Saturday, February 09, 2008

ABC News: Exclusive: Peace Corps, Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans

ABC News: Exclusive: Peace Corps, Fulbright Scholar Asked to 'Spy' on Cubans, Venezuelans: "In an apparent violation of U.S. policy, Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright scholar were asked by a U.S. Embassy official in Bolivia "to basically spy" on Cubans and Venezuelans in the country, according to Peace Corps personnel and the Fulbright scholar involved.

"I was told to provide the names, addresses and activities of any Venezuelan or Cuban doctors or field workers I come across during my time here," Fulbright scholar John Alexander van Schaick told in an interview in La Paz.

Van Schaick's account matches that of Peace Corps members and staff who claim that last July their entire group of new volunteers was instructed by the same U.S. Embassy official in Bolivia to report on Cuban and Venezuelan nationals. ...

[bth: stunts like this get Peace Corp volunteers kidnapped or killed. If the State Dept. wanted information on these Cubans or Venezuelans, they should get off their cushioned chairs at the embassy and get in the field. Stupid. Stupid fat bastards.]

The Atlantic Online | After Iraq

The Atlantic Online January/February 2008 After Iraq Jeffrey Goldberg: ..."The problem is that Iraq has already proven—and Iran continues to prove—that Americans cannot make Middle Easterners do what is in America’s best interest. “Whether the Middle East is unimportant or terrifically important, when it comes to doing anything about it, the actions undertaken are all ineffectual or counterproductive,” Edward Luttwak told me. “In the Middle East, it doesn’t help to be nice to them, or to bomb them.”

A first step in restoring America’s influence in the Middle East is to accept with humility the notion that America—like Britain before it—cannot organize the re­gion according to its own interests. (Ideologues of varying positions tend to quote for their own benefit the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr on the proper use of American power—but perhaps what the debate needs is a version of Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the courage to change the regimes I can, the grace to accept the regimes I can’t …”) What’s called for is a foreign policy in which the neoconservative’s belief in the liberating power of democ­racy is yoked to the realist’s understanding of unintended consequences.

Of course, winning in Iraq—or at least not losing— would help fortify America’s deterrent power, and check Iran’s involvement in Lebanon, Gaza, and elsewhere. America’s situation in Iraq is not quite so dire as it was a year ago; the troop surge has worked to suppress much violence, and there have been tentative steps by both Shiite and Sunni leaders to prevent all-out sectarian war. To be sure, very few experts predict with any assurance an optimistic future for Iraq. “Ten years is a reasonable time period to think that the sectarian conflict will need to play out,” Martin Indyk, the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, told me. “The parties will eventually exhaust themselves. Perhaps they have already, although I fear that the surge has just provided a break for Sunnis and Shias to better position themselves for further conflict when American forces are drawn down. There’s no indication yet that the Shias are prepared to share power or that the Sunnis are prepared to live as a minority under Shia majoritarian rule.”

Erstwhile optimists about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East, myself included, have been chastened by recent events. But the U.S. would do well not to abandon the long-term hope that democracy, exported carefully, and slowly, can change reality. This would be not a five-year project, but a 50-year one. It would focus on aiding Middle Eastern journalists and democracy activists, on building strong universities and independent judiciaries—and on being discerning enough not to aid Muslim democracy activists when American help would undermine their credibility. If Arab moderates and democrats “begin this work now, in 10 or 15 years we will have a horse in this race,” said Omran Salman, the head of an Arab reform organization called Aafaq. “We’ve sacrificed democracy for stability, but it’s a fabricated stability. When someone’s sitting on your head, it’s not stable.” Salman, a Shiite from Bahrain, said he opposes Western military intervention in certain cases, preferring American “moral intervention.” The Americans “have to keep pressure on regimes to force them to make reforms and open their societies. Now what the regimes do is oppress liberals.”

One problem is that American moral capital has been depleted, which only underscores the practical importance to national security of, among other things, banning torture, and considering carefully the impact an American strike on Iran would have on the typical Iranian. After 30 years of oppressive fundamentalist Muslim rule, many of Iran’s people are pro-American; that could change, however, if American bombs begin to fall on their country.

The Next Phase

There is a way to go beyond merely managing the current instability, and to capitalize on it. I’m aware that this is not the most opportune moment in American history to disinter Wilsonian idealism, but America does now have the chance to help right some historic wrongs—for one thing, wrongs committed against the Kurds. (There are other peoples, of course, in the Middle East that the U.S. could stand up for, if it weren’t quite so committed to the preservation of the existing map; the blacks in the south of Sudan—one of the most disastrous countries created by Europe—would surely like to be free from the Arab government that rules them from Khartoum.)

Iraq has been unstable since its creation because its Kurds and Shiites did not want to be ruled from Baghdad by a Sunni minority. So why not remove one source of instability—the perennially oppressed Kurds—from the formula? Kurdish independence was—literally—one of Wilson’s famous Fourteen Points (No. 12, to be precise), and it is quite obviously a moral cause (and no less moral than the cause that preoccupies the West—that of Palestinian independence). There is danger here, of course: Kurdish freedom might spark secessionist impulses among other Middle Eastern ethnic groups. But these impulses already exist, and one lesson from the British and French management of the Middle East is that people cannot be suppressed forever.

For the moment, the Kurds of Iraq are playing the American game, officially supporting the U.S. and its flawed vision of Iraqi federalism, in part because the Turks fear Kurdish independence. Turkey has been an important American ally except for the one time when Turkey’s friendship would have truly mattered—at the outset of the Iraq War, when Turkey refused to let the American 4th Infantry Division invade northern Iraq from its territory. The U.S. does not owe Turkey quite as much as its advocates think. The Kurds, on the other hand, are the most stalwart U.S. allies in Iraq, and their leaders are certainly the most responsible, working for the country’s unity even while hoping for something better for their own people. “If Iraq fails, no one will be able to blame the Kurds,” said Barham Salih, a Kurd who is Iraq’s deputy prime minister.

The next phase of Middle East history could start 160 miles north of Baghdad, in Kirkuk, which the Kurds consider their Jerusalem. One day, in the home of Abdul Rahman Mustafa, the Kurdish-Iraqi governor there, I learned about the mature position the Kurds are adopting. Over the course of its 20 years, Saddam’s regime expelled Kurds from Kirkuk and gave their homes to Arabs from the south. The government now is slowly—too slowly for many Kurds—reversing the expulsions. A group of dignitaries had come to see the governor on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. To reach the governor’s office, you must navigate an endless series of barricades manned by tense-seeming Kurdish soldiers. The house itself is surrounded by blast walls. Kirkuk has a vigorous Sunni terrorist underground, and an enormous car bomb had killed seven people the day before.

I asked the governor, who is an unexcitable lawyer of about 60, if “his people”—I phrased it this way—were seeking independence from Iraq. “My people,” he said, “are all the people of Kirkuk.” The men seated about his living room nodded in agreement. “My job is to help all the people of Kirkuk have better lives.” More nodding. “My friends here all know that we will have justice for those who were hurt in the regime of Saddam, but we will not hurt others in order to get justice.” Even more nodding, and mumblings of approval.

Four men eventually got up to leave. They kissed the governor and then left the house. The governor turned to me and said, “One of those men is Arab. Everyone is welcome here.”

I told him I would like to ask my question again. “Do your people want independence from Iraq?”

“Yes, of course my people, most of them, want a new, different situation,” he said. “I think—I will be careful now—I think that we will have what we need soon. Please don’t ask me any more specific questions about what we need and want.”

I asked, instead, for his analysis of the situation—did he think the Sunni-Shiite struggle would become worse, or would it burn out? He laughed. “I cannot predict anything about this country. I would never have predicted that I would be governor of Kirkuk. This is a city that expelled Kurds like me until the Americans came. So I couldn’t predict my own future. I only know that we won’t go back to the way it was before.”

He went on, “I listen to television about the future, but I don’t believe anything I hear.” ...

[bth: I recommend reading the original article in full.... Americans cannot control events - only influence them. We must match our enlightened self interests with the people we choose to influence.]

AP Poll: Leaving Iraq Will Help Economy

The Associated Press: AP Poll: Leaving Iraq Will Help Economy: "The heck with Congress' big stimulus bill. The way to get the country out of recession — and most people think we're in one — is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they'll spend the economy into recovery.

The $168 billion economic rescue package Congress rushed to approval this week includes rebates of $600 to $1,200 for most taxpayers, the hope being that they will spend the money and help revive ailing businesses. President Bush is expected to sign the measure next week. Poor wage-earners, as well as seniors and veterans who live almost entirely off Social Security and disability benefits, would get $300 checks.

However, just 19 percent of the people surveyed said they planned to go out and spend the money; 45 percent said they'd use it to pay bills. And nearly half said what the government really should do is get out of Iraq.

Forty-eight percent said a pullout would help fix the country's economic problems "a great deal," and an additional 20 percent said it would help at least somewhat. Some 43 percent said increasing government spending on health care, education and housing programs would help a great deal; 36 percent said cutting taxes.

