Friday, August 18, 2006

Martin Luther King on Passive Acceptance of Evil

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Total destruction of this unarmored humvee. Note road was freshly graded. Posted by Picasa

Get In Their Face!: Forged In Iron - President Eisenhower

Get In Their Face!: Forged In Iron: "Our Democratic Republic has reached a critical point in its relatively short existence. America is a ship without a rudder and it's veering perilously off course. Throughout history the greatest leaders were people of intelligence, compassion, integrity and vision.

They learned from their mistakes as well as the failures of those who came before them. Our current President and his party have hijacked our country and are hell bent on perpetual war. Massive corruption, fraud, profiteering and incompetency have plagued our government and their faux war on terror.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was indeed a man of true character and vision. He foresaw the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex and was relentless in his fight against perpetual war and those who would profit from it. In other words, the antithesis of George W. Bush.

Below are a few quotes from Eisenhower. His words eerily foreshadow the madness of King George.

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."

"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

"Only Americans can hurt America."

"Controlled, universal disarmament is the imperative of our time. The demand for it by the hundreds of millions whose chief concern is the long future of themselves and their children will, I hope, become so universal and so insistent that no man, no government anywhere, can withstand it."

"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both."

"How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?"

"I deplore the need or the use of troops anywhere to get American citizens to obey the orders of constituted courts.""I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity."

"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

"If you want total security, go to prison. There you're fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking... Is freedom."

"In most communities it is illegal to cry "fire" in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?"

"Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage. "

"This world of ours... Must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect."

"Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace."

"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war."

With the exception of John Murtha, Russ Feingold and Ned Lamont, there are few voices speaking these truths today. If Eisenhower were running as a Democrat today, I have no doubt he would set the blogosphere ablaze and his Act Blue page would be overflowing with cash. We need Ike back, stat.

Below are a few quotes from Eisenhower. His words eerily foreshadow the madness of King George."

Note that this is one of the few photos where the door armor is actually destroyed. Also the top and nose is destroyed which makes me think it flipped after having the front blown off. Posted by Picasa

On War #179: Beat!

: "With today's cease-fire in Lebanon, the second Hezbollah-Israeli War is temporarily in remission. So far, Israel has been beaten."

The magnitude of the defeat is considerable. Israel appears to have lost at every level—strategic, operational and tactical. Nothing she tried worked. Air power failed, as it always does against an enemy who doesn’t have to maneuver operationally, or even move tactically for the most part. The attempts to blockade Lebanon and thus cut off Hezbollah’s resupply failed; her caches proved ample. Most seriously, the ground assault into Lebanon failed. Israel took little ground and paid heavily in casualties for that. More, she cannot hold what she has taken; if she is not forced to withdraw by diplomacy, Hezbollah will push her out, as it did once before.

The alternative is a bleeding ulcer that never heals.

But these failures only begin to measure the magnitude of Israel’s defeat. While Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, is now an Islamic hero, Olmert has become a boiled brisket in the piranha pool that is Israeli politics. The cease-fire in Lebanon will allow camera crews to broadcast the extent of the destruction to the world, with further damage to Israel’s image. Israel’s “wall” strategy for dealing with the Palestinians has been undone; Hamas rockets can fly over a wall as easily as Hezbollah rockets have flown over Israel’s northern border.

Most importantly, an Islamic Fourth Generation entity, Hezbollah, will now point the way throughout the Arab and larger Islamic world to a future in which Israel can be defeated. That will have vast ramifications, and not for Israel alone. Hundreds of millions of Moslems will believe that the same Fourth Generation war that defeated hated Israel can beat equally-hated America, its “coalitions” and its allied Arab and Moslem regimes. Future events seem more likely to confirm that belief than to undermine it.

The cease-fire in Lebanon will last only briefly, its life probably measured in days if not in hours. Neither Israel nor Hezbollah has genuinely accepted it. The notion that the Lebanese Army and a rag-tag U.N. force will disarm Hezbollah is absurd even by the usual low standard of diplomatic fictions. The bombing and the rocketing may stop briefly, but Israel has already announced a campaign of assassination against Hezbollah leaders, while every Israeli soldier in Lebanon will remain a target of Hezbollah.
Unfortunately for states generally, Israel appears to have no good options when hostilities recommence. It can continue to grind forward on the ground in southern Lebanon, paying bitterly for each foot of ground, and perhaps eventually denying Hezbollah some of its rocket-launching sites. But it cannot hold what it takes. It may strive for a more robust U.N. force, but what country wants to fight Hezbollah? Any occupier of southern Lebanon that is not there with Hezbollah’s permission will face the same guerrilla war Israel already fought and lost. Most probably, Israel will escalate by taking the war to Syria or Iran, and what will be a strategy of desperation. That too will fail, after it plunges the whole region into a war the outcome of which will be catastrophic for the United States as well as for Israel.

Before that disastrous denouement, my Fourth Generation crystal ball suggests the following events are likely:

Again, a near-term resumption of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, with Israel succeeding no better than it has to date. In the past, the IDF has been brilliant at pulling rabbits out of hats, but this time someone else seems to occupy all the rabbit holes.

A fracturing of Lebanon, with a collapse of the weak Lebanese state and very possibly a return to civil war there (which was always the probable result of Syria’s departure).

A rise of Syrian and Iranian influence generally, matched by a fall of American influence. If Israel and America were clever, Syria’s comeback could offer a diplomatic opportunity of a deal in which Syria changed sides in return for a peace treaty with Israel that included the return of all lands. The crystal ball says that opportunity will be spurned.

A vast strengthening of Islamic 4GW elements everywhere.
Finally and perhaps most discouragingly, a continued inability of state militaries everywhere, including those of Israel and the United States, to come to grips with Fourth Generation War. Inability may be too kind of a word; refusal is perhaps more accurate.

Are there any brighter prospects? Not unless Israel changes its fundamental policy. Even in the unlikely event that the cease-fire in Lebanon holds and Lebanese Army and U.N. forces do wander into southern Lebanon, that would buy but a bit of time. Israel only has a long-term future if it can reach a mutually acceptable accommodation with its neighbors. So long as those neighbors are states, a policy of pursuing such an accommodation may have some chance of success. But as the rise of Fourth Generation elements such as Hezbollah and Hamas weaken and in time replace those states, the possibility will disappear. Unfortunately, Israeli politics appear to be moving away from such a course rather than toward it.

For America, the question is whether Washington will continue to demand that we go down with the Israeli ship.
To interview Mr. Lind, please contact:

Project Manager Free Congress Foundation 717 Second St., N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002 or
Mr. Lind at 202-543-8796
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Inquiry Suggests Marines Excised Files on Killings - New York Times

Inquiry Suggests Marines Excised Files on Killings - New York Times: "WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 � A high-level military investigation into the killings of 24 Iraqis in Haditha last November has uncovered instances in which American marines involved in the episode appear to have destroyed or withheld evidence, according to two Defense Department officials briefed on the case."

The investigation found that an official company logbook of the unit involved had been tampered with and that an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone the day of the killings was not given to investigators until Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the second-ranking commander in Iraq, intervened, the officials said.

Those findings, contained in a long report that was completed last month but not made public, go beyond what has been previously reported about the case. It has been known that marines who carried out the killings made misleading statements to investigators and that senior officers were criticized for not being more aggressive in investigating the case, in which most or all of the Iraqis who were killed were civilians. But this is the first time details about possible concealment or destruction of evidence have been disclosed.

The report’s findings have been sent to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which is investigating members of the unit involved in the killings, as well as higher-ranking officers in the Second Marine Division. No charges have been brought yet.

The report, based on an investigation by Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell of the Army, does not directly accuse marines of attempting a cover-up, but it does describe several suspicious incidents, according to the Defense Department officials.

It says that the logbook, which was meant to be a daily record of major incidents the marines’ company encountered, had all the pages missing for Nov. 19, the day of the killings, and that those portions had not been found, the officials said.

No conclusions are drawn about who may have tampered with the log. But the report says that Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the leader of the squad involved in the killings, was on duty at the unit’s operations center, where the logbook was kept, shortly after the killings occurred, the officials said.
Neal A. Puckett, a lawyer for Sergeant Wuterich, was unavailable to comment.

