Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Raw Story | Iraq war architect blames Powell for Iraq

The Raw Story | Iraq war architect blames Powell for Iraq: "Blames"Powell, Armitage, Bremer, Rumsfeld, Rice
The man who led the office that supplied the Bush Administration with "raw intelligence" on Iraq now says everyone else is to blame but himself.

Douglas Feith, President Bush's former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, headed the Office of Special Plans, a secretive outfit which passed along unverified "alternative" intelligence to Administration decisionmakers in the run up to war.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the Office "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers."

In other words, they passed on "intelligence" that was never vetted, much of which appeared to align with a hawkish Administration agenda.

On Thursday, Feith pointed his finger at everyone but himself regarding the war in Iraq. According to the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, at a book-launch party for his new book, "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism," Feith blamed a laundry list of officials for failing "to challenge the logic of going to war."

Blames Bush, too
"He argued that former secretary of state Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, were the ones who failed to challenge the logic of going to war -- not him," Milbank wrote. "He suggested that Powell, Armitage, Franks, former Iraq viceroy Jerry Bremer and even Feith's old boss, Donald Rumsfeld, should be blamed for the postwar chaos in Iraq -- not him. He blamed then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice for the way she operated ("fundamental differences were essentially papered over rather than resolved"). He accused the CIA of "improper" and unprofessional behavior. And he implicitly blamed President Bush for not cracking down on insubordinate behavior at the State Department."

"Yet at the same time, Feith told the... crowd that he disapproved of the "snide and shallow self-justification typical in memoirs of former officials," or what Feith cleverly called the " 'I-was-surrounded-by-idiots' school of memoir writing," Milbank continues. "Feith pointed out that he supported his account with 140 pages of notes and documents. And yet, in his hour-long panel discussion, Feith seemed to be of the impression that he had, in fact, been surrounded by idiots."

Feith himself hasn't escaped accusations that he was aloof during his time at his Office of Special Plans.

According to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack, then- Secretary of State Colin Powell referred to the Office as the "Gestapo" office. Former CIA director George Tenet called his work "total crap."

When Feith stepped in to back recruiting a brigade of "Free Iraqi Forces" to enter Iraq with Americans, according to the book Cobra II, "Franks turned to Feith in a Pentagon corridor, letting him know where he stood: 'I don't have time for this fucking bullshit."

During his book launch party, Feith ironically remarked, "The CIA and the intelligence community should not be shading intelligence."

Milbank notes that Feith has been out of touch. Vaunting his book on "60 Minutes," Feith asserted the Administration didn't need to claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction to invade.

"Pointing so many fingers in so many directions, a man is bound to get confused -- as happened when Steve Kroft asked him on "60 Minutes" about his claim that the lack of troops contributed to looting in Baghdad," he adds. "'I don't believe I raised the troop-level issue in that connection," Feith replied. Then Kroft presented him with the passage. "That's a fair point,' Feith amended."

Remarked Milbank wryly, "It must have been very difficult being Doug Feith: correct all the time, and surrounded by idiots."

[bth: incompetent traitor]

The Raw Story | Bill seeks to jack soldiers' 'off time' reading materials

The Raw Story | Bill seeks to jack soldiers' 'off time' reading materials:... "Rep"Broun has introduced H.R. 5821, also known as the Military Honor and Decency Act, which would close what he calls a loophole that allows the continued distribution of pornography to soldiers, to their moral detriment, with the help of taxpayer funds.

"As a Marine, I am deeply concerned for the welfare of our troops and their mission," Broun said on April 17. "Allowing the sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by: escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes; feeding a base addiction; eroding the family as the primary building block of society; and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad. Our troops should not see their honor sullied so that the moguls behind magazines like Playboy and Penthouse can profit. The ‘Military Honor and Decency Act’ will right a bureaucratic--and moral--wrong."

"We're asking these people to risk their lives to defend our Constitution's principles," said law school professor and ACLU head Nadine Strossen to USA Today last November, "and they're being denied their own First Amendment rights to choose what they read."

"Let me get this straight," The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen added. "U.S. troops are fighting two wars, neither of which are going well, and the American Family Association’s biggest concern is what kind of magazines the troops can purchase on base?

"Here’s a radical idea: maybe those who wear the uniform and put their lives on the line for their country should be able to read whatever they want."

The text of H.R. 5821, introduced on April 16, can be viewed at this link.

[bth: obscene is attacking Iraq without defeating al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, lying and torturing. Amazing that Penthouse and Playboy are objectionable in this environment.]

Spinwatch - Propaganda at home

Spinwatch - Propaganda at home: "ANYONE"who has watched the military analysts hired by TV networks has heard rosy assessments of the war in Iraq. The similarities between their judgments and the Pentagon's are not coincidental. As The New York Times demonstrated by suing the Pentagon to obtain 8,000 pages of documents, those analysts were enlisted by the Defense Department in a psychological warfare operation targeting the domestic audience. And, as the newspaper reported Sunday, many of the retired military officers appearing on news shows were using their access to the Pentagon and the airwaves to procure lucrative contracts for some 150 defense contractors, which employed them as consultants, board members, lobbyists, or executives.

This is no subtle attempt to influence public opinion. It is a government program to corrupt the free flow of information that serves, in a healthy democracy, to inoculate the public against official lies, bad policy, and misbegotten wars.

One straightforward corrective would be for TV news executives to require full disclosure of their analysts' business interests as well as their contacts and junkets with military and government officials. Ideally, the television news shows would not have to rely on paid outside experts. They should trust their own reporters to gather news from disparate sources, and to interview former and serving officers who can offer informed commentary from diverse viewpoints.

During the current Iraq war, a number of former military figures have criticized the Bush administration's decisions. Yet as the Times report shows, former President Dwight Eisenhower's famous anxiety about what he called the "military-industrial complex" still applies. The Times recounted how former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld invited some of the avid TV military analysts to meet with him in April 2006, when he had come under fire from a group of recently retired generals who castigated his stewardship of the war. Acting as his personal propaganda team, they fanned out to the networks and cable channels to assure Americans that there was great progress to celebrate in Iraq.

This is a tactic more suitable for Vladimir Putin's Russia. In fact, the Pentagon's manipulation of the media has been more deft than the Kremlin's because it was better hidden.

In the end, the government's disguised lies have done more damage to American democracy and the national interest than to any foreign enemy. History's epitaph for the Pentagon's psywar operation will be: "We fooled ourselves."

Spinwatch - Pentagon Propaganda & Antiwar Analysts

Spinwatch - Pentagon Propaganda & Antiwar Analysts: "The"Sunday Times' article detailing the massive, secret coordinated campaign by the Pentagon and all the leading television news channels to sell and defend the administration's Iraq policy is a critical piece of investigative journalism. David Barstow provided meticulous and aggressive reporting, even referencing how The Times'amplified Pentagon "surrogates" without sufficient disclosure for readers. The Times also deserves credit, both for running the lengthy piece and suing the government to obtain related documents. (Read the whole thing here, or try this YouTube excerpt.)

The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel is urging Congress to investigate the program exposed by the article:

In its rigorous documentation of the relationship between the government, the networks and retired military analysts, the lineaments of the corrosive structure and impact of a new military-media-industrial complex are exposed. This corrupt complex demands investigation by all relevant Congressional committees...
Glenn Greenwald, who has written extensively about the media's pro-war bias and undisclosed conflicts of interest, flags the galling (non)-response of several news organizations, near the end of the article:

The most incredible aspect of the NYT story is that most of the news organizations which deceived their readers and viewers by using these "objective" analysts -- CBS, NBC, Fox -- simply refused to comment on what they knew about any of this or what their procedures are for safeguarding against it. Just ponder what that says about these organizations -- there is a major expose in the NYT documenting that these news outlets misleadingly shoveled government propaganda down the throats of their viewers on matters of war and terrorism and they don't feel the least bit obliged to answer for what they did or knew about any of it.... The single most significant factor in American political culture is the incestuous, extensive overlap between our media institutions and government officials.
The article reports that most of the news organizations either didn't know or didn't care about their paid analysts taking direction from the administration while claiming to neutrally assess its policies; or taking expensive trips paid by the administration; or meeting secretly with senior administration officials and plotting military or political strategy; or competing for military contracts.