"Let's stop paying for this war," said Hilda Sanchez, 44, of Waterford, Calif. "There are a lot of people who are struggling. We can use the money to pay for medical care and help people who were put out of their homes."

The subject of leaving Iraq shows a sharp partisan divide — 65 percent of Democrats think it would help the economy a lot, but only 18 percent of Republicans think so...

Sudanese militia attack Darfur towns

Sudanese militia attack Darfur towns - swissinfo: "Sudanese government aircraft, army and militia attacked three towns in West Darfur state on Friday, causing heavy civilian casualties, Darfur rebels and witnesses said.

"The government attacked the town of Abu Surouj this morning ... a direct attack with cars and horses and bombardment," rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr told Reuters from Darfur.

"Now they have continued their aggression to three towns ... including Suleia." He put the initial death toll at around 200 but said it was hard to tell because the army was still there.

The governor of West Darfur state Abu el-Gasim confirmed the armed forces had moved on Sirba, Suleia and Abu Surouj -- the last a city of some 150,000 people that also houses displaced people from other attacks -- to retake them from the rebels.

But he denied any casualties or bombing.

"There were a few houses burned but no wounded and no civilians have been killed. I was following the situation carefully," he told Reuters.

Abu Surouj resident Malik Mohamed said he had escaped during the attack early on Friday. "First of all I saw two helicopters and Janjaweed on horses and camels, after that I saw cars," he said.

"The helicopters hit us four times and around 20 bombs were dropped," he said by telephone.

His voice breaking, he said he had no idea where his family was. "I am outside the city and can see burning. They (the attackers) are still inside."

Residents of el-Geneina, the state capital, told Reuters they could hear Antonov planes and had seen helicopters. Darfur rebels said that until the attacks they controlled the area north of el-Geneina, where they have often fought army troops, and which aid workers have been forbidden from entering.

Ashr had said previously the rebels expected the attacks because Khartoum had again mobilised militia groups, known locally as Janjaweed, in the area.

Yehia Abakr, a resident of Sirba, told Reuters by telephone he fled the town centre when the forces attacked.

"They have killed many people," he said.

The militia stand accused of widespread atrocities and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for a junior cabinet minister and an allied militia leader accused of war crimes. Khartoum refuses to hand them over.


The Sudanese army said it had attacked the area to move JEM out because the insurgents had been ambushing their forces. But it denied killing any civilians.

"The armed forces attacked the areas where the rebels are and they have rid the areas of them totally," a spokesman said.

JEM's Ashr said the rebels had not stationed forces inside the towns since capturing them late last year.

"When we attacked and took Suleia, we attacked the army there but not one civilian was killed," he said.

Two other rebel groups also said the nearby Chad-Sudan border area of Jabel Moun had been bombed.

Commander of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Martin Luther Agwai, said he was very concerned about the government attack, urging all sides to show restraint.

"In addition to the loss of life and damage to property, there is the potential for displacement of large numbers of villagers, compounding an already critical humanitarian situation," he said in a statement.

The UNAMID force, still awaiting an agreement from Khartoum on its operational rules due to be signed on Saturday says it has only 9,000 of its required 26,000 troops and police.

It also lacks attack and transport helicopters. Ethiopia said on Thursday it would provide five of the required 24.

Rights group Amnesty International said the government attack was a "major test" for the UNAMID mission which began operations on December 31 and called on it to protect the civilians in the area.

"The Security Council ... should call on the government of Sudan to comply with international humanitarian law and ensure that civilians are protected at all times and call on JEM not to endanger civilians by stationing armed men within civilian areas," Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty's deputy Africa director, said in a statement on Friday.

"It looks like a rather large-scale operation," Jan Eliasson, U.N. special envoy to Darfur, said in New York of the latest offensive.

Witnesses said the attacks were similar to those in the early days of the Darfur conflict in 2003, when Khartoum mobilised militias to quell mostly non-Arab rebels who took up arms in western Sudan, accusing the government of neglect.

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

[bth: a small special forces unit with air support from a gunship would be able to crush an attack like this if it knew the attack was coming. Because the Sudanese government is organizing militias to launch these attacks, we should have sufficient warning. Until the JEM is severely bloodied, these land grabbing attacks and ethnic cleansings will continue. Let the UN and the UNAMID supply the support troops, security and aid relief. How many thousands have to be killed while the west sits idle?]

Roadside blasts kill 5 U.S. soldiers in Iraq

Roadside blasts kill 5 U.S. soldiers in Iraq - Yahoo! News: "Five American soldiers were killed in roadside bombings in Iraq on Friday, the U.S. military said on Saturday, while Iraqi police detained 22 suspects in raids against Shi'ite militiamen.

The latest arrests come as the U.S. military aggressively pursues what it describes as rogue elements of anti-U.S. Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army and other Shi'ite militia which Washington says are supported by Iran.

On Friday a respected think-tank said U.S. forces should not provoke the Mehdi Army, once described by the Pentagon as the greatest threat to peace in Iraq, into the sort of widespread violence that took Iraq to the brink of civil war.

Attacks are down by 60 percent since last June on the back of a boost of 30,000 extra U.S. troops, a decision by Sunni Arab tribal leaders to turn against al Qaeda and a six-month ceasefire ordered by Sadr last August....

Turkey moves to lift headscarf ban

Turkey moves to lift headscarf ban - "Turkey's parliament has passed a constitutional amendment that would end a ban on Islamic headscarves at universities, despite public protests.

The amendment still must be reviewed by President Abdullah Gul, who has supported the issue and was expected to approve the changes.

Tens of thousands of protesters on Saturday gathered in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to oppose the move, which they say threatens the existence of Turkey as a secular state that wants to join the European Union.

One opposition lawmaker said lifting the ban would mean the "disintegration of the nation."

In the vote earlier in the day, lawmakers agreed to approve two constitutional changes that will allow female students to wear headscarves -- the form of dress has been prohibited in Turkish universities since a constitutional court ruling nearly two decades ago. ...

Bin Laden and Omar operating in Pakistan: U.S. official

Bin Laden and Omar operating in Pakistan: U.S. official - Yahoo! News: "Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders are directing insurgency operations in Afghanistan from the Pakistani city of Quetta, while al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is operating from Pakistan's tribal areas, a senior U.S. administration official said on Friday.

Bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and others are operating out of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan, the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"Just as Mullah Omar is giving strategic direction for the Taliban from Quetta, al Qaeda senior leadership is in the FATA doing its planning," the official said, without giving the source of the intelligence.

"The iconic leaders of al Qaeda -- Zawahri, bin Laden and people like (Abu Laith) al-Libi are in the tribal areas of Pakistan," the official added.

Libi was killed in January in a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan's North Waziristan border area.

Bin Laden, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, and Mullah Omar are believed to have fled Afghanistan soon after the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001.

Despite the presence of al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, the official said the administration still saw Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf as a worthy ally.

The outcome of Pakistani elections, delayed until February 18 after the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, could have consequences for Musharraf if a hostile parliament emerges.

"There are multiple sources of pressure and instability on Musharraf and the sense here has been what he really needs is a dependable partner to see him through this period and that's been sort of the strategic logic of supporting Musharraf," the U.S. official said.

The Pakistani president over time has "given us evidence that he is worth that kind of commitment both in terms of the degree to which his forces have taken on al Qaeda in particular, and the extent to which we think he's doing quite well given the hand he was dealt."

The Bush administration also has been very impressed with Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and considers him a "promising partner," the official said.

Friday, February 08, 2008

"friday-lunch-club": "Egypt rejects US-Israeli proposal to settle 800,000 Palestinians in Sinai"

"friday-lunch-club": "Egypt rejects US-Israeli proposal to settle 800,000 Palestinians in Sinai": "Egypt"rejects US-Israeli proposal to settle 800,000 Palestinians in Sinai"

"On February 4, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood website Amalalommah (Ikhwan) reported here: “The Egyptian government has turned down a US-Israeli proposal to settle more than 800,000 Palestinians in the Sinai Peninsula in a bid to revoke the right of the Palestinian refugees to return home. The Egyptian rejection has aroused the fury of Washington and Tel Aviv which exercised strong pressure on Cairo to accept the proposal.

“Diplomatic sources said that the Israeli government has offered Egypt in the past period three proposals for the settlement of the Palestinian refugees. The proposals were submitted by the prominent Israeli politicians, Health Minister Ephraim Sneh, and General Moshe Maoz. Nonetheless, the Egyptian side has informed Israel of its rejection to settle the Gaza residents or the Diaspora Palestinians in Egyptian territories because such a settlement contradicts the right of return which was approved by the UN. Moreover, Egypt has expressed its full support of the right of the Palestinians to return back home.

“Sources said that Israel is threatening Egypt with the suspension of the US aid if Egypt continued its rigid policy towards its proposals on the settlement of the Palestinians on its territories. This has prompted Cairo to notify Tel Aviv that it would enforce a series of penalties against Israel if it continued its endeavours to market the settlement plans.