Investigators were also initially told by Marine officers that videotape taken by the drone was not available, one of the officials said. The officials added that the marines produced the tape only after General Bargewell had completed his inquiry and they had been asked again to produce it by General Chiarelli.

The report has been closely held within the Defense Department, and the officials who agreed to discuss it did so because they said they thought it should receive wider public attention. They agreed to speak only if their names were not published because they had not been authorized by superiors to discuss its contents.

The deaths occurred outside the town of Haditha after a three-vehicle convoy of marines was hit by a roadside bomb, killing a lance corporal. The squad then began going through houses nearby, killing Iraqis found inside in what defense lawyers have said was a justifiable use of lethal force by marines who believed they were under concerted attack by insurgents.

The Marine Corps issued a press release the next day saying that 15 of the civilian deaths had been caused by the bomb explosion. But several officers in the unit have said they knew even then that marines had killed all 24 of the dead Iraqis, 9 of whom were suspected insurgents.

Since then, the idea that any of the victims were insurgents has been challenged, both by Iraqi survivors and by some American military officials familiar with the case, noting that the victims included 10 women and children and an elderly man in a wheelchair. They have said that evidence suggests that the marines overreacted after the death of their fellow marine and shot the civilians in cold blood.

Marines have told investigators that at least one Iraqi who was shot was brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle. But no records were found that such a weapon was recovered at the scene and turned in to the unit’s headquarters, as regulations require, the officials said.

Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marine Corps spokesman, said: “The Marine Corps is committed to a full and thorough investigation of the events that occurred at Haditha on Nov. 19, and the actions that followed that may have contributed to any improper reporting. If allegations of wrongdoing are substantiated, the Marine Corps will pursue appropriate legal and administrative actions.”

The decision about whether to take disciplinary action will be made by Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis, the commander of Marine Corps units in the Middle East, based on his review of both the Bargewell report and the results of the criminal investigation still under way.

In addition to faulting officers in the Second Marine Division for not aggressively investigating the Haditha killings, the Bargewell report said the commanders had created a climate that minimized the importance of Iraqi lives, particularly in Haditha, where insurgent attacks were rampant, the officials said.

“In their eyes, they didn’t believe anyone was innocent,” said one of the officials, describing the attitude of the marines in the unit toward Iraqis. “Either you were an active participant, or you were complicit.”

Two days after the Haditha killings, Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, then the division commander, asked his staff for a briefing on what had happened, the officials said. General Huck later told investigators that he had ordered the briefing because he was concerned about the reports of civilian casualties, one of the officials said.

But the briefing provided to General Huck contained no mention of the civilian casualties, the investigators learned.

Instead, according to one of the officials, it dealt almost entirely with the roadside bomb attack and other insurgent attacks on marines in Haditha throughout the day.

General Huck and other officers from the Second Marine Division have been ordered not to talk about the case, and a telephone call to the unit was referred to Colonel Gibson, the Marine spokesman. But some senior officers have previously defended their response to the killings, saying there was no reason to doubt the account provided by enlisted marines at the time, contending that civilian killings were an unfortunate but accidental byproduct of their pursuit of insurgents.

The involved marines’ battalion commander, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani, and their company commander, Capt. Lucas McConnell, told investigators that they had not reviewed the scene within the houses after the killings, despite the high number of civilian casualties, one of the officials said. Colonel Chessani was relieved of his command in April; Marine officials would not say whether the Haditha case was involved in the decision but said there were several reasons.

The video taken by the overhead drone was very limited, according to one of the officials. The aircraft was not flying over the site until after the bomb attack, so it only captured the aftermath. Even so, the video appears to contradict statements by marines about what occurred, the officials said.
In particular, it has raised doubts about a claim by enlisted marines that five Iraqis were shot as they were running away after the roadside bombing.

The officials said the video showed the bodies of the five Iraqis on the ground close to the car that they had been riding in, the officials said. In one case, the video appears to show one body stacked on top of another, which the officials said was inconsistent with the account that the men had been shot while fleeing.
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Israel wants Turkey to impose blockade on Iranian arms - Haaretz - Israel News

Israel wants Turkey to impose blockade on Iranian arms - Haaretz - Israel News: "Israel wants the Turkish military to impose an air and ground embargo to prevent Iran using Turkish territory to send arms to resupply Hezbollah, a senior Israeli security source said on Thursday.

Israeli intelligence believes that nearly all of the heavy weapons that Iran has provided to Hezbollah passed through Turkish ground or airspace en route to Syria and then Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, security sources said.

A UN-brokered truce to end a month of fighting between Israel and the Lebanese guerrillas went into effect on Monday."

The UN resolution called for an arms embargo against Hezbollah, which fired nearly 4,000 rockets at northern Israel, but did not spell out how it would be enforced.

The sources said Turkey was key because alternative arms shipment routes through Iraq and Jordan have been blocked.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because talks with the Turkish government were just getting under way.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev declined to comment specifically on the role that might be played by Turkey, a NATO member which maintains good ties with both Israel and Arab states.

But Regev said: "Successful implementation of the international arms embargo is the litmus test of the success of the UN effort in Lebanon."

Turkish officials had no immediate comment.

Israeli sources said at least two Iranian planes have been forced to land in Turkey in recent weeks after Israel told the Turkish military that they were carrying arms for Hezbollah.

The Hurriyet newspaper in Turkey said the planes were searched and no weapons were found.

Israel believes arms, including long-range rockets, have traveled across Turkish territory to Syria, before being shipped by land, sea or air to Lebanon, the sources said.

"We are urging Turkey to take all possible steps to prevent the transfer of arms from Iran to Syria to resupply Hezbollah," a senior Israeli security source said.

"The very future of the embargo rests on their [Turkey's] shoulders."

Amman has already barred Iranian shipments from passing through Jordanian airspace, Israeli security sources said. Western diplomats said U.S. forces are preventing Iranian shipments from passing through Iraq.

"We may be facing in the next few days a Syrian attempt to resupply Hezbollah with rockets. What do we do? If we allow it to go in, this will be a defeat for Israel," an Israeli security source said.Israeli officials have said the army will be entitled to use force if necessary to prevent arms convoys from entering Lebanon despite the ceasefire.

Officials said such operations, which could include air strikes, are "defensive" in nature and therefore permissible under the UN Security Council resolution that called for Israel to halt "all offensive military operations."

Turkey is expected to commit troops to a UN force in Lebanon which Israel hopes will help enforce the arms embargo. Muslim Turkey has the second biggest army in NATO and has long experience of peacekeeping from Afghanistan to Kosovo.

Officials have estimated that between 75 percent and 80 percent of Hezbollah's long-range rockets have been destroyed, though some Western diplomats were skeptical of the initial Israeli damage assessments.

The Iranian-supplied Zelzal-2 missiles have been Israel's main strategic concern. They have a range of 210 km, putting the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv within reach.During the recent fighting, Hezbollah fired an Iranian-supplied C-802 missile at an Israeli navy vessel off Beirut, killing four sailors.
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Report: Marines may have foiled evidence - Yahoo! News

Report: Marines may have foiled evidence - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK - U.S. Marines involved in the killings last fall in Haditha of two dozen Iraqis, most if not all of them civilians, appear to have destroyed or withheld evidence, The New York Times reported. "

Pages from an official company logbook of the unit involved in the deaths were missing, and an incriminating video taken by an aerial drone was not given to investigators until a top commander asked for it, two Defense Department officials told the newspaper. The Times posted the story on its Web site Thursday night.

The Pentagon' on officials said a report about the Haditha killings does not directly accuse Marines of attempting a cover-up, the newspaper said. The report, based on an investigation by Army Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell, has not been made public.

The Pentagon officials told the Times that the report faulted officers in the 2nd Marine Division for not aggressively investigating the Haditha killings and concluded that the commanders created a climate that minimized the importance of Iraqi lives.

No charges have been brought in the Haditha killings. They immediately followed a roadside bombing on Nov. 19 that killed a Marine lance corporal.

Initially, the Marine Corps reported that 15 Iraqis had died in the bombing or were killed in crossfire between Marines and insurgents. Survivors of the encounter and human rights groups, however, claimed that 24 Iraqi civilians had been deliberately shot to death by Marines.

