and added that the actual crude reserves would be known "soon"....

[bth: this is the beginning of independent oil production which will provide revenue to the Kurds and not to Iraq's central government.]

Renegade Iraq Cleric: From Thug to Kingmaker

Renegade Iraq Cleric: From Thug to Kingmaker - Newsweek: International Editions - "April 10, 2006 issue - At one time-it seems like a bloody eternity ago-there was a murder warrant out for the arrest of Moqtada al-Sadr, on the charge of killing an ayatollah in 2003. U.S. Army Gen. Ricardo Sanchez later publicly vowed that coalition troops in Iraq would 'kill or capture' Sadr, and not rest until they had destroyed his militia. American diplomats routinely dismissed him as a no-account thug, a minor cleric with a ragtag band of undisciplined followers. He could get a few thousand angry young Shiites into the streets, demanding immediate U.S. withdrawal. But ultimately, that didn't matter. All the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani had to do was lift a little finger, and hundreds of thousands of Shiites would turn out."...

[bth: this article is a pretty solid overview of the current situation with Sadr. That we would have to deal with this murdering thug and forget the murder warrant out for his arrest aptly describes the screwed up situation we are in. I don't see anyway he can be or ever will be a friend or ally.]

U.S. Occupation Assistance Compared

Here is a link to a GAO study entitled, "U.S. Occupation Assistance: Iraq, Germany and Japan Compared,". The summary conclusion is, "Total U.S. assistance to Iraq thus far is roughly equivalent to total assistance (adjusted for inflation) provided to Germany — and almost double that provided to Japan — from 1946-1952."...
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eDefense - Detect. Decide. Shoot. Survive.

eDefense - Detect. Decide. Shoot. Survive.: "The relatively recent use of commercial wireless communications devices to remotely initiate an improvised explosive device (IED) highlights the asymmetric threat potential of commercial technologies. Terrorists and insurgents in Iran and Iraq are applying their education and imagination to construct remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (RCIEDs) using commercial radio-frequency (RF) communications devices such as key fobs for unlocking automobiles, cellular telephones, and personal radios like the Motorola Talkabout. The adversary has found a chink in the armor of the most powerful military in the world and continues to apply commercial wireless RF communications technologies in attempting to counter our efforts in Southwest Asia."

The advent of broadband wireless communications (specifically WiMAX) coupled with the most popular operating system in the world, The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus (TRON), will only exacerbate this asymmetric threat. This combination of technologies will dramatically simplify the employment of RCIEDs and will likely lead to other destructive uses of wireless communications. Broadband wireless technology also makes locating and spying on an adversary through his use of the Internet much more difficult, because he will now be able to access the Internet over a large geographic area while on the move with his portable computing device. Broadband wireless communications technology will require a dedicated intelligence-analysis effort if we are to employ electronic warfare (EW) to counter an adversary's use of the technology (see "'Enigma'-Like Breakthrough Sought on IEDs"). If we do not take actions now in planning to counter advances in commercial wireless technologies, we will be plagued with successful asymmetric warfare utilizing wireless RF technologies for decades to come.....

[bth: for only $29.95 you can buy a subscription to and get a restatement of the obvious. Don't bother]
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US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran

US considers use of nuclear weapons against Iran: "The administration of President George W. Bush is planning a massive bombing campaign against Iran, including use of bunker-buster nuclear bombs to destroy a key Iranian suspected nuclear weapons facility, The New Yorker magazine has reported in its April 17 issue.

The article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said that Bush and others in the White House have come to view Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a potential Adolf Hitler.

'That's the name they're using,' the report quoted a former senior intelligence official as saying.

A senior unnamed Pentagon adviser is quoted in the article as saying that 'this White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war.'

The former intelligence officials depicts planning as 'enormous,' 'hectic' and 'operational,' Hersh writes. "

One former defense official said the military planning was premised on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government," The New Yorker pointed out.

In recent weeks, the president has quietly initiated a series of talks on plans for Iran with a few key senators and members of the House of Representatives, including at least one Democrat, the report said.

One of the options under consideration involves the possible use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, to insure the destruction of Iran's main centrifuge plant at Natanz, Hersh writes.

But the former senior intelligence official said the attention given to the nuclear option has created serious misgivings inside the military, and some officers have talked about resigning after an attempt to remove the nuclear option from the evolving war plans in Iran failed, according to the report.

"There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," the magazine quotes the Pentagon adviser as saying.

The adviser warned that bombing Iran could provoke "a chain reaction" of attacks on American facilities and citizens throughout the world and might also reignite Hezbollah.

"If we go, the southern half of Iraq will light up like a candle," the adviser is quoted as telling The New Yorker.

[bth: internal surveys in Iran show that nuclear power generation has overwhelming popular support. To say that a massive air attack against those facilities will cause a revolution that will overthrow Iran's government is absolutely silly. Who would be that dumb? US?]
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'God Blew Up the Troops'

'God Blew Up the Troops': "Micaiah Phelps-Davis stood across Georgia Avenue NW from the main gate of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, one of a dozen protesters. Squinting in yesterday's late-afternoon sun, he gazed at the hospital and said of the wounded U.S. soldiers inside: 'I hope they go to hell. Yup, God's going to kill them all.'

Micaiah is 14."

I'm with my mom," he said, gesturing at a cluster of pickets. "Right there," he said, pointing to a woman holding two signs, one of them reading "GOD BLEW UP THE TROOPS." Micaiah said, "That's my mom."

