Saturday, June 16, 2007

Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War

Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War - "BAGHDAD -- Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives."

While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.

The majority of the more than 100 security companies operate outside of Iraqi law, in part because of bureaucratic delays and corruption in the Iraqi government licensing process, according to U.S. officials. Blackwater USA, a prominent North Carolina firm that protects U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, and several other companies have not applied, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Blackwater said that it obtained a one-year license in 2005 but that shifting Iraqi government policy has impeded its attempts to renew.

The security industry's enormous growth has been facilitated by the U.S. military, which uses the 20,000 to 30,000 contractors to offset chronic troop shortages. Armed contractors protect all convoys transporting reconstruction materiel, including vehicles, weapons and ammunition for the Iraqi army and police. They guard key U.S. military installations and provide personal security for at least three commanding generals, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Scott, who oversees U.S. military contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm kind of practicing what I preach here," Scott said in an interview on the use of private security forces for such tasks. "I'm a two-star general, but I'm not the most important guy in the multinational force. If it's a lower-priority mission and it's within the capabilities of private security, this is an appropriate risk trade-off."

The military plans to outsource at least $1.5 billion in security operations this year, including the three largest security contracts in Iraq: a "theaterwide" contract to protect U.S. bases that is worth up to $480 million, according to Scott; a contract for up to $475 million to provide intelligence for the Army and personal security for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and a contract for up to $450 million to protect reconstruction convoys. The Army has also tested a plan to use private security on military convoys for the first time, a shift that would significantly increase the presence of armed contractors on Iraq's dangerous roads.

"The whole face of private security changed with Iraq, and it will never go back to how it was," said Leon Sharon, a retired Special Operations officer who commands 500 private Kurdish guards at an immense warehouse transit point for weapons, ammunition and other materiel on the outskirts of Baghdad.

U.S. officials and security company representatives emphasized that contractors are strictly limited to defensive operations. But company representatives in the field said insurgents rarely distinguish between the military and private forces, drawing the contractors into a bloody and escalating campaign.

The U.S. military has never released complete statistics on contractor casualties or the number of attacks on privately guarded convoys. The military deleted casualty figures from reports issued by the Reconstruction Logistics Directorate of the Corps of Engineers, according to Victoria Wayne, who served as deputy director for logistics until 2006 and spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq.

Wayne described security contractors as "the unsung heroes of the war." She said she believed the military wanted to hide information showing that private guards were fighting and dying in large numbers because it would be perceived as bad news.

"It was like there was a major war being fought out there, but we were the only ones who knew about it," Wayne said.

After a year of protests by Wayne and logistics director Jack Holly, a retired Marine colonel, the casualty figures were included. In an operational overview updated last month, the logistics directorate reported that 132 security contractors and truck drivers had been killed and 416 wounded since fall 2004. Four security contractors and a truck driver remained missing, and 208 vehicles were destroyed. Only convoys registered with the logistics directorate are counted in the statistics, and the total number of casualties is believed to be higher.

"When you see the number of my people who have been killed, the American public should recognize that every one of them represents an American soldier or Marine or sailor who didn't have to go in harm's way," Holly said in an interview.

According to the logistics directorate, attacks against registered supply convoys rose from 5.4 percent in 2005, to 9.1 percent in 2006, to 14.7 percent through May 10. The directorate has tracked 12,860 convoys, a fraction of the total number of private supply convoys on Iraqi roads.

"The military are very conscious that we're in their battle space," said Cameron Simpson, country operations manager for ArmorGroup International, a British firm that protects 32 percent of all nonmilitary supply convoys in Iraq. "We would never launch into an offensive operation, but when you're co-located, you're all one team, really."

ArmorGroup, which started in Iraq with 20 employees and a handful of SUVs, has grown to a force of 1,200 -- the equivalent of nearly two battalions -- with 240 armored trucks; nearly half of the publicly traded company's $273.5 million in revenue last year came from Iraq. Globally, ArmorGroup employs 9,000 people in 38 countries.

The company, with headquarters at a complex of sandstone villas near Baghdad's Green Zone, is acquiring a fleet of $200,000 tactical armored vehicles equipped with two gun hatches and able to withstand armor-piercing bullets and some of the largest roadside bombs.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that ArmorGroup has lost 26 employees in Iraq, based on insurance claims. Sources close to the company said the figure is nearly 30. Only three countries in the 25-nation coalition -- the United States, Britain and Italy -- have sustained more combat-related deaths.

A Turning Point

In spring 2004, Holly built the logistics network for Iraq's reconstruction from scratch. The network delivered 31,100 vehicles, 451,000 weapons and 410 million rounds of ammunition to the new Iraqi security forces, and items as varied as computers, baby incubators, school desks and mattresses for every Iraqi government ministry. The network came to rival the military's own logistics operation.

Holly also discovered he was at the center of an undeclared war.

He assembled a small private army to protect materiel as it flowed from border crossings and a southern port at Umm Qasr to the 650,000-square-foot warehouse complex at Abu Ghraib and on to its final destination.

"The only way anything gets to you here is if somebody bets their life on its delivery," said Holly, a burly civilian with a trimmed gray beard who strikes a commanding presence even in khakis, multicolored checked shirts and tennis shoes. "That's the fundamental issue: Nothing moves anywhere in Iraq without betting your life."

The most dangerous link in Holly's supply chain is shipping. It requires the slow-moving convoys to navigate Iraq's dangerous roads. Holly erected a ground-traffic control center in a low-slung trailer near his office in Baghdad's Green Zone. The security companies monitor their convoys in air-conditioned silence, which is shattered by a jarring klaxon each time a contractor pushes a dashboard "panic button," signaling a possible attack.

On May 8, 2005, after dropping off a load that included T-shirts, plastic whistles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for Iraqi police, one of Holly's convoys was attacked. Of 20 security contractors and truck drivers, 13 were killed or listed as missing; five of the seven survivors were wounded. Insurgents booby-trapped four of the bodies. To eliminate the threat, a military recovery team fired a tank round into a pile of corpses, according to an after-action report.

The convoy had been protected by Hart Security, a British firm that used unarmored vehicles. Within a month, another Hart-led convoy was hit. The team leader informed the ground-control center by cellphone that he was running out of ammunition. He left the cellphone on as his convoy was overrun.

"We listened to the bad guys for almost an hour after they finished everybody off," Holly said.

The attacks represented a turning point in the private war.

Holly vowed he would never again use unarmored vehicles for convoy protection. He went to his primary shipper, Public Warehousing Co. of Kuwait, and ordered a change. PWC hired ArmorGroup, which had armed Ford F-350 pickups with steel-reinforced gun turrets and belt-fed machine guns.

Other companies followed suit, ramping up production of an array of armored and semi-armored trucks of various styles and colors, until Iraq's supply routes resembled the post-apocalyptic world of the "Mad Max" movies.

Bolstered Tactics, Armor

ArmorGroup started in Iraq in 2003 with four security teams and 20 employees. It now has 30 mechanics to support its ground operation. "It's a monster," said Simpson, the country operations manager, strolling past a truck blown apart by a roadside bomb.

ArmorGroup operates 10 convoy security teams in support of Holly's logistics operation. The company runs another 10 to 15 under a half-dozen contracts, as well as for clients who request security on a case-by-case basis, Simpson said.

The company charges $8,000 to $12,000 a day, according to sources familiar with the pricing, although the cost can vary depending on convoy size and the risk. For security reasons, the convoys are limited to 10 tractor-trailers protected by at least four armored trucks filled with 20 guards: four Western vehicle commanders with M-21 assault rifles and 9mm Glock pistols, and 16 Iraqis with AK-47s.

The Western contractors, most with at least 10 years' experience, are paid about $135,000, the same as a U.S. Army two-star general. The Iraqis receive about a tenth of that.

"Every time I think about how it was at the beginning, arriving here with a suitcase and $1,000, and there was no one else around, it's just incredible," Simpson said. "Nobody envisioned that private security companies would be openly targeted by insurgents."

ArmorGroup prides itself on a low-key approach to security. Its well-groomed guards travel in khakis and dark blue shirts. The company's armored trucks are adorned with stickers issued by the Interior Ministry, where the company is fully licensed. Holly's former deputy, Victoria Wayne, said ArmorGroup turned down an opportunity to use more powerful weaponry as the insurgent threat increased.

"As a publicly traded company, they didn't want to be perceived as a mercenary force," she said.

But the company is under constant attack. ArmorGroup ran 1,184 convoys in Iraq in 2006; it reported 450 hostile actions, mostly roadside bombs, small-arms fire and mortar attacks. The company was attacked 293 times in the first four months of 2007, according to ArmorGroup statistics. On the dangerous roads north of Baghdad, "you generally attract at least one incident every mission," Simpson said.

Allan Campion, 36, who joined ArmorGroup after 18 years in the British infantry, said one of his convoys was recently attacked three times on a two-mile stretch outside Baghdad. One bomb exploded near the team leader's vehicle, but the convoy managed to continue, he said. Within minutes, another bomb exploded, followed by small-arms fire.