“It followed that Egypt threatened to freeze the agreement on the crossings concluded with each of Israel and the PNA under European supervision, to revoke the agreement on the exchange of security information, and to suspend the bilateral meeting of the Egyptian-Israeli committee in reply to the proposed Israeli settlement plans.

“Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Baraq hastened to contain the crisis in a telephone conversation with President Mubarak by saying that Israel would not raise the idea of the settlement of the Palestinians whether as citizens or refugees in Egypt, according to the sources. Meanwhile, Egypt has notified the US circles of its complete reservations over the US demand to restore Egyptian supervision of the Gaza Strip in return for the restoration of the European option to the West Bank despite the fact that Washington pledged to support Egypt in this scenario. Cairo has in fact, voiced its total rejection of any discussion of the scenarios of the settlement of Palestinian refugees or the restoration of its supervision of Gaza in talks with US delegations which visited Egypt in the past period.

“Meanwhile, informed sources have said that Egypt has made a decision to seal off the border crossing of Rafah for good as of Friday noon, 8 February 2008, and to allow the crossing of Palestinians together with an Egyptian commitment to facilitate the entry of commodities and aid coming from Egyptian or Arab parties.

“The sources said that Cairo has notified Hamas with its decision as part of intensifying the pressure on Hamas to enter into a serious dialogue to hand over the crossings to the PNA, an option on which Hamas has strong reservations.” - Amlalommah// Egypt

[bth: what does Egypt get out of this deal?

Boeing hears mixed news in defense chief's testimony

Boeing hears mixed news in defense chief's testimony: ..."Gates"also said the F-22 has little military utility, except in a war against a "near peer," an oblique reference to China or a resurgent Russia.

"The reality is, we are fighting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the F-22 has not performed a single mission in either theater," he said.

Gates testified before the committee to support the Bush administration's $585 billion budget request for the military services and ongoing military operations in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The Army's Future Combat System includes both manned and robot-controlled weapons linked together by a massive communications network. It was originally planned to be operational in 2015.

"If you look at the total cost of the Future Combat System over the entire duration, I think the total cost of that program is about $120 billion. And frankly, it is hard for me to see how that program can be completed in its entirety," he said. "I think that in light of what are inevitably going to be pressures on the defense budget in the future, I think that that one is one we will have to look at carefully."

The Future Combat System is a juicy target for budget cuts because it is so ill-defined and technologically risky.

The service is developing more than 50 cutting-edge technologies at the same time it is developing 14 different weapons to use those technologies that have yet to be produced, a strategy that government auditors have warned is "contrary to best practices."...

[bth: Gates is right and I must say after watching him carefully, I'm very impressed. He is such a postive step up from Rumsfeld in every way -- most importantly truthfulness and integrity.]

Less Jobs. More Wars.

Less Jobs. More Wars.

After Hard-Won Lessons, Army Doctrine Revised - New York Times

After Hard-Won Lessons, Army Doctrine Revised - New York Times: "WASHINGTON WASHINGTON"— The Army has drafted a new operations manual that elevates the mission of stabilizing war-torn nations, making it equal in importance to defeating adversaries on the battlefield.

Military officials described the new document, the first new edition of the Army’s comprehensive doctrine since 2001, as a major development that draws on the hard-learned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where initial military successes gave way to long, grueling struggles to establish control.

It is also an illustration of how far the Pentagon has moved beyond the Bush administration’s initial reluctance to use the military to support “nation-building” efforts when it came into office.

But some influential officers are already arguing that the Army still needs to put actions behind its new words, and they have raised searching questions about whether the Army’s military structure, personnel policies and weapons programs are consistent with its doctrine.

The manual describes the United States as facing an era of “persistent conflict” in which the American military will often operate among civilians in countries where local institutions are fragile and efforts to win over a wary population are vital.

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the commander of the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, began briefing lawmakers on the document on Thursday. In an interview, he called it a “blueprint to operate over the next 10 to 15 years.”

“Army doctrine now equally weights tasks dealing with the population — stability or civil support — with those related to offensive and defensive operations,” the manual states. “Winning battles and engagements is important but alone is not sufficient. Shaping the civil situation is just as important to success.”

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is enmeshed in rebuilding local institutions, helping to restore essential services and safeguarding a vulnerable population. The new manual is an attempt to put these endeavors — along with counterinsurgency warfare — at the core of military training, planning and operations. That would require some important changes. “There is going to be some resistance,” General Caldwell said. “There will be people who will hear and understand what we are saying, but it is going to take some time to inculcate that into our culture.”

Even as they welcomed it, other Army officers said there were inconsistencies between the newly minted doctrine on how to wage war and current practice. Army brigades in Iraq have too few combat engineers to support civil programs, they said. Also, they added, the Army does not promote officers who advise the Iraqi and Afghan security forces as readily as battalion staff officers and needs to improve their training.

Some Army officers have also questioned whether the development of the Army’s Future Combat System, a multibillion-dollar program in which air and unmanned ground sensors will be networked with armored vehicles so that soldiers can attack targets from a safe distance, is consistent with this new vision of war.

The new manual is expected to be formally unveiled this month. The New York Times was provided with a recent draft.

When the United States invaded Iraq, Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, and many ranking military leaders spoke highly of the value of speed and high-technology military systems, arguing that they could enable a relatively small number of troops to rapidly defeat the United States’ adversaries. The mission of stabilizing Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein was generally treated as a secondary concern, one that assumed that Iraq’s security forces would both cooperate and be effective.

The American military’s difficulty in securing Iraq has led to much soul-searching within the armed forces on how to prepare for future conflicts. Col. H. R. McMaster of the Army, who commanded the successful effort in 2005 to secure the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar, asserts in a new article that an exaggerated faith in military technology and a corresponding undervaluation of political and military measures to secure the peace undermined American efforts in Iraq.

“Self-delusion about the character of future conflict weakened U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he wrote in Survival, a journal published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Colonel McMaster added in the article that the Army “is finding it difficult to cut completely loose from years of wrongheaded thinking,” noting that assumptions that high-technology systems will provide the American military with “dominant knowledge” of the battlefield has formed much of the justification for the Army program to build the Future Combat System.

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has cautioned the Army not to assume that the counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan are anomalies. Mr. Gates said in October that “unconventional wars” were “the ones most likely to be fought in the years ahead.” A 2005 Pentagon directive also advised the military to treat “stability operations” as a core mission.

The Army’s new manual tries to address such concerns. It paints a picture of future wars in which the Army needs to be prepared to deal with changing coalitions and complex cultural factors.

“The operational environment will remain a dirty, frightening, physically and emotionally draining one in which death and destruction result from environmental conditions creating humanitarian crisis as well as conflict itself,” the manual states. It will be an arena, the manual notes, in which success depends not only on force in defeating an enemy but also “how quickly a state of stability can be established and maintained.”

General Caldwell said the manual would influence Army education and training by stressing the sort of skills that are needed to bring stability to conflict-ridden states with weak governments.

There will be people who naturally will say, ‘If I can do high-end offense and defense, I can do any lesser kind of operations,’ ” he said. “What we have found through seven years is that is not the case.”

Some steps to improve the Army’s abilities in these areas are already under way, he asserted. By way of example, changes are being made in the way combat engineers are assigned, to give commanders more flexibility.

Some of the Army’s up-and-coming officers, however, say much more needs to be done, including attracting more officers to disciplines that the manual says are so necessary, like advising foreign security forces and assisting with civil affairs.

The parts of the Army closest to the battlefield have adapted, including tactics and doctrine,” said Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, who wrote a widely circulated article criticizing how the generals fought the Iraq war. “However, the institutional Army, to include our organizational designs and our personnel system, is essentially the same as before 9/11.”

He added: “The most important tasks we are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan are building host-nation institutions, including security forces and governance. We need to attract the very best officers into these specialties to be successful at these tasks.”

Khatami furious over election disqualifications

Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Khatami furious over election disqualifications: "Former president says this trend jeopardises the revolution and society’s wellbeing

TEHRAN: Iran’s ex-president Mohammad Khatami labelled the mass disqualification of reformist candidates for parliamentary elections as a “catastrophe” which threatens the Islamic revolution, the press reported on Thursday.

“The disqualification by the executive committees is a catastrophe,” he said in comments first reported by the ISNA news agency late Wednesday. Executive committees working under the interior ministry last month disqualified over 2,000 mainly reformist candidates who were judged unsuitable to stand in the March 14 vote. Reformist officials have said the disqualifications have wrecked their chances of challenging the current conservative dominance of parliament.

Jeopardises the revolution: “To see that the credentials of good, Muslim people being rejected is a problem,” lamented Khatami. “But a big and more sorrowful problem is the trend (of disqualification) which I believe jeopardizes the revolution, the system and the wellbeing of society,” he added. Khatami’s comments were his latest outspoken attack on the vetting process, which also destroyed reformist hopes in the last parliamentary election in 2004.

The former president, who was seen as the main inspiration behind the main reformist coalition, has in the last months broken over two years of silence to make bitter attacks on the government and the handling of elections. “If the (disqualification) trend becomes permanent, it is very dangerous.

