Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rumsfeld's renegade unit blamed for Afghan deaths - Asia, World - The Independent

Rumsfeld's renegade unit blamed for Afghan deaths - Asia, World - The Independent: "A single American Special Forces group was behind at least three of Afghanistan's worst civilian casualty incidents, The Independent has learnt, raising fundamental questions about their ongoing role in the conflict."

Troops from the US Marines Corps' Special Operations Command, or MarSOC, were responsible for calling in air strikes in Bala Boluk, in Farah, last week – believed to have killed more than 140 men, women and children – as well as two other incidents in 2007 and 2008. News of MarSOC's involvement in the three incidents comes just days after a Special Forces expert, Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal, was named to take over as the top commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan. His surprise appointment has prompted speculation that commando counterinsurgency missions will increase in the battle to beat the Taliban.

MarSOC was created three years ago on the express orders of Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary at the time, despite opposition from within the Marine Corps and the wider Special Forces community. An article in the Marine Corps Times described the MarSOC troops as "cowboys" who brought shame on the corps....

TaylorMarsh.com | Taylor Marsh - Political Analysis, Foreign Policy, and Opinion

Informed Comment

Informed Comment

War and Piece - CIA ]Waterboarding and Congress

War and Piece: "To review:

Panetta: records show CIA briefed Pelosi on methods it was considering.

Goss: they told us methods they planned to use.

Pelosi: they told us methods and that they were determined legal and there were no disputes over their legality. They told me waterboarding was not being used. (nor that it had been used -- 83 times).

Graham: CIA records said (falsely) they'd briefed me three times when they didn't. They never told me about waterboarding.

All these things do not contradict each other."

Panetta says the records show they briefed Pelosi on methods. Pelosi said they briefed her on methods and didn't tell her they had already used waterboarding. Goss says the upshot of the briefing was they wanted to use these methods (but did not indicate they had already used waterboarding on Zubaydah 83 times). Graham: their records are crap and they didn't brief me on waterboarding (and you can check my hour by hour diaries in the archives).

(And their records are crap and were written recently reports suggested by people 7 years after the fact could not be more relevant, for God's sake.)

Meantime: just think of the time element here. Is there a difference if your babysitter comes home and says your kid is flopping around and may bump their head on the swing? But doesn't tell you the kid bumped their head on the swing that day and is in the ER? Did the babysitter tell you about a prospective incident? Sure. Does the time element matter? Yes. Would it be misleading to knowingly withhold the relevant information that the incident had already occurred? Of course.

Think of the deception and deviousness involved that the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times in August and then only after go brief Goss and Pelosi in September. And tell them what? Here are perfectly legal methods we'd like to use and have determined legal and safe. And one of them is waterboarding. And they don't tell them that they'd already used waterboarding 83 times. Indeed they don't tell them in September 2002 that they have videos of it. Indeed, they tell them according to Pelosi waterboarding is not BEING used.

That's devious and misleading.

Even if they say they'd like to use it in the future.

Finally did Pelosi learn in Feb 2003 from her staffer (not the CIA) that CIA had used waterboarding? Yes. (Indeed, that because of an IG investigation opened up in January about the apparently not so legal methods, the IG was reviewing videos of the waterboarding of AZ they did not originally tell her about. And by the way they planned to destroy the videos. Which they were ordered not to do by Harman at the briefing. And were destroyed anyhow.) Pelosi would like it all investigated.

Who doesn't want that investigated? And what are they afraid of?

DAGR live-fire tests imminent

DAGR live-fire tests imminent: "Boeing will conduct live-fire tests of the Lockheed Martin Direct-Attack Guided Rocket (DAGR) system on its developmental AH-6i armed reconnaissance and light attack helicopter before the end of May.

AH-6 International Capture Team Leader Fred Jernigan told reporters at the company's Meza facility in Arizona that the test - which is designed to prove both the weapon and the platform - will take place at the army's proving ground at Yuma on either 16 or 17 May.

The AH-6i is being developed as the export version of the AH-6S Little Bird being offered for the US Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) requirement. The export version differs from the domestic model in that there are a number or ARH-specific requirements such as an upgraded avionics that are not necessary for the export market.

According to Jernigan, there are 12 potential customers who are 'seriously interested in the AH-6i', although he declined to be more specific. '[The AH-6i] is a great option for them because not everyone can afford an Apache and not everyone needs a Hellfire. This aircraft with its precision guided rockets fits [their requirements] very nicely,' he said."

[bth: likely to become a weapon of choice for drones]

YouTube - Pakistan fights to keep sovereignty over war - 15 May 09

YouTube - Pakistan fights to keep sovereignty over war - 15 May 09

Friday, May 15, 2009

Naval Open Source INTelligence

Naval Open Source INTelligence

Lab didn't tell police 22 vials stolen - Winnipeg Free Press

Lab didn't tell police 22 vials stolen - Winnipeg Free Press: "WINIPEG – No one from Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory bothered to report the theft of 22 vials of biological material to police, despite an international uproar over a former researcher accused of smuggling the substances across the U.S. border.