So what does it take to disqualify a former general from on-air analysis?

Criticizing President Bush.

While the article does not cover this incident, CBS did fire Maj. Gen. John Batiste (Ret.) for criticizing President Bush's Iraq policy in a television ad. As the former commander of the Army's First Infantry Division, which was deployed to Iraq in 2003, Batiste had unassailable credentials, but his views were too much for CBS. This larger context is key, because while the Times exposed a sophisticated, deceptive domestic propaganda campaign for the administration, the flip-side is harder to document. But antiwar perspectives are routinely marginalized or scrubbed from televised debate, even when offered by our nation's brave military leaders.

As ABC News was reminded last week, the public expects more integrity and substance from these news organizations. They are egregiously late in even commenting on these new reports, let alone reforming their policies, which demonstrates why Congress must investigate this propaganda program -- and the marginalization of experts who are critical of the war or the government

[bth: what I've come to learn about state run propaganda and its interaction with main stream media is that it is as much about what isn't reported as what is. State run propaganda in the US is about not reporting important news and flooding the airwaves about stupid stuff like presidential candidates' pledge pins and pantsuits while ignoring body armor and corruption.]

Spinwatch - Is the tide turning? Are journalists who make it up finding even fewer hiding places?

Spinwatch - Is the tide turning? Are journalists who make it up finding even fewer hiding places?: "It"was modestly put but heartfelt nonetheless: bloggers believe that crap journalists are finally feeling the heat.

When a trio of celebrated bloggers were brought together by the Adam Smith Institute (16.4.2008) they were united in their belief that the collective strength of the new media was helping to start to improve the quality and accuracy of the main stream providers of news and information.

“Curbing the crap artists” was the ambitious claim of the organisers and each of the three speakers -- Tim Worstall, Guido Fawkes and Perry de Havilland -- had to explain why they believed the blogosphere could play its part in redefining the media, politicians and business.

Tim Worstall claimed an impressive tally of scalps and took great delight in having corrected even journalists as well known as Polly Toynbee and George Monbiot of the Guardian and Will Hutton of the Observer.

“Bloggers are taking the information which journalists such as these present to the public and then questioning it. Even if we only have a small audience for our blogs we are changing the world for the better because we are exposing the errors of the main stream media.”

“Bloggers are a vital part of an information revolution and collectively we will always be better informed than any one individual journalist writing a newspaper article. We know when a journalist has got it wrong and we can point that out. The market place of ideas will sift and find the truth and that is the value of bloggers to a broader society.”

Perry de Havilland ( thought the success of the new media was that it had changed the nature of information and the way it was handled. The impact on crap journalists, politicians and businesses was that it “makes the crap harder to hide” when they get it wrong.

[bth: blogs hand a megaphone to anyone. How that megaphone is used, for truth, for lies, for state run propaganda, for grass roots activism is the issue. Blogs are a tool, like a knife, for good or evil. We will decide.]

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats - New York Times

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats - New York Times: "When"Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Meter is Running Pt. 1 | The Daily Show | Comedy Central

Home Depot Honors Fallen Soldiers With Great Prices On Tools | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Home Depot Honors Fallen Soldiers With Great Prices On Tools

Former President Carter To Be Tried For Peace Crimes | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Former President Carter To Be Tried For Peace Crimes The Onion - America's Finest News Source GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—An international peace-crimes tribunal commenced legal proceedings against former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for alleged crimes against inhumanity Monday.
"Jimmy Carter's political career includes a laundry list of anti-war-making offenses," said chief prosecutor Charles B. Simmons. "Carter's record of benevolence, diplomacy, and respect for human life is unrivaled in recent geopolitical history. For millions, the very sight of his face evokes memories of his administration's reign of tolerance."

"Jimmy Carter's political career includes a laundry list of anti-war-making offenses," said chief prosecutor Charles B. Simmons. "Carter's record of benevolence, diplomacy, and respect for human life is unrivaled in recent geopolitical history. For millions, the very sight of his face evokes memories of his administration's reign of tolerance." ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Saudi Arabia: Unprecedented Nationwide Survey

What's NewSaudi Arabia, birthplace of Islam, home to its holiest places, and also home country of Osama Bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11 terrorists. Yet, Bin Laden’s fellow countrymen have dramatically turned against him, his organization of Al Qaeda, Saudi fighters in Iraq, and terrorism itself. And they have also equally dramatically turned in favor of Bin Laden’s chief enemy: The United States of America. The people of Saudi Arabia are now among the most pro-American and anti-terrorist of any in the entire Muslim world.

For TFT’s full survey report, click here. For the Christian Science Monitor, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and other articles, click here.

China down to 12 days of coal stocks - earth - 23 April 2008 - New Scientist Environment

China down to 12 days of coal stocks - earth - 23 April 2008 - New Scientist Environment: "China's"booming economy could be running out of steam – literally.

At the end of a cold and stormy winter, the country has just 12 days of coal reserves at most power stations. Some provinces, including Hebei, bordering Beijing, have less than a week's coal left. This is a record low, the state electricity regulatory commission revealed on Tuesday.

China relies on burning coal for 70% of its electricity. Even though Chinese coal production in the first quarter of this year was up almost 15% on the same period last year, it has apparently not been enough to meet rapidly growing demand.

Coal imports, which started last year, have also failed to meet the difference between supply and demand. Such is the demand for power from an economy that has been growing by 10% a year for more than two decades.

Coal-fired growth
The International Energy Agency says China increased capacity at coal-fired power stations by 100 gigawatts in 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available.

It is often claimed that China builds a new coal-fired power plant once a week but the IEA figure suggests that it in fact builds two, assuming a typical plant size of one gigawatt.

Even that is not enough to meet soaring demand. The deputy head of the Chinese electricity regulatory commission, Wang Yeping, said the country is likely to be short of 10 gigawatts of electricity generating capacity by this summer.

Power shortages
That will cause brownouts and power shortages, particularly in southern provinces such as Guangdong, where the spread of air conditioning systems is competing with industry for power.

The coal mining industry, and the rail network needed to bring the coal to the power plants, are both struggling to keep up with the drive to build ever more generating capacity. The strains raise questions about how much longer China's breakneck industrialisation can continue.

Last year, by most calculations, China exceeded the US to become the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter – though its emissions per head of population remain far lower. Both countries are heavily reliant on coal for their power, which produces more CO2 per unit of energy than other major fossil fuels

[bth: an amazing vulnerability from a military perspective.]

YouTube - Creating New Investors in Kenya

YouTube - Creating New Investors in Kenya: ""

Tell Congresss: Investigate the Propaganda Pundits

RAF bomber destroyed £10m spy plane to stop Taliban discovering its secrets

Naval Open Source INTelligence: "An"RAF bomber deliberately destroyed a £10million British spy plane to prevent terrorists accessing its secrets.

The unmanned surveillance system, the Reaper UAV, crash landed in Afghanistan during a covert operation.

Special forces were dropped in to the crash site by helicopter to recover the plane's top secret data - believed to include a high-intensity camera and computer memory chips.

Russia infuriated with Chinese export copies of Su-27 jet fighters

Naval Open Source INTelligence: "Russia"has officially notified China of the fact that the production of J11 jet fighters, which copy Russia’s Su-27SK aircraft, violates international agreements. Moscow promised to launch legal proceedings to protect its intellectual property.

Russia’s attempts to settle down on China’s arms market have been made to no avail, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports. Chinese pirates have entered a new level of activity.

They mastered the production technology and developed the Chinese production of Su-27 analogues with a view to subsequently export the planes to third world countries.

Sorry to ruin the fun, but an ice age cometh | The Australian

Sorry to ruin the fun, but an ice age cometh | The Australian: "THE"scariest photo I have seen on the internet is, where you will find a real-time image of the sun from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, located in deep space at the equilibrium point between solar and terrestrial gravity.

What is scary about the picture is that there is only one tiny sunspot.

Disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously.