The Haditha incident is among recent cases of alleged killings of Iraqi civilians. Five soldiers and a former soldier have been charged in the alleged March 12 rape-slaying of an Iraqi teenager and the killings of her relatives in Mahmoudiya.

Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman have been charged with premeditated murder in connection with the killing of an Iraqi man in Hamdania on April 26.

A 3 million dollar piece of shit. They might as well run over the IED and detonate it with a used car using a stick on the accelerator. JIEDO funding has been hijacked. There are 12 of these shitboxes being made. It was a good idea if you could direct the charge from a distance but not when you've got to drive the vehicle right up to the IED. Its a waste of funds. Posted by Picasa

THE USUAL SUSPECTS | Not the Buttpaste!

Charleston City Paper: Columns: Usual Suspects: THE USUAL SUSPECTS Not the Buttpaste!: "An acquaintance of mine and fellow blogger from Britain posted the following item right after the London terror plot was uncovered:

'I've been away for a week in Jamaica and so encountered the new air travel rules on the trip back. At Atlanta, the TSA confiscated my two year old's diaper rash ointment (the quaintly named 'Boudreaux's Buttpaste'). Another victory for liberty!'

I know exactly how he feels."

Watching televised images of American travelers lumbering like docile cows through TSA rope lines, obediently tossing their Skin-So-Soft and soda cans into government-approved containers, I felt ... ashamed.

Yes, I know there's a terrorist threat. I know about the plot to blow planes out of the skies using peroxide-based explosives and the flash from disposable cameras. Perhaps our abandoned tubes of Crest and travel-size bottles of Pert Plus are the price we must pay for our security, but in my gut I know it's wrong.

We aren't the problem, we vast majority of Americans lugging our suntan lotion through LaGuardia and our Chapstick through Charleston International. Treating us all like potential terrorists is annoying. It's inconvenient. But worst of all, it makes us look just plain dumb.

What must the Islamists think of us, watching us on Al Jazeera back in Iran or Syria? What chumps we must seem.

What dopes!

Do we really think we're fighting terrorism by chugging down our Diet Cokes before we board an airplane? Hey — aren't there bottles of "soda" on the plane already? And who put them there? What do we really know about the immigrant workers pushing the beverage carts at our airports?

And even if all the soft drinks are safe, what about the cargo?

It hasn't all been screened, you know. There could be a bomb in there, or in some resourceful terrorist's checked luggage. Come to think of it, who's checking the folks who check our bags?

My point is this: Name any air travel safety measure, no matter how complex and expensive, and I will reply with a cheap and simple alternative that guarantees a terrorist can blow your next flight out of the sky. Shoeless, thirsty passengers with no laptops but lots of bad breath cannot make us safe. But it certainly makes me angry.

It's not the inconvenience. I agree that forcing the female flying public to carry their hygiene products in clear, plastic bags, while somewhat embarrassing, isn't a constitutional crisis. I'm angry that, once again, our government's reaction to the very specific problem of Islam-inspired terrorists is the very broad reaction of treating the rest of us like a terrorist threat.

In Knoxville, Tenn., the TSA has been testing a device designed to read the minds — or at least the motives — of airline passengers. The machines, which look like a cross between a high-tech cubicle and the Orgasmatron from Woody Allen's Sleeper, were described in the Wall Street Journal:

"With one hand inserted into a sensor that monitors physical responses, the travelers used the other hand to answer questions on a touch screen about their plans. A machine measured biometric responses — blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels — that then were analyzed by software... The trial of the Israeli-developed system represents an effort by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to determine whether technology can spot passengers who have 'hostile intent.'"

Great. First it was metal detectors, then checking every laptop, then removing every shoe. Now it's "No Aquafina and, oh, by the way, Mr. Graham, please sit in the Chair of Inquisition and answer a few questions about how you feel about the Jews..."

Why do we average American schmucks put up with this abuse? We're not the problem. The problem, as every sentient being on planet Earth is painfully aware by now, is the current state of Islam. Our planes aren't in danger because of the existence of explosives or box cutters or even shoulder-fired Stinger missiles. These are just tools. The threat comes from killers inspired by their faith to use these tools to end their lives in a fireball of death and fear.

Unfortunately, this is a problem we're not allowed to discuss, much less address. President Bush says "Islamic fascists," and the Council of American-Islamic Relations launches a press jihad against him. Point out that the only commonality between the terrorists in Indonesia, Thailand, Spain, Canada and London is their faith, and the accusations of bigotry fly.

Beg your fellow Americans who happen to be Muslims to step forward and do something about the killers operating in their name, and these "moderates" denounce your ignorance and intone: "Islam is a religion of peace."

And so we are stuck — in long lines, with fussing, frustrated children and frazzled, put-upon TSA agents, all "solving" the problem of terrorism, one harmless tube of lipstick at a time.

Will it do any good? Of course not. But for the moment, we'd rather have the problem of Islamist terrorism than the solution.
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Zogby International

Zogby International: "President Bush�s job approval rating dipped two points in the last three weeks, despite the foiling of an airline terror plot and the adoption of a cease�fire deal between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows.

The survey was conducted Aug. 11�15, 2006, included 1,018 respondents, and carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

The numbers continue to reflect erosion in the President's political base - just 62% of Republicans give him positive marks for his job performance, while 38% give him negative marks. Even among weekly WalMart shoppers - a demographic group identified by Pollster John Zogby as a critical support group for Bush - just 45% now give him positive job marks, though his numbers among those shoppers have improved 10 points since early June.

More than three out of four - 76% - of weekly WalMart shoppers voted for Bush over Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, earlier Zogby polling showed."

Among both conservatives and those who consider themselves very conservative, 59% give him positive marks, while 41% in each group gave him a negative job rating.
One third of respondents – 34% – said that, overall, the nation is headed in the right direction, while 59% said they think things are off on the wrong track.

Pollster John Zogby: “President Bush’s numbers mainly reflect the country’s thinking on the war in Iraq, and most people have made up their minds that the war overall has not been worth the loss of American lives. Terrorism is an important issue to Americans, but when it comes to judging Bush’s presidency, their decision is based largely on Iraq.”

Democrats continue to carry a lead into the fall campaign season on the generic congressional election question. Likely voters in the poll, asked whether they planned to vote for the Democrat or the Republican in their local congressional election, 39% favored Democrats, while 31% said they would be voting for the Republican candidate. Democrats also are winning the battle among independents, who favor the out–of–power party by a 32% to 20% margin, with 41% of independents yet undecided.

Asked if the war in Iraq has been worth the loss of American lives, 38% said “yes,” while 56% said “no,” a ratio that has held steady over the past year or so.
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Kurds flee homes as Iran shells Iraq's northern frontier

Guardian Unlimited Special reports Kurds flee homes as Iran shells Iraq's northern frontier: "Turkey and Iran have dispatched tanks, artillery and thousands of troops to their frontiers with Iraq during the past few weeks in what appears to be a coordinated effort to disrupt the activities of Kurdish rebel bases."

Scores of Kurds have fled their homes in the northern frontier region after four days of shelling by the Iranian army. Local officials said Turkey had also fired a number of shells into Iraqi territory.

Some displaced families have pitched tents in the valleys behind Qandil Mountain, which straddles Iraq's rugged borders with Turkey and Iran. They told the Guardian yesterday that at least six villages had been abandoned and one person had died following a sustained artillery barrage by Iranian forces that appeared designed to flush out guerrillas linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who have hideouts in Iraq.

Although fighting between Turkish security forces and PKK militants is nowhere near the scale of the 1980s and 90s - which accounted for the loss of more than 30,000 mostly Turkish Kurdish lives- at least 15 Turkish police officers have died in clashes. The PKK's sister party in Iran, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (Pejak), has stepped up activities against security targets in Kurdish regions. Yesterday, Kurdish media said eight Iranian troops were killed.

Rostam Judi, a PKK leader, claimed yesterday that no operations against Turkey or Iran were being launched from Iraqi territory. "We have fighters across south-eastern Turkey. Our presence in Iraq is purely for political work."

Frustrated by the reluctance of the US and the government in Baghdad to crack down on the PKK bases inside Iraq, Turkish generals have hinted they are considering a large-scale military operation across the border. They are said to be sharing intelligence about Kurdish rebel movements with their Iranian counterparts.