On Wednesday, scientific director Dr. Frank Plummer confirmed RCMP alerted lab staff about the stolen materials on May 5 -- the same day a former vaccine researcher was arrested by FBI special agents after U.S. Customs discovered the vials stuffed in a glove in the trunk of his car at the Manitoba-North Dakota border crossing."...

[bth: hello]

DHS’ New Chief Geek is a Bioterror ‘Disaster,’ Critics Charge

DHS’ New Chief Geek is a Bioterror ‘Disaster,’ Critics Charge | Danger Room | Wired.com
....“This is a disastrous nomination. O’Toole supported every flawed decision and counterproductive policy on biodefense, biosafety, and biosecurity during the Bush Administration,” Rutgers University microbiologist and homeland security policy critic Richard Ebright tells Danger Room. “O’Toole is as out of touch with reality, and as paranoiac, as former Vice President Cheney. It would be hard to think of a person less well suited for the position.”

“She was the single most extreme person, either in or out of government, advocating for a massive biodefense expansion and relaxation of provisions for safety and security,” he adds. “She makes Dr. Strangelove look sane.”

O’Toole rose to prominence in biodefense circles after producing Dark Winter, a June 2001 exercise that explored how a single smallpox outbreak could threaten millions of lives in 15 countries. An Army War College report later found that the exercise tripled the normal transmission rate for smallpox — “mak[ing] it next to impossible for the game players to do very much to contain the outbreak, and assur[ing] a disastrous outcome irrespective of whatever control measures the players may attempt to carry out.” Atlantic Storm, a 2005 exercise also produced by O’Toole, had similar issues. According to the report, it made “grossly misleading assumptions” about the ease of creation and dispersion of the same biological agent — assuming bioterrorists would enjoy a capability that neither the Americans nor Soviets could achieve at the heights of the Cold War.
To George Smith, a protein chemist and senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, these exercsies show O’Toole to be “the top academic/salesperson for the coming of apocalyptic bioterrorism which has never quite arrived. [She's] most prominent for always lobbying for more money for biodefense, conducting tabletop exercises on bioterrorism for easily overawed public officials, exercises tweaked to be horrifying. [And she] has never obviously appeared to examine what current terrorist capabilities have been… in favor of extrapolating how easy it would be to launch bioterror attacks if one had potentially unlimited resources and scientific know-how.”It’s a “superb appointment if you’re in the biodefense industry and interested in further opportunity and growth,” he tells Danger Room. “Alternatively, a disaster if threat assessment and prevention ought to have some basis in reality.”

If confirmed, O’Toole would succeed the widely-respected Jay Cohen, a retired admiral.

[bth: great. another whack job]

The Associated Press: In Iraq, an exodus of Christians

The Associated Press: In Iraq, an exodus of Christians: "BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq has lost more than half the Christians who once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled have plans to return, The Associated Press has learned.

Pope Benedict XVI called attention to their plight during a Mideast visit this week, urging the international community to ensure the survival of 'the ancient Christian community of that noble land.'

The number of Arab Christians has plummeted across the Mideast in recent years as increasing numbers seek to move to the West, saying they feel increasingly unwelcome in the Middle East and want a better life abroad.

But the exodus has been particularly stark in Iraq — where sectarian violence since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion has often targeted Christians.

The AP found that hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled.

The situation holds practical implications for Iraq's future. Christians historically made up a large portion of the country's middle class, including key jobs as doctors, engineers, intellectuals and civil servants.

The last official Iraqi census in 1987 found 1.4 million Christians in the country. Now, according to the 2008 U.S. State Department report on International Religious Freedom, that number has dropped to between 550,000 and 800,000.

Some estimate the number is even lower: only 400,000, according to the German Catholic relief organization Kirche in Not. The number is echoed privately by many Iraqi Christians.

The vast majority of the exodus has happened since the 2003 invasion, the State Department and other statistics suggest. The State Department says as many as 1.2 million Christians remained into 2003.

Christians first began leaving Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, during the economic sanctions and repression under Saddam Hussein, who pushed more Islamist policies. But the trickle turned to a flood after Saddam was toppled in 2003 and the violence escalated, said a prominent Iraqi Christian lawmaker, Younadem Kana.

"I hope to leave for any other place in the world," said Sheeran Surkon, a 27-year-old Iraqi woman who fled to Syria in 2004 after she received death threats, her father disappeared and her beauty salon was blown up. She now awaits resettlement to another country, saying she can't tolerate the violence and new Muslim conservatism in Iraq.

"How can I live there as a woman?" she asked.

Daoud Daoud, 70, a former civil servant in the northern city of Mosul, now spends his time waiting with dozens of others at a Damascus resettlement center, hoping to follow his children to Sweden.

"Iraq as we once knew it is over. For us there is no future there," he said....