All four agencies that track Earth's temperature (the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California) report that it cooled by about 0.7C in 2007. This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that 2007 was exceptionally cold. It snowed in Baghdad for the first time in centuries, the winter in China was simply terrible and the extent of Antarctic sea ice in the austral winter was the greatest on record since James Cook discovered the place in 1770.

It is generally not possible to draw conclusions about climatic trends from events in a single year, so I would normally dismiss this cold snap as transient, pending what happens in the next few years.

This is where SOHO comes in. The sunspot number follows a cycle of somewhat variable length, averaging 11 years. The most recent minimum was in March last year. The new cycle, No.24, was supposed to start soon after that, with a gradual build-up in sunspot numbers.

It didn't happen. The first sunspot appeared in January this year and lasted only two days. A tiny spot appeared last Monday but vanished within 24 hours. Another little spot appeared this Monday. Pray that there will be many more, and soon.

The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth's climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790. ...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Military Increases Number of Felons in Ranks, New Report Says - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum - Military Increases Number of Felons in Ranks, New Report Says - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum: "Under"pressure to increase their numbers, the Army and Marine Corps have sharply raised the number of recruits with felony convictions they are admitting to the services.

Data released by a congressional committee shows that the number of soldiers admitted to the Army with felony records jumped from 249 in 2006 to 511 in 2007. And the number of Marines with felonies rose from 208 to 350.

The bulk of the crimes involved were burglaries, other thefts, and drug offenses, but nine involved sex crimes and six involved manslaughter or vehicular homicide convictions. Several dozen Army and Marine recruits had aggravated assault or robbery convictions, including incidents involving weapons.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, who released the data, noted that there may be valid reasons for granting the waivers and giving individuals a second chance.

But he added, "Concerns have been raised that the significant increase in the recruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war and may be undermining military readiness."...

Video - Killer Bee: flying wing with a sting (The Woracle)

Video - Killer Bee: flying wing with a sting (The Woracle)

Fear and dread in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf - Los Angeles Times

Fear and dread in Iraq’s holy city of Najaf - Los Angeles Times: "NAJAF"IRAQ -- Clerics and politicians speak in hushed tones about the names drawn up for assassination. Guards stand outside their compounds clutching assault rifles, and handguns rest on desks. No one can be trusted. All sides fear that dark times are coming to Najaf, the spiritual capital of Iraq's Shiite Muslims.

"The situation is mysterious," said Sheik Ali Najafi, the son and confidant of Grand Ayatollah Bashir Hussain Najafi, one of the four senior most Shiite clerics in Iraq, who guide the country's majority faith and counsel its politicians. Like elder statesmen, the four have found themselves ensnared in the conflict between the Shiite-led Iraqi government and an upstart young cleric, son of a revered grand ayatollah: Muqtada Sadr.

The poisonous atmosphere of treachery and paranoia has consequences far beyond the alleyways of this ancient shrine city.

Najaf may hold the key to Iraq's stability; if it descends into violence, the entire Shiite south will almost certainly follow suit. U.S. forces will be stretched, the chances of a troop drawdown diminished. The Shiite parties involved will probably look to Iran to broker an end to the crisis. And chances for real political process will be on hold.

On Saturday night, the fears of a broader Shiite conflict loomed larger after Sadr threatened all-out war against the government if it did not halt military operations against his followers in Baghdad and the southern port of Basra.

Like Basra, with its oil, whoever controls Najaf will play a major role in charting Iraq's future. It is here Shiite politicians come for guidance from the grand ayatollahs. It is here the populist Sadr first challenged Iraq's conservative religious establishment.

"Najaf is the kitchen, where major decisions are cooked," said Salah Obeidi, Sadr's official spokesman.

Obeidi works out of a barren room in a closed-down restaurant and hotel. Bodyguards sit in the lobby, decorated with a mural of Sadr and long-haired Shiite saints gazing austerely at Najaf's roads. Obeidi confesses he has been in crisis mode lately.

"We are afraid the situation from now till October won't be stable for the Sadrists," Obeidi said. "Najaf is very important."

The city's rewards are huge for Sadr and his competitors: lucrative revenues from the pilgrims who flock here, and the chance to spread one's influence among the faithful.

Every year, millions of pilgrims come to Najaf to pray at the Imam Ali Mosque, the tomb of the prophet Muhammad's son-in-law. It was over the question of Ali's succession that the Shiite sect emerged. Believers from across Iraq bury their dead in Najaf's cemetery, named the Valley of Peace. Aspiring clerics flock here to study at the revered hawza, a loose network of illustrious seminaries, rivaled only by Qom in Iran.

"Muqtada would covet the kind of Shiites Najaf holds," said Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiite Islam at Tufts University. "Sadr is popular politically, the grand ayatollahs religiously. There is a tense standoff between them. They both hold power and popularity, and that is what makes the situation so tense and volatile."

Najaf's merchant elite and clergy have long viewed Sadr as a rabble rouser, able to mobilize the Shiite slums and rural masses for violence. No one in Najaf has forgotten April 2003, when Saddam Hussein fell and Sadr emerged from house arrest to lay claim to his dead father's mantle. That month, Abdel Majid Khoei, the son of another late grand ayatollah, returned from London and was attacked by a mob inside the Imam Ali shrine, dying of his injuries near Sadr's office.

Then, in the summer of 2004, Sadr seized the shrine as part of his open revolt against the Americans. The ensuing battle battered the city's cemetery and neighborhoods. Even now, shattered buildings dot the landscape.

During that uprising, the country's preeminent cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, intervened, offering Sadr's Mahdi Army safe passage from the Imam Ali shrine as a way of ending a monthlong confrontation with the U.S. military.

This time, the grand ayatollahs have declined to aid the incendiary cleric.

Three days into the Basra campaign, Grand Ayatollah Najafi issued a fatwa, or religious opinion or edict, that declared the Iraqi government as the only force in the country with the right to bear arms.

His son, Sheik Ali Najafi, left little doubt that the clergy had backed the Iraqi army operations.

"We see this as a positive improvement. . . . The people want the government to control the streets and the law to be enforced. No other groups," he said, sitting in his study, furnished with cushions, a laptop and a clock bearing his father's portrait.

Their stance is a gamble. An influential cleric who is knowledgeable about talks between the Sadr movement and the grand ayatollahs described the situation in bleak terms: The government is weak, and Sadr aides now acknowledge privately that they have lost control of members who are receiving support from Iran

"There are groups in the Mahdi Army who are kidnapping, killing and stealing. They don't listen to Muqtada. They are openly operating with Iranian interests," he said.

The cleric asked that his name not be used because he feared assassination. Everywhere, he saw Iran's influence. "In the beginning, it was Arab countries playing a negative role. Now after Qaeda has fallen, it is Iran. Iran wants to control Iraq, and change the hawza from Najaf to Qom."

Sadr's loyalists are also fearful. The tensions between their mass movement and Najaf's mainstream clergy are evident on the plaza of the Imam Ali tomb, where a yellow-brick building with a marble base rose two years ago. It is a museum for Sadr's father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadeq Sadr, who was killed during Hussein's rule.

A black banner flutters from the building for Riyadh Noori, a senior Sadr aide who was killed April 11 by gunmen waiting outside his house on a quiet suburban street here. Twenty to 30 young men stand outside in the evening air and study the worshipers heading to the shrine. People avert their eyes.

On a recent night, two gaunt men with scraggly beards hobbled into a Sadr office on crutches, one of them missing a leg, blown off fighting the Americans during Sadr's 2004 uprising. The pair waited to meet Haidar Fakhrildeen, a lawmaker loyal to Sadr.

Fakhrildeen's cellphone rang, playing a speech from Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah about resistance and sacrifice. A black pistol sat on his desk. Like Obeidi, he said the movement expected more killings. Fakhrildeen spoke with a deep mistrust of the Americans and his Shiite political rivals: "Assassinations will happen because of the elections."

The 6-foot-tall lawmaker also has to worry about Mahdi Army fighters co-opted by Tehran. "Iran interferes in everything," he said. "It was able to control a handful of fighters to use them to serve their interests."