“We should, without narrow-mindedness, guard the true values of our revolution,” he said in comments at a memorial service for the late reformist politician ex-deputy culture minister Ahmad Borghani. In order to stand, candidates must meet a number of qualifications, one of which is sufficient loyalty to the Islamic revolution and the idea of clerical leadership enshrined by its founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

The second phase of vetting is now being carried out by supervisory committees of the Guardians Council, which conducts further investigations into the hopefuls approved by the interior ministry. Khomeini’s own grandson Ali Eshragi was disqualified at this stage after investigators asked neighbours questions over his personal life, it emerged on Wednesday. The Guardians Council itself will give the final say on the candidates and is to publish the final list of those allowed to stand on March 4. afp

Bush, Congress hit bottom in AP poll

Bush, Congress hit bottom in AP poll - Yahoo! News: "It's"almost as if people can barely stand the thought of President Bush and Congress anymore. Bush reached his lowest approval rating in The Associated Press-Ipsos poll on Friday as only 30 percent said they like the job he is doing, including an all-time low in his support by Republicans. Congress' approval fell to just 22 percent, equaling its poorest grade in the survey. Both marks dropped by 4 percentage points since early January. ...

Berkeley Backs Off On Banning Marines

Berkeley Backs Off On Banning Marines - News Story - KNTV | San Francisco: "BERKELEY" Calif. -- As six Republican senators devised a plan to yank $2.3 million in federal funding for Berkeley programs, the mayor of the famously liberal city apologized Wednesday for his hard stance against a Marine recruiting center.

Two City Council members vowed to soften their stance as well.

At their Tuesday council meeting, leaders will discuss scrapping a letter that might be perceived as targeting the center or the Marines.

The letter said that the recruiting center was not welcome on Shattuck Avenue and that the Marines were uninvited and unwelcome intruders

That letter will probably be pulled back and maybe more moderate language will be put in place which is appropriate I think," said Berkeley mayor Tom Bates.

"Subtly stated in the resolution is perhaps an impugning of the soldiers fighting for us in Iraq and other places," Berkeley City Councilman Laurie Capitelli. "And that was never the intention but that really needs to be cleared up. As I walked to my car that night I realized I regretted it and I had made a mistake

Bates said the city didn't mean to offend anyone in the armed forces and the focus should have been on the war not the troops.

"There's really no correlation between federal funds for schools, water ferries and police communications systems and the council's actions, for God's sake," said Bates, a retired U.S. Army captain. "We apologize for any offense to any families of anyone who may serve in Iraq. We want them to come home and be safe at home."

The letter was originally approved in January and has not been sent.

City officials said they got a flood of e-mails, many asking them to reconsider their position.

Councilmembers have said they would replace the "intruder item" with words expressing their support for the troops but not the war in Iraq.

The Republican plan would give the funds, intended for a school lunch program, UC Berkeley and ferry service, to the Marines instead.

"Patriotic American taxpayers won't sit quietly while Berkeley insults our brave Marines," said one of the senators.

The recruiting center opened about a year ago and quickly became a target of anti-war protesters including the group Code Pink.

Last week the council passed resolutions giving Code Pink a place to park out front. Some have said that meant the city giving was giving the group a place to continuously protest the Marines.

"What we're doing is we're announcing a bill that we intend to get on the floor to strip transportation from the city of Berkeley," said East Bay Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston. "What they have done in Berkeley is they have set aside a parking spot and in my opinion a public right of way, a public transportation corridor, specifically for a private organization -- in this case Code Pink -- to harass and annoy the United States Marine Corps and their recruiting efforts. We think that playing around and having an agenda with the public right of way is subject to ramifications. There is $2.3 million in proposition 1B transportation dollars. We think that should be in jeopardy."

Others on the Berkeley City Council seemed quite firm on their stance, NBC11's Christie Smith reported.

Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Barbara Lee said they plan to fight the Republican bill....

"Curt Weldon: Back in business"

"Curt Weldon: Back in business" by Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine): "Former"Republican Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania is currently under federal investigation due to charges that he steered business to a lobbying firm headed by his daughter. Now Weldon has started an international consulting firm and is using the contacts he established in Congress to steer business his own way.

Weldon lost his 2006 campaign for reelection not long after the FBI raided the office of his daughter Karen. Karen Weldon had little political experience when she began her lobbying career, but swiftly signed three contracts, worth roughly $1 million combined, with clients who had been helped in various ways by her father. To take one example, after Congressman Weldon repeatedly went to bat for Itera, a hugely controversial Russian energy firm, Itera became Karen Weldon’s first client, paying her firm $500,000 to “create good public relations so in the future Itera may sell goods and services to U.S. entities.” ...

"Curt Weldon: Back in business"

"Curt Weldon: Back in business" by Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine): "Former"Republican Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania is currently under federal investigation due to charges that he steered business to a lobbying firm headed by his daughter. Now Weldon has started an international consulting firm and is using the contacts he established in Congress to steer business his own way.

Weldon lost his 2006 campaign for reelection not long after the FBI raided the office of his daughter Karen. Karen Weldon had little political experience when she began her lobbying career, but swiftly signed three contracts, worth roughly $1 million combined, with clients who had been helped in various ways by her father. To take one example, after Congressman Weldon repeatedly went to bat for Itera, a hugely controversial Russian energy firm, Itera became Karen Weldon’s first client, paying her firm $500,000 to “create good public relations so in the future Itera may sell goods and services to U.S. entities.” ...

War and Piece:

War and Piece::... "Participants"in the eighth Herzliya Conference, a policy-making confab that significantly influences Israeli national security strategy, are increasingly concerned that President Bush may not take action on Iran before he leaves office, and that they cannot count on the next U.S. administration to take out Iran’s nuclear program in a timely fashion. Israeli officials are reconsidering their own options, which have always included the possibility of striking Iran alone. At the same time, Israel is ramping up efforts to push Washington toward pursuing more-robust international sanctions to pressure and destabilize the Iranian regime. [...]

Given Israel’s reported second-strike capabilities, most government officials here consider it unlikely that Iran would target Israel with a nuclear bomb. But they fear that Iran’s possession of fissile material could lead to several other developments that would imperil Israel’s security. Knowing that Tehran has the bomb could embolden the militant Islamist groups that Iran supports, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Moreover, an Iranian nuclear weapon could spur regional rivals to pursue their own nuclear programs, raising the prospect of a poly-nuclear Middle East in which some terrorist group would eventually end up with a nuclear weapon. Finally, Israelis leaders worry that the psychological threat of these scenarios could itself spur Jewish emigration out of Israel.

...In interviews, some Israeli officials and intelligence analysts say that the Iranian nuclear problem will not be finally solved for Israel until the regime in
Tehran is overturned. [....]“Our problem is not Iran’s nuclear project itself,” said another member of the Knesset, Brig. Gen. Ephraim Sneh. “Our problem lies in the nuclear regime—a regime that combines imperial aspirations, hatred of Israel, military prowess, and endless wells of money. That is why the goal is to topple this regime from the inside. Not regime change in what has become in the U.S. a four-letter word not to be mentioned near children or ladies—a massive invasion—but regime change by the Iranian people.”

Sneh suggests that three things have to happen to trigger such a powerful internal upheaval: an embargo on refined oil products going to Iran, which, he noted, imports half of its gas; a cutoff of international credit lines for financing energy projects in Iran; and steps to block Iran from modernizing its energy industry. [...]

...Some Israeli experts on Iran say quietly, however, that the U.S. should pursue dialogue with Iran. .... “I don’t think a military attack is going to work.... Even if a military attack is successful, it would only postpone, and not finish, the [nuclear] program. And it would be one hell of an operation, as Iran has installations scattered all over the country, buried deepunderground. We have some capability—very impressive. But there are problems if we use it.”

An Israeli defense analyst who asked not to be identified said that Israel has in recent years boosted its procurement of long-range unmanned aerial vehicles,
planes with extra exterior fuel tanks, and other military equipment that could be used in a strike on Iran. After all, he said, acting alone is a default mode of behavior that Israeli decision makers are ultimately very comfortable with. “There’s a mentality that no one loves us and there’s a Holocaust around every corner,” he said.

The Raw Story | US sees shift in Muslim attitudes toward Al-Qaeda

The Raw Story | US sees shift in Muslim attitudes toward Al-Qaeda: "US"intelligence chiefs said Thursday they are seeing some signs that public opinion in the Muslim world is turning against Al-Qaeda.

They cited indications that donations to Al-Qaeda are falling off, unusual criticism of the group by other Muslim fundamentalists, and efforts by Al-Qaeda's leadership to reach out to the umma, the body of Muslim believers.

The shifting attitudes come despite other evidence that Al-Qaeda has gained strength in its safe havens in Pakistan's tribal areas and are improving their ability to launch attacks in the west.

"We don't know if we've reached a tipping point yet. That's something were trying to get a focus on to get a feel for it," said Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence.