Ares Homepage- General Mattias

Ares Homepage:... "Mattis said that the preponderance of irregular conflicts in the near term—whatever form those conflicts may take—are going to force military planners to prepare for operations with a well-articulated campaign design instead of “jumping into” military planning. What he means is that “we might send a sewer repair team” overseas before sending combat troops. “You can send troops into a situation and they can make the situation worse,” he said, particularly if the troops don’t have at least some cultural knowledge of the area to which they are being deployed.

All this isn’t to say that the general nicknamed “Mad Dog” has gone soft on us. Quite the contrary. As the hero of the battles of 73 Easting and Tal Afar, Brig. Gen H.R. McMaster, said later in the day, even with the need to employ relatively nuanced political and cultural awareness campaigns in the conduct of an irregular operation, at the end of the day, most any irregular conflict still calls for the use of some degree of violence.

Mattis wouldn’t disagree—what he was getting at was the need to view war as a complex political and social problem that requires varying degrees of influence and pressure, whether that be through arms or through aid—or most likely some combination of the two—to achieve the desired end state.

On the tech side, Mattis put on his JFCOM hat, saying that in the future, he wants to train the military to “break free” of the top-heavy command and control that allows commanders to be in constant contact with their troops in the field. He doesn’t want to do away with the technology, far from it, but instead train units down to the squad level to act more independently, since dispersed, small-unit operations will likely be a big part in future operations. Mattis envisions a future where an “Army squad[s] on the ground” can call in joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets when needed, including close air support, without having to run the requests up through the chain of command.

Aviation Week: Beast of Kandahar Stealthy UAV

Ares Homepage
French aerospace magazine Air & Cosmos has published a photograph of a mystery flying-wing aircraft taken at Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2007. Darren Lake of Shephard's UVOnline first reported the existence of the unknown and presumed unmanned aircraft in March. Air & Cosmos has generously provided us with the picture:

French aerospace magazine Air & Cosmos has
published a photograph of a mystery flying-wing aircraft taken at
Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2007. Darren Lake of Shephard's UVOnline first reported the existence of the unknown and presumed unmanned aircraft in March. Air & Cosmos has generously provided us with the picture: 

blog post photo
Credit: Air & Cosmos

Air & Cosmos was sent the picture by someone operating with the French in Afghanistan. It confirms the overall configuration shown in the artist's concept produced by Shephard and based on a long-distance photograph of the aircraft taxiing at Kandahar. Bill has dubbed it the "Beast of Kandahar".


blog post photo

Credit: Shepard, UVOnline


blog post photo
Credit: Air & Cosmos

Air & Cosmos was sent the picture by someone operating with the French in Afghanistan. It confirms the overall configuration shown in the artist's concept produced by Shephard and based on a long-distance photograph of the aircraft taxiing at Kandahar. Bill has dubbed it the "Beast of Kandahar".


blog post photo

Credit: Shepard, UVOnline

Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More

Explorer-Scouts Train in Post-9/11 Law Enforcement Methods - NYTimes.com



The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration
and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one
of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more
traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.


“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,”
said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County,
whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps
run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy
Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended
to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve
chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous
situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out
“active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death
to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put
him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol
agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

One
participant, Felix Arce, 16, said he liked “the discipline of the
program,” which was something he said his life was lacking.
“I want to be a lawyer, and this teaches you about how crimes are
committed,” he said. ....

[bth:  WTF?  Has the national boy scout organization gone nuts to allow something like this?  Boy Scouts, even at the Explorer level, is not a paramilitary organization.  It simply cannot allow this type of conduct.  Unbelievable.]

Raw Story » Powell aide: Cheney first approved torture to tie Iraq, al Qaeda

Raw Story » Powell aide: Cheney first approved torture to tie Iraq, al Qaeda: "The chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell says that the Bush Administration authorized torture of detainees before even rendering a legal opinion on the practice — and that they sought to torture detainees in an effort to produce intelligence tying Iraq to al Qaeda.

“What I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002–well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion–its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida,” former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson wrote Wednesday evening.

“So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney’s office that their detainee “was compliant” (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP’s office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods,” Wilkerson added. “The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa’ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, “revealed” such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.”....

Leon Panetta's mission to stop Israel bombing Iranian nuclear plant - Times Online

Leon Panetta's mission to stop Israel bombing Iranian nuclear plant - Times Online: "America’s spy chief was sent on a secret mission to Israel to warn its leaders not to launch a surprise attack on Iran without notifying the US Administration."...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pentagon Reports Army Mascot 'Liberty' Killed in Iraq | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Pentagon Reports Army Mascot 'Liberty' Killed in Iraq | The Onion - America's Finest News Source


Pentagon Reports Army Mascot 'Liberty' Killed in Iraq

Senate Rejects Interest-Rate Cap on Credit Cards - NYTimes.com

Senate Rejects Interest-Rate Cap on Credit Cards - NYTimes.com: "Despite complaints that banks and credit card companies are gouging customers by charging outrageous interest rates, the Senate on Wednesday turned back an effort to cap interest rates at 15 percent."...