In the meantime, life goes on in Najaf's ancient bazaar. Merchants cut black and brown fabric for clerics' robes. Families buy deep red pomegranate juice and ice cream for daughters in party dresses. But bazaar owners believe the calm might be fleeting. A bookseller, whose merchandise includes writings by Sistani and Sadr's father, frowned.

"The quiet will not continue. There will be disorder," he said confidentially between visits from customers who flipped through his books, with their pictures of the dour-faced clerics. He was sure the turbulence would pass: "After this unrest, there will be permanent stability."

[bth: so we have a religious war between gangster Shia clerics, an economic war between Najaf and Qom merchants cum theologans and a cash flow war over who controls pilgrims in Najaf and oil exports in Basra. Where is the US's vital interests in all this?]

Veterans having hard time finding jobs :: The SouthtownStar :: News

Veterans having hard time finding jobs :: The SouthtownStar :: News: "War"veterans face many obstacles. Discrimination. A lack of helpful job-finding resources. Skill sets viewed as insufficient in the civilian workforce. And fears about post-traumatic stress disorder.

A Purple Heart recipient, Jason Heldt said he suffered some memory and hearing loss from his proximity to bomb blasts while serving in Iraq as a Navy corpsman. The Crete man underwent mandatory two-week PTSD treatment but maintains he suffers no debilitating injuries that would affect his ability to work.

Heldt, 25, contends his extensive military medical training qualifies him for hundreds of health care jobs.

He's been hired for two jobs since his return, a surgical center in Chicago and a clinic in Park Forest, but neither lasted long.

He worries that employers fear he suffers from PTSD. But in job interviews, Heldt said, he can't avoid describing his violent experiences in Iraq because they relate directly to his medical qualifications. He believes he has more real-world medical experience than many fresh-out-of-school medical assistant trainees who get the jobs he seeks.

Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, said she hears similar stories "over and over again" from young men and women in uniform.

"It is discrimination," Duckworth said.

Appointed to her post a year and a half ago, Duckworth said the state is "doing everything (it) can" to help find jobs for veterans.

A $600 state tax credit, started in 2007 after the Sun-Times News Group's "State of Shame" report, is available for employers who hire Iraq, Afghanistan or Desert Storm veterans. Still, Duckworth said, "we have to do a better job" educating employers that veterans are often loyal, hardworking, dedicated employees, and also educate them about brain injuries.

Next to PTSD discrimination, as described by Heldt, employers who don't hire veterans because they remain eligible for service is the other most common complaint of war veteran job seekers, according to Duckworth.

'Justifiable fear'

John Fudala, 29, who lives in Bridgeview with his mother, has been "full-time job hunting" for almost a year.

He served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007 as a specialist in the Army National Guard. Fudala still devotes one weekend a month to the Guard. If more troops are needed for the war zone, it's possible he could be sent back.

That scares away employers.

It's a "detriment to getting your foot in the door," Fudala said.

Duckworth sympathizes with employers reluctant to lose new workers to a new stint overseas.

"It's a justifiable fear," Duckworth said, but she said this alone shouldn't deter employers from hiring veterans.

Fudala is married to a woman in Thailand who is coming to the United States soon, lending urgency to his job search. Fudala, with a bachelor's degree in political science from St. Xavier University and one year of study at John Marshall Law School, said he is seeking a job as an administrative assistant, office manager or executive assistant.

When Iraq comes up during a job interview, Fudala said, there's a "change in (the hirer's) voice and demeanor."

Both Fudala and Heldt have gone to the Illinois Department of Employment Security for help.

"I'm not trying to slam the system," Heldt said, but the "programs are (just) there to make everybody feel better."

Fudala said he wished policymakers and other officials, who've spent billions on the war, would dedicate more resources to what happens to soldiers when they return home.

'Significant' issues

Gregory Haynes, who heads the IDES veterans program, said efforts are being made to match soldiers with civilian jobs, get them ready for the workforce and provide them with support. Like Duckworth, Haynes has heard complaints from veterans. Their issues are "significant," he said, but quantifying how big a problem they really are is difficult.

While Haynes said many veterans are underinformed about the breadth of programs available to them, he echoed Duckworth's concern that a key part of the equation is to educate employers.

IDES, he said, runs programs that inform and train various business groups about how to handle veteran applicants.

"We contend the veteran population is an excellent pool of qualified candidates," Haynes said.

Much the same was said when "State of Shame" exposed the job woes of Illinois' war veterans.

"I just feel ignored, passed over," Fudala said. "It just seems really unfair."

David Schwab can be reached at or at (708)802-8832.

Detainees Allege Being Drugged, Questioned -

Detainees Allege Being Drugged, Questioned - "Adel"al-Nusairi remembers his first six months at Guantanamo Bay as this: hours and hours of questions, but first, a needle.

"I'd fall asleep" after the shot, Nusairi, a former Saudi policeman captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002, recalled in an interview with his attorney at the military prison in Cuba, according to notes. After being roused, Nusairi eventually did talk, giving U.S. officials what he later described as a made-up confession to buy some peace.

"I was completely gone," he remembered. "I said, 'Let me go. I want to go to sleep. If it takes saying I'm a member of al-Qaeda, I will.' "

Nusairi, now free in Saudi Arabia, was unable to learn what drugs were injected before his interrogations. He is not alone in wondering: At least two dozen other former and current detainees at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere say they were given drugs against their will or witnessed other inmates being drugged, based on interviews and court documents.

Like Nusairi, other detainees believed the injections were intended to coerce confessions.

The Defense Department and the CIA, the two agencies responsible for detaining terrorism suspects, both deny using drugs as an enhancement for interrogations, and suggest that the stories from Nusairi and others like him are either fabrications or mistaken interpretations of routine medical treatment.

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees. ...

[bth: at this point there is no reason to believe that these men weren't drugged to induce confessions of dubvious value.]

Pakistan frees pro-Taliban leader and announces peace accord

The Raw Story | Pakistan frees pro-Taliban leader and announces peace accord: "A"pro-Taliban leader who sent thousands of fighters against the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan was freed by Pakistan on Monday, and an official said his militant group signed a peace deal with the provincial government in the restive northwest.

The group founded by radical cleric Sufi Muhammad renounced attacks on government forces in the six-point accord but it will be allowed to peacefully campaign for the implementation of Islamic law in Pakistan, provincial government spokesman Faridullah Khan said.

He said the pact was signed by Muhammad's deputy and eight other clerics and four officials, including three provincial government ministers.

It was not immediately clear if Muhammad's son-in-law, cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who led a militant takeover in the northwestern Swat Valley last year, agreed to lay down arms as part of the pact.

Muhammad was jailed in 2002 and was shifted to a hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar five months ago because of poor health.

Ajmal Khan, the deputy superintendent of Peshawar's main jail, said the government on Monday "issued an order for the release of Sufi Mohammad, and I have conveyed this order to him."

Shortly after, Muhammad left the hospital in a vehicle under police escort, accompanied by followers wearing black turbans, said Zafar Khan, a paramedic at the hospital....

[bth: isnt' that swell. peace in our time.]

General: Army needs 'stop-loss' until late 2009 - Politics on The Huffington Post

General: Army needs 'stop-loss' until late 2009 - Politics on The Huffington Post: "It" will be more than a year before the Army can end the unpopular practice of forcing soldiers to stay in the service beyond their retirement or re-enlistment dates, a top official said Monday.

Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, deputy chief of staff for operations, said he hoped that wartime demand for troops will decline enough by around the fall of next year to end "stop-loss." He said there are more than 12,000 currently serving under the practice _ an action that critics have called a "backdoor draft."

Thurman also said that as officials continue to increase the size of the Army, it could be possible by the fall of 2011 for troops to be home two years for every year they are deployed.

The two issues of stop loss and long tours of duty have been among the Pentagon's most disliked practices among troops. Thousands have been forced to stay in the service beyond their contracts since the start of the global war on terrorism. And tours of duty were increased to 15 months from 12 months a year ago so the Army could come up with the extra forces President Bush ordered for the troop buildup in Iraq.

Now that most of the extra troops are being drawn down by the end of July, Bush early this month ordered the tours cut back to 12 months, a move Thurman said would help the Army begin to restore its balance.