But he told lawmakers, "There are a number of positive signs."

McConnell pointed to the turnabout in Iraq's Al-Anbar province as the most dramatic example of Sunnis repudiating an Al-Qaeda affiliate with a resulting decline in sectarian violence.

Saudi Arabia's forceful response to extremist attacks in 2003 also has exerted pressure on Al-Qaeda and on the flow of donations to it from wealthy Arabs, he said.

"What we've noticed in the past year and two months is that Al-Qaeda has had difficulty in raising funds and sustaining itself," McConnell said.

General Michael Hayden, the CIA director, acknowledged that Muslim attitudes toward Al-Qaeda were "hard to measure."

But he pointed to a jihadist website's open invitation of questions for Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's number two, as a possible sign that its leaders are worried about eroding public support in the Muslim world.

"To have people like bin Laden and Zawahiri governing by fiat as to what true Islam is, now being forced into a rather open dialogue with the umma, the body of believers, I think it is a remarkable step, and I don't think reflective of overconfidence on the part of Al-Qaeda now," Hayden said.

McConnell said US intelligence has noted that several Salafist groups, a fundamentalist Muslim branch that emulates Mohammed and his early followers, have recently denounced Al-Qaeda's actions.

"So that is another sign for us that the billion Muslims that practice their faith as good citizens are not for Al-Qaeda and that it's the extremist branch," he said.

On the other hand, McConnell acknowledged that Al-Qaeda has had unprecedented success in uniting Muslim extremists through the Internet.

"If you're even thinking about this you can sit down and find a website and start having dialogue and be recruited.

"So we have seen the group that perseveres in the FATA reach from Morocco all the way across to Afghanistan," he said, referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan where Al-Qaeda has found sanctuary.

Nevertheless, McConnell said, "It's my belief that at some point society will disenfranchise that extremist element and we'll see a tipping point going back in the other direction."

[bth: the difficulty funding al-Qaeda is the only measurable item I see here.]

Report: Guard, Reserves using hardware their grandfathers used

The Raw Story | Report: Guard, Reserves using hardware their grandfathers used: "The final report of the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, released last week, warned that the United States is unprepared for natural disasters or terrorist attacks because the Guard and Reserves lack adequate training and equipment.

According to 13 News in Hampton Roads, VA, "The Commission on the Guard and Reserve says soldiers use hardware their grandfathers used, and that so much gear is in Iraq, nine out of ten units do not have what they need to do their jobs, so they cannot defend against a major attack here at home."

Units are even less combat-ready now than they were a year ago, when the Commission reported that 88% of units were unprepared for combat....

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Your turn: Streamline soldiers' medical data

St. Cloud Times | Opinion: "A few weeks ago, as I landed in Afghanistan during a nine-day visit to the Middle East and Central Asia, I saw Army engineers unloading some important cargo from the plane I'd traveled on: the first Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to arrive in Afghanistan.

Because an ambulance can't carry heavy armor the same way a Humvee can, injured soldiers in Afghanistan were being transported from the battlefield to the medic's station in vehicles that were insufficiently protected. The plane I hitched a ride on was carrying new MRAPs to serve as battlefield ambulances, ensuring that our soldiers get the best care possible from the moment they are injured.

The soldiers at Bagram Air Base were clearly excited to finally be getting their hands on these state-of-the-art vehicles for which they had been waiting. What wasn't so clear to me was why nearly 61/2 years after the war in Afghanistan began we are just now providing them with armored vehicles to serve as ambulances.

It occurred to me that the delivery of that MRAP was emblematic of the changes that are taking place within military health care: We have all the resources our injured soldiers need, but unacceptable delays and needless bureaucracy have made the recovery process longer than it should be.

My visit to Afghanistan was part of a longer trip, which also took me to Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait and Germany.

I traveled with two of my colleagues — a Democrat and Republican, as well as the surgeon general of the Army, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the military's health care system.

I went on this trip because I wanted to know the answer to two simple questions: What happens to a soldier who is injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, from the battlefield to their arrival at Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany? And what can Congress do to help support these brave Americans during their recovery?

The answers I received were surprising.

I learned that one of the best ways to ensure that every soldier and veteran gets timely, high-quality care for their injuries throughout their lives is to streamline the way we handle that soldier's medical records.

The coordinated effort that can transport a wounded soldier from the battlefield to the medical station to Kuwait and then to Germany in a manner of hours is nothing short of miraculous.

I met soldiers in Germany who were already on their way to recovery just hours after sustaining injuries.

But it does these soldiers no good if their doctors in Germany don't know how they were treated in Iraq, or if they are forced to wait for days or weeks for their medical records to catch up with them.

Transferring medical records from the combat zones in Iraq or Afghanistan to hospitals in Germany and the United States is a complex task that has improved significantly with the use of new technology. But after nine days of studying the health care system up close, it is clear to me that there is still no streamlined system in place to transfer the medical records of a wounded soldier to the doctor who may be treating them at any given moment.

For example, in Iraq, I met a doctor who had to use three separate computers and seven databases just to find one soldier's medical history.

This is more than just a waste of the doctor's valuable time. It is an unnecessary roadblock in that soldier's long road to recovery.

Now that I am home from my trip, I am looking forward to the House Veterans Affairs Committee addressing this important issue. I am committed to finding a solution to this problem

When I was in Iraq, I met with a group of soldiers from Minnesota and listened to their stories.

These brave soldiers are justly proud of their service to our country.

And they know that if — God forbid — they should be injured on the battlefield, their fellow soldiers will stop at nothing to ensure they are evacuated to safety.

The least we can do is make sure their medical records are with them every step of the way.

This is the opinion if U.S Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat who represents Minnesota's First District in the U.S. House.

[bth: I can tell you with first hand certainty that moving medical records from DOD to the VA is not a technical problem. It is a political one. I can also say with certainty that it can be fixed if there is the political will to do so. There is rarely an opportunity to reduce costs and improve services but electronic medical records is one of those opportunities. THis is true within DOD and the VA as well as the private sector.]

MountainRunner - MNF-I Video of Iraq and US forces rescuing kidnapped children in Dec 2007


Schneier on Security: Fourth Undersea Cable Failure in Middle East

Schneier on Security: Fourth Undersea Cable Failure in Middle East: "The first two affected India, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. The third one is between the UAE and Oman. The fourth one connected Qatar and the UAE. This one may not have been cut, but taken offline due to power issues.

The first three have been blamed on ships' anchors, but there is some dispute about that. And that's two in the Mediterranean and two in the Persian Gulf.

There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it's an awfully big coincidence. The fact that Iran has lost Internet connectivity only makes this weirder.

EDITED TO ADD (2/5): The International Herald Tribune has more. And a comment below questions whether Iran being offline has anything to do with this.

EDITED TO ADD (2/5): A fifth cut? What the hell is going on out there?

EDITED TO ADD (2/5): More commentary from Steve Bellovin.

EDITED TO ADD (2/5): Just to be clear: Iran is not offline. That was an untrue rumor; it was never true.

[bth: just as a note as of Feb 7 Iran is still shown as 100% off line. See this link for current status ]

Planned troop withdrawals won't bring much relief to U.S. military

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 02/06/2008 | Planned troop withdrawals won't bring much relief to U.S. military: "WASHINGTON — Top Defense Department officials testified Wednesday that the Bush administration's plan to withdraw some 20,000 U.S. troops from Iraq this summer will do little to relieve the stress on the Army and Marine Corps.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military was exhausted by the repeated deployments to Iraq.

Finding a way to reduce the amount of time troops are deployed to Iraq is critical, he said. Currently, soldiers are sent to Iraq for 15-month tours, and Marines serve seven-month stints, followed by seven months at home.

"The well is deep, but it is not infinite," Mullen said. "We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired."

Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appeared before the committee to discuss the administration's request for $588.3 billion in defense spending for the 2009 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

President Bush announced last year that the U.S. would reduce the number of American troops in Iraq by five combat brigades — about 20,000 people — during the first half of this year. U.S. troop strength in Iraq has hovered above 160,000 since June, when the military completed the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops as part of the so-called surge, which was intended to restore calm to Baghdad.

But security conditions will determine whether troop strength can be further reduced, officials have warned. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, is expected to report this spring whether there can be more troop reductions.

Mullen said he favored reducing the number of troops in Iraq "sooner rather than later" so that Iraq deployments could return to 12 months. But he said that decision hasn't been made.

Others at the Pentagon doubt that the U.S. will be able to reduce troop strength in Iraq to 100,000 for some time.

"We need some time to make an assessment" of the initial troop withdrawals, said a senior Pentagon official, who asked not to be named because he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue publicly. "We are not going to do a precipitous withdrawal again," he said, referring to past efforts to hand over security responsibility to Iraqi forces and withdraw U.S. troops.

Reducing U.S. troop strength to 10 combat brigades would hurt the United States' ability to conduct multiple operations in Iraq, said Jeffrey White, a military analyst at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a center-right policy institute.

The number of brigades could become a key issue in the presidential campaign, as that number will determine what kind of defense posture the next president can mount.