[bth: not capping credit card interest rates is really a bad move. So the government wants consumers to spend and to get back to financial health, but usury doesn't accomplish that. Rates that no honest man can pay make paying off credit cards the number one best investment a person can make. Net result - consumer stopped spending, they are targeting their credit cards which despite what pundits may say surged because of exploding gasoline prices last year and rising medical costs. So we are deflation - a contraction in borrowing and spending-- now while usurious interest rates beating the middle class into poverty. Thanks congress, thanks for nothing.]

Video: SupportYourVet.org | Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Video: SupportYourVet.org | Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Record bombs dropped in Afghanistan in April - Navy News, news from Iraq - Navy Times

Record bombs dropped in Afghanistan in April - Navy News, news from Iraq - Navy Times: "Air Force, Navy and other coalition warplanes dropped a record number of bombs in Afghanistan during April, Air Forces Central figures show.

In the past month, warplanes released 438 bombs, the most ever.

April also marked the fourth consecutive month that the number of bombs dropped rose, after a decline starting last July.

The munitions were released during 2,110 close-air support sorties.

The actual number of airstrikes was higher because the AFCent numbers don’t include attacks by helicopters and special operations gunships. The numbers also don’t include strafing runs or launches of small missiles.

Over Iraq, 26 bombs were released during 767 strike sorties.

Transport crews airdropped 1.8 million pounds of supplies, mostly in Afghanistan, and tankers off loaded 85 million pounds of fuel.

Reconnaissance aircraft flew 1,402 missions over Iraq and Afghanistan."

Gizmodo - RiSE Robot Climbs Poles Like Some Sort of Ferocious Animal - RiSE

Gizmodo - RiSE Robot Climbs Poles Like Some Sort of Ferocious Animal - RiSE

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pentagon official charged with conspiracy to pass secrets to China

The Raw Story | Pentagon official charged with conspiracy to pass secrets to China: "A Pentagon official formerly of the US Air Force has been charged with conspiracy to pass classified information to an agent of China, the US Justice Department said Wednesday.

A criminal complaint said that retired Lieutenant Colonel James Wilbur Fondren, a deputy director of the US Pacific Command's Washington Liaison Office, 'unlawfully and knowingly conspired' to communicate secrets."...
Informed Comment

YouTube - Development of a vehicle operable by the visually impaired

YouTube - Development of a vehicle operable by the visually impaired

Army suicides soar past 2008's pace | Salon News

Army suicides soar past 2008's pace | Salon News: "May 12, 2009 | The Army is on a pace this year to shatter the record suicide rate set among soldiers in 2008, according to data released by the Army to Salon. And the numbers, obtained a day after a patient at a combat stress clinic in Iraq killed five, suggest that combat stress may be contributing to the spike in suicides.

During the first four months of 2009, 91 soldiers committed suicide, including suspected suicides still under investigation. During all of last year, 140 Army soldiers committed suicide, resulting in the highest rate on record. If Army suicides continue at the rate recorded from Jan. 1 to April 30, more than 270 soldiers will be dead by their own hands at the end of this year. The large majority of suicides are among enlisted soldiers, privates, specialists and sergeants.

The only bright spot in the new suicide data is some evidence that Army efforts to improve suicide prevention -- among other things, implementing 'chain teaching' among troops on suicide risk, hiring more mental health workers and releasing suicide prevention videos -- seem to be taking hold."...

Previous reporting by Salon has established the connection between combat stress and suicide....

[bth: at least Mark Benjamin is doing investigative reporting. There aren't many reporters covering these issues in depth. He is a rare and valued commodity.]

Tillman's parents want general's record reviewed

Tillman's parents want general's record reviewed
WASHINGTON – The parents of slain Army Ranger and NFL star Pat Tillman voiced concerns Tuesday that the general who played a role in mischaracterizing his death could be put in charge of military operations in Afghanistan.

In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Pat Tillman Sr. accused Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal of covering up the circumstances of the 2004 slaying.

"I do believe that guy participated in a falsified homicide investigation," Pat Tillman Sr. said.

Separately, Mary Tillman called it "imperative" that McChrystal's record be carefully considered before he is confirmed.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert Gates has complete confidence in McChrystal, whom he hopes can be confirmed by the Senate before month's end.

"We feel terrible for what the Tillman family went through, but this matter has been investigated thoroughly by the Pentagon, by the Congress, by outside experts, and all of them have come to the same conclusion: that there was no wrongdoing by Gen. McChrystal," Morrell said.

Aides to the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will consider the nomination, said they were unaware of any opposition to McChrystal.

McChrystal, a former "black ops" special forces chief credited with nabbing one of the most-wanted fugitives in Iraq, was tapped Monday to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Gen. David McKiernan, who was fired in an unusual wartime shake-up.

In April 2004, McChrystal approved paperwork awarding Tillman a Silver Star after he was killed by enemy fire — even though he suspected the Ranger had died by fratricide, according to Pentagon testimony later obtained by the AP.

The testimony showed that McChrystal sent a memo to top generals imploring "our nation's leaders," specifically the president, to avoid cribbing the "devastating enemy fire" explanation from the award citation for their speeches. In 2007, the Army overruled a Pentagon recommendation that McChrystal be held accountable for his "misleading" actions....