"We would not hesitate to take every kind of measures when our security is at stake," Abdullah Gul, the Turkish foreign minister, said last week.

There has been sporadic shelling of the region since May but officials worry that concerted military action against PKK bases in Iraq could alienate Iraqi Kurds and destabilise their self-rule region, one of few post-invasion success stories. Some analysts say Ankara and Tehran may be trying to pressure Iraq's Kurds, afraid that their de facto independent region would encourage their own Kurdish population.

Khaled Salih, the spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil, said: "We condemn the shelling and urge the Iraqi government to demand the neighbours to respect our sovereignty."

Despite its support base in Turkey's impoverished south-east, the PKK is regarded by Ankara, Washington and the EU as a terrorist organisation. Mr Judi said the PKK was seeking a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey, and would welcome mediation from the US or Iraq's Kurdish leaders.

Last week, the Iraqi government said it had closed offices run by PKK sympathisers in Baghdad, and another office was shut by Kurdish authorities in Irbil.

The US is also to appoint a special envoy to find a solution to the PKK problem, but that may not be enough. Ilnur Chevik, editor of the New Anatolian newspaper in Ankara, said:

"There is huge public pressure on the Turkish government to take action." But he doubted whether Turkish forces would mount a full-scale invasion."The build-up of troops is designed to say to the Americans and the Iraqis, the ball is in your court." Tehran was also taking advantage of the situation, he said, "to show Turkey that it was taking action against its shared enemy, while the US, Turkey's ally, has done nothing".
Meanwhile those displaced wonder when they can resume a normal life. "We know that the PKK are around here," said Abdul-Latif Mohammed, who fled the village of Lowan with his family. "But they live in the mountains. So these bombs just hurt us poor farmers."
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Sex Ed Changes At School With 65 Pregnant Teens - Education - Sex Ed Changes At School With 65 Pregnant Teens: "CANTON, Ohio -- An Ohio school board is expanding sex education following the revelation that 13 percent of one high school's female students were pregnant last year.

There were 490 female students at Timken High School in 2005, and 65 were pregnant, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

The new Canton school board program promotes abstinence but also will teach students who decide to have sex how to do so responsibly, bringing the city school district's health curriculum in line with national standards"...

[bth: the students are in fact getting sex education, its just not from the teachers.]

Note use of underpass/tunnel as a choke point. How did the Iraqis get access to this location? Posted by Picasa

DHB UNDER FIRE By JANET WHITMAN - New York Post Online Edition: Business

DHB UNDER FIRE By JANET WHITMAN - New York Post Online Edition: Business: "August 18, 2006 -- Two women who were once top executives at DHB Industries were arrested yesterday on charges they made millions in ill-gotten gains by cooking the books of the company, which supplies body armor to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dawn Schlegel, DHB's chief financial officer until she resigned early this year, and Sandra Hatfield, the company's chief operating officer before she stepped down late last year, turned themselves in to FBI agents in Melville, L.I., early yesterday.

U.S. prosecutors in Brooklyn said they're still investigating DHB, which last month reached a $35 million settlement with irate investors who accused executives of running a pump-and-dump scheme. "

The shareholder suit alleged that DHB founder David Brooks unloaded $186 million worth of his own shares when he learned that bullet-proof vests made by his company were going to be recalled for failing to block bullets.

He resigned as chairman and chief executive as part of the settlement and the company relocated from Long Island to Pompano Beach, Fla., where its subsidiary Point Blank Body Armor is based.

Brooks - who also caught flak in November for throwing an extravagant $10 million Rainbow Room bat mitzvah for his daughter, featuring rapper 50-Cent, Kenny G and other big-name stars - wasn't named in yesterday's complaint.

But legal experts believe investigators may be setting their sights on him by arresting his two deputies.

U.S. Attorney Office spokesman Robert Nardoza declined to comment, except to say that the investigation continues.

Authorities allege that accounting shenanigans devised by Schlegel and Hatfield - who last year ranked as two of the highest paid female executives on Long Island - inflated DHB's stock price from $2 a share in early 2003 to about $20 in late 2004.

As the stock surged, the two executives cashed in by selling nearly $8 million worth of their shares, before the stock plummeted on rumblings about accounting irregularities.

"As a result of the fraud scheme, the investing public lost millions of dollars while the defendants lined their own pockets with a fortune in ill-gotten gains," Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

At a noon court appearance yesterday, Schlegel, 37, of Eastport, N.Y., and Hatfield, 52, of Pompano Beach, Fla., pleaded not guilty to charges of securities fraud, insider trading and conspiracy.

They were released after their husbands agreed to post their $1 million bail.

The feds are seeking the return of the pair's $8 million in illicit gains and other financial penalties. DHB's shares were delisted from the American Stock Exchange in July and now trade over the counter on the pink sheets.
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US to double anti-missile ships in Pacific

Top News Article "HUNTSVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) - The United States, concerned about North Korea, will double to six by the end of the year the number of its ships in the Pacific capable of shooting down enemy ballistic missiles, the head of the Pentagon missile-defense project involved said on Wednesday. "

"I think it gives the nation more options," Rear Adm. Alan Hicks, program manager for Aegis ballistic missile defense, told reporters here after speaking to a conference on the fledgling U.S. shield.

In coming years, a growing number of ship-based interceptor missiles will be deployed on 18 Aegis cruisers and destroyers as part of a multibillion-dollar U.S. defense push stoked by fears of North Korea and Iran.

The six ships due to be available this year will carry a specialized Aegis combat system developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. as well as Standard Missile SM-3 interceptors built by Raytheon Co., Hicks said.

As such, they will be able to defend against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles as well as against any threats to themselves, he said.

Longer-range, intercontinental missiles travel faster than the current generation of ship-based interceptors, or about 6,000 miles an hour, he said. Japan and the United States are co-developing an advanced model, dubbed SM-3 Block 2, to tackle the long-range threat, with plans to deploy it by 2015.

North Korea test-fired a barrage of seven missiles starting on the U.S. July 4 Independence Day holiday, including a long-range Taepodong 2 with an estimated range that includes the United States. It failed about 40 seconds after launch.

The six shorter-range shots marked successful test flights, showing North Korea's "intent to build out," Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, told reporters here on Tuesday.

None of the three U.S. Aegis ships then capable of shooting down ballistic missiles was on station during the North Korean launches, though other Aegis ships helped track them as part of the layered U.S. anti-missile shield, Hicks said.

The United States has taken other steps to meet the perceived threat of North Korean missiles, which could be tipped with nuclear, chemical or germ weapons.

It is sending Lockheed Martin Corp./Raytheon Co. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air interceptors to Kadena Air Base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa from September and plans to make them partly operational by the end of the year, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said last month.

[bth: this makes sense]

Counterterrorism Blog: Another Amnesty for Members of JI: Indonesia Continues to Offend Australia

Counterterrorism Blog: Another Amnesty for Members of JI: Indonesia Continues to Offend Australia: "Ten of the 33 individuals arrested in conjunction with the 12 October 2002 bombing on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia, had their sentences reduced as part of an annual national independence day amnesty (54,000 criminals had their sentences reduced). One, Puryanto, who was arrested for harboring some of the bombers, walked free as a result of his three month remission. Three of the Bali bombers, Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra remain on death row. Despite their previous pledges that they wanted to die as martyrs, they have all appealed their sentences. Their executions are schedueled to take place on or around 22 August. A fourth bomber, Ali Imron, received a life sentence. "

The release has provoked outrage in Australia, which lost more than 80 of its nationals in the attack and whose embassy in Jakarta was bombed by members of Jemaah Islamiyah on 9 September 2004. Australia has provided significant technical, personnel, financial and educational assistance to Indonesia’s counter-terrorism efforts.

[bth: part of the terrorist catch and release program.]
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Iraq doubles funding for oil imports

Iraq doubles funding for oil imports: "BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq has doubled the money allocated for importing oil products in August and September to tackle the country's worst fuel shortage since Saddam Hussein 's 2003 ouster, a senior Iraqi official said Thursday.

Falah Alamri, head of the State Oil Marketing Organization, which is responsible for Iraq's imports of oil products, said the money normally allocated by the government to buy oil products was doubled in August, to $426 million. The normally allocated amount would be doubled for September, too, Alamri told Dow Jones Newswires.