If the U.S. maintains 15 combat brigades in Iraq — the pre-surge troop presence — it won't be able to mount major military operations in places such as Iran, Afghanistan or North Korea, White said.

[bth: look for an announcement of a troop reduction in about August or September, but the actual reduction not to occur until after the November election. Troops levels have little to do with the situation on the ground - we'd have had more there years ago if it did - and has everything to do with setting the stage for the November election, then passing the hot potato to the new president.]

Order given to fire on Iranian speedboat, but it turned away: Mullen

The Raw Story | Order given to fire on Iranian speedboat, but it turned away: Mullen: "The commander of a US warship gave the order to fire on an approaching Iranian speedboat in the Strait of Hormuz last month but it turned away just in time, the US military chief said Wednesday.

No shots were fired during the incident which occurred January 6 when Iranian boats approached three US warships at high speed as they transited the strait at the mouth of the Gulf.

Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States wanted to a avoid any miscalculations but it had to rely on the judgments of its commanding officers.

"From my perspective there is wisdom in relying on their judgement, as we did the other day," he told the House Armed Services Committee.

One of the commanding officers "had literally given the order to fire and it turns out one of the fast boats turned about simultaneously," Mullen said.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates he issued a guidance to US forces shortly after taking office that they not provoke the Iranians.

"I wanted to make sure that we were not being provocative, and that we were operating well within the baselines, in terms both where aircraft were flying and also where our ships were steaming," Gates said.

At the same time, he said, "The Iranians can have no illusions about the consequences of trying to attack one of our ships."

[bth: there are a great many people that want an open war between the US and Iran.]

Bush 'kills' Freedom of Information Act compliance officer

The Raw Story | Bush 'kills' Freedom of Information Act compliance officer: "Buried on page A17 of Wednesday's Washington Post is a bit of a non-surprise: President George W. Bush has effectively killed a position monitoring compliance with government efforts to release documents.

Late last year, Washington watchdogs won over a reluctant President Bush, who agreed to sign a law enforcing better compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.

"But in his budget request this week," the Post's Elizabeth Williamson writes, "Bush proposed shifting a newly created ombudsman's position from the National Archives and Records Administration to the Department of Justice. Because the ombudsman would be the chief monitor of compliance with the new law, that move is akin to killing the critical function, some members of Congress and watchdog groups say."

"Justice represents the agencies when they're sued over FOIA . . . It doesn't make a lot of sense for them to be the mediator," staff lawyer for the National Security Archive Kristin Adair told the Post. The group has filed suit against the White House to force it to preserve e-mails relating to Iraq and the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame Bush's spokesman says may have been lost....

[bth: we are surrendering our rights without a fight.]

Adoption of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is 'unavoidable', says Archbishop of Canterbury

Adoption of Islamic Sharia law in Britain is 'unavoidable', says Archbishop of Canterbury | the Daily Mail: "The Archbishop of Canterbury has today said that the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is "unavoidable" and that it would help maintain social cohesion.

Rowan Williams told BBC Radio 4's World At One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

He says that Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

Dr Williams said there was a place for finding a "constructive accommodation" in areas such as marriage - allowing Muslim women to avoid Western divorce proceedings.

Other religions enjoyed such tolerance of their own laws, he pointed out, but stressed that it could never be allowed to take precedence over an individual's rights as a citizen.

He said it would also require a change in perception of what Sharia involved beyond the "inhumanity" of extreme punishments and attitudes to women seen in some Islamic states.

Dr Williams said: "It seems unavoidable and, as a matter of fact, certain conditions of Sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system.

"We already have in this country a number of situations in which the internal law of religious communities is recognised by the law of the land as justifying conscientious objections in certain circumstances."

He added: "There is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with aspects of other kinds of religious law. ...

[bth: its amazing how quickly we are willing to surrender the seperation of church and state. For what?]

Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest mother for sitting with a man

Religious police in Saudi Arabia arrest mother for sitting with a man - Times Online: "A 37-year-old American businesswoman and married mother of three is seeking justice after she was thrown in jail by Saudi Arabia's religious police for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks coffee shop in Riyadh.

Yara, who does not want her last name published for fear of retribution, was bruised and crying when she was freed from a day in prison after she was strip-searched, threatened and forced to sign false confessions by the Kingdom's “Mutaween” police.

Her story offers a rare first-hand glimpse of the discrimination faced by women living in Saudi Arabia. In her first interview with the foreign press, Yara told The Times that she would remain in Saudi Arabia to challenge its harsh enforcement of conservative Islam rather than return to America.

“If I want to make a difference I have to stick around. If I leave they win. I can't just surrender to the terrorist acts of these people,” said Yara, who moved to Jeddah eight years ago with her husband, a prominent businessman.

Her ordeal began with a routine visit to the new Riyadh offices of her finance company, where she is a managing partner.

The electricity temporarily cut out, so Yara and her colleagues — who are all men — went to a nearby Starbucks to use its wireless internet.

She sat in a curtained booth with her business partner in the cafĂ©'s “family” area, the only seats where men and women are allowed to mix.

For Yara, it was a matter of convenience. But in Saudi Arabia, public contact between unrelated men and women is strictly prohibited.

“Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked ‘Why are you here together?'. I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin,” recalled Yara, who wears an abaya and headscarf, like most Saudi women.

The men were from Saudi Arabia's Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, a police force of several thousand men charged with enforcing dress codes, sex segregation and the observance of prayers.

Yara, whose parents are Jordanian and grew up in Salt Lake City, once believed that life in Saudi Arabia was becoming more liberal. But on Monday the religious police took her mobile phone, pushed her into a cab and drove her to Malaz prison in Riyadh. She was interrogated, strip-searched and forced to sign and fingerprint a series of confessions pleading guilty to her “crime”.

“They took me into a filthy bathroom, full of water and dirt. They made me take off my clothes and squat and they threw my clothes in this slush and made me put them back on,” she said. Eventually she was taken before a judge.

“He said 'You are sinful and you are going to burn in hell'. I told him I was sorry. I was very submissive. I had given up. I felt hopeless,” she said.

Yara's husband, Hatim, used his political contacts in Jeddah to track her whereabouts. He was able to secure her release.

“I was lucky. I met other women in that prison who don't have the connections I did,” she said. Her story has received rare coverage in Saudi Arabia, where the press has been sharply critical of the police.

Yara was visited yesterday by officials from the American Embassy, who promised they would file a report.

An embassy official told The Times that it was being treated as “an internal Saudi matter” and refused to comment on her case.

Tough justice

— Saudi Arabia’s Mutaween has 10,000 members in almost 500 offices

— Ahmad al-Bluwi, 50, died in custody in 2007 in the city of Tabuk after he invited a woman outside his immediate family into his car

— In 2007 the victim of a gang rape was sentenced to 200 lashes and six years in jail for having been in an unrelated man’s car at the time. She was pardoned by King Abdullah, although he maintained the sentence had been fair

[bth: I wish we saw some protest or coverage from Fox or CNN but then that would require a real journalist and some guts not a news agency that licks the boots of those in power. I wish we saw a statement of protest from NOW but then that would require courage. Or the State Department. I wish we saw some statement from 'moderate' muslims but then that would require courage and some modern enlightenment.... So many wishes. So little courage. Once Ghandi was arrested for riding a train, blacks were arrested at lunch counters and thrown off buses and beaten for seeking fair treatment. Courage is a rare trait. In the meantime, women will be beaten, humilated, raped and horribly repressed under the guise of religion and cultural diversity.]

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Senator Kennedy On FISA Veto Threat

Senator Kennedy On FISA Veto Threat | All American Patriots: "February 5, 2008 -- WASHINGTON, DC— Today, Senator Edward M. Kennedy released the following statement in response to the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence threatening a veto of the FISA bill.

“This most recent veto threat by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence reveals the shamelessness of the Administration’s approach to FISA reform.

The President has repeatedly said that Americans lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not make major changes to FISA.

But he has once again vowed to veto any FISA bill that does not grant retroactive immunity. So if we take him at his word, the President is willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.

That is a position that should outrage every American.

The President’s insistence on immunity as a precondition for any FISA reform is yet another example of his contempt for honest dialogue and for the rule of law.”

Source: Senator Ted Kennedy

Welcome To Red State Update with Jackie Broyles and Dunlap - Super Tuesday

Welcome To Red State Update with Jackie Broyles and Dunlap
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Forces to lease long-range UAVs

Forces to lease long-range UAVs: The Canadian Forces will lease unmanned aerial vehicles for the Afghanistan mission and is in discussions with the U.S. government for early delivery of Chinook helicopters.

The two initiatives were quietly under way before the Manley report detailed them last week as a condition for continuation of the Afghan mission. Such equipment is seen by military leaders as vital in reducing the number of Canadian casualties, particularly from roadside bombs.

Details of the lease of long-range tactical UAVs to replace the existing Sperwer drones in Afghanistan is expected to be released to the defence industry in a month or so, according to industry officials.