A firefight ensued as the convoy continued through the "kill zone," Campion said.

"We were still moving, so whether you've hit anybody or not, it's very hard to say," he said.

With the insurgents employing more-lethal roadside bombs, ArmorGroup has responded by changing tactics and spending $6.8 million to bolster its armor. Its new armored "Rock" vehicles are built on Ford F-550 chassis and are favored by ArmorGroup because of a V-shaped hull that provides better protection against roadside bombs.

Chris Berman, a former Navy SEAL who helped design the Rock for North Carolina-based Granite Tactical Vehicles, said its main deterrent is its twin gun hatches. "That gives you twice as much firepower," Berman said. "With two belt-fed machine guns in there, that's enough to chew up most people."

'Caught Up in the Mix'

Built on the site of a former Iraqi tank factory, the Abu Ghraib warehouse complex is known variously as Fort Apache, the Isle of Abu and Rocket City, a reference to when rockets and mortars frequently rained down on the compound.

The bleak, windswept facility consists of 64 buildings spread over a 1 1/2 -mile-long and half-mile-wide area; employees of Public Warehousing (now Agility) -- barricaded inside the fortress -- installed a driving range and a small fishing pond for entertainment. The perimeter is protected by double blast walls, guard towers equipped with belt-fed Dushka machine guns and uniformed Kurdish guards who answer to a military-style rank structure and carry AK-47 assault rifles.

Over the past two years, warehouse personnel "probably average four to six KIA a month and six to eight wounded a month," said Leon Sharon, the Falcon Security representative, dressed in a khaki military uniform with a "Falcon 6" patch identifying him as a field commander for the company.

"It's not a game," Sharon said. "People get killed here trying to go home. People trying to come here get killed because they work here. People on convoy escort get killed because of the materiel that we're shipping out of here. Truck drivers get killed because they get caught up in these ambushes. And you have security personnel who end up caught up in the mix. And the work has to go on as normal."

Attacks on Iraqi employees became so common that a trauma center was set up inside the main warehouse. Dozens of Iraqis, fearful of going home after work, live in barracks-style housing in the compound.

Sharon, 61, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is rail thin with a weathered, intelligent face shaped by chain-smoking and four decades of military work. He works out of a small office that is also his bedroom. A humidor sits on his desk. A U.S. flag covers his window. Cartons of Marlboro Reds are stacked behind him near a leather-bound copy of the Koran.

Sharon called Falcon Security a "private military company."

"When you have this many men, you don't manage it as you do a corporation. You manage it very much in the military style," he said. "My men aren't carrying potatoes; they're carrying AK-47s. It's not pilferage we're worried about. It's people storming the walls."

Falcon performs "a military-like role" in Iraq, he said, "with one key exception: We do not, and have no desire to, conduct offensive operations."

But even behind the blast walls, the private and public wars collide, Sharon said. Last year, insurgents attacked a passing U.S. military convoy on a highway outside the gates. Kurdish guards in one of the towers opened fire, killing two insurgents. "The Americans were thrilled," he said.

"All of the work that's being conducted here in Iraq by private security companies would have to be conducted by somebody, and that somebody is U.S. military personnel," he said. "If you had 500 soldiers here, that's 500 less soldiers that you have on the battlefield. And this isn't the only site. There are hundreds of sites around Iraq where you have private security. Where are you going to get this personnel?"

Sharon turns 62 in October. Asked when he planned to leave Iraq, he smiled.

"Last man here, please put the key under the door," he said.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

[bth: if I read this article correctly, we are going to increase the surge by increasing the number of private contractors that take over convoy escorts and perimeter security. This will free up more US troops for combat roles and generally bypass the congress.]

US troops find ID cards of missing soldiers in Iraq

US troops find ID cards of missing soldiers in Iraq - "BAGHDAD, June 16 (Reuters) - U.S. troops found the identity cards of two U.S. soldiers missing for nearly a month in a raid on an al Qaeda safe house north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement."

The raid took place on June 9, the military said. The cards belonged to Specialist Alex Jimenez and Private Bryon Fouty. Jimenez and Fouty were abducted along with a third soldier, whose body has since been found, after an attack on their patrol south of Baghdad on May 12.

The U.S. military has launched a massive hunt to find the two missing soldiers. Al Qaeda has said it killed all three.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Homemade Bombs, High-Tech Response (6/15/07) --

:FEATURES: :Homemade Bombs, High-Tech Response (6/15/07) -- "The Pentagon is throwing everything it's got against improvised explosive devices but missing the real targets. "

Iraqi insurgents have turned their country's roads into every shifting minefields. They move their roadside bombs daily, even hourly, stalking U.S. troops. The U.S. Army is vehicle-dependent in Iraq. In the lattice of the canals and farmland of the Tigris-Euphrates river valley, off-road movement is nearly impossible. Because heavily armored Army vehicles are forced onto predictable routes, the insurgents know where to place their homemade munitions to cause the greatest carnage.

Even with the help of hundreds of electronic eyes - aerial drones, fast-moving jets with camera pods and cameras affixed to blimps or tall metal towers - very rarely do American troops catch insurgents in the act of placing bombs. It's too quick and easy. A car pulls over to the side of the road to change the oil or fix a flat, or simply slows down, and an insurgent kicks a bomb out the door. Cars with holes cut in the floor allow bombers to drop devices onto roads while stuck in traffic. Insurgents can walk out the front doors of their houses, drop a bomb on the roadside and go back inside. In thinly patrolled rural areas, they can bury massive bombs in dirt roads.

Improvised explosive devices account for more than 70 percent of American casualties in Iraq, according to Defense Department casualty figures. During the past three years, the number of daily bomb attacks in Iraq has increased by as much as a factor of six, says Robin Keese, deputy director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.

While he declined to provide a precise number of daily attacks, other military sources say roadside bomb attacks currently are running at 100 per day. They are increasing even though over the past four years the U.S. military has killed or captured 70,000 insurgents in Iraq, according to an analysis by RAND, a think tank headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif. A recently declassified Government Accountability Office report says insurgent attacks of all types, including bombings and sniper shootings, have risen from 76 a day in January 2006 to an average of 164 a day in the past three months (GAO-07-677).

Proved on the Iraqi battlefield, the IED's bloody effectiveness has global appeal. Last summer, speaking before lawmakers on Capitol Hill, former CENTCOM commander Gen. John Abizaid said the IED has emerged as the primary weapon of the asymmetric warrior. "We see it not only in Iraq, but we see it in Afghanistan, in Pakistan. You see it in southern Lebanon; you see it in other places, such as in Egypt, where they're using IEDs . . . . their tactics, techniques and procedures are shared," he said. Speaking last fall before a military audience, British Army Maj. Gen. Jonathon Riley issued a dire warning: "We have not developed the intelligence or the tactics or the correct approach to defeat the [global] IED network."

Why are IEDs such an intractable problem? First, a market dynamic is at work in Iraq - a well-financed insurgency pays enterprising guerrilla fighters to conduct attacks. Second, the simplicity of the bombs makes them almost impossible to counter by technological means. Using roadside bombs, insurgents easily can kill U.S. troops with little danger to themselves. Third, because insurgent bomb-making cells are neither organized nor persistent, they are an ever changing, highly adaptable and therefore hard to engage enemy. The U.S. military has focused on defeating the bomb, but it's the bomb-makers that pose the real challenge.

Bomber's MarketThe market for insurgent attacks on American troops in Iraq is so well established that it has a predictable pattern. Army Capt. Stephen Capeheart explains it by describing one frustrating day in Iraq in late 2005. Capeheart, who worked as an intelligence officer in Baghdad, stood in the doorway of a house. Over the high-pitched whine of the engines of the 70-ton Abrams tank idling behind him, he tried to convince an Iraqi-American woman from San Diego to finger an insurgent cell that had kidnapped her husband. She had to come up with $50,000 or they'd cut off his head. Her husband was a doctor. The couple had moved from the United States to Iraq shortly after the 2003 invasion with hopes of helping the newly liberated Iraqi people.

She knew who the insurgents were and where they lived, but wouldn't tell Capeheart. "I said, 'Just point to the house, I have tanks!' She said, 'No, they're watching us right now.' " She told him she would pay the ransom. "I need my husband back. Please leave," she pleaded. Once her husband was released, she said, they would leave the country. Frustrated, Capeheart dropped a business card with his cell phone number on the ground, telling her she could leave it or pick it up and call him after they left. He never heard from her.

Once Capeheart learned the woman had paid the ransom, he braced for renewed attacks. "When [insurgents are] low on money, they start kidnapping," Capeheart says. They ask for ransoms typically in the $15,000 to $20,000 range for an average Iraqi citizen, more for the wealthy and foreigners. Money in hand, it takes the bombers about a week to buy explosives and assemble bombs in factories hidden in rural areas. Once built, the bombs are moved to safe houses inside Baghdad, then quickly used before they can be discovered. While bomb-makers assemble the devices, reconnaissance cells chart the behavior of American patrols, looking for the best place to attack to cause maximum casualties. Ten days of heavy roadside bomb attacks begin, then the insurgents run out of money and the cycle starts anew.