"We want to reduce the strain and stress on our soldiers and our families," he told a Pentagon news conference....

Monday, April 21, 2008

Gates Criticizes Air Force for Insufficient Intel in Iraq -

Gates Criticizes Air Force for Insufficient Intel in Iraq - "Defense"Secretary Robert M. Gates chided the U.S. armed forces today for not providing enough intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance help to troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying it has been "like pulling teeth" to get the services to change old habits.

Addressing student officers from the U.S. and foreign air forces at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama, Gates expressed frustration with conventional military thinking that he said has been slow to adapt to current threats. He suggested that the U.S. Air Force has not moved fast enough to meet a need for unmanned aircraft, which often can hunt and target enemies more efficiently than piloted planes.

The speech, delivered at Air University on the base, before an audience that included more than 100 students from the air forces of allied nations, appeared aimed at challenging young officers to become more innovative thinkers.

"The challenge that I pose to you today is to become a forward-thinking officer who helps the Air Force adapt to a constantly changing strategic environment characterized by persistent conflict," he said. ...

Saying that drones cost much less and can spend more time in the air than piloted planes, Gates called UAVs "ideal for many of today's tasks" and noted that the United States now has more than 5,000 of them, a 25-fold increase since 2001.

"But in my view, we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt," Gates said. "My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield.
I've been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into the theater. Because
people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth." ...

[bth: Gates is a breath of fresh air. It is a shame that he will probably transition out with the new administration. What would have been different if Gates instead of the fool Rumsfeld had been in charge for the last half decade.]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

M4 does poorly in Army's own test

M4 does poorly in Army's own test: "When"the dust finally settled, Army officials sought to put the best face on a sandstorm test that humbled Colt Defense's vaunted M4 carbine.

The tests were conducted at an Army laboratory in Maryland last fall. Ten M4s and 10 copies each of three other carbines - the SCAR from Belgium's FN Herstal, and the HK416 and the XM8 from Germany's Heckler & Koch - were coated in heavy layers of talcum-fine dust to simulate a sandstorm. Tens of thousands of rounds were fired through the rifles.

The M4s malfunctioned 882 times. Bullets that didn't feed through the rifles properly or became lodged in the firing chamber were the biggest problems.

The other carbines had far fewer hitches. The carbine with highest marks was the XM8, a gun with a Star Wars look that the Army considered buying just a few years ago but didn't. The program collapsed due to bureaucratic infighting and questionable acquisition methods.

Despite the testing troubles, the Army and Colt are defending the M4, the rifle U.S. forces rely on in combat. The tests, they stressed, were only meant for research purposes and didn't represent actual conditions.

Dust and dirt are constant obstacles in Iraq, but no properly trained soldier would ever let his weapon become so clogged that it misfired.

"This is not what soldiers encounter on the battlefield," says Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the officer who runs the Army acquisition office that buys rifles and other battlefield gear. "It doesn't matter if you're firing a flintlock from the Revolutionary War or you're firing the M4, you've got to clean your weapon."...

[bth: bullshit. The M4 malfunctions too much. It jams. It needs to be replaced. Why does the Army keep saying there are no problems with it?]

Nicked by PC Drone, robot spy in the sky - Times Online

Nicked by PC Drone, robot spy in the sky - Times Online: "Speeding"tickets from the sky might sound like science fiction, but the robot spy-plane technology that is used in the war on terror in Afghanistan may soon be coming to British roads.

Under a government-funded scheme, a new generation of pilotless drones could be patrolling motorways within the next five years. Although they will initially use cameras to record and monitor accidents and provide traffic-flow data, they have the potential to spot speeding offences and identify reckless or uninsured drivers.

Already dubbed “sky gats” after the Gatso speed camera, the new devices will provide a bird’s-eye view of the road and cover far greater areas than a patrol car. However, some motoring groups have warned that they could result in a reduction in traffic police numbers, and mark a further step towards remote road safety.

The technology behind the drones is based on that of the military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that have been operating in Iraq and Afghanistan for several years to help identify and target insurgents without risking a pilot’s life. Some military drones are also fitted with missiles, enabling them to engage the enemy.

The drones will be operated by police officers from a control hub, who will be able to monitor images from the aircraft’s cameras and direct surveillance.

In America, the idea of using drones for policing roads is already well advanced. The Houston police department is planning to launch a $1m unmanned spy plane to patrol the freeways of Texas as early as June this year. The Insitu Insight aircraft, which has seen military action in Iraq, will cruise for more than 15 hours at a time, gathering information on drivers with the use of on-board video and infrared cameras. ...

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand - New York Times

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand - New York Times: "In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.

As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed.

“Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.” ...

Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.

These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Though many analysts are paid network consultants, making $500 to $1,000 per appearance, in Pentagon meetings they sometimes spoke as if they were operating behind enemy lines, interviews and transcripts show. Some offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the networks, or as one analyst put it to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.” Some warned of planned stories or sent the Pentagon copies of their correspondence with network news executives. Many — although certainly not all — faithfully echoed talking points intended to counter critics.

“Good work,” Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force general, consultant and Fox News analyst, wrote to the Pentagon after receiving fresh talking points in late 2006. “We will use it

Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.”

...At the same time, in e-mail messages to the Pentagon, Mr. Garrett displayed an eagerness to be supportive with his television and radio commentary. “Please let me know if you have any specific points you want covered or that you would prefer to downplay,” he wrote in January 2007, before President Bush went on TV to describe the surge strategy in Iraq.

Conversely, the administration has demonstrated that there is a price for sustained criticism, many analysts said. “You’ll lose all access,” Dr. McCausland said.

...Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.

Charting the Campaign

By early 2002, detailed planning for a possible Iraq invasion was under way, yet an obstacle loomed. Many Americans, polls showed, were uneasy about invading a country with no clear connection to the Sept. 11 attacks. Pentagon and White House officials believed the military analysts could play a crucial role in helping overcome this resistance.

Torie Clarke, the former public relations executive who oversaw the Pentagon’s dealings with the analysts as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, had come to her job with distinct ideas about achieving what she called “information dominance.” In a spin-saturated news culture, she argued, opinion is swayed most by voices perceived as authoritative and utterly independent.

And so even before Sept. 11, she built a system within the Pentagon to recruit “key influentials” — movers and shakers from all walks who with the proper ministrations might be counted on to generate support for Mr. Rumsfeld’s priorities

In the months after Sept. 11, as every network rushed to retain its own all-star squad of retired military officers, Ms. Clarke and her staff sensed a new opportunity. To Ms. Clarke’s team, the military analysts were the ultimate “key influential” — authoritative, most of them decorated war heroes, all reaching mass audiences.

The analysts, they noticed, often got more airtime than network reporters, and they were not merely explaining the capabilities of Apache helicopters. They were framing how viewers ought to interpret events. What is more, while the analysts were in the news media, they were not of the news media. They were military men, many of them ideologically in sync with the administration’s neoconservative brain trust, many of them important players in a military industry anticipating large budget increases to pay for an Iraq war.

Even analysts with no defense industry ties, and no fondness for the administration, were reluctant to be critical of military leaders, many of whom were friends. “It is very hard for me to criticize the United States Army,” said William L. Nash, a retired Army general and ABC analyst. “It is my life.”

Other administrations had made sporadic, small-scale attempts to build relationships with the occasional military analyst. But these were trifling compared with what Ms. Clarke’s team had in mind. Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of the public relations push to construct a case for war. Journalists were secondary. “We didn’t want to rely on them to be our primary vehicle to get information out,” Mr. Meyer said.

The Pentagon’s regular press office would be kept separate from the military analysts. The analysts would instead be catered to by a small group of political appointees, with the point person being Brent T. Krueger, another senior aide to Ms. Clarke. The decision recalled other administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism. Federal agencies, for example, have paid columnists to write favorably about the administration. They have distributed to local TV stations hundreds of fake news segments with fawning accounts of administration accomplishments. The Pentagon itself has made covert payments to Iraqi newspapers to publish coalition propaganda.

Rather than complain about the “media filter,” each of these techniques simply converted the filter into an amplifier. This time, Mr. Krueger said, the military analysts would in effect be “writing the op-ed” for the war.