Iraq has been plagued by periodic fuel shortages since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. The current crisis comes amid higher demand for fuel to power generators and cool homes and offices as summer temperatures reach 120 degrees.
Iraq's three main oil refineries -Dora, Beiji and Shuaiba -are working at half their capacity, processing only 350,000 barrels per day compared to 700,000 barrels a day before the war. "

[bth: bth: $5 billion for importing fuel? The black market is taking $4 -6 billion out! The Iraqi government cannot subsidize fuel purchases and remain solvent. Its that simple.]

U.N. Gets Tentative Pledges of 3,500 troops for International Force But Details Still in the Works

Naharnet News Desk The United Nations got pledges of 3,500 troops for an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, but it was unclear whether the soldiers represented the right mix of countries and units and could deploy very quickly.

Bangladesh made the largest offer of up to 2,000 troops, but France offered just 200 new troops, a disappointment to some who expected more from the country likely to lead the force.

Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown told a meeting of 49 potential troop contributing countries that at least 3,500 new troops are needed in south Lebanon within 10 days to expand the 2,000-strong U.N. force trying to help maintain an uneasy truce between Israel and Hizbullah.

"We have it in quantitative terms," he told reporters after the three-hour closed-door meeting. "But the issue is ... which battalions can we get there in the timeline required? Are they the right battalions with the right skills and equipment, and do they represent a multilateral enough group of countries?"

"I don't want to give you an instant answer. We have got to follow up on this, but the general mood in there was a desire to support and contribute and a full understanding of the urgency of the deadline," he said.

In his opening speech to the meeting, Malloch Brown warned that "every moment we delay is a moment of risk that the fighting could re-erupt."

"The situation on the ground is tenuous. We must all act with great urgency to construct a lasting ceasefire from the current cessation of fighting," he said

Before the meeting, French President Jacques Chirac announced that France would immediately double its 200-strong contingent already in the U.N. force to 400. Chirac also told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a phone call that France is prepared to command the strengthened force until February, and is also prepared to keep 1,700 troops mobilized in the region, according to the announcement.

"Well, we were disappointed, yes," Malloch Brown said of the French offer, adding that he feared it would "cast a shadow" over the meeting but other countries came forward. He said the U.N. would stay in touch with the French "on what more is possible."

According to U.N. diplomats, Bangladesh pledged two mechanized infantry battalions, Indonesia pledged one mechanized battalion and an engineering company, Malaysia pledged one mechanized battalion and Nepal pledged one mechanized battalion.

Battalions range from 600 to 1,000 soldiers, depending on the country. Yahya Mahmassani, the Arab League's envoy to the United Nations, said he had been officially informed that Bangladesh would contribute two battalions, totaling between 1,600 and 2,000 troops.

Britain's U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry announced a "quite substantial" maritime and aviation commitment of 6 Jaguar aircraft, 2 AWACS surveillance planes, and one naval frigate. Britain also offered one of its bases in Cyprus at Akrotiri as a staging point, he said. Cyprus offered barracks and hospitals in the country, U.N. diplomats added.

Germany's U.N. Ambassador Thomas Matussek said he offered "a rather substantive maritime component which is so encompassing that it could patrol and secure the whole of the Lebanese coast to make sure that weapons or other related materials don't get into Lebanon." Germany also offered customs agents, police and border protection agents to patrol the Syrian border, he said.

The United States is providing planning and logistical support and has experts at U.N. headquarters determining what is needed, U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said.

Denmark pledged two ships for maritime patrol and many other countries said they would study the operational plans for the force and the draft rules of engagement before making any decisions. They include Italy, Spain, Egypt, Belgium, Morocco, Poland, New Zealand, Turkey, Greece, China and Portugal, U.N. diplomats said.

Even though the Israeli withdrawal and handover to U.N. forces has gone well thus far, some potential contributors are concerned about avoiding confrontation with Hizbullah or being caught in the middle of a future conflict.

"Very much the issue is under what circumstances our troops have to engage in hostile offensive activities," Malloch Brown said. "This is a prudently designed rules of engagement which is not offensive in character but does call on you to robustly use force if it's necessary," he said. "If (small groups) do not voluntarily disarm when confronted by our troops and if they try to forcefully resist disarmament we will indeed employ force ourselves to disarm them," he added.

The U.N. resolution that led to Monday's cease-fire between Israel and Hizbullah after a brutal 34-day war authorized up to 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers to help 15,000 Lebanese troops extend their authority throughout the south as Israeli troops withdraw. The aim is to create a buffer zone free of Hizbullah fighters between the Litani River and the U.N.-drawn border, about 30 km to the south.

France and Italy said earlier Thursday that the peacekeeping mandate -- partly written by the French -- is not explicit enough, and demanded the U.N. set clear rules of engagement for troops that would bolster the force.

A key concern is whether the U.N. force will be called on to disarm Hizbullah fighters, as called for in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559.

"The role of this force is not large-scale disarmament of Hizbullah, but rather policing a political agreement where the Lebanese government and Hizbullah have agreed to disarm," Malloch Brown said.

Italy has said it could quickly send as many as 3,000 soldiers -- up from its current contribution of about 50 -- but Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's office said that he was pushing for explicit ground rules.

In a telephone conversation late Wednesday with Annan, Prodi called for "a clear mandate, without any ambiguity and with very precise rules of engagement, for the soldiers who will be deployed," the premier's office said.(AP-AFP-Naharnet)(Outside AFP photo shows the first members of a 2,500-strong Lebanese army brigade deploying in Marjayoun and inside AFP photo shows an Israeli soldier unloading his weapon along the Israel-Lebanon border)

7 Killed as Full-Scale Sectarian Fighting Rages in Baghdad

7 Killed as Full-Scale Sectarian Fighting Rages in Baghdad - New York Times: "BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 17 � A car bombing in the Sadr City district of Baghdad killed at least seven people and wounded more than 20 on Thursday morning, the authorities said. "

The blast was the latest of several recent attacks in the district, a densely populated area controlled by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr. It signaled that full-scale sectarian fighting was continuing in the capital despite the extra American troops deployed there.

Also on Thursday, the Iraqi government introduced a $39 billion draft budget for 2007 that a spokesman said would require significant borrowing unless daily oil production more than doubled.

Few details of the draft were available. Ali al-Dabagh, the government spokesman, said in an interview that it was being scrutinized by the cabinet and that most of the proposed $39 billion would pay for employees’ salaries and pensions.

“It is not enough for Iraq,” he said. “This is not a budget for investment; it’s just for the state’s basic expenses.”

The budget would nonetheless be likely to require deficit spending. Last year the government earned about $25 billion, mostly from oil; the rest was borrowed. To balance the budget, Mr. Dabagh said, Iraq would have to produce roughly 3.5 million barrels of oil a day at current prices. According to the International Monetary Fund’s latest report, Iraq produced 1.4 million barrels of oil a day for the first five months of this year.

In addition to the Sadr City bombing, violence continued in the capital and across the country.

South of Baghdad, an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol, the United States military said in a statement.

West of Baghdad, in an area rife with Sunni Arab insurgents, the police said a man had been killed and two of his sons wounded when gunmen fired at him as he waited in line at a gas station. In a similar incident, gunmen killed one man and wounded two others near a gas station in Yarmuk.

A suicide bomber in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur blew up his vehicle as a police patrol passed, wounding five people, including three policemen, an Interior Ministry official said. At a supermarket nearby, an unidentified body was found handcuffed and showing signs of torture.

About 25 miles south, the authorities found six bodies with multiple gunshot wounds in the Tigris River. The dead men had been blindfolded, with their hands bound.

Six more people were killed in shootings in and near Baquba, north of the capital, news agencies reported. Three of the dead — shot at busy market — were brothers who owned an agricultural equipment shop. Another victim died after gunmen stole his car.

The United States military announced that a soldier had died from “enemy action” on Wednesday in Anbar Province, where American troops regularly fight fierce battles with Sunni insurgents.

In a rural area of Babil Province, south of Baghdad, Iraqi Army soldiers discovered three kidnapped police officers in the trunk of a car after clashing with gunmen at a checkpoint, according to an American military statement. The freed officers said two other officers had been abducted and taken away in vehicles.