An eighth-grader, Micaiah was the youngest of the demonstrators who came to Washington yesterday from a small, independent Kansas church, Westboro Baptist, whose believers have stirred anger across the nation in recent months, picketing at funerals for troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They show up on TV newscasts from time to time with placards bearing virulent anti-gay slogans. They think God is punishing the United States, killing and maiming soldiers, because the country tolerates homosexuality. As a result of the picketing, several state legislatures have passed bills restricting protests at funerals or tightening existing limits, and lawmakers in more than a dozen other states are considering such measures.

The Westboro protesters, led by their 76-year-old pastor, Fred Phelps, came to picket on Capitol Hill against a proposed federal law limiting funeral protests. Then they marched to Walter Reed.

"I'm very proud of him," Rebekah Phelps-Davis, 45, said of her son Micaiah. She is Fred Phelps's daughter. "What he has done, early in life, is chosen to follow the word of God. . . . He has listened all the years of his life to the word of God, and he has learned." She said he has learned, among other things, this: "Every soldier in that building has been maimed by the Lord -- a direct judgment upon this nation for its perversions and its rejection of His word."

Across the street, in front of the hospital gate, stood 20 or so counterprotesters, members of the Washington chapter of a group that goes by the name of its Web site, They are dedicated to conservative political principles. Their placards read "GOD BLESS OUR SOLDIERS" and "THANK YOU WALTER REED FOR HELPING OUR HEROES HEAL."

They heard the Westboro protesters shouting "God hates America" and answered with a chant of: "U-S-A! . . . U-S-A!"
"All the stuff they're talking about, homosexuality and everything, it's really not an issue with me," said Jim Melville, 64, a Free Republic member. "It's that they're carrying their message against these guys in that hospital. They can believe whatever they want. It's a free country. I just don't like it happening here, in front of these troops."

Another member, Buford Demming, 48, said: "You cannot get any lower than this. Lowest of the low. Even some of the liberal groups, the antiwar crowd, I don't think it would even occur to them to protest at a funeral or someplace like this."
Phelps and his followers have shown up with their placards at soldiers' funerals in Maryland, Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky and elsewhere. Yesterday, he said: "They are not heroes. They chose to fight for a sodomite nation. . . . God almighty has killed these soldiers to inflict pain upon an evil nation, a severe stroke of divine judgment, retribution and vengeance."

Phelps, 6-foot-3 and frail, wore dark sunglasses and a University of Kansas Jayhawks windbreaker. "I am delivering a message from God almighty to this evil nation, and at your peril do you ignore it," he said.

Three counterprotesters sat nearby on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, revving their engines to deafening effect, drowning out the chants of Phelps's flock. The pastor quoted from Bible verses, then stood for a while, holding a placard. It read "THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS."

On his Harley, Ben Stagg, 47, turned off the engine and looked at one of Phelps's followers, a young woman whose placard read "AMERICA IS DOOMED."

"The Bible says Jesus loves me," Staggs told her, shaking his head. "The sad thing is, it says he loves you, too."

[bth: these haters drove all the way to Bedford MA from Kansas last year to protest at our middle school. Such hate, pure viscious hatred for mankind in the name of God.]
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Threat of Shiite Militias Now Seen As Iraq's Most Critical Challenge

Threat of Shiite Militias Now Seen As Iraq's Most Critical Challenge: "BAGHDAD, April 7 -- Shiite Muslim militias pose the greatest threat to security in many parts of Iraq, having killed more people in recent months than the Sunni Arab-led insurgency, and will likely present the most daunting and critical challenge for Iraq's new government, U.S. military and diplomatic officials say.

Assassinations, many carried out by Shiite gunmen against Sunni Arabs in Baghdad and elsewhere, accounted for more than four times as many deaths in March as bombings and other mass-casualty attacks, according to military data. And most officials agree that only a small percentage of shooting deaths are ever reported."...

"It's a far more serious problem now than it was then because of who is in power," said a U.S. official who worked on the militia issue with the now-disbanded Iraqi Governing Council two years ago and spoke on the condition that he not be named. "Until there's a commitment on the part of the government, there will be no solution."

Practically every Shiite political party in Iraq maintains a force of men with guns -- some virtual armies of several thousand or more, others what Peterson described as little more than a "neighborhood watch on steroids."

Iraq's other major factions maintain armed forces as well. Insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna are composed predominantly of Sunni Arabs and conduct frequent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and Shiite civilians. The pesh merga , a large militia maintained by ethnic Kurds, is formally under the command of the Iraqi army, operates mainly in the Kurdish north and poses no major security threat, U.S. officials say.

All of the militias justify their existence, to some extent, by claiming a need to protect their communities from the violence that pervades the country....

Shiite militiamen are believed to number in the tens of thousands. Maj. Gen Rick Lynch, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said in a recent interview that the Mahdi Army -- formed by Sadr from the long-oppressed Shiite underclass in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion -- was believed to have about 10,000 members. The Badr Organization, created in Iran in the 1980s to fight Saddam Hussein's rule, has roughly 5,000, he said.

Other estimates for the groups, both accused by the United States of receiving backing from Iran, range far higher....

[bth: I think we are reaching a point where we should just choose sides and let the country partition. We can't hold the pottery shards togethre with our bare hands and tell people its not broken]
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Wired News: Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room

Wired News: Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room: "AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.
Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.

On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly explain how the wiretapping system works.

According to a statement released by Klein's attorney, an NSA agent showed up at the San Francisco switching center in 2002 to interview a management-level technician for a special job. In January 2003, Klein observed a new room being built adjacent to the room housing AT&T's #4ESS switching equipment, which is responsible for routing long distance and international calls.