Assembling the Team

From the start, interviews show, the White House took a keen interest in which analysts had been identified by the Pentagon, requesting lists of potential recruits, and suggesting names. Ms. Clarke’s team wrote summaries describing their backgrounds, business affiliations and where they stood on the war.

Rumsfeld ultimately cleared off on all invitees,” said Mr. Krueger, who left the Pentagon in 2004. (Through a spokesman, Mr. Rumsfeld declined to comment for this article.)

Over time, the Pentagon recruited more than 75 retired officers, although some participated only briefly or sporadically. The largest contingent was affiliated with Fox News, followed by NBC and CNN, the other networks with 24-hour cable outlets. But analysts from CBS and ABC were included, too. Some recruits, though not on any network payroll, were influential in other ways — either because they were sought out by radio hosts, or because they often published op-ed articles or were quoted in magazines, Web sites and newspapers. At least nine of them have written op-ed articles for The Times.

The group was heavily represented by men involved in the business of helping companies win military contracts. Several held senior positions with contractors that gave them direct responsibility for winning new Pentagon business. James Marks, a retired Army general and analyst for CNN from 2004 to 2007, pursued military and intelligence contracts as a senior executive with McNeil Technologies. Still others held board positions with military firms that gave them responsibility for government business. General McInerney, the Fox analyst, for example, sits on the boards of several military contractors, including Nortel Government Solutions, a supplier of communication networks.

Several were defense industry lobbyists, such as Dr. McCausland, who works at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, a major lobbying firm where he is director of a national security team that represents several military contractors. “We offer clients access to key decision makers,” Dr. McCausland’s team promised on the firm’s Web site.

Dr. McCausland was not the only analyst making this pledge. Another was Joseph W. Ralston, a retired Air Force general. Soon after signing on with CBS, General Ralston was named vice chairman of the Cohen Group, a consulting firm headed by a former defense secretary, William Cohen, himself now a “world affairs” analyst for CNN. “The Cohen Group knows that getting to ‘yes’ in the aerospace and defense market — whether in the United States or abroad — requires that companies have a thorough, up-to-date understanding of the thinking of government decision makers,” the company tells prospective clients on its Web site.

There were also ideological ties.

Two of NBC’s most prominent analysts, Barry R. McCaffrey and the late Wayne A. Downing, were on the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an advocacy group created with White House encouragement in 2002 to help make the case for ousting Saddam Hussein. Both men also had their own consulting firms and sat on the boards of major military contractors.

Many also shared with Mr. Bush’s national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nation’s will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this war.

This was a major theme, for example, with Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007. A retired Army general who had specialized in psychological warfare, Mr. Vallely co-authored a paper in 1980 that accused American news organizations of failing to defend the nation from “enemy” propaganda during Vietnam.

We lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped,” he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his approach “MindWar” — using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.”

The Selling of the War

From their earliest sessions with the military analysts, Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides spoke as if they were all part of the same team.

In interviews, participants described a powerfully seductive environment — the uniformed escorts to Mr. Rumsfeld’s private conference room, the best government china laid out, the embossed name cards, the blizzard of PowerPoints, the solicitations of advice and counsel, the appeals to duty and country, the warm thank you notes from the secretary himself.

“Oh, you have no idea,” Mr. Allard said, describing the effect. “You’re back. They listen to you. They listen to what you say on TV.” It was, he said, “psyops on steroids” — a nuanced exercise in influence through flattery and proximity. “It’s not like it’s, ‘We’ll pay you $500 to get our story out,’ ” he said. “It’s more subtle.”

The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon

In the fall and winter leading up to the invasion, the Pentagon armed its analysts with talking points portraying Iraq as an urgent threat. The basic case became a familiar mantra: Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, was developing nuclear weapons, and might one day slip some to Al Qaeda; an invasion would be a relatively quick and inexpensive “war of liberation.”

At the Pentagon, members of Ms. Clarke’s staff marveled at the way the analysts seamlessly incorporated material from talking points and briefings as if it was their own.

You could see that they were messaging,” Mr. Krueger said. “You could see they were taking verbatim what the secretary was saying or what the technical specialists were saying. And they were saying it over and over and over.” Some days, he added, “We were able to click on every single station and every one of our folks were up there delivering our message. You’d look at them and say, ‘This is working.’ ”

On April 12, 2003, with major combat almost over, Mr. Rumsfeld drafted a memorandum to Ms. Clarke. “Let’s think about having some of the folks who did such a good job as talking heads in after this thing is over,” he wrote.

By summer, though, the first signs of the insurgency had emerged. Reports from journalists based in Baghdad were increasingly suffused with the imagery of mayhem.

The Pentagon did not have to search far for a counterweight.

It was time, an internal Pentagon strategy memorandum urged, to “re-energize surrogates and message-force multipliers,” starting with the military analysts.

The memorandum led to a proposal to take analysts on a tour of Iraq in September 2003, timed to help overcome the sticker shock from Mr. Bush’s request for $87 billion in emergency war financing.

The group included four analysts from Fox News, one each from CNN and ABC, and several research-group luminaries whose opinion articles appear regularly in the nation’s op-ed pages.

The trip invitation promised a look at “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”

The situation, as described in scores of books, was deteriorating. L. Paul Bremer III, then the American viceroy in Iraq, wrote in his memoir, “My Year in Iraq,” that he had privately warned the White House that the United States had “about half the number of soldiers we needed here.”

“We’re up against a growing and sophisticated threat,” Mr. Bremer recalled telling the president during a private White House dinner.

That dinner took place on Sept. 24, while the analysts were touring Iraq.

Yet these harsh realities were elided, or flatly contradicted, during the official presentations for the analysts, records show. The itinerary, scripted to the minute, featured brief visits to a model school, a few refurbished government buildings, a center for women’s rights, a mass grave and even the gardens of Babylon.

Mostly the analysts attended briefings. These sessions, records show, spooled out an alternative narrative, depicting an Iraq bursting with political and economic energy, its security forces blossoming. On the crucial question of troop levels, the briefings echoed the White House line: No reinforcements were needed. The “growing and sophisticated threat” described by Mr. Bremer was instead depicted as degraded, isolated and on the run.

“We’re winning,” a briefing document proclaimed.

One trip participant, General Nash of ABC, said some briefings were so clearly “artificial” that he joked to another group member that they were on “the George Romney memorial trip to Iraq,” a reference to Mr. Romney’s infamous claim that American officials had “brainwashed” him into supporting the Vietnam War during a tour there in 1965, while he was governor of Michigan.


Mr. Cowan, a Fox analyst and retired Marine colonel, was the chief executive of a new military firm, the wvc3 Group. Mr. Sherwood was its executive vice president. At the time, the company was seeking contracts worth tens of millions to supply body armor and counterintelligence services in Iraq. In addition, wvc3 Group had a written agreement to use its influence and connections to help tribal leaders in Al Anbar Province win reconstruction contracts from the coalition.

“Those sheiks wanted access to the C.P.A.,” Mr. Cowan recalled in an interview, referring to the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Mr. Cowan said he pleaded their cause during the trip. “I tried to push hard with some of Bremer’s people to engage these people of Al Anbar,” he said.

Back in Washington, Pentagon officials kept a nervous eye on how the trip translated on the airwaves. Uncomfortable facts had bubbled up during the trip. One briefer, for example, mentioned that the Army was resorting to packing inadequately armored Humvees with sandbags and Kevlar blankets. Descriptions of the Iraqi security forces were withering. “They can’t shoot, but then again, they don’t,” one officer told them, according to one participant’s notes.

“I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south,” General Vallely, one of the Fox analysts on the trip, recalled in an interview with The Times.

The Pentagon, though, need not have worried.

“You can’t believe the progress,” General Vallely told Alan Colmes of Fox News upon his return. He predicted the insurgency would be “down to a few numbers” within months.

“We could not be more excited, more pleased,” Mr. Cowan told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News. There was barely a word about armor shortages or corrupt Iraqi security forces. And on the key strategic question of the moment — whether to send more troops — the analysts were unanimous.