[bth: this is a total whitewash to which Congress is becoming complicit.  This is a very bad thing.  In a couple of months when we bomb some village by mistake and our honesty is called into question, is McCrystal the man to put in front of the world's media to say we're telling the truth and the Taliban isn't?]


Raw Story » Undersupplied US soldiers forced to steal water in Iraq

Raw Story » Undersupplied US soldiers forced to steal water in Iraq: ..."US soldiers are now being forced to steal water in Iraq. With supplies tight, and the number of trucks carrying potable water even tighter, troops have resorted to stealing water from civilian contractors. Many have also reportedly suffered from dysentery because they were forced to drink untreated water from Iraqi wells.

The shocking news aired Wednesday on Houston-based CBS affiliate KHOU."

It gets worse. Soldiers say the situation has become so dire they were forced to raid the United States’ own airbase in Baghdad for bottled water. They found the water stored in pallets held by civilian contractors, who were supposed to be distributing it.

“It really hit me the day I was with my commander and we’re stealing water,” Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Robey told the station, describing his mission to collect water at the Baghdad International Airport. A second soldier said he’d also stolen water from civilian contractors: “We’d just run out and start grabbing cases of water and start throwing them in the gunner’s hatch,” Private Bryan Hannah quipped.

Soldiers averred that they’d been given two to three liters of water per day by their commanders. But according to the Army’s own field manual, the human body can lose as much as four gallons of water daily in the desert.

Two to three liters isn’t enough, Robey said. “You’ll see guys throw up, you’ll see them pass out.”

Who’s supposed to be maintaining the water supply? At least in some parts of Iraq, it’s the US engineering contractor KBR. KBR is a spinoff of Halliburton, which it separated from in 2007....


[bth: here we go again]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Raw Story » Did newly announced top Afghan general run Cheney’s assassination wing?

The Raw Story » Did newly announced top Afghan general run Cheney’s assassination wing?: "It was reported on Tuesday that Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal will be taking over command of US forces in Afghanistan, pending Senate approval.

McChrystal is presently director of the Joint Chiefs staff, but from September 2003 to August 2008, he headed the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which oversees such elite units as the Army's Delta Force and the Navy SEALs.

Famed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh recently described the JSOC as an 'executive assassination wing' controlled for many years by the office of former Vice President Dick Cheney."...

[bth: WTF? Why is Obama/Gates promoting this man in Afghanistan?]

Raw Story » New Afghan commander fingered in Tillman coverup

Raw Story » New Afghan commander fingered in Tillman coverup: "President Barack Obama’s new choice to lead US operations in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, suspected that former football star Pat Tillman had been killed by friendly fire but approved a Silver Star regardless.

According to military testimony acquired by the Associated Press in 2007, McChrystal went so far as to warn top US generals that Tillman’s death was suspicious. In the memo, he implored “our nation’s leaders,” specifically “POTUS” — the President of the United States — “to avoid using the award citation’s language of “devastating enemy fire” in their speeches.”

McChrystal himself had signed off on the award."

Ultimately, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general said McChrystal should be held “accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions” in his Silver Star award recommendation and for failing to notify officials of his suspicions.

But Army general William Wallace concluded that McChrystal had behaved “reasonably” and no action was taken.

Tillman turned down a 3-year, $3.6 million contract to join the Army Rangers in 2002, following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Pentagon officials first said he’d died as a result of enemy fire; subsequent investigations revealed a broad cover-up by military officials in an effort to mischaracterize the circumstances of Tillman’s death.

McChrystal, who suspected fratricide in the days after Tillman’s death, “never directly explained” why he believed Tillman’s death was suspicious, according to investigators. He said “that he believed Tillman deserved the award and that he wanted to warn top U.S. military and political leadership that friendly fire was a possibility.”

Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request in 2007 provided more details on why McChrystal might have believed Tillman’s death was a fratricide. But the documents have not made clear how much McChrystal knew or why he was suspicious.

“Because I thought it was friendly fire, I thought it was important that key attendees know that that theory could become the finding of the investigation, and if they were going to make a statement about ‘killed by enemy fire,’ it might not be certain,” McChrystal said.

The documents showed “that a doctor who autopsied Tillman’s body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead,” AP wrote. “The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army’s Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.”

In addition, they found that “Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.”

They also revealed that no evidence “at all” of enemy fire was found at the scene....


[bth: what is going on here? Why did Gates, who I respect immensely, promote this liar and public deceiver into such an important and politically sensitive spot?]