Roadside bomb attacks in Iraq have become a lucrative business for insurgents, who often outsource the work to specialized cells. Iraq has become an IED bazaar. On certain street corners in Baghdad, jobless laborers gather, shovels in hand, waiting to be hired to dig holes for the devices. Men eager to place bombs for cash are plentiful. Unemployed former soldiers quickly realized that fighting as insurgents pays better than legitimate jobs, and many have highly marketable munitions skills. Kidnappings, black market businesses and donations from sympathetic foreign sources provide a seemingly endless source of capital.

The IED business has fueled the continuous rise in attacks since the 2003 Iraq invasion.

Prices paid for attacks range from as little as $100 for hasty placement of a small roadside bomb to $20,000 or more for sophisticated sniper operations, according to U.S. military officers in Iraq.

The volatile brew of money and readily available labor lacks only bomb-making material to combust, and Iraq is awash in unguarded ordnance. In past counter-insurgency wars, guerrilla fighters nearly always ran short of weapons, relying on what they could steal from government outposts and arsenals. Not so in Iraq. An independent study by Stuart Dowling, a lecturer from the Defense College of Management and Technology at the Defense Academy of the United Kingdom, published in 2005, estimated that before the war, about 650,000 tons of heavy ordnance sat unguarded in stockpiles. Looters and insurgents made off with close to 250,000 tons of it, including sophisticated fuses, trigger systems and land mines.

Simple WeaponIEDs are simple to make and use. Insurgents can test and train with them without exposing themselves to American firepower. If the bomb is a dud, insurgents wait for the Americans to move on, then retrieve it and try again.

The most common remote triggers are hand-held two-way radios and cell phones. Insurgents also use more sophisticated infrared laser diodes to resist jamming. They have a constant signal that, when interrupted, detonates the device. All can be rapidly disposed of by the triggerman, who then blends into the population. If a bomb is spotted, a triggerman often will wait until the bomb squad arrives, then set it off.

The bombs are pre-assembled, and it takes only seconds to place them. They often are camouflaged to look like trash or part of a curb. Hiding places are numerous; the bombs can be placed in culverts, abandoned cars, under trash or inside animal carcasses. Some are elaborate, encased in plaster of Paris and painted to resemble concrete blocks or curbstones.

The American way of war is based on technological superiority and a wealth of materiel, which lead to a strategy of keeping the enemy at a distance, where he can be killed by precision firepower. Iraqi insurgents have negated American advantage in part by using the terrain. Crowded urban streets and narrow alleys require close-quarters fighting, and with IEDs, insurgents can get right up next to American vehicles to wreak maximum havoc.

"IEDs are the enemy's equivalent of artillery, and artillery has always been the largest killer on the battlefield," says retired Army Gen. Montgomery Meigs, who directs the Pentagon's counter- IED organization. The American arsenal includes precision-guided artillery rounds outfitted with Global Positioning System satellite receivers and laser and infrared targeting devices to ensure precise strikes. The cost of a 155mm GPS-guided artillery round: $30,000. The insurgents' favorite bomb is roughly the same size artillery round buried in the dirt or under a pile of trash. An experienced triggerman guarantees a direct hit on American vehicles. Estimated cost to turn a 155mm round scrounged from an abandoned ammo dump into a roadside bomb: between $300 and $500.

Believing that it takes a nimble network to fight one, the U.S. military services have created a number of ad hoc groups like Meigs' to operate outside the lumbering Pentagon bureaucracy. His outfit exists to rush promising technologies to the battlefield without having to go through the Byzantine weapons acquisition process. "Microsoft pumps out software enhancements about every nine months. You get a new generation of cell phone [every] year to 18 months. That's the rhythm we're on, and it's a completely different way of doing business in Defense," Meigs says. Despite the $70 billion the Pentagon spends annually on research and development, he says, a technological silver bullet for IEDs is unlikely.

The traditional American approach to a military challenge is to throw money at it and hope a technological solution will materialize. Already, billions of dollars' worth of promising technologies have been rushed to Iraq over the past three years, mostly radio frequency jammers meant to interrupt the signal between triggermen and bombs, and the occasional snooper to seek out the hidden devices. The insurgents found work-arounds for the jammers: They simply switched from cell phones and hand-held radios to wires that are impossible to jam. And bomb-sniffing technology remains problematic on crowded and cluttered streets.

The Iraqi insurgency can rapidly adapt to American countermeasures because it lacks a hierarchical command structure, Keese says. "There is more innovation at the lower levels because small units are free to try different things without having to ask for permission."

Videos of bombing attacks and lessons on defeating American countermeasures spread quickly over the Internet.

Officials in the counter-IED organization emphasize that even though the number of bombs has risen dramatically, American IED casualties have not. U.S. troops now find and disarm half of all bombs placed, they say, one measure of the organization's success. But with the recent surge of American troops into Baghdad and surrounding areas, Iraqi insurgents have more targets and IED casualties are climbing.

A Thousand Bomb-Making CellsThe real challenge always has been the lack of intelligence about bomb-making cells, which often are tolerated, if not actually supported, by much of the Iraqi population. U.S. forces have had some successes. Meigs says that since January 2005, 221 network leaders have either been captured or killed. Of those, 11 were classified as Tier 1 leadership, national level insurgent commanders or prominent al Qaeda in Iraq leaders such as the Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Seventy-six were classified as Tier 2 or regional leaders; 134 were deemed Tier 3, local cell leaders.

But the cells rapidly regenerate, and in a digitally connected world, bomb- making techniques and tactics spread virally. An example is the capture of Abu Omar, the only master car bomb builder whom American troops have seized. He was nabbed in January 2005 by Task Force 626, a special operations commando outfit. U.S. intelligence officers said that under interrogation, he bragged that he was personally responsible for 80 percent of the car bombs in Iraq. Following Omar's capture, car bomb attacks dropped off significantly.
But the lull was temporary. In spring 2005, Baghdad erupted in a massive car bomb offensive.

The Bush administration and the military identify the enemy in Iraq as al Qaeda, but that's largely a rhetorical device to tie Iraq into the larger war on terror. It's a misleading characterization of the real enemy U.S. troops face. There is not a single cohesive insurgency in Iraq, American intelligence officers say. Instead, the bomb-making cells that daily kill and maim U.S. troops are highly localized, small, independent and almost entirely Iraqi.

The common denominator for members of a cell might be a Baghdad street, city block or neighborhood. Bomber cells are self-organizing; often there is no top-down recruiting - they form spontaneously. "There is not a single threat, there are not two threats, there are hundreds," says Keese. "In some of those named groups in that hundreds category, they have many, many cells. So we're on the order of a thousand or so identifiable entities."
"It's hard for us to fight these cells, the insurgency. It's not like a normal enemy we fight. It's not structured," says Army Capt. Capeheart. Structure implies a tangible or quantifiable form, an enemy whose capabilities can be assessed using analytical tools known as templates.

Intelligence officers template the enemy's order-of-battle, counting up pieces of equipment and figuring out how the foe is trained and organized. That was a simple calculation against a doctrinally rigid and centrally organized Cold War enemy. In Iraq, insurgent numbers mean little. Guerrilla forces don't maintain standing armies.

Many insurgent cells are "just a group of guys getting together to plant a bomb," Capeheart says. One cell he targeted consisted of a father and his two sons. They were placing bombs not because they were affiliated with al Qaeda or even one of the larger Sunni insurgent groups, but rather out of a very personal motivation - a slight by American troops, Capeheart says. These neighborhood cells are not linked to the larger insurgent networks, such as the Sunni Islamic Army. Their only tie to other groups is shared hostility toward the American presence. "You have to take out the traditional military mind-set and say, 'OK, I have no money, I can't feed my family, I hate what this new government is doing, I want the old regime back. I'm going to become an insurgent and create a cell,' " Capeheart says.

"Most small groups of jihadists are trusted friends who have spontaneously self-organized, with no top-down al Qaeda recruitment program," says Marc Sageman, a former CIA officer and psychiatrist who has conducted some of the most extensive publicly available studies of terrorist networks. Local groups organize around neighborhood, family or tribe, and then take on the al Qaeda label without any actual ties to al Qaeda. Many of Iraq's insurgents cement their ties while locked up in American detention facilities, such as Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison compound outside Baghdad. American soldiers call it "the terrorist training facility."

If an insurgent is captured, his intelligence value is fleeting. "The enemy will change itself; in 48 hours everything shifts," Capeheart says. "They change their demographics, their leadership, target areas, logistic lines. If they feel coalition eyes are on them, they shift east or west."

Bombing cells regenerate, too. Capeheart says: "It's just a cycle. You have to look at it, if I can take out these five guys and they're all [insurgent leaders], I can degrade their capability for at least 60 days until somebody else comes up. We catch two; five more generate in a different area. We can wipe out an entire area, and they move to another area."