'I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room,' Klein wrote. 'The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room.'

Klein's job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

"While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet (AT&T's internet service) circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal," Klein wrote.

The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, according to Klein's statement...

[bth: I will not willingly give up my 4th amendment rights.]
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Divided and Conquered, Iraq Descends Into Civil War

Divided and Conquered, Iraq Descends Into Civil War: ..."The president has yet to concede that what is now taking place in Iraq is civil war, instead blaming the sectarian strife on Saddam Hussein. The deposed Iraqi leader, Bush argued last month, 'undertook a deliberate strategy of maintaining control by dividing the Iraqi people' that today is still being followed by 'Saddamists' in the insurgency.

The three main communities in Iraq, he implies, have no real grievances against each other, only against the former regime and its few survivors. Iraqis, however, disagree: the 92% of Iraqis who voted for communal parties this past December made very clear that they fear their communal rivals, not a regime three years gone.

While Bush focuses more on whom to blame than on what is happening, not one but two full-scale communal conflicts are raging in Iraq. In the north of the country, the Kurds are fighting several other communities for the oil-rich Kirkuk Province. Further south, Sunnis and Shiites are struggling for control of a roughly 100-mile-deep band of mixed settlement that runs across central Iraq, including Baghdad."...

Sunni terrorists and death squads have been killing Shiite civilians since 2003, while the Shiites have been retaliating on an ever increasing scale, including using Iraqi police as death squads. In the last six weeks alone, roughly 3,000 deaths have been attributed to sectarian violence, according to American press outlets. Figures reported by Arabic-language media are even higher.

According to the Iraqi government, more than 40,000 Iraqis have become refugees in the last month. As if the number were not enough cause for concern, consider that this estimate is almost certainly low, since it implies a ratio of deaths to refugees of about 1 to 10. Typical ratios in ethnic cleansing campaigns — except in genocides, which is not what is happening in Iraq — are closer to one to 100.

And it will get worse. Once communal violence passes a certain threshold, it ceases to matter why or how it started. Today all members of both the Sunni and Shiite communities face real security threats — whether or not they personally want to fight the other community for power, out of hatred or for revenge.

The danger is especially great where settlement patterns are intermixed, as in Baghdad and in much of central Iraq. No Sunni can any longer feel safe in any place that Shiite-controlled Iraqi police or Shiite militias can reach, and no Shiite is safe anywhere that a Sunni suicide bomber or an execution squad can get to.

As a result, Iraq is in the process of partitioning itself. Mixed towns and urban neighborhoods are becoming unmixed. No one knows how far this process has gone already; some reports suggest that many towns have already become mono-ethnic. In the last month both Shiite and Sunni militias have been inundated by new volunteers and the street price of a Kalashnikov assault rifle has more than doubled, developments that offer a decent indication of the direction in which the situation is heading.

Free movement between Sunni and Shiite areas will be more and more curtailed by checkpoints manned by local militias, if not by government forces. This is already happening, both within Baghdad and outside it. Eventually Iraq will develop a nearly solid demographic frontier.

Since the demography of Baghdad itself is far too complex to divide into just two parts, some neighborhoods will become isolated enclaves surrounded by barbed wire. This solution is ugly, but has worked before: in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia since 1974, and in Jerusalem, where Mount Scopus remained an isolated Jewish island from 1948 to 1967. The partition of Iraq will likely be de facto, not de jure, because many Shiite leaders still hope to eventually re-unify Iraq and no one in the region would tolerate formal independence for the Kurds. ...

So why should we stay at all? We have one remaining obligation in Iraq: to minimize the human and other damage caused by ethnic cleansing. It is our moral obligation, but it is also in our national security interests. We are — and will continue to be — blamed by almost everyone worldwide for all of the harm that befalls the people of Iraq. The shorter that bill of indictment, the better.

This means using our military strength to protect those refugees who wish to move. We must defend the most vulnerable mixed towns and urban neighborhoods from both Sunni and Shiite ethnic cleansers long enough to organize transport for those who want it. The alternative is more months, or even years, of civil war still more intense than we have seen yet.

Even this limited mission will be difficult without Iraqi government consent. We will have to concede to the Shiites control of any towns they think they can hold, but reaching agreement will not be automatic. Two of the three main factions of the United Iraqi Alliance, the al-Da'awa Party and the Sadrists, still aim at a unitary Iraq.

There is some reason to hope, however, that recent events have convinced Shiite leaders that protection of their co-religionists must come first. Making clear that refugee protection will be our last mission in Iraq will also concentrate minds. Any settlements not under Shiite control when we leave will be lost to them — unless, of course, they are prepared to fight far more expensive battles than they have done so far or for which they are now ready.

The last step is to make sure that the Shiites will remain the stronger side militarily after we leave. Otherwise a future change in the balance of power, together with the flat terrain of central Iraq, could encourage Sunni factions to see if a new round of fighting might bring it a better result. Civil war outcomes are more stable when the more satisfied side and the stronger side are one and the same....

Such a solution will enrage Sunnis even further, if that is possible, but they will not be able to do much about it. Sunni Arab states will also be angered, but the fact is that there is no course of action that would allow us to avoid that.

The rump Iraqi Sunni statelet will be disorderly and very poor, and will not able to prevent terrorists from operating on its soil. This, too, is unavoidable; three years of counter-insurgency in Iraq has stimulated more terrorism than it has suppressed. Over time, however, ordinary Iraqi Sunnis will come to realize that the greatest danger they face is no longer from Iraqi Shiites or from American soldiers, but from the armed foreign jihadists in their midst. It is only then that they will begin the fight to regain order in their country.