Washington's Blog: On deflation in China

Washington's Blog: "Nouriel Roubini rounds up what analysts are saying about the issue in an article entitled 'What is the Risk of a Deflationary Spiral In China?':"


  • China's CPI [consumer price index] fell 1.5% y/y in April, the third consecutive decline (CPI fell 1.2% y/y in March and 1.6% y/y in Feb). Non-food prices fell 1.5%. April CPI was down 0.2% mom and CPI for January-April was 0.8% lower in Jan-April y/y . Food prices, which comprise one-third of the CPI, dropped 1.3% y/y and 0.8% m/m, dragged down by a 28.6% decline in pork prices due to swine flu a reversal of the 0.5% increase in Q1. (via China Daily)
  • PPI [producer price index] fell 6.6% in April, the forth monthly decline and the steepest (PPI fell an average of 4.6% in Q109) suggesting further pressure on consumer prices ahead. However the increase in global commodity prices may boost PPI in H2 2009 as base effects from 2008 begin to erode. The sharpest contractions were seen in excavation (-21.5% yoy), raw materials (-10.3% yoy) and manufacturing (-5.4% yoy) but PPI may stabilize in y/y terms in Q3 as government stimulus demand limits deflationary pressure (via Citi)
  • Chinese CPI peaked in February 2008 on high commodity prices and the year on year declines in such prices will depress prices for several months...
  • The imput prices index of China's PMI is now increasing (in April)
  • DBS: current policy directions including the explosive credit expansion in Q1 limit the prospect of a deflationary spiral despite negative headline readings given the explosive credit expansion in Q1. If loose monetary conditions (broad money growth outpaced GDP growth by 7 times in Q1) are sustained for another quarter, they would contribute to inflationary pressures.
  • [Morgan Stanley]:The initial deflationary impulse due to positive supply shocks should bring about cost savings, especially to energy- and raw materials-intensive sectors. Yet sticky nominal wages will lead real wages to rise, profit margins to fall and employment to be cut back, which along with the effects of past tightening may set off a deflationary cycle with far more serious consequences unless the government can prevent deflationary expectations from getting entrenched.
  • [United Overseas Bank]: The rebound in the global commodity prices from a bottom has translated into higher input prices for China’s manufacturers (reaching 50 in the CFLP PMI for the first time since Aug 2008), which reduces deflationary pressure and can revoke re-stocking. inflation may come back earlier than expected and investment may have a more positive contribution to the economy ahead.
  • Goldman (via WSJ) CPI growth was negative in month-on-month terms for 7 months through February suggesting that China entered deflation before February 2009
  • The disinflation has been to a large degree driven by the weak real estate market (Danske)
  • The moderation in PPI for consumer goods is more modest than overall numbers, suggesting deflationary pressure is not yet broad-based. Despite the downward trend in PPI, prices of some goods (steel) have rebounded on the stimulus plan and post-winter rollout may boost prices (UOB)...
[bth: worth reading in full.]

Washington's Blog - On the relative severity of the current flu epidemic

Washington's Blog: "A study published today in the journal Science concludes:

While substantial uncertainty remains, clinical severity [of the current swine flu] appears less than that seen in 1918 but comparable with that seen in 1957.

The 1957 flu killed about 2 million people, which is between four and eight times more deadly than a typical seasonal flu epidemic which cause between 250,000 to 500,000 deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization.

The 1918 flu killed between 50 to 100 million people.
Given that the current H1N1 strain has not killed many people to date, I am guessing that the Science projections are assuming a more lethal mutation later this year."

Washington's Blog - 911 Mastermind on Torture

Washington's Blog:... "Here's what KSM told the Red Cross:

During the harshest period of my interrogation I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop. I later told the interrogators that their methods were stupid and counterproductive. I'm sure that the false information I was forced to invent in order to make the ill-treatment stop wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the U.S."....

Rise in Taliban activities around Peshawar

Rise in Taliban activities around Peshawar: "Peshawar, May 11 : Taliban activities are surging in and around Peshawar after the Swat operation began, as traders staged a protest against what they call the government's failure to curb the increasing incidents of abduction.

A suicide attack, bomb blasts, rockets attacks and several kidnappings for ransom have been reported in the first 10 days of May."...

[bth: note the protests are over the kidnapping for ransom of traders. See the prior posted stories about timber and gems breaking up of mafia families to be replaced with new mafias that enjoy more popular support.]

What sustains the Taliban? Gems, timber and marble

What sustains the Taliban? Gems, timber and marble: ..."'Yet a picture is now emerging which tells a very different story as to how these groups get their money and sustain themselves - with three natural resources namely gemstones, timber and marble featuring strongly,' the editorial said.

'Necessity, goes the saying, is the mother of invention, and income diversity is now the name of the game,' it added.

Marble was the Taliban's first target, beginning April 2008 when they took over the Ziarat quarry in the Mohmand Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Around a million tonnes of marble a year are mined in FATA every year - and prior to the Taliban takeover, the government had hoped to increase marble and granite exports to $500m by 2013, 'a hope now not to be realized with the profit now going into other pocke's', The News said.

The emerald mines of Swat were next. By late March, reports began to be confirmed that militants had taken control of the government's emerald mines located in the mountains of Mingora, the largest city of the district.

The occupation of the Mingora mine apparently took place sometime in February 2009, following the controversial peace deal between the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) administration and Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Muhammad, the newspaper said.