Army Capt. Aaron Duncan, who spent 2005 and early 2006 in southern Baghdad as an intelligence officer, says the fragmented nature of the insurgency makes it nearly impossible to penetrate. A bomber cell might operate for a few weeks and then disband. Its members then join other cells or start their own or find jobs and leave the insurgency. On a piece of paper, Duncan draws a triangular diagram of the cell structure. At the top is the money man, the planner, typically a former Iraqi military or intelligence officer under the Saddam Hussein regime. "You are not going to persuade this guy to stop; you either have to kill him or capture him," Duncan says.

If U.S. forces take out the base of the triangle, the workers, then the cell leader must recruit new ones, which takes time. That can deactivate a cell for a week or two. If soldiers capture a mid-level leader, that link of the chain is broken and the cell might become inactive. The leaderless members might start their own cell or get rolled into another, says Duncan. But "If you cut the head off the beast, you've still got these guys down here, and you have another splinter cell develop. By just cutting off the head, you don't fix the problem because other heads will emerge. If you cut off the tails, other tails will grow. So how do you fix it? You have to target the whole group together, and put something in its place to deny them the ability to conduct operations."

U.S. military officers say the answer is better intelligence and money. Funding for reconstructing the country will provide potential insurgents with a source of income other than fighting, they say. Whether America can produce either remains questionable.

[bth: if we field $1 MM MRAP vehicles to counter the road mines we will simply see an increase in EFPs used to destroy them from the sides. Billions in jammers are defeated by pressure hoses, contact plates, detonation wires and modified outdoor lighting systems bought at any Home Depot for about $30.]

Children snatched off the streets to work as slaves

Children snatched off the streets to work as slaves-News-World-Asia-TimesOnline: "More than 1,000 children may have been kidnapped and sold into slave labour in a brutal human trafficking ring that has shocked and outraged China. "

The children, some as young as 8, worked in brick kilns for 16 hours a day with meagre food rations. They were guarded by fierce dogs and thugs who beat their prisoners at will.

Many were abducted right off the streets of cities in the region and sold to factories and mines for as little as 400 yuan (£27). The unfolding scandal, involving negligent law enforcement and even collusion between government officials and slave masters, burst into the open this week.

Horrified Chinese have followed the stark, uncensored images of the slaves on television as they were rescued by police. Some children still wore their school uniforms.

They lived in squalid conditions with many adult workers, sleeping on filthy quilts on layers of bricks inside the brickworks, with the doors sealed from the outside with padlocks and the windows barred with pieces of wood.

Many children had festering wounds on their black feet and around their waists, apparently from burns. Some were even beaten to death by their guards.

Some 35,000 police have raided 7,500 kilns in Henan and Shanxi provinces in central China and rescued 468 people. Local officials said that 250 people had been arrested. They said the number of children forced to work in the kilns could rise to more than 1,000.

The abuses came to light only after 400 parents of missing children posted a letter on the internet pleading for official attention to their plight.

Filmed by television reporters from Henan province who accompanied the parents into the kilns to try to find their missing sons, several boys stood dazed and almost mute.

Asked if he wanted to go home, one boy gripped his filthy shirt and sobbed: “I want to. I want to.”

Zhao Yanbing, a foreman who fled a brickworks where 31 men were rescued a few days ago, described on state television how he had beaten a man in his late fifties for not working hard enough. “His performance was so bad, so I thought that I would frighten him a bit. When I raised the shovel over him I never thought that he would get up and confront me, so I slammed the shovel down on his head.” The man never got up again.

The revelations have sparked nationwide disgust. The Polit-buro, the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, sent a team of officials to Shanxi yesterday to investigate. ...

[bth: politburo family members ran the camp, normal chinese are outraged. I take some comfort in the knowledge that average Chinese are outraged by this.]

Guard running low on equipment

Guard running low on equipment - "National Guard units in 31 states say four years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have left them with 60% or less of their authorized equipment, a USA TODAY review found."

Eighteen of those 31 states report having half or fewer of the vehicles, aircraft, radios, weapons and other items they are authorized to have for home-front uses, the 50-state review found.

Guard leaders say the shortfalls raise concerns about whether some state units would be able to help other states as they did when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005.

"If the percentage of equipment (continues to fall), we may well be in the same situation as some of the other states in not being able to answer the call," Ohio National Guard spokesman Mark Wayda said.

Still, Guard leaders in East Coast and Southeastern states vulnerable to hurricanes say they are able to meet anticipated emergencies in their states. A few others say they, too, are ready for emergencies.

"We're in especially good shape," said Lt. Col. Tim Donovan, Wisconsin National Guard spokesman.

Some of the Guard's equipment has been destroyed or left behind in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the review found.
The shortage is reaching a crisis in Pennsylvania, Maj. Gen. Jessica Wright said. Pennsylvania has 49% of equipment available, she said, and much of that is old.

In Kansas, the National Guard "is stretched pretty thin," said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the top military commander, who says 50% of its authorized equipment is available.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius voiced alarm about Guard capabilities in a letter to President Bush after Greensburg, Kan., was destroyed by a tornado May 4.

New Mexico Guard leaders reported the lowest equipment level, 34%, mirroring a Government Accountability Office report in January that looked at equipment for use both on the battlefield and at home. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., warned in April that a lack of equipment "leaves the Guard in a situation that affects their ability to fight a war or respond effectively to emergencies at home."

Paul Brown, deputy chief of logistics for the Army National Guard, said the Guard has 53% of the equipment it needs for domestic emergencies. He said the budget has been increased by $4 billion a year, which should put it back at its pre-2001 level of 75% of authorized strength by 2014.

[bth: guard readiness has become a joke. to get it to 'pre-2001' levels of just 75% by 2014 is laughable. We cannot respond to a military crisis given our depleted and overstretched active duty troop levels without guardsmen to fill the ranks. The guard simply doesn't have the gear. We're on the edge.]

China arming terrorists

Inside the Ring - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "China arming terrorists
New intelligence reveals China is covertly supplying large quantities of small arms and weapons to insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, through Iran. "

U.S. government appeals to China to check some of the arms shipments in advance were met with stonewalling by Beijing, which insisted it knew nothing about the shipments and asked for additional intelligence on the transfers. The ploy has been used in the past by China to hide its arms-proliferation activities from the United States, according to U.S. officials with access to the intelligence reports.

Some arms were sent by aircraft directly from Chinese factories to Afghanistan and included large-caliber sniper rifles, millions of rounds of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades and components for roadside bombs, as well as other small arms.

The Washington Times reported June 5 that Chinese-made HN-5 anti-aircraft missiles were being used by the Taliban.

According to the officials, the Iranians, in buying the arms, asked Chinese state-run suppliers to expedite the transfers and to remove serial numbers to prevent tracing their origin. China, for its part, offered to transport the weapons in order to prevent the weapons from being interdicted.

The weapons were described as "late-model" arms that have not been seen in the field before and were not left over from Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq.
U.S. Army specialists suspect the weapons were transferred within the past three months.

The Bush administration has been trying to hide or downplay the intelligence reports to protect its pro-business policies toward China, and to continue to claim that China is helping the United States in the war on terrorism. U.S. officials have openly criticized Iran for the arms transfers but so far there has been no mention that China is a main supplier.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday that the flow of Iranian arms to Afghanistan is "fairly substantial" and that it is likely taking place with the help of the Iranian government.

Defense officials are upset that Chinese weapons are being used to kill Americans. "Americans are being killed by Chinese-supplied weapons, with the full knowledge and understanding of Beijing where these weapons are going," one official said.
The arms shipments show that the idea that China is helping the United States in the war on terrorism is "utter nonsense," the official said.

[bth: note there is no sourcing other than unnamed US officials and there is no proof other than the word of said unnamed US officials.]

Army plans to hire more psychiatrists

Army plans to hire more psychiatrists - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - Overwhelmed by the number of soldiers returning from war with mental problems, the Army is planning to hire at least 25 percent more psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. "

A contract finalized this week but not yet announced calls for spending $33 million to add about 200 mental health professionals to help soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health needs, officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.

"As the war has gone on, PTSD and other psychological effects of war have increased," said Col. Elspeth Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general.

"The number of (mental health workers) that was adequate for a peacetime military is not adequate for a nation that's been at war," she said in an interview.

The new hiring, which she said could begin immediately, is part of a wider plan of action the Army has laid out to improve health care to wounded or ill veterans and their families. It also comes as the Defense Department completes a wider mental health study — the latest in a series over recent months that has found services for troops have been inadequate.

Ritchie said long and repeat deployments caused by extended wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are causing more mental strain on troops. "At the time that the war began, I don't think anybody anticipated how long it would be going on," she said.

Surveys of troops in Iraq have shown that 15 percent to 20 percent of Army soldiers have signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress, which can cause flashbacks of traumatic combat experiences and other severe reactions.

About 35 percent of soldiers are seeking some kind of mental health treatment a year after returning home under a program that screens returning troops for physical and mental health.