Attempts to convince the U.S. military to divert some of its own order of Chinook helicopters for immediate Canadian use is ongoing and Canadian defence officials want to take their case for that right up to U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

The demand for Chinooks from the U.S. military and allied nations is high and the Boeing assembly line is producing the choppers as fast as it can. The largest order is for more than 450 Chinooks for the U.S. army, which has priority over other nations.

The Harper government announced in the summer of 2006 that it would purchase 16 Chinooks, but discussions for that helicopter deal have dragged on and a contract has yet to be signed. Even when it is signed later this year, delivery of the helicopters isn't expected until around 2011.

Last year, the air force recommended the purchase of the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle for use in Afghanistan, but members of the Harper cabinet derailed that proposal, citing concerns that yet another large-scale defence contract would be awarded to a U.S. firm. Because of that, Canadian air force officials have now come up with a plan to lease UAVs for Kandahar.

The Canadian Forces currently uses the Sperwer UAV in Afghanistan, but those are limited in how long and far they can fly.

Kimberly Kasitz, a spokeswoman for the U.S.-based Predator manufacturer, General Atomics, said the company is waiting to see the how the Canadian government structures the lease proposal before deciding if it will bid. "We're anxiously awaiting the (proposal) and we'll make a determination once we go through it," she said.

"In general, we try to stay away from leases," she added....

[bth: years of underinvestment into military equipment is taking its toll on the US and in particular its NATO allies.]
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Russian arms exports to China in collapse

Naval Open Source INTelligence: "Russia's arms industry is suffering a near collapse in exports to China, as military top brass agonise over which technology the neighbouring country should be allowed, defence industry sources told Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper.

The sources said that Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov would visit China to try to resolve problems in this key relationship before President Vladimir Putin's final term ends in May.

From a situation where 40 pct of Russian earnings from arms exports came from China, 'recently exports to China of our military equipment and weapons have dropped almost to zero,' the paper said.
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Funeral protest lawsuit: Westboro Baptist Church to pay $5M, not $10.9M

Evening Sun - Funeral protest lawsuit: Westboro Baptist Church to pay $5M, not $10.9M: "Maryland District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett rejected the post-trial motions of the Rev. Fred Phelps, two of his daughters and his Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church on Monday but did cut the federal jury award to the father of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder from $10.9 million to $5 million.

In his 55-page opinion and order, Bennett affirmed the jury's verdicts against Phelps, the church, Shirley Phelps-Roper and Rebekah Phelps-Davis for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress.

In October, the jury awarded Albert Snyder, a Spring Garden Township resident, $2.9 million in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages for the church members' actions at his son's funeral in Westminster, Md., in 2006.

On Monday, Bennett ordered the compensatory damages to stand while reducing the punitive damages to $2.1 million. Bennett explained his decision partially resulted from the defendants' ability to pay the lesser amount.

Sean Summers, the York lawyer who represented Albert Snyder

[bth: having seen first hand Westboro Baptist Church's congregation in action, I saw only hate and proponents of hate. Judge the tree by the fruit it bears.]
Naval Open Source INTelligence

Unfit army feels the strain

Unfit army feels the strain | The Sun |HomePage|News: "BRITISH forces are in danger of being unable to fulfil their commitments because of unfitness in the ranks.

Figures given by the Ministry of Defence showed 10 battalions recently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan left behind around 400 personnel who were "physically unfit to deploy" - about one in 14 of the number who went.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, who obtained the figures through parliamentary questions, said that if the pattern was repeated across the whole Army, as many as 7,000 infantrymen could be unfit to deploy.

With the Army already 3,800 short of its desired manning level, he said the number available for operations may be little more than 90,000 out of a required total of 101,800.

Mr Mercer, a former infantry commander, said: "This is an albatross that hangs over commanding officers' heads.

"In times of peace it is fine, but in war it is a complete and utter liability.

"The MoD say they are 4,000 below strength but the truth is that there are two brigades' worth of long-term sick who cannot deploy and are simply a liability."

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The use of elements from a number of battalions is not new and the current deployment of 52 Brigade contains forces from four infantry battalions and two other battalions.

"Details of individual units programmed to deploy will be announced shortly. Battle casualty replacements are provided as and when required by the chain of command."

[bth: Britain's army is virtually disappearing. It is too small to be very effective.]
Naval Open Source INTelligence

Leaked Report | British Army | Run out of machine guns

Leaked Report | British Army | Run out of machine guns | The Sun |HomePage|News: "THE Army has run out of machine guns, The Sun can reveal.

The crisis is unlikely to be solved before JUNE, a leaked report reveals.

British troops “desperately” need 400 of the jumbo 0.5in calibre heavy machine guns – the weapon most acutely missed.

The Army has also run out of the 7.62mm GPMG and Minimis

Supply has collapsed partly because of a dispute with the manufacturers, Manroy – which also provides weapons to Saudi Arabia.

The leaked report – prepared for the Army’s command centre in Wilton, Wilts – reveals that generals have urged the Ministry of Defence “to prevent Manroy delivering Saudi weapons ahead of our requirement”.

Generals asked the US to help but were snubbed by the Pentagon – who have dubbed British colleagues “The Borrowers”.

The report says: “We are trying to get 400 guns transferred from the US. However, the material was provided by US DoD and they are not prepared to release them. MoD-level engagement is needed to try and get these released.”

The crisis is having a crippling effect on training in the UK – with all available spares being rushed to war zones.

Almost HALF the Minimi Light Machine Guns used at Catterick and Brecon are also out of commission.

The report adds: “The original spares package was inadequate and usage has been far above that expected. As a result stocks are very fragile.”

Tory MP and ex-Army officer Patrick Mercer said last night: “Thank God the Army have still got their bayonets – it looks like they may be all they’ll have left. This could have been dealt with months ago.

“Yet again, our fighting men are being imperilled by MoD incompetence.”

Last night an MoD spokeswoman insisted: “We have enough guns for operations.

“We recognised a need to increase overall supply and took steps to address this.”

Pentagon seeks money for unmanned drones

Pentagon seeks money for unmanned drones: "When a missile fired from a U.S. Predator killed a top al-Qaida leader last week it underscored the warfighting power of unmanned aircraft, which are being considered for even greater use in Afghanistan and would consume at least $3.4 billion in the Pentagon's 2009 proposed budget.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be traveling to a meeting of NATO defense ministers this week to discuss military needs in Afghanistan, which include more such eyes-in-the sky. And Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that the demand for intelligence-gathering aircraft there, as well as in Iraq, "has never been higher."

According to military officials and budget documents, the Pentagon's spending proposal would buy more of the larger, costlier and deadlier Air Force Predators and Reapers than in the current budget year. The hunter-killer drones are armed with missiles and can also rapidly relay photos and video to troops on the ground.

Early last week, Abu Laith al-Libi - a key al-Qaida leader - was killed when a Predator fired on a suspected terrorist safehouse in Pakistan's north Waziristan region. Predators, which are used by the Air Force and the CIA, are armed with Hellfire anti-tank missiles. Officials have not confirmed whose Predator struck al-Libi, although all signs point to the CIA.

Overall, the Defense Department is asking for $2.6 billion in its base budget for a variety of drones for the Air Force, Army and Marines. Also, the Navy is looking for at least $800 million for continuing research and development, particularly regarding drones that can take off and land vertically from its ships.

The Pentagon also has a pending request for $460 million in emergency war funding for unmanned aircraft that has yet to be approved by Congress. That money is not included in the 2009 budget proposal, but in a supplemental request. The 2008 budget included about $2.3 billion for drones....

Manufacturer in $2 Million Accord With U.S. on Deficient Kevlar in Military Helmets

Manufacturer in $2 Million Accord With U.S. on Deficient Kevlar in Military Helmets - New York Times: "A North Dakota manufacturer has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a suit saying it had repeatedly shortchanged the armor in up to 2.2 million helmets for the military, including those for the first troops sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twelve days before the settlement with the Justice Department was announced, the company, Sioux Manufacturing of Fort Totten, was given a new contract of up to $74 million to make more armor for helmets to replace the old ones, which were made from the late 1980s to last year.

Sioux upgraded its looms in 2006, company executives say, and the government says it has started inspections at the plant.

The United States attorney for North Dakota, Drew H. Wrigley, called the accord “an appropriate resolution” because the Defense Department had said that 200 sample helmets passed ballistic tests and that it “has no information of injuries or deaths due to inadequate Pasgt helmet protection.”

Pasgt, pronounced “pass-get,” stands for the Personal Armor System for Ground Troops, which includes the helmet model being replaced.

At the core of the investigation was the contention by two former plant managers that Kevlar woven at Sioux failed to meet the government’s “critical” minimum standard of 35 by 35 threads a square inch.

When properly woven, Kevlar, a polymer thread made by Dupont, is stronger than steel, and able to deflect shrapnel and some bullets. Government regulations call for rejecting Kevlar below the 35-by-35 standard.

The company “was underweaving,” Mr. Wrigley said.

“That is undebatable,” he said.