Taliban forces then seized the nearby Shamozai and"Gujjar Killi mines and started mining and trading gems 'probably at below market rates'.

'Local people were reportedly happy with the takeover as it was said that the Taliban were sharing up to one-third of the profit with them,' the editorial pointed out.

Swat is rich in timber, 'and a partnership between the long-established timber mafia in Swat and Dir has been rapidly established'.

A further 'income steam' is being established via the non-commercial route of the jaziya tax, the levying of which has forced some 35 Sikh families, who have resided for long in FATA's Orakzai Agency, to flee the area.

Their property and houses have been appropriated by the Taliban, the editorial noted.

[bth: its about the money.]

EurasiaNet Eurasia Insight - Uzbekistan: Karimov Gives Washington the Air Base it Needs for Afghan Operations

EurasiaNet Eurasia Insight - Uzbekistan: Karimov Gives Washington the Air Base it Needs for Afghan Operations: "With a helping hand from South Korea, the United States has reestablished a strategic presence in Uzbekistan - sort of. The development provides a boost for US efforts to press an offensive against Islamic militants in Afghanistan, and offers evidence that Russia’s influence in Central Asia is waning.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov revealed on May 11 that a cargo airport in the city of Navoi is already being used for the airborne transport of NATO non-lethal supplies destined for coalition forces in Afghanistan. The announcement coincided with a state visit by South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. South Korea is overseeing a major renovation at Navoi airport that will turn the facility into a world-class air freight hub.

South Korea’s involvement in the project provides a face-saving way for the resumption of US-Uzbek strategic cooperation, capping over a year of US diplomatic efforts to bridge the rift that opened amid the fallout from the 2005 Andijan massacre. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Karimov evicted US forces from an air base in Karshi Khanabad in late 2005 as a response to US protests over his administration’s handling of the Andijan events....

[bth: good move]

Concerns white phosphorus used in Afghan battle

Concerns white phosphorus used in Afghan battle: "KABUL – Doctors voiced concern over 'unusual' burns on Afghan villagers wounded in an already controversial U.S.-Taliban battle, and the country's top human rights groups said Sunday it is investigating the possibility white phosphorus was used.

The American military denied using the incendiary in the battle in Farah province — which President Hamid Karzai has said killed 125 to 130 civilians — but left open the possibility that Taliban militants did. The U.S. says Taliban fighters have used white phosphorus, a spontaneously flammable material that leaves severe chemical burns on flesh, at least four times the last two years.

Using white phosphorus to illuminate a target or create smoke is considered legitimate under international law, but rights groups say its use over populated areas can indiscriminately burn civilians and constitutes a war crime.

Afghan doctors told The Associated Press they have treated at least 14 patients with severe burns the doctors have never seen before. The villagers were wounded during last Monday's battle in Farah province"..

[bth: the log books maintained by the US military would answer this question one way or another. Could it be that the change in US military leadership in Afghanistan was linked directly to the use of Willy Pete on a village?]

Taliban funded by $800m gems, marbles trade - Pakistan - World - The Times of India

Taliban funded by $800m gems, marbles trade - Pakistan - World - The Times of India: "ISLAMABAD: A major chunk of the whopping USD 800 million of annual illegal trade in gems, timber and marbles may be sustaining the activities of
Taliban in Pakistan's restive north-west, a media report said on Monday.

'It is not possible to put a definitive figure on how much the Taliban are making from their excursion into economic activity, but the government estimates that it is losing 65 billion rupees annually from the illegal timber trade and indiscriminate deforestation alone,' The News said in its editorial 'Funding Terror' today."

Marble was their first target, starting in April 2008 when they took over the Ziarat marble quarry in Mohmand.

Around a million tons of marble a year are mined in FATA every year - and prior to the takeover the government had hoped to increase marble and granite exports to USD 500 million by 2013; a hope now not to be realised with the profit now going into other pockets.

The emerald mines of Swat were next. By late March of this year reports began to be confirmed that militants had taken control of government controlled emerald mines located in the mountains of Mingora. Swat is also rich in timber.

The occupation of the Mingora mine apparently took place sometime in February 2009, following the peace deal between the provincial administration and Sufi Muhammad. Taliban forces then seized the nearby Shamozai and Gujjar Killi mines and started mining and trading gems.

[bth: I wonder how much of the Pakistani military push is about recapturing these profit centers.]

Pakistani claims of high Taliban casualties 'wildly exaggerated' - US officials - The Long War Journal

Pakistani claims of high Taliban casualties 'wildly exaggerated' - US officials - The Long War Journal: "US military and intelligence officials are expressing skepticism about Pakistani claims of high Taliban casualties as the fighting spreads in the volatile northwest.

The Pakistani military's daily reports of hundreds of Taliban fighters killed in the districts of Swat, Shangla, Dir, and Buner are 'wildly exaggerated,' a senior US intelligence official who is closely watching the operations in Pakistan told The Long War Journal.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, claimed that more than 700 Taliban fighters were killed in the last four days in Swat alone, Dawn reported. But a US intelligence official described Malik's claim as 'fantastic.'