Even as the violence continued, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, speaking at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Slovakia just a few hours after the Sadr City bombing, insisted that Iraqi forces were ready to take over security for most of the country.

Mr. Maliki insisted that Iraqi Army and police units “would be able to fill the vacuum if multinational forces withdrew,” echoing an assertion by President Jalal Talabani two weeks ago that Iraqis would be able to police their own people by the end of the year.

American officials have offered no equivalent time line for a major troop withdrawal. Indeed, they have had to move more troops into the capital as sectarian and insurgent attacks have increased.

Pentagon statistics show that the number of roadside bombs in Iraq rose to 2,625 exploded or found in July, the highest total of the war. And Iraqi government figures released this week said that nearly 3,500 civilians were killed in July — a death toll nearly double the count in January.

Abdul Razzaq al-Saiedi and Khalid W. Hassan contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article, and Iraqi employees of The New York Times from Karbala.

[bth: I'm betting money that they are going to go to their old buddy Wolfowitz at the World Bank to make up the deficit. Now keep in mind that the whole damned Iraqi economy is $29 billion with $20 billion being government, so for them to say that they need a $39 billion government budget just tells you how out of touch with reality they really are.]
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

DHB Execs Charged With Securities Violations - 08/17/06 17:39 - DHB Execs Charged With Securities Violations - 08/17/06 17:39: "In the end, it was financial fraud, not defective body armor, that prompted the arrests of two former executives for DHB Industries, the New York-based company that delivered 19,000 substandard protective vests to U.S. Marines headed for Iraq.

Federal agents arrested Dawn Schlegel and Sandra Hatfield on Aug. 17 and charged them with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Schlegel was chief operations officer of DHB Industries. Hatfield was head of Point Blank Body Armor, a DHB subsidiary located in Pompano Beach, Fla."

Point Blank made hundreds of millions of dollars selling Interceptor body armor to the U.S. military since the Iraq war began.

But in 2005, an investigation by Marine Corps Times disclosed that 19,000 of the company’s “outer tactical vests” failed government tests due to “multiple complete penetrations” by 9mm pistol rounds, and failed other quality and ballistic tests.

The Marine Corps recalled more than 5,000 of the defective vests. Nevertheless, the U.S. military continues to buy from Point Blank. In July, the Navy ordered 5,000 sets of Interceptor body armor, valued at $9.2 million, from the company.

When it comes to financial fraud, federal prosecutors and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have a lower level for tolerance.

Schlegel and Hatfield were arrested on charges from the SEC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York that they manipulated DHB’s profit margins to provide the company’s investors with a false portrait of company operating results.

As a result, “the investing public lost millions of dollars while the defendants lined their own pockets with a fortune in ill-gotten gains,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York said in statement.

The SEC charged that Schlegel and Hatfield “routinely overstated the value of the company’s inventory and directed the booking of numerous fraudulent journal entries in order to reduce the company’s cost of goods sold.”

The pair’s scheme “had the effect of falsely increasing the company’s profit margins, and in some instances, net income,” the SEC said. “Schlegel and Hatfield showed wanton disregard for DHB’s investors and the federal securities laws.”

“We’ve alleged pretty flagrant violations of the law,” said SEC spokesman Glen Gordon.

But the arrests were not directly related to selling defective body armor to U.S. troops, he said.

An SEC explanation of the charges says that Schlegel, of Eastport, N.Y., and Hatfield, of Pompano Beach, Fla., “regularly overstated the value of DHB’s inventory by fraudulently increasing inventory quantities, labor costs, overhead costs and the amount of raw materials used in DHB’s products.”

The SEC also alleges that Hatfield and Schlegel “transferred millions of dollars of expenses from cost of goods sold to research and development costs to materially increase the company’s gross profit.”

In addition, Schlegel and Hatfield personally “profited by over $8.2 million” through DHB stock sales.

If convicted on charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the pair could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, fined $250,000 and made to forfeit the $8.2 million in stock profits.

Federal investigations of DHB and Point Blank continue, Gordon said.

DHB’s chief, David H. Brooks, is notably absent from the Aug. 17 charges. On July 31, as part of a settlement of a shareholder lawsuit, Brooks agreed to resign as chairman and chief executive of the company that bears his initials.

As part of the settlement, Brooks was required to pay part of a $34.9 million award to shareholders.

On July 10, DHB announced that Brooks had been removed from his position as company chairman and CEO “pending the outcome of federal, state and internal investigations.”

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, in 2004, Brooks sold $168 million worth of DHB stock shortly before the company’s stock value plummeted.

In Congress, Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., is examining how DHB, as well as other companies, were awarded Defense Department contracts that are now being questioned, an aide to Taylor said.

Death in 30 days if Saddam sentenced

Gulf Times � Qatar�s top-selling English daily newspaper - Iraq: "BAGHDAD: Jaafar al-Moussawi, the chief prosecutor in the trial against Saddam Hussain, said yesterday that any death sentence against the former Iraqi president would be carried out 'within 30 days of the date the verdict is issued,' media sources said."

The Iraqi High Criminal Court decreed it would issue its verdicts on October 16 against Saddam and seven of his co-defendants in the Dujail trial.

The trial is the first case against Saddam and his chief associates in the former Baathist regime. Saddam and six other defendants are to stand trial starting August 21 for alleged crimes committed during the Anfal operation of 1988.

"If the court issues a verdict of life imprisonment against Saddam (in the Dujail trial) then he shall attend all the court sessions of the Anfal trial," al-Moussawi was quoted as saying by the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat.

"However, if the court issues the death sentence against Saddam, then he shall be executed within 30 days of the date on which the verdict is issued - in accordance with article 27 of the penal code (relating to felonies)", the prosecutor said.
The Anfal operation was a military campaign in which 182,000 Kurds were killed, imprisoned or displaced in what the court in April charged was "genocide against Kurds."

The first trial concerns the killing of 148 people in the Shia village of Dujail.

Al-Moussawi refused for security reasons to disclose the name of the chief justice of the Anfal trial, although Iraqi media had reported on Sunday that the court had appointed Abdallah al-Ameri.

The defence team for Saddam and his associates is to be composed of the same lawyers who served during the first trial.

Among the most prominent of Saddam’s co-defendants are the former chief of the Northern Bureau Command Ali Hassan al-Majeed - known as chemical Ali - former defence minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed and former military intelligence chief Saber Abdel Aziz al-Douri. - DPA

Memorial to kids razed

Gulf Times � Qatar�s top-selling English daily newspaper - Iraq: "BAGHDAD: Bombers have demolished a statue erected in Baghdad in memory of 32 children murdered last year in an insurgent attack.

In July 2005 a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car among a crowd of children who had gathered to collect sweets from US soldiers near an old monument in Baghdad's Al-Jadida downtown district.

To honour the memory of the 32 killed and 31 wounded, local artists used sections of the mangled car to create a sculpture to overlay the former statue in the square.- AFP"

Counterterrorism Blog: Rehman, Rauf, suspected London Airline Plotters Captured, and the Pakistani Connection

Counterterrorism Blog: Rehman, Rauf, suspected London Airline Plotters Captured, and the Pakistani Connection: "Two of the suspected ring leaders of the al-Qaeda London Airline Plot to destroy aircraft en route to the United States have been captured by Pakistani intelligence. Matiur Rehman, who is believed to be a high-ranking leader in al-Qaeda's Pakistan operations, was captured in the Pakistani city of Bahawalpur.

Rashid Rauf, who is described as 'the planner of the attacks who recruited people to take part in the plot,' was also captured in the city of Bahawalpur. His arrest just prior to the announcement of the airline plot is said to have sparked the arrests of al-Qaeda operatives in Britain and Pakistan.

The involvement of Rauf and Rehman highlights the interconnective web of the radical Pakistani terrorist groups.

Rehman was a member of Harakat-ul-Jihad-ul-Islami (HUJI) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). As the 'keeper of the Jihadi Rolodex,' the list of the tens of thousands of jihadis who passed through al-Qaeda's training camps, Rehman is by default affiliated with the hodge-podge of Pakistani terror groups (see my post on Rehman and Pakistani links for more details.)