The military has seen a number of high-profile incidents of alleged abuse in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the killings of 24 civilians by Marines, the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl and the slaying of her family and the sexual humiliation of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. Officials and military analysts have blamed ethics lapses partly on the strain of combat and insufficient training troops got before being sent to the battlefront.

Ritchie said the 200 new medical health workers will be added to more than 600 uniformed and civilian mental health professionals now working at three dozen Army medical centers and hospitals.

The Army also is planning a number of other improvements, such as streamlining bureaucracy that vets must go through to get care and adding more lawyers and other workers to help them and their families.

A report from a Defense Department task force released Thursday also found "current efforts fall significantly short" in providing help for troops.

"The psychological health needs of America's military service members, their families and their survivors pose a daunting and growing challenge to the Department of Defense," it said.

The task force was required by Congress under in 2006 law.

Also on Thursday, a Senate panel voted to expand brain screenings and counseling for wounded veterans of the Iraq war and to reduce red tape for service members moving from Pentagon to Veterans Affairs care.

The bill, approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee, also would boost disability pay and provide more counseling for family members of tens of thousands of U.S. service members wounded in combat.

The action, which sends the bill to the Senate floor, capped a flurry of activity in recent weeks to reach broad agreement on a single measure that would improve health care following reports of shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Separately, the VA said that it would bolster programs to prevent suicide among veterans by hiring additional counselors at each of its 153 medical centers after an internal review found that current VA programs were inadequate.

The unspecified number of new counselors would join 9,000 mental health professionals already employed by the VA to help veterans.

Meanwhile, the White House has backed away from earlier threats to veto a spending bill containing $4 billion more than President Bush sought for veterans' health care.

Just last month, White House budget director Rob Portman pledged that Bush would veto bills from Congress that would break through Bush's budget caps.

The House is slated on Friday to take up the $64.7 billion measure, which also funds military base construction. A companion Senate bill sailed through the Appropriations Committee Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

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Hard to tell if this is averaged per month or is for the entire period. If its the entire period shown then combat dropped per day in the last time period. Casualty rates suggest that combat is increasing and becoming more deadly as our tactics have shifted since Feb. 1, 2007
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China & US in Cold War over Africa's Oil

China & US in Cold War over Africa's Oil: "By F. William Engdahl, May 20, 2007

To paraphrase the famous quip during the 1992 US Presidential debates, when an unknown William Jefferson Clinton told then-President George Herbert Walker Bush, “It’s the economy, stupid,” the present concern of the current Washington Administration over Darfur in southern Sudan is not, if we were to look closely, genuine concern over genocide against the peoples in that poorest of poor part of a forsaken section of Africa.

No. “It’s the oil, stupid.”

Hereby hangs a tale of cynical dimension appropriate to a Washington Administration that has shown no regard for its own genocide in Iraq, when its control over major oil reserves is involved. What’s at stake in the battle for Darfur? Control over oil, lots and lots of oil.

The case of Darfur, a forbidding piece of sun-parched real estate in the southern part of Sudan, illustrates the new Cold War over oil, where the dramatic rise in China’s oil demand to fuel its booming growth has led Beijing to embark on an aggressive policy of – ironically – dollar diplomacy. With its more than $1.3 trillion in mainly US dollar reserves at the People`s Bank of China, Beijing is engaging in active petroleum geopolitics. Africa is a major focus, and in Africa, the central region between Sudan and Chad is priority. This is defining a major new front in what, since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, is a new Cold War between Washington and Beijing over control of major oil sources. So far Beijing has played its cards a bit more cleverly than Washington. Darfur is a major battleground in this high-stakes contest for oil control.

China Oil diplomacy

In recent months, Beijing has embarked on a series of initiatives designed to secure long-term raw materials sources from one of the planet’s most endowed regions – the African subcontinent. No raw material has higher priority in Beijing at present than the securing of long term oil sources.

Today China draws an estimated 30% of its crude oil from Africa. That explains an extraordinary series of diplomatic initiatives which have left Washington furious. China is using no-strings-attached dollar credits to gain access to Africa’s vast raw material wealth, leaving Washington’s typical control game via the World Bank and IMF out in the cold. Who needs the painful medicine of the IMF when China gives easy terms and builds roads and schools to boot?

In November last year Beijing hosted an extraordinary summit of 40 African heads of state. They literally rolled out the red carpet for the heads of among others Algeria, Nigeria, Mali, Angola, Central African Republic, Zambia, South Africa.

China has just done an oil deal, linking the Peoples Republic of China with the continent's two largest nations - Nigeria and South Africa. China's CNOC will lift the oil in Nigeria, via a consortium that also includes South African Petroleum Co. giving China access to what could be 175,000 barrels a day by 2008. It’s a $2.27 billion deal that gives state-controlled CNOC a 45% stake in a large off-shore Nigeria oil field. Previously, Nigeria had been considered in Washington to be an asset of the Anglo-American oil majors, ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron.

China has been generous in dispensing its soft loans, with no interest or outright grants to some of the poorest debtor states of Africa. The loans have gone to infrastructure including highways, hospitals, and schools, a stark contrast to the brutal austerity demands of the IMF and World Bank. In 2006 China committed more than $8 billion to Nigeria, Angola and Mozambique, versus $2.3 billion to all sub-Saharan Africa from the World Bank. Ghana is negotiating a $1.2 billion Chinese electrification loan.
Unlike the World Bank, a de facto arm of US foreign economic policy, China shrewdly attaches no strings to its loans.

This oil-related Chinese diplomacy has led to the bizarre accusation from Washington that Beijing is trying to “secure oil at the sources,” something Washington foreign policy has itself been preoccupied with for at least a Century.

No source of oil has been more the focus of China-US oil conflict of late than Sudan, home of Darfur.
Sudan oil riches

Beijing’s China National Petroleum Company, CNPC, is Sudan’s largest foreign investor, with some $5 billion in oil field development. Since 1999 China has invested at least $15 billion in Sudan. It owns 50% of an oil refinery near Khartoum with the Sudan government. The oil fields (see graphic) are concentrated in the south, site of a long-simmering civil war, partly financed covertly by the United States, to break the south from the Islamic Khartoum-centered north.

CNPC built an oil pipeline from its concession blocs 1, 2 and 4 in southern Sudan, to a new terminal at Port Sudan on the Red Sea where oil is loaded on tankers for China. Eight percent of China’s oil now comes from southern Sudan. China takes up to 65% to 80% of Sudan’s 500,000 barrels/day of oil production. Sudan last year was China’s fourth largest foreign oil source. In 2006 China passed Japan to become the world’s second largest importer of oil after the United States, importing 6.5 million barrels a day of the black gold. With its oil demand growing by an estimated 30% a year, China will pass the US in oil import demand in a few years. That reality is the motor driving Beijing foreign policy in Africa.
Source: USAID

A look at the southern Sudan oil concessions shows that China’s CNPC holds rights to bloc 6 which straddles Darfur, near the border to Chad and the Central African Republic. In April 2005 Sudan’s government announced it had found oil in South Darfur whoich is estimated to be able when developed to pump 500,000 barrels/day. The world press forgot to report that vital fact in discussing the Darfur conflict.

Using the genocide charge to militarize Sudan’s oil region

Genocide was the preferred theme, and Washington was the orchestra conductor. Curiously, while all observers acknowledge that Darfur has seen a large human displacement and human misery and tens of thousands or even as much as 300,000 deaths in the last several years, only Washington and the NGO’s close to it use the charged term “genocide” to describe Darfur. If they are able to get a popular acceptance of the charge genocide, it opens the possibility for drastic “regime change” intervention by NATO and de facto by Washington into Sudan’s sovereign affairs.

The genocide theme is being used, with full-scale Hollywood backing from the likes of pop stars like George Clooney, to orchestrate the case for a de facto NATO occupation of the region. So far the Sudan government has vehemently refused, not surprisingly.

The US Government repeatedly uses “genocide” to refer to Darfur. It is the only government to do so. US Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, said during a USINFO online interview last November 17, "The ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan – a 'gross violation' of human rights – is among the top international issues of concern to the United States." The Bush administration keeps insisting that genocide has been going on in Darfur since 2003, despite the fact that a five-man panel UN mission led by Italian Judge Antonio Cassese reported in 2004 that genocide had not been committed in Darfur, rather that grave human rights abuses were committed. They called for war crime trials.

Merchants of death

The United States, acting through surrogate allies in Chad and neighboring states has trained and armed the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army, headed until his death in July 2005, by John Garang, trained at US Special Forces school at Fort Benning, Georgia.

By pouring arms into first southern Sudan in the eastern part and since discovery of oil in Darfur, to that region as well, Washington fuelled the conflict that led to tens of thousands dying and several million driven to flee their homes. Eritrea hosts and supports the SPLA, the umbrella NDA opposition group, and the Eastern Front and Darfur rebels.