Chaim Kaufmann is an associate professor of international relations at Lehigh University.
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Raider Brigade Turns In Excess Equipment - DefendAmerica News Article

Raider Brigade Turns In Excess Equipment - DefendAmerica News Article: "CAMP TAJI, Iraq, April 4, 2006 -Taking the first step toward shrinking the brigade's footprint in Taji, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is moving its excess vehicles and equipment from here to Kuwait.

"This (movement) benefits both the unit and the Army," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lester Layman, executive officer, 1st Brigade Combat Team, adding that the equipment was left behind from previous rotations for follow-on forces to use.

"The Department of Defense has made a concerted effort to replace all of the old humvees with the new up-armored ones. We no longer use trucks that are not armored off of the base, leaving us with a large amount of equipment that we can't use for the current mission."

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Lester Layman

"The Department of Defense has made a concerted effort to replace all of the old humvees with the new up-armored ones," he added. "We no longer use trucks that are not armored off of the base, leaving us with a large amount of equipment that we can't use for the current mission."...

We are turning in around 415 vehicles, which is most of the stay-behind vehicles here,” said U.S. Army Warrant Officer Scott Messenger, mobility officer, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
“We’ve also transferred another 40 vehicles to other units.

With us turning this stuff in now, it minimizes what we will have to turn in when we redeploy back to Fort Hood,” added Messenger.

[bth: why is this article published by the army, it really isn't compelling or news? Well I think its released because the 4th ID got in trouble with Congress last fall for hording 800 brand new factory built fully armored humvees in Kuwait while the 3ID and marines got shot up. The horde was produced this summer and should have logically gone to marines in combat, but the Army kept them back, put an upgraded radio in them, and left them to bake for months until 4th ID showed up. Now they are announcing that the older (radio incompatible and hill billy armored vehicles) are being sent out. This can then be waved in the face of Rep. Duncan Hunter, Chair of the HASC when he asks the question during this month's hearings. Another ass protected, unless you count the marines which were left out in the cold]
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Ulster gets armor biz

Ulster gets armor biz: "...The potential is there. The key is Magmacore, the guts of all the company's products. Magmacore uses the scientific theories of Buckminster Fuller of 'Bucky balls' fame. The result is a futuristic material reminiscent of an egg carton sandwiched between layers of plastic.

As Warren explained in a June 2005 Washington Monthly article, Magmacore uses a bullet or bomb fragment's own energy against it. The metal melts from the friction created.
Hardened steel can withstand only about 12 bullet hits in the same area before it is pierced. Warren said he pumped 135 bullets into the Magmacore panel for the article. None penetrated all the way.

To top it off, the material is lighter. "...
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Friday, April 07, 2006

The wounded: The journey through trauma - April 06, 2006 - The wounded: The journey through trauma - April 06, 2006: "...Buchter survived the 'golden hour' -the 60 minutes following a serious battlefield wound, when the speed and competence of emergency treatment can mean the difference between life and death. Ordinary fighting men teamed with doctors, surgeons and nurses to keep him alive.

His fellow Marines -what the military calls his 'battle buddies' -were able to stanch his bleeding by putting their combat lifesaving training to quick use. Exsanguination, or bleeding to death, is the leading cause of death for American troops in Iraq. "...

DHB may restate earnings

DHB may restate earnings -- "DHB Industries Inc., troubled by federal investigations into its finances and shareholder lawsuits alleging stock manipulation, says it may have to restate earnings results for 'one or more' of the first three quarters of last year.

The Westbury-based company, one of the country's largest manufacturers of body armor for U.S. troops in Iraq, said late Friday it will delay the release of its 2005 sales and earnings - the second time in a little more than two weeks it has announced such a delay."

Yesterday, investors sent DHB shares slightly lower, to close at $4.71, down 7 cents. The company's once high-flying stock has fallen more than 70 percent in the past year.

On March 16, the Securities and Exchange Commission granted DHB a 15-day extension to file its annual 10-K report for 2005. But the company now says it will not meet that deadline.

The company said both delays are the result of "the time and effort required to ensure reasonableness of [2006] estimates and the accuracy of reported inventory levels and resulting gross profit and income levels" for '05. Although the company would not comment further, a company source said the delay was largely because of two accounting firms quitting as company auditors and the current auditor trying to ensure that numbers were correct.

In its statement, the company cautioned, "This analysis could result in restatement of the reported results for one or more of the first three quarters of 2005."

DHB said that in the quarter ended Sept. 30, revenue was $90.2 million and the company lost $41.7 million. In the quarter ended June 30, DHB reported $88 million in sales and a $7.5-million profit. For the quarter ended March 31, the company said sales were $74.4 million and profits were $6.2 million.

John Nester, an SEC spokesman, said DHB is "technically noncompliant" with regulations regarding the filing of annual reports."Any remedy will depend on facts and circumstances," Nester said.

Christopher Keller, a lawyer for investors who are suing, said the latest DHB announcement is not a good sign. "A restatement of earnings, which is an admission that prior financial reports are false, is always something investors should be greatly concerned about because it reflects poorly on the company's internal controls and accounting," Keller said.

Sarah Anderson, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, called for greater congressional oversight of companies receiving Pentagon contracts."I think this underscores the need for more transparency related to all of our war contracts," Anderson said. "There are so many questions that DHB has not answered."