“I am so much against adding more troops,” General Shepperd said on CNN.

Access and Influence

Inside the Pentagon and at the White House, the trip was viewed as a masterpiece in the management of perceptions, not least because it gave fuel to complaints that “mainstream” journalists were ignoring the good news in Iraq.

“We’re hitting a home run on this trip,” a senior Pentagon official wrote in an e-mail message to Richard B. Myers and Peter Pace, then chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Its success only intensified the Pentagon’s campaign. The pace of briefings accelerated. More trips were organized. Eventually the effort involved officials from Washington to Baghdad to Kabul to Guantánamo and back to Tampa, Fla., the headquarters of United States Central Command.

The scale reflected strong support from the top. When officials in Iraq were slow to organize another trip for analysts, a Pentagon official fired off an e-mail message warning that the trips “have the highest levels of visibility” at the White House and urging them to get moving before Lawrence Di Rita, one of Mr. Rumsfeld’s closest aides, “picks up the phone and starts calling the 4-stars.”

Mr. Di Rita, no longer at the Defense Department, said in an interview that a “conscious decision” was made to rely on the military analysts to counteract “the increasingly negative view of the war” coming from journalists in Iraq. The analysts, he said, generally had “a more supportive view” of the administration and the war, and the combination of their TV platforms and military cachet made them ideal for rebutting critical coverage of issues like troop morale, treatment of detainees, inadequate equipment or poorly trained Iraqi security forces. “On those issues, they were more likely to be seen as credible spokesmen,”
he said.

For analysts with military industry ties, the attention brought access to a widening circle of influential officials beyond the contacts they had accumulated over the course of their careers.

Charles T. Nash, a Fox military analyst and retired Navy captain, is a consultant who helps small companies break into the military market. Suddenly, he had entree to a host of senior military leaders, many of whom he had never met. It was, he said, like being embedded with the Pentagon leadership. “You start to recognize what’s most important to them,” he said, adding, “There’s nothing like seeing stuff firsthand.”

Some Pentagon officials said they were well aware that some analysts viewed their special access as a business advantage. “Of course we realized that,” Mr. Krueger said. “We weren’t naïve about that.”

They also understood the financial relationship between the networks and their analysts. Many analysts were being paid by the “hit,” the number of times they appeared on TV. The more an analyst could boast of fresh inside information from high-level Pentagon “sources,” the more hits he could expect. The more hits, the greater his potential influence in the military marketplace, where several analysts prominently advertised their network roles.

“They have taken lobbying and the search for contracts to a far higher level,” Mr. Krueger said. “This has been highly honed.”

Mr. Di Rita, though, said it never occurred to him that analysts might use their access to curry favor. Nor, he said, did the Pentagon try to exploit this dynamic. “That’s not something that ever crossed my mind,” he said. In any event, he argued, the analysts and the networks were the ones responsible for any ethical complications. “We assume they know where the lines are,” he said.

The analysts met personally with Mr. Rumsfeld at least 18 times, records show, but that was just the beginning. They had dozens more sessions with the most senior members of his brain trust and access to officials responsible for managing the billions being spent in Iraq. Other groups of “key influentials” had meetings, but not nearly as often as the analysts.

An internal memorandum in 2005 helped explain why. The memorandum, written by a Pentagon official who had accompanied analysts to Iraq, said that based on her observations during the trip, the analysts “are having a greater impact” on network coverage of the military. “They have now become the go-to guys not only on breaking stories, but they influence the views on issues,” she wrote.

Other branches of the administration also began to make use of the analysts. Mr. Gonzales, then the attorney general, met with them soon after news leaked that the government was wiretapping terrorism suspects in the United States without warrants, Pentagon records show. When David H. Petraeus was appointed the commanding general in Iraq in January 2007, one of his early acts was to meet with the analysts.

“We knew we had extraordinary access,” said Timur J. Eads, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Fox analyst who is vice president of government relations for Blackbird Technologies, a fast-growing military contractor.

Like several other analysts, Mr. Eads said he had at times held his tongue on television for fear that “some four-star could call up and say, ‘Kill that contract.’ ” For example, he believed Pentagon officials misled the analysts about the progress of Iraq’s security forces. “I know a snow job when I see one,” he said. He did not share this on TV.

“Human nature,” he explained, though he noted other instances when he was critical.

Some analysts said that even before the war started, they privately had questions about the justification for the invasion, but were careful not to express them on air.

Mr. Bevelacqua, then a Fox analyst, was among those invited to a briefing in early 2003 about Iraq’s purported stockpiles of illicit weapons. He recalled asking the briefer whether the United States had “smoking gun” proof.

“ ‘We don’t have any hard evidence,’ ” Mr. Bevelacqua recalled the briefer replying. He said he and other analysts were alarmed by this concession. “We are looking at ourselves saying, ‘What are we doing?’ ”

Another analyst, Robert L. Maginnis, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who works in the Pentagon for a military contractor, attended the same briefing and recalled feeling “very disappointed” after being shown satellite photographs purporting to show bunkers associated with a hidden weapons program. Mr. Maginnis said he concluded that the analysts were being “manipulated” to convey a false sense of certainty about the evidence of the weapons. Yet he and Mr. Bevelacqua and the other analysts who attended the briefing did not share any misgivings with the American public.

Mr. Bevelacqua and another Fox analyst, Mr. Cowan, had formed the wvc3 Group, and hoped to win military and national security contracts.

“There’s no way I was going to go down that road and get completely torn apart,” Mr. Bevelacqua said. “You’re talking about fighting a huge machine.”

Some e-mail messages between the Pentagon and the analysts reveal an implicit trade of privileged access for favorable coverage. Robert H. Scales Jr., a retired Army general and analyst for Fox News and National Public Radio whose consulting company advises several military firms on weapons and tactics used in Iraq, wanted the Pentagon to approve high-level briefings for him inside Iraq in 2006.

“Recall the stuff I did after my last visit,” he wrote. “I will do the same this time.”

Pentagon Keeps Tabs

As it happened, the analysts’ news media appearances were being closely monitored. The Pentagon paid a private contractor, Omnitec Solutions, hundreds of thousands of dollars to scour databases for any trace of the analysts, be it a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” or an interview with The Daily Inter Lake in Montana, circulation 20,000.

Omnitec evaluated their appearances using the same tools as corporate branding experts. One report, assessing the impact of several trips to Iraq in 2005, offered example after example of analysts echoing Pentagon themes on all the networks

“Commentary from all three Iraq trips was extremely positive over all,” the report concluded.

In interviews, several analysts reacted with dismay when told they were described as reliable “surrogates” in Pentagon documents. And some asserted that their Pentagon sessions were, as David L. Grange, a retired Army general and CNN analyst put it, “just upfront information,” while others pointed out, accurately, that they did not always agree with the administration or each other. “None of us drink the Kool-Aid,” General Scales said.

Likewise, several also denied using their special access for business gain. “Not related at all,” General Shepperd said, pointing out that many in the Pentagon held CNN “in the lowest esteem.”

Still, even the mildest of criticism could draw a challenge. Several analysts told of fielding telephone calls from displeased defense officials only minutes after being on the air.

On Aug. 3, 2005, 14 marines died in Iraq. That day, Mr. Cowan, who said he had grown increasingly uncomfortable with the “twisted version of reality” being pushed on analysts in briefings, called the Pentagon to give “a heads-up” that some of his comments on Fox “may not all be friendly,” Pentagon records show. Mr. Rumsfeld’s senior aides quickly arranged a private briefing for him, yet when he told Bill O’Reilly that the United States was “not on a good glide path right now” in Iraq, the repercussions were swift.

Mr. Cowan said he was “precipitously fired from the analysts group” for this appearance. The Pentagon, he wrote in an e-mail message, “simply didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t carrying their water.” The next day James T. Conway, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs, presided over another conference call with analysts. He urged them, a transcript shows, not to let the marines’ deaths further erode support for the war.

“The strategic target remains our population,” General Conway said. “We can lose people day in and day out, but they’re never going to beat our military. What they can and will do if they can is strip away our support. And you guys can help us not let that happen.”

“General, I just made that point on the air,” an analyst replied.