There are two rebel groups fighting in Sudan's Darfur region against the Khartoum central government of President Omar al-Bashir – the Justice for Equality Movement (JEM) and the larger Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

In February 2003 the SLA launched attacks on Sudan government positions in the Darfur region. SLA Secretary-General Minni Arkou Minnawi called for armed struggle, accusing the government of ignoring Darfur. "The objective of the SLA is to create a united democratic Sudan.” In other words, regime change in Sudan. The US Senate adopted a resolution in February 2006 that requested North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops in Darfur, as well as a stronger U.N. peacekeeping force with a robust mandate. A month later, President Bush also called for additional NATO forces in Darfur. Uh huh... Genocide? Or oil?
The Pentagon has been busy training African military officers in the US, much as it has for Latin American officers for decades. Its International Military Education and Training (IMET) program has provided training to military officers from Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cameroon and the Central African Republic, in effect every country on Sudan’s border. Much of the arms that have fuelled the killing in Darfur and the south have been brought in via murky, protected private “merchants of death” such as the notorious former KGB operative, now with offices in the US, Victor Bout. Bout has been cited repeatedly in recent years for selling weapons across Africa. US Government officials strangely leave his operations in Texas and Florida untouched despite the fact he is on the Interpol wanted list for money laundering.

US development aid for all Sub-Sahara Africa including Chad, has been cut sharply in recent years while its military aid has risen. Oil and the scramble for strategic raw materials is the clear reason. The region of southern Sudan from the Upper Nile to the borders of Chad is rich in oil. Washington knew that long before the Sudanese government.

Chevron’s 1974 oil project

US oil majors have known about Sudan’s oil wealth since the early 1970’s. In 1979, Jafaar Nimeiry, Sudan head of state, broke with the Soviets and invited Chevron to develop oil in the Sudan. That was perhaps a fatal mistake. UN Ambassador George H.W. Bush had personally told Nimeiry of satellite photos indicating oil in Sudan. Nimeiry took the bait. Wars over oil have been the consequence ever since.

Chevron found big oil reserves in southern Sudan. It spent $1.2 billion finding and testing them. That oil triggered what is called Sudan’s second civil war in 1983. Chevron was target of repeated attacks and killings and suspended the project in 1984. In 1992, it sold it's Sudanese oil concessions. Then China began to develop the abandoned Chevron fields in 1999 with notable results.

But Chevron is not far from Darfur today.

Chad oil and pipeline politics

Condi Rice’s Chevron is in neighboring Chad, together with the other US oil giant, ExxonMobil. They’ve just built a $3.7 billion oil pipeline carrying 160,000 barrels/day of oil from Doba in central Chad near Darfur Sudan, via Cameroon to Kribi on the Atlantic Ocean, destined for US refineries.

To do it, they worked with Chad “President for life,” Idriss Deby, a corrupt despot who has been accused of feeding US-supplied arms to the Darfur rebels. Deby joined Washington’s Pan Sahel Initiative run by the Pentagon’s US-European Command, to train his troops to fight “Islamic terrorism.” The majority of the tribes in Darfur region are Islamic.

Supplied with US military aid, training and weapons, in 2004 Deby launched the initial strike that set off the conflict in Darfur, using members of his elite Presidential Guard who originate from the province, providing the men with all terrain vehicles, arms and anti-aircraft guns to Darfur rebels fighting the Khartoum government in the southwest Sudan. The US military support to Deby in fact had been the trigger for the Darfur bloodbath. Khartoum reacted and the ensuing debacle was unleashed in full tragic force.

Washington-backed NGO’s and the US Government claim unproven genocide as a pretext to ultimately bring UN/NATO troops into the oilfields of Darfur and south Sudan. Oil, not human misery, is behind Washington’s new interest in Darfur.

The “Darfur genocide” campaign began in 2003, the same time the Chad-Cameroon pipeline oil began to flow. The US now had a base in Chad to go after Darfur oil and, potentially, co-opt China’s new oil sources. Darfur is strategic, straddling Chad, Central African Republic, Egypt and Libya.

US military objectives in Darfur – and the Horn of Africa more widely – are being served at present by the US and NATO backing of the African Union troops in Darfur. There NATO provides ground and air support for AU troops who are categorized as “neutral” and “peacekeepers.” Sudan is at war on three fronts, each country – Uganda, Chad, and Ethiopia – with a significant US military presence and ongoing US military programs. The war in Sudan involves both US covert operations and US trained “rebel” factions coming in from South Sudan, Chad, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Chad’s Deby looks to China too

The completion of the US and World Bank-financed oil pipeline from Chad to the Cameroon coast was designed as one part of a far grander Washington scheme to control the oil riches of central Africa from Sudan to the entire Gulf of Guinea.

But Washington’s erstwhile pal, Chad’s President for Life, Idriss Deby, began to get unhappy with his small share of the US-controlled oil profits. When he and the Chad Parliament decided in early 2006 to take more of the oil revenues to finance military operations and beef up its army, new World Bank President, Iraq war architect, Paul Wolfowitz, moved to suspend loans to the country. Then that August, after Deby had won re-election, he created Chad’s own oil company, SHT, and threatened to expel Chevron and Malaysia’s Petronas for not paying taxes owed, and demanding a 60% share of the Chad oil prieline. In the end he came to terms with the oil companies, but winds of change were blowing.

Deby also faces growing internal opposition from a Chad rebel group, United Front for Change, known under its French name as FUC, which he claims is being covertly funded by Sudan. This region is a very complex part of the world of war. The FUC has based itself in Darfur.

Into this unstable situation, Beijing has shown up in Chad with a full coffer of aid money in hand. In late January, Chinese President Hu Jintao made a state visit to Sudan and to Cameroon among other African states. In 2006 China’s leaders visited no less than 48 African states. In August 2006 Beijing hosted Chad’s Foreign Minister for talks and resumption of formal diplomatic ties cut in 1997. China has begun to import oil from Chad as well as Sudan. Not that much oil, but if Beijing has its way, that will soon change.

This April, Chad’s Foreign Minister announced that talks with China over greater China participation in Chad’s oil development were “progressing well.” He referred to the terms the Chinese seek for oil development, calling them, “much more equal partnerships than those we are used to having.”

The Chinese economic presence in Chad, ironically, may be more effective in calming the fighting and displacement in Darfur than any African Union or UN troop presence ever could. That would not be welcome for some people in Washington and at Chevron headquarters, as they would not find the oil falling into their greasy bloody hands.

Chad and Darfur are but part of the vast China effort to secure “oil at the source” across Africa. Oil is also the prime factor in US Africa policy today. George W. Bush’s interest in Africa includes a new US base in Sao Tome/Principe 124 miles off the Gulf of Guinea from which it can control Gulf of Guinea oilfields from Angola in the south to Congo, Gabon, Equitorial Guinea, Cameroon and Nigeria. That just happens to be the very same areas where recent Chinese diplomatic and investment activity has focussed.

“West Africa’s oil has become of national strategic interest to us,” stated US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Walter Kansteiner already back in 2002. Darfur and Chad are but an extension of the US Iraq policy “with other means” – control of oil everywhere. China is challenging that control “everywhere,” especially in Africa. It amounts to a new undeclared Cold War over oil.

No Drop in Iraq Violence Seen Since Troop Buildup -

No Drop in Iraq Violence Seen Since Troop Buildup - "Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday."

The report -- the first comprehensive statistical overview of the new U.S. military strategy in Iraq -- coincided with renewed fears of sectarian violence after the bombing yesterday of the same Shiite shrine north of Baghdad that was attacked in February 2006, unleashing a spiral of retaliatory bloodshed. Iraq's government imposed an immediate curfew in Baghdad yesterday to prevent an outbreak of revenge killings....

Reid labels military leader 'incompetent'

Reid labels military leader 'incompetent' - "'...We want them to vote and vote and vote again' on Iraq, said a senior Democratic senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss party strategy. 'They are going to have to vote on Iraq until they are sick of it.'"

The tougher-talking Reid is taking a decidedly harder line on Iraq at a time when anti-war activists are stepping up their criticism of Democratic leaders for not forcing a quick end to the conflict in Iraq.

Besides his comments about Pace and Petraeus, the Nevada Democrat also announced that he wants to hold more votes on ending or scaling back the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

He said Democrats would use an upcoming Defense authorization bill to continue the struggle with Bush over the conduct of the war, especially Bush's "surge" plan to send more U.S. forces to Baghdad and surrounding regions in order to quell growing sectarian violence....

[bth: the Democratic leadership is under tremendous pressure to act. Cindy Sheehan's letter was the bellweather that the left viewed the Democratic party as party of the problem now instead of part of the solution]

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bleak Mood Drags Down Support for Bush, Congress

Free Article - "An increasingly gloomy political environment has soured Americans on President Bush and Congress, scrambled the Republicans' 2008 field, and strengthened Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton's lead, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll."

As the Iraq war drags on and Washington is embroiled in inconclusive policy debates, just 19% of Americans now say the nation is head in the right direction. More than three times that proportion, 68%, say things in the U.S. are "off ...
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U.S. officer: Iraqi police disappearing Politics: "WASHINGTON (AP) About one in six Iraqi policemen trained by U.S.-led forces has been killed or wounded, has deserted or just disappeared, a senior U.S. military commander says."