The company's announcement of yet another delay in releasing year-end results comes against a backdrop of a review by congressional investigators into the Pentagon's body armor program, including the "Interceptor" vests produced by Point Blank Armor, a DHB subsidiary in southern Florida. Congressional investigators are concerned the vests may be inadequate to protect troops, an assertion that has been vehemently denied by DHB. An Army spokesman has said the service has had no problems or complaints with the vests.

DHB also has been hit by multiple shareholder suits, which allege the company broke federal securities laws with a "pump and dump" scheme designed to earn top executives large sums from stock sales while they issued "false and misleading" statements. The company has denied these allegations.

[bth: undeclared interparty transactions, insider trading taint this company. Note the mistatements coincide with the dumping of stock in 2005 if memory serves.]
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Pakistan says 40 militants killed by security forces

Khaleej Times Online: "PESHAWAR - Pakistani authorities said on Thursday that up to 40 militants were killed by security forces in clashes a day earlier in a remote tribal region near the Afghanistan border.

After a major operation on Wednesday in North Waziristan tribal district, the military had said at least 16 militants were killed and 19 captured.

An official statement by the tribal area administration in North West Frontier Province did not elaborate on the higher death toll.

"The clashes that took place between the miscreants and security forces in two different areas of North Waziristan Agency on Wednesday left as many as 40 miscreants dead," it said.

The army backed by gunship helicopters went into action in the Shawal region of North Waziristan after militants attacked a security post with rockets, killing three soldiers.

Another soldier died in the ensuing clashes.

Two soldiers were injured in another attack Tuesday by militants on a nearby post in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan.

The army said Wednesday that eight bodies had been recovered in that incident and that another eight were either buried or taken away by fleeing militants.

The tribal administration's statement said information gathered from the 19 people arrested indicated that around 150 militants had arrived in the area to launch attacks on security forces.

Pakistan has deployed 80,000 troops along the border to hunt down militants who sought refuge in the rugged tribal area after the Taleban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan was toppled in late 2001.

President Pervez Musharraf last month warned foreign insurgents to leave the tribal belt or be killed."...

[bth: note what seems to be an increase in the use of helicopter gunships.]
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PAKISTAN: MADRASSA REFORM A MIRAGE: "Karachi, 6 April (AKI) - (by Marco Liconti) - Although the Pakistani government vowed to reform the country's 13,000 madrassas or Islamic seminaries, little has actually changed. After the London bombings in July, when it was confirmed that two of the suicide bombers had travelled to Pakistan before the attacks and one of them was also shown to have visited a Pakistani madrassa, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf said that all foreign students in the madrassas, some 1,400 of them, had to leave the country by the end of 2005. Months after the pronouncement, and after fierce opposition from Pakistan's religious parties, the reality on the ground is different.

'Visas are no longer issued to foreign students,' Fayaz Ali Khan, the additional inspector general of police in the southern port city of Karachi told Adnkronos International (AKI). But Khan, head of the Special Branch, in-charge of intelligence and issuing the visas, admitted that 'there are foreign students already present in the madrassas and they have been allowed to complete their studies'. ...

One of the more important madrassas in Karachi and among the largest in Pakistan, the Jamiatul Uloom Islamia of Binori Town, the school in which a large part of the Taliban studied, denies the pronouncements made by Islamabad.

‘"It is not true that foreign students are not allowed," said Abdul Razzak Sekandar, the elderly rector in Binori Town, in an interview with AKI. "Those who are already here remain and new students continue to arrive," he said. ...

In reality, according to independent estimates, only 3,000 out of 13,000 madrassas have to date responded to the census imposed by the government. This system grew beyond all reasonable control during the years of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when, with the support of the various Pakistani regimes and funding from Saudi Arabia, hundreds of thousands of young mujahadeen were indoctrinated and sent off to fight the Russians.Then after the 11 September, 2001 attacks in the US, the madrassas found themselves transformed overnight into dangerous jihadi assembly lines, in the eyes of the West, at least.

"Not all madrassas are extremist" said Pakistan's 'general-dictator', as Sekandar refers to Pervez Musharraf. The rector says he met the president several weeks earlier to discuss reforms and urged him to press the United Nations on the wave of the cartoon protests around the world, to adopt a resolution condemning blasphemy against all religions.

However these steps back from the promises made to the West do actually correspond to an internal logic. Musharraf cannot deal with a full confrontation with the religious parties in the country that control the government in two out of four provinces and have a significant influence in the national parliament. "...
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Fourth Amendment - Farewell Old Friend

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

[bth: Here is the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I thought you'd like to read it. Where in this short paragraph does it say that the President can access your mail, your calls and do it without Congressional or Judicial oversight?]

White House Press Corps Fails to Ask McClellan About Bush's Authorization of Leak

"Yesterday, Patrick Fitzgerald submitted a court filing which revealed that, according to Scooter Libby, he was authorized to leak classified information by President Bush. This morning, it was reported by the New York Sun, the National Journal and many other publications.

When the White House press corps had an opportunity this morning to ask Press Secretary Scott McClellan questions, they didn't ask him about it. At 9:30AM, on route to Bush's speech in North Carolina, reporters asked McClellan about immigration, terrorism, Katrina and Iran. But there wasn't a single question about President Bush authorizing Scooter Libby to share highly classified information with reporters."...

[bth: this is a typical example of the failure of traditional media sources. Who will defend our consitutional rights?]