TIME reports Rauf is the relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, the leader the Pakistani based Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) which conducts terror attacks in Indian Kashmir. Rauf's father in law runs the radical 'Darul Uloom Madina, one of Pakistan's biggest and most hard line seminaries, with some 2,000 students, in Bahawalpur.' To restate, both Rehman and Rauf were arrested Bahawalpur, which is highly unlikely to be a coincidence. Rauf's father founded Crescent Relief, a Muslim charity that purportedly collected funds for earthquake relief and is now under investigation for funneling money to fund the London plot (See Evan Kolhmann's posts on LeT/JuD and the UK connection to earthquake relief .)
One item of note with TIME's article on Rauf. TIME describes al-Qaeda as "Osama Bin Laden's Afghanistan-based network," however this characterization is inaccurate. Al-Qaeda has largely regrouped in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, particularly in the agencies of North and South Waziristan.

August 17, 2006 - Lieberman Leads Among Likely Connecticut Voters

Quinnipiac University Polling Results: "Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, running as an independent, gets 53 percent of likely voters, with 41 percent for Democratic primary winner Ned Lamont and 4 percent for Republican Alan Schlesinger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Among registered voters, Sen. Lieberman gets 49 percent, followed by Lamont with 38 percent and Schlesinger with 4 percent. This compares to a 51 - 27 percent Lieberman lead over Lamont, with 9 percent for Schlesinger in a July 20 poll by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

In this latest survey, Lieberman leads 75 - 13 - 10 percent among likely Republican voters, and 58 - 36 - 3 percent among likely independent voters, while likely Democratic voters back Lamont 63 - 35 percent. Two percent are undecided, but 28 percent of those who name a candidate might change their mind before Election Day.

'Sen. Lieberman's support among Republicans is nothing short of amazing. It more than offsets what he has lost among Democrats. As long as Lieberman maintains this kind of support among Republicans, while holding onto a significant number of Democratic votes, the veteran Senator will be hard to beat,' said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D. "....

U.S. Troops Ordered To "Take Back Baghdad'

U.S. Troops Ordered To �Take Back Baghdad' - August 17, 2006 - The New York Sun: "BAGHDAD, Iraq � Thousands of American troops were conducting house-to-house searches in Baghdad yesterday as the city's descent into chaos forced them to abandon plans to entrust security to Iraqi forces."

Their mission, as described by the commanding general, laid bare the reality of what has taken place since Saddam Hussein was driven from Iraq's capital more than three years ago. Implicitly accepting previous failures, Lieutenant General Pete Chiarelli ordered his forces to "take back Baghdad."

America had aimed to become a less visible presence, with its troops increasingly staying in their bases.

But as the world's attention has been focused on Lebanon, the situation in Baghdad has deteriorated to the point where America has abandoned this stance and sent thousands of troops back on to the streets.

Sectarian fighting pitting Shiite against Sunni — with at least 19 people killed in bomb attacks across the capital yesterday — has raised the specter of total unrest. This internecine warfare has raged since the destruction by Sunni insurgents in February of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a revered Shiite shrine.

Escalating ethnic cleansing has ensued as combatants in Sunni neighborhoods force out minority Shiite families, and Shiites do the same to Sunnis in their strongholds, resulting in battle lines being drawn across the city.

The situation is so grave that the government is discussing a formal partitioning of the warring communities, a move that could lead to as many as 2 million of the 7 million residents being driven from their homes.

Last month, according to the Iraqi government, 3,438 Iraqis were killed, a 9% rise from June. The real figure was probably far higher as most deaths are never reported, and the bodies are dumped in rivers or sewage works.

After such monumental loss of life, the American bid to regain control of Baghdad with Operation Together Forward is "the defining battle of this particular campaign," General Chiarelli said. The Iraqi security forces, either due to incompetence, fear, or collusion with the killers, had failed to cope.

A week after the launch of the new campaign some of the most violent southern and western neighborhoods were transformed into mini-prisons, sealed off with blast walls and concertina wire.

Inside these cordons, American soldiers accompanied by Iraqi troops conducted house-to-house searches. Around 15,000 houses are to be searched in the Sunni insurgent center of Dora alone. In the coming months, Zafraniya, Adhamiya, Kadhimiya, and Mansour, the most violent neighborhoods, will all be searched.

In Dora, locals described how the troops poked inside cushions and dug in gardens for hidden weapons.

"They were polite," one said, "but went through everything, even my wife's clothes.

"They did not speak Arabic but had a machine on which they would type words, and then a voice would say them in Arabic.

I had never seen such a thing before."

Another, a former translator for a western firm, described how the Americans called for their commanding officer when they discovered that he could speak English.

"He asked me for help to find the bad guys," he said. "I refused.I am not stupid."

"Me and my family would be killed most horrifically if they learned I helped the Americans, but the officer was very sad. He said he understood, but he also said, ‘It is so difficult. We do not know where to look. All we want to do is help, but we do not know who to target.'"

This lack of assistance and detailed intelligence may — like an earlier Iraqi security push six weeks ago — doom the American military's mission to failure, even if restoring order is possible in a city where sectarian groups are now so polarized by mutual fear and hatred.

Not only are the locals proving unhelpful, but the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister al-Maliki criticized the American military last week when it tried to spread its security plan to the massive Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, dominated by the militia of Moqtada al-Sadr, which is blamed by Sunnis for most of the killing.

The blast walls were taken down, and the searches halted even though Washington and London warn that Mr. Sadr is modeling his anti-western movement on Hezbollah.

Afghan opium cultivation hits a record

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has hit record levels - up by more than 40 percent from 2005 - despite hundreds of millions in counternarcotics money, Western officials told The Associated Press.

The increase could have serious repercussions for an already grave security situation, with drug lords joining the Taliban-led fight against Afghan and international forces.

A Western anti-narcotics official in Kabul said about 370,650 acres of opium poppy was cultivated this season - up from 257,000 acres in 2005 - citing their preliminary crop projections. The previous record was 323,700 acres in 2004, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

"It is a significant increase from last year ... unfortunately, it is a record year," said a senior U.S. government official based in Kabul, who like the other Western officials would speak only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive topic.

Final figures, and an estimate of the yield of opium resin from the poppies, will be clear only when the U.N. agency completes its assessment of the crop, based on satellite imagery and ground surveys. Its report is due in September.

The U.N. reported last year that Afghanistan produced an estimated 4,500 tons of opium - enough to make 450 tons of heroin - nearly 90 percent of world supply.

Insurgent Bombs Directed at G.I's Increase in Iraq - New York Times

Insurgent Bombs Directed at G.I.�s Increase in Iraq - New York Times: "WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 � The number of roadside bombs planted in Iraq rose in July to the highest monthly total of the war, offering more evidence that the anti-American insurgency has continued to strengthen despite the killing of the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Along with a sharp increase in sectarian attacks, the number of daily strikes against American and Iraqi security forces has doubled since January. The deadliest means of attack, roadside bombs, made up much of that increase. In July, of 2,625 explosive devices, 1,666 exploded and 959 were discovered before they went off. In January, 1,454 bombs exploded or were found"

The bomb statistics — compiled by American military authorities in Baghdad and made available at the request of The New York Times — are part of a growing body of data and intelligence analysis about the violence in Iraq that has produced somber public assessments from military commanders, administration officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels,” said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. “The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time.”

A separate, classified report by the Defense Intelligence Agency, dated Aug. 3, details worsening security conditions inside the country and describes how Iraq risks sliding toward civil war, according to several officials who have read the document or who have received a briefing on its contents.
The nine-page D.I.A. study, titled “Iraq Update,” compiles the most recent empirical data on the number of attacks, bombings, murders and other violent acts, as well as diagrams of the groups carrying out insurgent and sectarian attacks, the officials said.

The report’s contents are being widely discussed among Pentagon officials, military commanders and, in particular, on Capitol Hill, where concern among senior lawmakers of both parties is growing over a troubling dichotomy: even as Iraq takes important steps toward democracy — including the election of a permanent government this spring — the violence has gotten worse.

Senior Bush administration officials reject the idea that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, and state with unwavering confidence that the broad American strategy in Iraq remains on course. But American commanders in Iraq have shifted thousands of soldiers from outlying provinces to Baghdad to combat increased violence in the Iraqi capital.