And continuing violence is prompting officials again to increase the size of the Iraqi army - this time by another 20,000, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently headed the training effort.

Speaking before a House subcommittee, Dempsey said some 32,000 Iraqi police had been lost from the newly trained force of 188,000 in the 18 months before January.

About 8,000 to 10,000 were believed killed in action and 6,000 to 8,000 wounded severely enough so they cannot serve, he said Tuesday.

Another 5,000 "probably ... had deserted."

The remaining 7,000 or 8,000 are unaccounted for. One lawmaker wanted to know if they could be among militants causing the violence in Iraq.

"Is there any basis to believe that some portion of those ... are fighting our people?" asked Rep. Robert E. Andrews, D-N.J.

Dempsey said he didn't know.

Training Iraqis to take over security for their own country has gone slower than U.S. officials expected, a problem since it has been considered a key factor in when U.S. forces will be able to begin to withdraw.

The House Armed Services subcommittee on investigations has struggled for months to get details about the training program.

Officials have adjusted the size of the army a number of times, including last December, when Iraq's prime minister decided to add about 20,000 soldiers on top of a planned 325,000, to put more forces in the most heavily contested parts of the country.

Based on experience with Iraq troops that showed up to take part in the four-month-old Baghdad security push, Dempsey said, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has decided in the last month that another increase is needed.

Officials earlier had planned to staff the force at 110 percent of what was needed to help make up for absenteeism and other problems.

"On average, about 25 percent of the force is on leave at any given time, and they're not going on vacation. It may sound simple, but a significant portion of this is for soldiers taking leave to physically take money home to their families in the absence of things like direct deposit and electronic banking," Dempsey said....

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007: Temporary Friends

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007: Temporary Friends: "With the four-month-old 'surge' in U.S. troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight Al Qaeda-linked militants who have been their allies in the past."

The commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province and have held talks with Sunni groups suspected of prior assaults on U.S. units, or of links to groups that have attacked Americans, in at least four other areas where the insurgency has been strong.

In some cases, the commanders say, these groups have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and other supplies.

U.S. officials who have engaged in what they call "outreach" to the Sunni groups say the groups are mostly ones with links to Al Qaeda but disillusioned with Al Qaeda's extremist tactics, particularly suicide bombings that have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. In exchange for American backing, these officials say, the Sunni groups have agreed to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on U.S. units. Commanders who have undertaken these negotiations say that in some cases Sunni groups have agreed to alert American troops to the location of roadside bombs and other lethal booby traps. But critics of the strategy, including some U.S. officers, say it could amount to the Americans arming both sides in a future civil war" IHT


""Oilies," don't bother to read this. you already know everything, about history, the world, etc.
For the rest of you I will say that this tactic as well as that of cooperating with tribal groups in Iraq (whether Sunni or Shia) has my full support.

Can you trust them? Will they be loyal to the Americans (or the government)? Is this "paying protection money?" Will this hurt the Iraqi government?

The answers; No. Not necessarily. No. Maybe (So what!)

- You can't logically make a comparison between 1 - paying a hoodlum in the US not to beat you up and 2 - supporting a dissident guerrilla leader who may be of use to you in an insurgency in a foreign country.
This is isn't Sunday School, folks. Did you really think that the various kinds of Iraqis were going to become ardent candidates for Alderman, Councilman, Member of School Board, etc. just because you think they should be eager to be what you think they should be? If you do think that, you should get out more. People want to be what they are. They do not want to become something out of a group of foreigners reveries in graduate school. That was was what was wrong from the start with the whole neocon thesis about the Middle East. They knew nothing other than what they told each other that they knew, and what little they did know was wrong and distorted by special interests. There was never any chance that their fantasies would be realized in Iraq. They were not criminal. They were just uninformed and conceited.

- It is not a question of the "new friends" being loyal to anyone except themselves. People are generally faithless if they think their interests are not favored. You have to to deal with that. That is how people generally are in the Middle East (or anywhere else). The real question here is whether or not these people can be useful to you with regard to something specific that you want to get done. (like kill Jihadis) The solution, use'em and then abuse'em if they become a real liability.

- "Protection money?" Let's call it a bribe. A lot of you will be more comfortable with that. It isn't really a bribe. It is what used to be called a "subvention." Translation? Sometimes people need and want to do something for which they have not the means. Providing the equipment and money that makes that work isn't a bribe. It is just common sense.

- The Iraqi government? Hah! I am concerned with American interests.

The Puritan heritage of the dominant culture in the United States is really showing in the drivel that is being mouthed about these issues. War is not about virtue as opposed to sin. War is about the struggle of opposed interests and wills. To begin this war, a "morality play" atmosphere was generated which led to "war fever" on a massive scale. It was skilfully done by people who thought "they knew best." I hope they are happy with the result of their efforts. The country is only now slowly recovering. It is as though the United States is now in a protracted "de-tox" program.

Some of the insurgents fought American troops? Yes, and we fought them. We fought the Germans and Japanese and Vietnamese Communists. I served in the field with former VC and NVA soldiers during the unpleasantness there. We need to grow up about this. The Calvinist assumptions that govern popular thought in this country lead to an unwillingness to accept change of this kind. Get over it. pl

Big Boost In Iraqi Forces Is Urged

Big Boost In Iraqi Forces Is Urged - "A senior U.S. military commander said yesterday that Iraq's army must expand its rolls by at least 20,000 more soldiers than Washington had anticipated, to help free U.S. troops from conducting daily patrols, checkpoints and other critical yet dangerous missions."

Even then, Iraq will remain incapable of taking full responsibility for its security for many years -- five years in the case of protecting its airspace -- and will require a long-term military relationship with the United States, said Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who until recently led the U.S. military's training effort in Iraq.

Appearing before a House panel, Dempsey outlined his assessment of Iraq's 348,000-strong security forces looking into 2008 and the prospects that they can take over from U.S. troops. He said the Iraqi forces are improving but are still riddled with sectarianism and corruption and are suffering from a lack of leaders and the attrition of tens of thousands of members -- including 32,000 police between mid-2005 and January.

His projection of the size of the police force required to help bring stability -- 195,000 -- is more than 40 percent higher than Washington estimated in 2003. The remarks follow other blunt comments by U.S. military commanders that civilian deaths and attacks on U.S. troops have recently risen and that particularly tough fighting is expected in the coming months.

Building a competent Iraqi security force is at the center of the U.S. effort to turn over military operations, but serious gaps in the capability of Iraqi forces are limiting their role in pacifying Baghdad and safeguarding civilians under the counterinsurgency plan being implemented by the top U.S. commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, Dempsey said.

Describing the U.S. effort in Iraq as a labor of Sisyphus, he said the metaphoric stone is "probably rolling back a bit right now in Baghdad. But I don't think it's going to roll over us."

Dempsey depicted the level of violence tolerated by Iraqis as "mind-numbing" and acknowledged that a dearth of security has made some Iraqis nostalgic for the rule of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. "You'll hear people say, 'You know, we were a lot more secure and safe during the Saddam regime,' " he told the oversight panel of the House Armed Services Committee.

Fixing the security problems will require a major Iraqi effort, including another sizeable boost in the manpower of Iraqi security forces beyond earlier goals set for 2006 and 2007, Dempsey said, with final decisions on the scope and composition to be made in discussions underway between U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials.

"Iraqi security forces will require growth in scope and scale similar to what we accomplished in 2007 in order to ensure sufficient force to protect the population throughout Iraq," Dempsey said, referring to this year's planned increase of more than 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police. Otherwise, he said, U.S. forces will be locked into "tactical" jobs such as providing neighborhood security, and Iraqi security forces will face substantially higher risks when U.S. forces draw down.

One immediate goal, set this month by Petraeus, is to add 20,000 soldiers to the Iraqi army alone, so that each combat battalion will be filled to 120 percent of its official manpower. That number does not include tens of thousands more Iraqi soldiers who will be required to fill vacant slots in the country's army, which has an annual attrition rate of 15 to 18 percent.

The extra manpower is partly needed because roughly 25 percent of Iraqi soldiers are on leave at any given time. The requirement is particularly acute for Iraqi army battalions rotating into Baghdad, because roughly a quarter of their troops stay behind in their home provinces to guard bases and towns. "A deployable army for the entire nation is somewhat of a new concept for them," Dempsey said.

He pointed out that when units showed up in Baghdad at 50 percent strength for their 90-day rotations, the American officers were upset, but "senior military leaders of the Iraqi government were kind of pleased that they had gotten 50 percent to come."

Dempsey said that he is "cautiously optimistic" about Iraqi army units gaining proficiency, and that they are more ready to take over tactical jobs, such as running patrols and manning checkpoints, than dealing with pay, promotion, logistics and contracting. In those areas, Dempsey said, the Iraqis are "going to need some help in that for a long time."