Gonzales Suggests Legal Basis for Domestic Eavesdropping - New York Times

Gonzales Suggests Legal Basis for Domestic Eavesdropping - New York Times: "WASHINGTON, April 6 -Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggested on Thursday for the first time that the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occur exclusively within the United States. "

I'm not going to rule it out," Mr. Gonzales said when asked about that possibility at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.....

[bth: contrast this statement with the 4th amendment and tell me on what authority the president has to infringe on it and then declare himself above the law.]
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1 000 bodies found in Iraq

1 000 bodies found in Iraq: "Kirkuk - Eight mass graves containing around 1 000 bodies have been found near Iraq's northern oil hub of Kirkuk, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) announced on Thursday.

'Most of the victims were Kurds, as well as some Christians and Turcoman, who lived in these two majority Kurdish villages,' the PUK said in a statement.

Also included among the victims were Shi'ites killed during the 1991 repression of an uprising by former dictator Saddam Hussein, it said.

The graves were found in the villages of Al-Asri and Tubazawa, west of Kirkuk.

Numerous mass graves of Kurds in the north and Shi'ites in the south have been discovered since the fall of Saddam's regime in 2003. United States officials believe there could be at least 300 000 bodies buried across Iraq.

On Tuesday, a local religious organisation said two mass graves dating from the time of Saddam had been found near the southern city of Nasiriyah.

The court trying Saddam over the killing of Shi'ites in the 1980s announced on Tuesday that he would face genocide charges over the Anfal campaign against Kurds that left around 180 000 people dead.

Similar charges are also being laid against six co-defendants including Ali Hassan al-Majid, also known as Chemical Ali. "

[bth: I doubt these graves were just discovered and together on the same week. Most likely they were known and just publicized. Its kind of suprising that these mass graves haven't gotten more international publicity as it was the clearest justification in my mind for invading Iraq.]

Thursday, April 06, 2006

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Varanasi blasts: Probe leads to Bangladesh :

Varanasi blasts: Probe leads to Bangladesh : "An Indian cleric on Wednesday publicly confessed his involvement and of a Bangladeshi Islamist group in last month's terrorist strikes in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi that killed at least 20 people.

The sensational disclosure was made at a press conference called by the Uttar Pradesh Police who announced the arrest of the cleric and five others for the March 7 Varanasi killings.

The six, arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force, alleged the hand of the Bangladesh militant organisation Harkat-ul-Jihad Al Islami, which the cleric said was linked to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)."...

Weapons and explosives seized from them included an AK-47 rifle with a magazine containing 27 bullets, 15 grenades, nine kg of RDX and other plastic explosives with 10 detonators, officials here said.

The 32-year-old imam said the five had been sent by him to Bangladesh for arms training.

The blasts, he added, were carried out by three militants from the Harkat-ul-Jihad, with which he said he was closely associated....

"Subsequently, in 2004, I sent these five young men to Bangladesh from where Asad Ullah forwarded them over to Pakistan to attend a 28-day ISI training camp," he said....

[bth: interesting link with ISI, though timing of public confessions like this from India often coincide with US-Paki high level meetings.]
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What of the other fiends?

New York Daily News - Crime File - What of the other fiends?: "WASHINGTON - With Zacarias Moussaoui closer to being condemned to death for aiding the 9/11 plot, victims' families are now demanding that the confessed masterminds in U.S. custody pay the crime.

'Where does the prosecution stand toward Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Binalshibh and [Whalid Ba] Attash?' asked Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband, Ron, died at the World Trade Center. 'All of them had more of a direct connection to 9/11 and are in our custody.'

'There's no reason not to prosecute them,' Breitweiser said.
The Justice Department had no comment yesterday.
But current and former senior U.S. officials told the Daily News that Mohammed, the self-professed 9/11 'military commander,' and his lieutenants Binalshibh and Attash will probably never face a judge and jury."....

[bth: damned good point. Why not?]

Pakistan army takes on militants

BBC NEWS South Asia Pakistan army takes on militants: "Pakistani security forces have killed at least 16 pro-Taleban militants in a clash near the Afghan border, a military spokesman says.

The fierce battle came as Pakistani forces launched a fresh offensive after three troops were killed in an overnight attack in North Waziristan.

Three Pakistani soldiers were killed in the attack on a military check post.

The offensive coincides with security talks between Pakistan and the United States in Islamabad. "...

[bth: its the last phrase that's important. There wasn't a major economic aid or military deal announced during Bush's recent visit. Perhaps this is leading up to it.]
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Iraq spy suspect oversaw U.S. asylumlitic

"An Iraqi-born U.S. citizen suspected of being a foreign intelligence agent was employed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to rule on asylum applications, including those from unfriendly Middle Eastern nations, according to documents obtained from Congress by The Washington Times. "...

Top insurgent 'caught in Baghdad'

BBC NEWS Middle East Top insurgent 'caught in Baghdad': "The US military says it has captured a leading figure in the Iraqi insurgency in the capital Baghdad.

Muhammad al-Ubaydi is said to have been a close associate of the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Zarqawi is Iraq's most notorious insurgent, associated with bombings and the beheading of foreign hostages.

The US military said Mr Ubaydi was captured on 7 March, but the announcement of his capture was delayed until DNA tests confirmed his identity.

It said he was a senior intelligence official during Saddam Hussein's regime and a prime suspect in the kidnapping of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena last year. "....

[bth: the release of a statement like this almost always precedes a congressional hearing of some sort where 'progress' can be shown against Zarqawi. I note that he isn't call Zarqawi's chief lieutenant which is usually the description - kind of like being the fourth man on the Star Trek landing party.]