The factory’s own inspection records often showed weaves of 34 by 34 threads or as low as 32 by 34 and 33 by 34. Looms were “always set for 34 by 34, always,” said Jeff Kenner, who operated and repaired the looms and oversaw crews on all three shifts.

In a statement, the company president, Carl R. McKay, denied “any and all of the allegations originally brought to the attention of the Department of Justice by disgruntled ex-employees.”

Settling the case, United States v. Spirit Lake Tribe, filed in Federal District Court in Fargo, Mr. McKay said, was “a prudent business decision” to avoid legal costs and “should not be construed as an admission of wrongdoing.”

The potential harm is difficult to judge. Helmet damage depends on the projectile. Whether a damaged helmet would hold up better with a tighter weave is hard to calculate, experts said.

“You must have a certain amount of protection, and you can’t go below that,” said Gwynedd A. Thomas, associate professor of ballistics and protective fabrics at Auburn University.

Although the difference between 34 and 35 threads a square inch seems modest, the cumulative loss in layers of fabric is significant, Dr. Thomas said.

Every time that you’re losing some mass, you’re losing some integrity,” she said.

The strength comes from crossed yarns, the points that disperse projectile impact. “The fewer crossovers, the less energy dissipation you’re going to have,” she added.

A 34-by-34 weave results in 5 percent fewer crossovers than 35 by 35, a difference Dr. Thomas called “quite a lot.”

“I’m surprised somebody is not pursuing that more vigorously from the government,” she added. Were she a soldier’s parent, she said, “I would want to give my son a better helmet.”

The $2 million settlement is far short of what the two former managers, Mr. Kenner and Tamra Elshaug, hoped for in 2006 when they filed a whistle-blower suit. The suit, for $159 million in damages, accused the company of defrauding the government and violating safety standards.

“I think they got away with it,” said Mr. Kenner, who worked at Sioux for 20 years and was the weaving supervisor. “Sioux Manufacturing basically got a slap on the wrist,” he said. “The Justice Department did a really good job, but the Department of Defense is really just downplaying this. They’re embarrassed and want it to go away and would not admit to anybody’s getting hurt or even killed.”

Mr. Kenner and Ms. Elshaug’s lawyer, Andrew J. Campanelli, challenged Defense Department contentions that it was unaware of injuries from defective helmets. “There are tons of injuries with shrapnel and bullets going through helmets,” he said. “My clients documented that American soldiers did not get the protection that the government paid for, that the taxpayers paid for.”

In the evidence in the suit were hundreds of daily inspection records showing repeated violations of the weaving standards, as well as tape recordings of six managers and employees’ admitting covering up violations.

In a conversation Mr. Kenner secretly taped, Rhea Crane, quality assurance officer, worried “if we ever had someone get killed, and they decided to investigate because they thought maybe the helmet wasn’t any good.”

“If we ever got audited,” she said, “you know what they would do to us. Shut us down and fine us big time. Probably never see another government contract.”

Ms. Crane did not return repeated calls for comment.

Justice Department officials said some Sioux records listed looms with 35-by-35 counts, with a few at 36. Dr. Thomas agreed looms could be adjusted to do so.

Mr. Kenner and Ms. Elshaug, who worked at the plant for 26 years and was in charge of buying Kevlar, say thread counts were routinely rounded up to reach the 35-by-35 minimum.

The papers in the suit showed a Kevlar surplus of up to 30,000 pounds and a resin shortage. Extra resin was applied to the Kevlar to bring it up to a specified weight, the former employees said.

Extra resin also poses a hazard to soldiers, Dr. Thomas said, adding, “If they were putting more resin in, they were doing something that will hurt soldiers, because it reduces elasticity and increases brittleness.”

Mr. Kenner said, according to the suit, that when he asked Mr. McKay about the violations, he responded: “That is the way we are going to weave it. Don’t you worry about it.”

Mr. McKay did not respond to e-mail and phone messages.

Despite excellent job ratings, Mr. Kenner and Ms. Elshaug were fired after protesting the violations. Mr. Campanelli will share part of the settlement totaling $406,350. There is no further legal recourse, he added.

Soldiers generally cannot sue the government. And Sioux is owned by an Indian tribe, the Spirit Lake Nation, that can, he said, assert sovereign immunity against private suits.

The company also benefits from a 5 percent federal incentive program for Indian contractors and preferences for disadvantaged small businesses.

Ms. Elshaug and Mr. Kenner said they did not regret suing. “It was never about the money,” he said. “It was about the soldiers. I’m still shocked. I wouldn’t be wearing one of those helmets.”

[bth: Sorry rat bastards. No one is held to account. How many died or have brain injuries because of these fuckers. And instead of addressing the problem, the DOD let it slide.]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

US Intel: al-Qaida May Move Outside Iraq

US Intel: al-Qaida May Move Outside Iraq | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited: "Al -Qaida, increasingly shut down in Iraq, is establishing cells in other countries as Osama bin Laden's organization uses a ``safe haven'' in Pakistan's tribal region to train for attacks in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa and the United States, the U.S. intelligence chief said Tuesday.

``Al-Qaida remains the pre-eminent threat against the United States,'' Mike McConnell told a Senate hearing more than six years after the 9/11 attacks.

He said that fewer than 100 al-Qaida terrorists have moved from Iraq to establish cells in other countries as the U.S. military clamps down on their activities, and ``they may deploy resources to mount attacks outside the country.''

The al-Qaida network in Iraq and in Pakistan and Afghanistan has suffered setbacks, but he said the group poses a persistent and growing danger. He said that al-Qaida maintains a ``safe haven'' in Pakistan's tribal areas, where it is able to stage attacks supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani tribal areas provide al-Qaida ``many of the advantages it once derived from its base across the border in Afghanistan, albeit on a smaller and less secure scale,'' allowing militants to train for strikes in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa and the United States, McConnell said.

Terrorists use the ``sanctuary'' of Pakistan's border area to ``maintain a cadre of skilled lieutenants capable of directing the organization's operations around the world,'' McConnell told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The next attack on the United States will most likely be launched by al-Qaida operating in ``under-governed regions'' of Pakistan, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, planned to tell Congress on Wednesday. ...

Prince Andrew rebukes US on Iraq

BBC NEWS | UK | Prince Andrew rebukes US on Iraq: "The Duke of York has criticised the US administration for failing to listen to advice from Britain on how to avoid problems following the war in Iraq.
Prince Andrew said the war had led to a "healthy scepticism" in Britain towards what was said in Washington.

The duke made the comments in an interview with the International Herald Tribune ahead of a 10-day trip to promote British business in the US.

He said the US should have learned lessons from British colonial history. ...

[bth: humm, maybe because Britain lost all its colonies, got chased out of Basra, made a failed appeasement deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan and has degraded as a military force to virtual insignificance?]

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: We wuzn't fooled, or something...

Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008: We wuzn't fooled, or something...: "I have been puzzling for some time over the issue of how the Army's leadership deals psychologically with having:

- Forgotten after Vietnam everything that we had learned the hard way about irregular/counterinsurgency warfare.

- Justified to itself its extremely slow adaptive process to the evident phenomenon of massive insurgencies employing asymmetric tactics.

My assumption about the first subject has been that the Army's well established predilection for attritional tactics and heavy maneuver forces caused it to return to that model of warfare as soon as it could after VN. This tendency in the US Army has been evident since the American Civil war and is probably related to the manner of the North's victory. The second seems more difficult to understand since four or five years have elapsed and only slowly has the Army shown an ability to adapt.

I have now heard enough from those who can only be described as present Army leaders to reach the following tentative conclusions.

- The argument made by them is that force structure and doctrine are "threat" driven and that after VN their perception was that the main threat remained that of the Warsaw Pact and therefore they were duty bound to concentrate on that and to ignore whatever minor threats might exist in the world of irregular warfare.

This seems a doubtful argument since there were secondary or even tertiary threats before, during and after the VN War. The Army had managed to deal with these lesser threats then, why not after the VN War.

- The leadership's response to the question of why it has taken them so long to change is that they recognized early on that this was a "new" kind of enemy fighting a "new" kind of war. At the same time they say that they consider the pace at which they have changed is normal within the system they have established for "managing" change and that their is no reason for criticizing them for change which is now coming into effect.

I have looked at the Defense Department and Army's system for managing change. It is extremely bureaucratic, laden with layers of minutia driven papers, experiments and boards. I suspect that the distributions of personality types which I used to see in the Army's more senior officers prevails throughout. The senior ranks are typically dominated by people who are extremely good at solving problems within accepted parameters but extremely poor in imagining paradigm changes. Typically, the people involved in managing change approach "change" as a mysterious thing, not easily imagined in the absence of tangible evidence and to be feared. GHW Bush said he was not good at "the vision thing." Neither are most of these folks.

Consequently they approach change as an engineering problem. By their "lights," they are correct. Their system is now producing change at a rate they are comfortable with. pl

[bth: the current army leadership would have lost WWII. Slow to adapt, slow to innovate, slow to procure - too little too late.]