Dempsey said Iraqi army rolls are inflated by soldiers who are severely wounded but are still paid because the government lacks retirement money for them. An Iraqi army commander might also corruptly over-report the number of troops he has, Dempsey said, "so that he gets a payroll share more than he deserves and thereby pocket it." Sectarian agendas also afflict the hiring and firing process.

Similar problems, including "ghost" personnel, afflict the police, Dempsey said. Of the 32,000 Iraqi police lost from the U.S.-and-foreign-trained force of 188,000 in the 18 months before January, more than 14,000 were killed or severely wounded, 5,000 deserted, and the rest are "unaccounted for," he said.

Asked whether the absent police could be fighting U.S. troops, Dempsey replied, "We just don't know," adding that he is trying to track how many of the U.S.-trained forces end up in U.S. custody "down the road."

Moreover, Iraqi officials have sometimes overhired police, either to provide jobs or as the result of corruption, he said. For example, governors in Shiite holy cities such as Karbala and Najaf have padded the rolls by "something between 60,000 and 75,000 policemen on the payroll over the authorization" who are untrained by U.S. personnel, he said. Of that number, he said 10 to 20 percent "will be ghosts that are just there for payroll purposes."

Dempsey said that Iraq's paramilitary force of national police is the most troubled by sectarian problems and that each week he received reports that local and national officers were hired or fired for sectarian or other "insidious" reasons. "In some cases, it is very clear that certain leaders are put into place because the government believes that it needs to have someone loyal to it above all."

Local police are performing well in Mosul but remain ineffective in large parts of Iraq, including Baghdad and the rest of Diyala province, because they are too bound by parochial political interests, Dempsey added. "I don't think local police will reach a level that you and I would recognize as local police until political progress is achieved."

[bth: the 'untrained' are militia men padded onto the payrolls by Sadr and other Shia leaders. The 20% (I'm hearing 30%) ghose police and soldiers are bribes for the officers as the units are paid in cash. I'm told 3:1 is the ratio -- need 1 Iraqi soldier on the street, you have to plan on brining 3 (ghosts and all).]

Gen. Wesley Clark: Joe Lieberman Is At It Again

Gen. Wesley Clark: Joe Lieberman Is At It Again - Politics on The Huffington Post: "After wrongly supporting George W. Bush's strategic blunder of attacking Iraq, and continuing to support Bush's failed policies after the invasion, Senator Joe Lieberman made irresponsible comments this weekend regarding military action against Iran. "...

Democrats to revive Iraq war timetables

Democrats to revive Iraq war timetables - "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Democrats will once again try to impose timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday."

Reid said Democrats will use a defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2008 as a vehicle to revive two Iraq timetable amendments that they pushed unsuccessfully during a fight over Iraq funding in May.

The first, sponsored by Reid and Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, would set a goal of beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops by April 2008, unless the Iraqi government demonstrated political and security progress. However, President Bush would have the power to waive that requirement.

The second, sponsored by Reid and Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, would go further and cut off funding for the Iraq war by next April, without giving the president any flexibility to extend the mission.

"On Iraq, we're going to hold the president's feet to the fire," Reid said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Reid said debate on the bill will begin June 27, giving senators the chance to begin work on the contentious issues before Congress' break for the Fourth of July holiday....

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 - Video: Rather Slams Couric For ‘Dumb It Down’ Kind of News - Video: Rather Slams Couric For ‘Dumb It Down’ Kind of News: ""

U.S. Troop Losses in Iraq
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Militants target bridges in Iraq

Militants target bridges in Iraq - "BAGHDAD — Iraqi militants have shifted their focus to high-profile attacks on bridges in recent weeks, as improved security has made mass-casualty bombings in Baghdad more difficult to stage."

A suicide truck bomb collapsed part of a highway bridge in troubled Diyala province on Monday, making it the second major Iraqi bridge to be disabled in 24 hours. There were no casualties, but to reach Baghdad, motorists must now use a road that runs through territory where al-Qaeda has a strong presence.

"What (insurgents) are trying to do is separate the population from the government and convince the population that the security forces can't protect them," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman. "It's just a classic goal of any kind of insurgency."

U.S. forces used bulldozers Monday to push aside the rubble of an overpass that crashed into Iraq's main north-south highway on Sunday, killing three U.S. soldiers and wounding six others. That attack also occurred in an al-Qaeda stronghold, an area south of the capital known as "the triangle of death."

Earlier this month, a bomb heavily damaged the Sarhat Bridge, 90 miles north of the capital, which connects Baghdad with Irbil and other Kurdish cities of the north. In April, a bomb collapsed the landmark Sarafiyah Bridge in Baghdad, killing 11 people.

Oil pipelines, electric generation sites and water systems have also been targeted since the war began.

"Alas, this is an adaptive foe, and when they have a new idea that seems to work, they tend to be pretty good at executing it again and again," said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.

Many militants have sought refuge in Diyala province and other areas surrounding Baghdad following a recent increase in U.S. troops patrolling the capital.

Meanwhile, a wave of mass-casualty explosions in markets and other busy areas has slowed. The number of car bomb attacks in Baghdad dropped from 38 in April to 15 in May, according to an official at Iraq's interior ministry, which tracks such statistics. The official declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak with the media.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in large-scale bombings also fell, from 634 in April to 325 in May, according to a compilation of news reports by the Brookings Institution.

A greater number of checkpoints and neighborhood combat outposts manned by U.S. troops has helped prevent large-scale bombings, Garver said. "The car bombs you see in Baghdad now are at police checkpoints as opposed to the intended targets like markets … where there a lot of people congregating," he said.

With more U.S. troops in harm's way, casualties have increased. May and April was the deadliest two-month period for U.S. troops since the war began, with 230 fatalities.
Contributing: The Associated Press

Officials: U.S. Kills 7 Afghan Police

Officials: U.S. Kills 7 Afghan Police: "KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - U.S. forces mistakenly killed seven Afghan police and wounded four in an apparent friendly fire incident early Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said. "

Police manning a remote checkpoint in Nangarhar province said an American convoy backed by helicopters approached and opened fire despite their protests and calls for them to stop. ...

[bth: not at all good. I think the 10th mountain has been replaced within the last few weeks by the 173rd airborne in this area.]

U.S. Warns Iraq That Progress Is Needed Soon - New York Times

U.S. Warns Iraq That Progress Is Needed Soon - New York Times: "BAGHDAD, June 11 — The top American military commander for the Middle East has warned Iraq’s prime minister in a closed-door conversation that the Iraqi government needs to make tangible political progress by next month to counter the growing tide of opposition to the war in Congress."...

[bth: this entire article does not identify the source of the information from this 'closed door' session. curiously poor journalism for the NYT.]
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Joe Chooses His New Friend, Karl Rove, Over the Rule of Law

The Next Hurrah: Joe Chooses His New Friend, Karl Rove, Over the Rule of Law: "Between Joe Lieberman's calls to bomb Iran over the weekend, and his no vote on the no confidence resolution against Alberto Gonzales today, we have hit the final straws in Joe Lieberman's little dance with the dark side. "

When a man cannot vote the no confidence that the entire Senate, save Orrin Hatch, implicitly shares, that says his interests lie with the party that is covering its ass rather than with the party with which he caucuses. It says his interests lie with protecting Karl Rove from the scrutiny a real AG would bring, over the rule of law.

And if Joe Lieberman won't vote with his former party on this vote, along with seven Republican Senators (Scottish Law Specter, Snowe, Collins, Hagel, Smith, Sununu, and Coleman), that says he won't vote with Democrats, ever, when it counts. If Norm Coleman--as much a flunkie of Karl Rove as anyone in the Senate--votes for the no confidence resolution, and Joe Lieberman does not, we have no further use for Joe Lieberman in our caucus.

[bth: so Joe wants to talk us into a war with Iran, stay in Iraq and support an attorney general that has done nothing to protect the civil liberties of average Americans. Doesn't this big tent of the Democratic Party have a flap we can kick people out of?]

U.S. relies on Sudan despite condemning it

U.S. relies on Sudan despite condemning it - Los Angeles Times: "WASHINGTON — Sudan has secretly worked with the CIA to spy on the insurgency in Iraq, an example of how the U.S. has continued to cooperate with the Sudanese regime even while condemning its suspected role in the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur."

President Bush has denounced the killings in Sudan's western region as genocide and has imposed sanctions on the government in Khartoum.

But some critics say the administration has soft-pedaled the sanctions to preserve its extensive intelligence collaboration with Sudan.

The relationship underscores the complex realities of the post-Sept. 11 world, in which the United States has relied heavily on intelligence and military cooperation from countries, including Sudan and Uzbekistan, that are considered pariah states for their records on human rights.

"Intelligence cooperation takes place for a whole lot of reasons," said a U.S. intelligence official, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing intelligence assessments. "It's not always between people who love each other deeply."

Sudan has become increasingly valuable to the United States since the Sept. 11 attacks because the Sunni Arab nation is a crossroads for Islamic militants making their way to Iraq and Pakistan.That steady flow of foreign fighters has provided cover for Sudan's Mukhabarat intelligence service to insert spies into Iraq, officials said. ...

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