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

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War Brings Advances in Protection and Care - Los Angeles Times

War Brings Advances in Protection and Care - Los Angeles Times: "BAGHDAD - In a typical week, 35 wounded American troops are delivered to the Army Combat Support Hospital, a Green Zone building that once housed Saddam Hussein's private medical facility. Two-thirds are victims of improvised explosive devices.

By far the deadliest threat to U.S. troops in Iraq, IEDs account for about 40% of combat deaths and more than half of all wounds. The military counted 10,593 IED attacks last year, an average of 29 per day, up from 5,607 attacks in 2004."

Ballistic eye protection, combined with medical breakthroughs unavailable in previous conflicts, has helped reduce the bloodshed inflicted by IEDs. Eye protection was not required when U.S. forces invaded Iraq three years ago. But after IEDs caused devastating eye injuries, virtually all commanders here began to require their troops to wear eye protection.

At the same time, the military has loosened eyewear regulations. Early in the war, soldiers resisted wearing clumsy, Army-issue goggles nicknamed "anti-pregnancy glasses" for their decidedly uncool appearance. They are now permitted to wear trendy Wiley or Oakley ballistic sunglasses.

Soldiers struck by IEDs while wearing eye protection "come out looking like a raccoon, and they may have first- and even second-degree burns," said Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan Angle, an eye surgeon who has tested ballistic glasses by shooting them with a .22-caliber gun. "But around the eye itself, there's really no burns at all."

The military also has performed an about-face on one of the oldest tools in combat medicine: the low-tech tourniquet. Discouraged in previous wars because they were believed to lead to amputation, tourniquets now are carried by all troops.

Experience in Iraq has shown that tourniquets do not necessitate amputation, combat surgeons said."Tourniquets have changed from a measure of last resort to a measure of first resort," said Maj. Brett Hampton, an orthopedic surgeon at the Baghdad hospital. "A typical upper-extremity wound that a soldier might die from in five minutes can be squelched by his battle buddy who has a tourniquet and knows how to apply it."

Combined with improved bandages that have replaced gauze, and specialized training for medics and ordinary soldiers alike, surgeons say, tourniquets have saved troops who might have died or lost limbs in previous wars.

New chemical clotting agents administered on the battlefield have also controlled hemorrhaging in patients who otherwise might have bled to death before reaching a hospital.In addition, hypothermia is treated with Bair Hugger inflatable blankets pumped with warm air.

A new rapid transfuser injects blood, saving lives by replacing lost blood far faster than the traditional drip method. And a tiny pump that allows patients to control their pain medication was implanted in a wounded soldier for the first time in November.

Most IED victims arrive with what surgeons call "polytrauma" injuries — several types of wounds.

"Back home, you see a car accident and it will be blunt trauma or a head injury, or a single gunshot wound," said Capt. Ed Dunton, the chief trauma nurse. "But here you get all that encompassed in a single patient: a head injury along with blunt trauma along with penetrating trauma."

Because soldiers can be stabilized and moved so quickly, surgeons leave wounds open after cleaning them. That saves time and allows the wounded to be flown out of Iraq as quickly as possible. Speed is especially crucial for IED victims, who tend to have dirt and roadside debris embedded in their wounds.

Even serious abdominal wounds are left open with the help of a "wound vac," a tube-and-pump device that creates a vacuum over an open wound. The wound is packed with sponge-like dressings and sealed with a thin, clear plastic so that it can be cleaned and drained regularly.

Lt. Col. Lawrence Lepler, an intensive care doctor in Baghdad, calls the hospital there, with 74 beds, "a souped-up ER." The facility, which treats American and Iraqi civilians in addition to U.S. troops, is the world's fifth-busiest trauma center, said Col. Peter Nielsen, the Baghdad hospital commander.

Most wounded soldiers have a good chance of survival because they tend to be young, strong and in exceptional physical condition — "relatively indestructible," as Hampton put it.

"It's amazing," said Maj. Tim Nunez, a surgeon. "They come in talking. They have these horrendous injuries and they're actually sitting and talking to you."While treating one critically wounded soldier, Nunez said, he asked a medic whether the patient was still breathing. The soldier sat up and cracked, "Well, that's not a good sign."

"This hospital," Nunez said, "is a surgeon's dream."How they were hurtMost of the Americans wounded in Iraq have been the victims of explosive devices similar to mines used in earlier wars. Here's the breakdown of the causes of wounds through March 25:
Explosive devices 57%
Mortars/rockets 11
Other weapons 11
Weapons effect* 9
Other reasons** 4
Not reported 8*
Shrapnel, concussion, etc.*
* Includes blunt force, falls, stabbings and transportation-related wounds-Source: Department of Defense

[bth: with apologies to the LA Times I've posted this article in full as its an excellent summary of recent medical advances and equipment issues including privately purchased eyeware and the now common use of single-handed tourniquets, critical in getting soldiers to the hospital without bleeding out.]
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Secret Pentagon Database Collected Wrong Information - Politics News - Secret Pentagon Database Collected Wrong Information: "WASHINGTON - As many as 260 reports in a classified Defense Department database on suspicious people or activities were improperly collected or kept there, the Pentagon said Wednesday in a review that also found the system to be a valuable tool in terrorism investigations.

The review was ordered last December after reports that the database collected information on anti-war groups and U.S. citizens - prompting members of Congress and others to raise questions about possible domestic spying."...
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US should set two deadlines leading to Iraq pullout: John Kerry - Yahoo! News

US should set two deadlines leading to Iraq pullout: John Kerry - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States should set a May 15 deadline for Iraqis to form a unity government and then plan to withdraw its troops by year's end, Democratic Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry said. "

If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave," Kerry wrote in commentary published in The New York Times.