“Let’s work it together, guys,” General Conway urged.

The Generals’ Revolt

The full dimensions of this mutual embrace were perhaps never clearer than in April 2006, after several of Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals — none of them network military analysts — went public with devastating critiques of his wartime performance. Some called for his resignation.

On Friday, April 14, with what came to be called the “Generals’ Revolt” dominating headlines, Mr. Rumsfeld instructed aides to summon military analysts to a meeting with him early the next week, records show. When an aide urged a short delay to “give our big guys on the West Coast a little more time to buy a ticket and get here,” Mr. Rumsfeld’s office insisted that “the boss” wanted the meeting fast “for impact on the current story.”

That same day, Pentagon officials helped two Fox analysts, General McInerney and General Vallely, write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Mr. Rumsfeld.

“Starting to write it now,” General Vallely wrote to the Pentagon that afternoon. “Any input for the article,” he added a little later, “will be much appreciated.” Mr. Rumsfeld’s office quickly forwarded talking points and statistics to rebut the notion of a spreading revolt.

“Vallely is going to use the numbers,” a Pentagon official reported that afternoon.

The standard secrecy notwithstanding, plans for this session leaked, producing a front-page story in The Times that Sunday. In damage-control mode, Pentagon officials scrambled to present the meeting as routine and directed that communications with analysts be kept “very formal,” records show. “This is very, very sensitive now,” a Pentagon official warned subordinates.

On Tuesday, April 18, some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public support for the war.

I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”

“What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”

There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”

Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”

“Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.

But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.

Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.

“You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”

At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

“When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job...”

“Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.

The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

Soon after, analysts hit the airwaves. The Omnitec monitoring reports, circulated to more than 80 officials, confirmed that analysts repeated many of the Pentagon’s talking points: that Mr. Rumsfeld consulted “frequently and sufficiently” with his generals; that he was not “overly concerned” with the criticisms; that the meeting focused “on more important topics at hand,” including the next milestone in Iraq, the formation of a new government.

Days later, Mr. Rumsfeld wrote a memorandum distilling their collective guidance into bullet points. Two were underlined:

“Focus on the Global War on Terror — not simply Iraq. The wider war — the long war.”

“Link Iraq to Iran. Iran is the concern. If we fail in Iraq or Afghanistan, it will help Iran.

But if Mr. Rumsfeld found the session instructive, at least one participant, General Nash, the ABC analyst, was repulsed.

“I walked away from that session having total disrespect for my fellow commentators, with perhaps one or two exceptions,” he said.

View From the Networks

Two weeks ago General Petraeus took time out from testifying before Congress about Iraq for a conference call with military analysts.

Mr. Garrett, the Fox analyst and Patton Boggs lobbyist, said he told General Petraeus during the call to “keep up the great work.”

“Hey,” Mr. Garrett said in an interview, “anything we can do to help.”

For the moment, though, because of heavy election coverage and general war fatigue, military analysts are not getting nearly as much TV time, and the networks have trimmed their rosters of analysts. The conference call with General Petraeus, for example, produced little in the way of immediate coverage.

Still, almost weekly the Pentagon continues to conduct briefings with selected military analysts. Many analysts said network officials were only dimly aware of these interactions. The networks, they said, have little grasp of how often they meet with senior officials, or what is discussed.

“I don’t think NBC was even aware we were participating,” said Rick Francona, a longtime military analyst for the network.

Some networks publish biographies on their Web sites that describe their analysts’ military backgrounds and, in some cases, give at least limited information about their business ties. But many analysts also said the networks asked few questions about their outside business interests, the nature of their work or the potential for that work to create conflicts of interest. “None of that ever happened,” said Mr. Allard, an NBC analyst until 2006.

“The worst conflict of interest was no interest.”

Mr. Allard and other analysts said their network handlers also raised no objections when the Defense Department began paying their commercial airfare for Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq — a clear ethical violation for most news organizations.

CBS News declined to comment on what it knew about its military analysts’ business affiliations or what steps it took to guard against potential conflicts.

NBC News also declined to discuss its procedures for hiring and monitoring military analysts. The network issued a short statement: “We have clear policies in place to assure that the people who appear on our air have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.”

Jeffrey W. Schneider, a spokesman for ABC, said that while the network’s military consultants were not held to the same ethical rules as its full-time journalists, they were expected to keep the network informed about any outside business entanglements. “We make it clear to them we expect them to keep us closely apprised,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Fox News said executives “refused to participate” in this article.

CNN requires its military analysts to disclose in writing all outside sources of income. But like the other networks, it does not provide its military analysts with the kind of written, specific ethical guidelines it gives its full-time employees for avoiding real or apparent conflicts of interest.

Yet even where controls exist, they have sometimes proven porous.

CNN, for example, said it was unaware for nearly three years that one of its main military analysts, General Marks, was deeply involved in the business of seeking government contracts, including contracts related to Iraq.

General Marks was hired by CNN in 2004, about the time he took a management position at McNeil Technologies, where his job was to pursue military and intelligence contracts. As required, General Marks disclosed that he received income from McNeil Technologies. But the disclosure form did not require him to describe what his job entailed, and CNN acknowledges it failed to do additional vetting.

“We did not ask Mr. Marks the follow-up questions we should have,” CNN said in a written statement.

In an interview, General Marks said it was no secret at CNN that his job at McNeil Technologies was about winning contracts. “I mean, that’s what McNeil does,” he said.

CNN, however, said it did not know the nature of McNeil’s military business or what General Marks did for the company. If he was bidding on Pentagon contracts, CNN said, that should have disqualified him from being a military analyst for the network. But in the summer and fall of 2006, even as he was regularly asked to comment on conditions in Iraq, General Marks was working intensively on bidding for a $4.6 billion contract to provide thousands of translators to United States forces in Iraq. In fact, General Marks was made president of the McNeil spin-off that won the huge contract in December 2006.

General Marks said his work on the contract did not affect his commentary on CNN. “I’ve got zero challenge separating myself from a business interest,” he said.

But CNN said it had no idea about his role in the contract until July 2007, when it reviewed his most recent disclosure form, submitted months earlier, and finally made inquiries about his new job.

“We saw the extent of his dealings and determined at that time we should end our relationship with him,” CNN said

[bth: I ended up debating some of these clowns like Maginnis on national television. Specifically regarding body armor or lack thereof on the sides of marines resulting in 1/3 of those killed being gut shot needlessly. Maginnis and I were on Scarborough Country. He was presented as a retired colonel who had knowledge of the subject, not a paid shill for the Pentagon. Force multiplier my ass, these guys were paid propagandists disguised as patriotic Americans. The sons of bitches sent us to war in Iraq and when Rumsfeld needed a liar they elbowed each other to be first in line. Read the documentation that NYT got released after they had to sue the Pentagon. The transcripts make you puke. They sold their honor and our country for silver. They traded truth for access. They betrayed the public trust and the main media outlets were complicit in this deception.]

U.S. Commanders Seeking to Widen Pakistan Attacks - New York Times

U.S. Commanders Seeking to Widen Pakistan Attacks - New York Times: "American"commanders in Afghanistan have in recent months urged a widening of the war that could include American attacks on indigenous Pakistani militants in the tribal areas inside Pakistan, according to United States officials.

The requests have been rebuffed for now, the officials said, after deliberations in Washington among senior Bush administration officials who fear that attacking Pakistani radicals may anger Pakistan’s new government, which is negotiating with the militants, and destabilize an already fragile security situation.

American commanders would prefer that Pakistani forces attack the militants, but Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas have slowed recently to avoid upsetting the negotiations.

Pakistan’s government has given the Central Intelligence Agency limited authority to kill Arab and other foreign operatives in the tribal areas, using remotely piloted Predator aircraft. But administration officials say the Pakistani government has put far greater restrictions on American operations against indigenous Pakistani militant groups, including one thought to have been behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto....

[bth: given recent political events in Pakistan wouldn't we be best advised to focus our near term attention on killing off the foreign fighters first? Doing what we can to drive a wedge between Pakistani supporters and their foreign guests? At a minimum raise the cost of sanctuary for Arab terrorists living there?]