The increased attacks have taken their toll. While the number of Americans killed in action per month has declined slightly — to 38 killed in action in July, from 42 in January, in part reflecting improvements in armor and other defenses — the number of Americans wounded has soared, to 518 in July from 287 in January. Explosive devices accounted for slightly more than half the deaths.

An analysis of the 1,666 bombs that exploded in July shows that 70 percent were directed against the American-led military force, according to a spokesman for the military command in Baghdad. Twenty percent struck Iraqi security forces, up from 9 percent in 2005. And 10 percent of the blasts struck civilians, twice the rate from last year.

Taken together, the new assessments by the military and the intelligence community provide evidence that violence in Iraq is at its highest level yet. And they describe twin dangers facing the country: insurgent violence against Americans and Iraqi security forces, which has continued to increase since the killing on June 7 of Mr. Zarqawi, the leader of the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the primarily sectarian violence seen in Iraqi-on-Iraqi attacks being aimed at civilians.

Iraq is now locked in a cycle in which strikes by Sunni Arab militants have prompted the rise of Shiite militias, which have in turn aggravated Sunni fears. Beyond that, many Sunnis say they believe that the new Shiite-dominated government has not made sufficient efforts to create a genuine unity government. As a result, Sunni attitudes appear to have hardened.

As the politics in Iraq have grown more polarized since the elections in December, in which many Sunni Arabs voted, attacks have soared, including sectarian clashes that have killed an average of more than 100 Iraqi civilians per day over the past two months.

In addition to bombs, attacks with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and small-caliber weapons against American and Iraqi military forces have also increased, according to American military officials. But the number of roadside bombs — or improvised explosive devices as they are known by the military — is an especially important indicator of enemy activity. Bomb attacks are the largest killer of American troops. They also require a network: a bomb maker; financiers to pay for the effort; and operatives to dig holes in the road, plant the explosives, watch for approaching American and Iraqi forces and set off the blast when troops approach.

With the violence growing in Iraq, American intelligence agencies are working to produce a National Intelligence Estimate about the security conditions there — the first such formal governmentwide assessment about the situation in Iraq since the summer of 2004.

In late July, D.I.A. officials briefed several Senate committees about the insurgent and sectarian violence. The presentation was based on a draft version of what became the Aug. 3 study, and one recipient described it as “extremely negative.” That presentation was followed by public testimony on Aug. 3 by Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American military commander in the Middle East, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the sectarian violence was “probably as bad as I’ve seen it, in Baghdad in particular” and said if it was not stopped, “it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war.” General Abizaid later emphasized that he was “optimistic” that the slide toward civil war could be prevented.

Officials who have read or been briefed on the new D.I.A. analysis said its assessments paralleled both aspects of General Abizaid’s testimony.

The newest accounts of the risks of civil war may already be altering the political dynamic in Washington. After General Abizaid’s testimony, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, said that if Iraq fell into civil war, the committee might need to examine whether the authorization provided by Congress for the use of American force in Iraq would still be valid. The comments by Senator Warner, a senior Republican who is a staunch supporter of the president, have reverberated loudly across Congress.

Bush administration officials now admit that Iraqi government’s original plan to rein in the violence in Baghdad, announced in June, has failed. The Pentagon has decided to rush more American troops into the capital, and the new military operation to restore security there is expected to begin in earnest next month.

Yet some outside experts who have recently visited the White House said Bush administration officials were beginning to plan for the possibility that Iraq’s democratically elected government might not survive.

Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.

Everybody in the administration is being quite circumspect,” the expert said, “but you can sense their own concern that this is drifting away from democracy.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mel Gibson Protests FAA's Ban on Liquids

The Borowitz Report .com: "Days after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a ban on passengers bringing liquids on board flights in their carryon luggage, actor Mel Gibson came forward to vehemently protest the FAA's new restrictions."

At a press conference in Malibu today, the "Braveheart" star said today that banning liquids on board planes was an example of "persecution at its worst."

"There are many examples of people for whom liquids are an important, life-sustaining part of their daily routine," Mr. Gibson said. "To keep them from bring those liquids on flights is tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment."The actor added, "I'm all for profiling, but this is discrimination against all Americans who really need liquids."

The actor said he had enlisted many other prominent members of the entertainment industry to join in his protest of the FAA's liquid ban, including the singers Billy Joel and Liza Minnelli."There is no way that Billy, Liza and I are getting on board a plane without our liquids," he said.

"That just isn't going to happen."Mr. Gibson took his argument one step further, saying that when he learned about the FAA's ban he felt that it was "yet another conspiracy to single me out personally."

When asked who he thought was behind the conspiracy, Mr. Gibson was not specific, but added, "Let's just put it this way -- they're banning liquids on flights, but they haven't touched the kosher meals."

Elsewhere, President Bush ordered the Homeland Security Department to launch a full investigation to determine whether terrorists could smuggle snakes on a plane.
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THE PEACOCK REPORT (TPR): Naval Security Document Lumps Journalists With Foreign Spies

THE PEACOCK REPORT (TPR): Naval Security Document Lumps Journalists With Foreign Spies: "A recently obtained Naval Operations Security Plan (OPSEC) expressly reveals the U.S. Navy's contempt for journalists, whom it views in the same light as -and arguably a less favorable light than -foreign spies. document was discovered while researching a federal contract to support psychological operations (PSYOPS) that the U.S. military conducts worldwide, a $100 million award secured by Virginia-based CACI International. "

While the document – which was labeled FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY – had been available for public viewing, the Navy has since removed all links related to the contract, replacing those links with the phone number of a Naval procurement specialist handling the account.

CACI will carry out much of its PSYOPS and electronic-communications support role at the Naval Air Warfare Center facilities in Patuxent River, Maryland, where the Navy’s Special Communications Requirements (SCR) Division is located. The SCR Division designs and maintains federal systems for C4ISR – command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Consequently, the OPSEC plan serves as a precautionary guide for contractors visiting the Patuxent River Complex and Naval Air Station, advising visitors to be mindful of potential "human intelligence" (HUMINT) threats that foreign collection services pose to national security.

It claims that while 10% of the data that these agents collect are the fruits of espionage, the other 90% of HUMINT is gathered through the analysis of "open source literature," material that is largely – but not exclusively – produced by journalists. The Navy acknowledges that these open sources include information that the Dept. of Defense itself, plus other federal entities such as the Commerce Dept., make available to researchers, contractors, and the general public.

The document points out that such sources are far-reaching, and can be found through "official and unofficial organization and professional publications, the World Wide Web, the National Technical Information Center, the Defense Technical Information Center, at meetings and seminars, or through contractor advertisements."

Although the OPSEC document says all these sources, and not just journalists, provide foreign intelligence collectors with "highly valuable information regarding military capabilities, limitations, and technology," it nonetheless drops the bulk of the blame for this data access on the U.S. media.

"To put the open source threat into the proper context, consider that the total number of dedicated foreign intelligence agents in this country is estimated to be between one and two thousand, while the total number of reporters in this country is closer to one million; a thousand to one ratio." the document says. "As a result, HUMINT organizations depend heavily upon open source information to assist them and are much more likely to learn of new information through the open press."

Wayne Madsen, a former Naval officer and Naval Intelligence staffer, said that while this view of the media is troubling, he is not shocked that the Navy has incorporated its negative perspective into policy.

"The U.S. Navy hierarchy, by far, is more conservative than its counterparts in DoD, including the Marine Corps," Madsen said in an interview. "That is why they entertain these dangerous notions of controlling the media. The Navy's track record on cover-ups – USS Iowa turret blast, Tailhook scandal, USS Vincennes downing of IranAir flight, and other outrageous censorship and disinformation – has made it and the open media enemies for a number of years. It's not surprising the Navy would suggest a plan to control the media and liken them to foreign intelligence agents."

While the Navy is warning CACI to beware of spies and their co-conspirators in U.S. newsrooms, the IT contractor is tasked with enabling U.S. Special Forces to more effectively disseminate media; not free and open media, but the sort of media made possible via aerial leafleting and the broadcasting of U.S. government radio and TV messages in hostile territories.

[bth: the Navy is actively limited media coverage. In June the Navy Sec. classified all information related to IEDs and damage to fighting vehicles. They view the media and an informed American public as the enemy]