Joining a growing chorus criticizing the US-led occupation of
Iraq' , Kerry said it was "immoral ... to engage in the same delusion" as in Vietnam, where half of the US casualties occurred "after America's leaders knew our strategy would not work."...
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Turkish Kurds see Iraq as an inspiration

Turkish Kurds see Iraq as an inspiration: "Iran and Syria also are concerned that Kurds in Iraq's oil-rich north could set up an independent state if the Iraqi central government collapses - serving as a rallying call for their own restless Kurdish minorities and destabilize the entire region.

Iran's ambassador to Turkey, Firouz Dowlatabadi, warned in an interview published Tuesday that Turkey, Iran and Syria need a joint policy on the Kurdish issue or 'the U.S. will carve pieces from us for a Kurdish state.'"...

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged not to give in to the rioters.

"No one should dare to test the power of the state or the nation," Erdogan said Tuesday in an address to his party.

"The government will not step back from expanding democracy, laws and freedom of expression."

Many Kurds have pinned their hopes on Turkey's push to join the EU, which repeatedly has said Ankara's treatment of the Kurds will be a key determining factor in its decision on whether to accept the country. But that process could take at least a decade and frustrations among Kurds are growing.

Unemployment is extremely high in the region, which helps increase support for Kurdish guerrillas based in northern Iraq. Ankara says the guerrillas also have been able to acquire sophisticated plastic explosives in Iraq for bombings in Turkey.

"No doubt, the region is affected by winds of change from northern Iraq," former Kurdish lawmaker Hasim Hasimi said.
For Ramazan, the fate of the Kurdish dream lies with Washington and the EU.

"Give us a federal status like in Iraq, that's enough," he said. "I hope, it will happen this time."
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Video Claims to Show Pilot Being Dragged

Associated Press Pop-up Link: "CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- A video posted on the Internet Wednesday in the name of an extremist group claimed to show Iraqi insurgents dragging the burning body of a U.S. pilot on the ground after the crash of an Apache helicopter."...
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Diplomats: Mideast nations held secret talks on Iraq

The Hindu News Update Service: "Cairo, April 5 (AP): Top intelligence officers from several Arab countries and Turkey have been meeting secretly to coordinate their Governments' strategies in case civil war erupts in Iraq and in an attempt to block Iran's interference in the war-torn nation, Arab diplomats said.

The four diplomats said on Tuesday that intelligence chiefs from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and non-Arab Turkey held a series of meetings over the last few weeks to assess the situation in Iraq and work out plans to avoid any regional backlash that may result from sectarian conflict in Iraq.

The diplomats in several Middle Eastern capitals, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Iran and Syria have been excluded from the talks.

'They are part of the problem, not of the solution,' said one diplomat whose country is involved in the talks.

He said the officials are focusing on the proposed US-Iranian dialogue and the implications on Arabs and Turkey of any 'American-Iranian deal'.

Reports in the Arab press have suggested that any agreement between Washington and Tehran will be at the expense of the Arabs.

On Monday, an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad said the US-Iranian contacts will be initiated in the Iraqi capital but he did not say when.

[bth: Note that the concern amongst our so called allies is with an agreement between Iran and the US and not about the people of Iraq or the US troops in Iraq.]
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IRAQ: Rising number of displaced in south need aid, say relief agencies | Refugees IDPs | Breaking News

IRIN Middle East Middle East IRAQ IRAQ: Rising number of displaced in south need aid, say relief agencies Refugees IDPs Breaking News: "BAGHDAD, 4 Apr 2006 (IRIN) - A growing number of displaced families in the southern city of Najaf are in urgent need of food supplies and health care, local aid agencies said.

The number of displaced moving to Najaf is increasing everyday with the ongoing sectarian violence. We're having difficulties supplying all of them," said Hassan Dureid, spokesperson for Iraqi Brothers Relief, a local NGO working in southern Iraq. "We require urgent help from international aid agencies and the central government."

According to Dureid, the number of displaced people on the outskirts of Najaf, located some 150km south of the capital, Baghdad, reached 8,000 last week, with hundreds more joining them since. This figure, he added, does not include those who have taken refuge with relatives in Najaf and nearby Kerbala.

The majority of the refugees are Arab Shi'ites fleeing violence in Baghdad and in neighbouring cities. Most of them are currently taking refuge at a temporary camp called al-Kafal, about 25km from Najaf. "We lack blankets, tents, food and medical care and children are having serious problems with diarrhoea and vomiting," Dureid said. "...

“The problem grows every day,” said senior Najaf governorate official Ali Kadham. “We need urgent help and funds because the amount sent to us isn’t enough. When the money is divided amongst the displaced, each will get less than US $10 for the whole month.” The funding is part of US $400,000 allocated by Baghdad to assist displaced families countywide. The Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) is dispatching weekly convoys of food parcels, cooking stoves and tents from the capital. According to Kadham, however, this is not enough to ensure that displaced families get everything they need to survive. “We need support from other organisations to guarantee good living conditions for the displaced,” said Haydar Abdul-Rassul, an IRCS volunteer working in Najaf. “The most important is to not let children go hungry or get ill – unfortunately, many of them already are.” ...

[bth: Note that the refugees are coming from Baghdad - the next Beirut. Second the amount of money being provided is miniscule. Where is the UN or for that matter most of the islamic world? Curious isn't it?]
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