'Malik's numbers are even more fantastic than those given by the Pakistani military, which has claimed more than 300 Taliban fighters were killed since late last week,' a US intelligence official told The Long War Journal. 'Clearly they [the Pakistani security establishment] want us to believe they're having fantastic success against the Taliban.'"

"The numbers issued by the military are wildly exaggerated," a military intelligence official said, noting that the military is over-relying on air and artillery strikes instead of engaging the Taliban. "This is like a bad movie we've all seen before. The Pakistani military levels large areas, claims success, and thinks we'll be conned into believing it if they pump up the Taliban body counts."

The military said more than 15,000 troops, including units from the paramilitary Frontier Corps, are engaged against an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 Taliban fighters in Swat. Malik's numbers would indicate that the Taliban have suffered 10 percent killed and likely another 20 to 30 percent wounded....


[bth: staged theater for our enjoyment so long as we pay the admission fees to the Paki politicians and military leaders - bribes. We paid for the staged performance, we might as well enjoy it.]

'Horrible bond auction' lifts long-term rates | The Australian

'Horrible bond auction' lifts long-term rates | The Australian: "A SHIVER ran through world bond markets on Friday after a US Treasury auction of $US14 billion ($18 billion) in 30-year bonds on Thursday night struggled to find buyers, pushing long-term rates up by 15 basis points to 4.26 per cent.

'It was a horrible auction,' Mary Ann Hurley, vice-president of fixed-income trading at D.A. Davidson & Co in Seattle told Reuters.

'It just does not bode well for interest rates. It's ugly, it's very, very ugly,' she said.

The global mushrooming of government bond issuance - the IMF says the four biggest issuers are chasing $US4 trillion this year - raises the question of whether there are enough investors to go around."...

This is London – the capital of Somali pirates' secret intelligence operation | World news | The Guardian

This is London – the capital of Somali pirates' secret intelligence operation | World news | The Guardian: ..."What the crew could not know was that their ship had been singled out as a target by a network of informers based several thousand miles away – in London. Security officials say well-placed informants in the British capital, the world centre of shipbroking and insurance, gather so much detail on targets that, in the case of the Karagöl, they not only knew its layout, route and cargo, but had spent several days practising the assault.

The attack on the Turkish ship was a sign that the pirates have turned a regional phenomenon into a global criminal business that now reaches into the heart of London's shipping community.

'They made regular calls from the ship to London,' said Haldun Dincel, general manager of Turkey's Yardimci shipping company, who negotiated the release of their ship. The calls were made on satellite phones the pirates brought with them."

Speaking by telephone from Istanbul, Dincel said today that London was one of a number of centres the pirates contacted regularly after the tanker had been sailed to the Somali coast and senior gang members had boarded and taken control. "Every day the chief of the pirates got in touch with people from London, Dubai and some from the Yemen," he said.

At least one of the four or five major pirate groups that are now carrying out the attacks has London-based "consultants" to help them choose their targets, according to a European military intelligence report leaked to Spain's Cadena SER radio station yesterday.

The report has been circulated around those countries, including Britain, that are involved in the European Union's Operation Atalanta to protect ships against piracy in the area. It indicated that the hijacking of at least three vessels, including the Karagöl, the Greek cargo ship Titan and Spanish tuna trawler Felipe Ruano, followed tipoffs from the London-centred network of informers, according to Cadena SER.

In each case, according to the report, the pirates had full knowledge of the cargo, nationality and course of the vessel.

It is not clear who these ­"consultants" were, but Dincel believes they may work inside the industry. "They knew the ­vessel, they knew the cargo, they knew the loading ports, they knew the destination, they knew everything," he said. "The knew their job."

Andrew Mwangura, who heads the East African's Seafarer's Assistance Programme, a piracy monitoring group based in Mombassa, Kenya, said negotiations over hijacked ships often involve Somalis in London. "Not only for the Karagöl, but for many other ships, the negotiations involve people in London," he said.

The EU report said information being passed to the pirates was often extracted from the international organisations that control or track the world's shipping.

The national flag of the vessel was also taken into account when choosing a target, with British vessels apparently being increasingly avoided, the report said.

"We have heard this a lot. It strikes me as plausible," said Graeme Gibbon-Brooks, of Dryad Maritime Intelligence, last night. "They are getting more sophisticated because they are funded by criminal gangs from outside of Somalia."

He warned, however, that while pirates might receive information on individual targets from London and elsewhere it was still difficult to locate a ship in mid-ocean. Pirates were more likely to receive lists of potential targets so they could identify one if they came across it, he said.

Dincel said he suspected the pirates' informers had also infiltrated the authorities who run the Suez canal, enabling them to track the Karagöl's movements from the moment it left the canal.

Dincel himself spoke several times a day to one of two pirate negotiators who had both lived in the US. "One said he had lived there for 10 years," he said. "The other had graduated from a US college. The ship's master also said they were educated people."

Dincel said the chief negotiator had told him over the telephone that all young Somalis wanted to become pirates. "He said that he had a car, money and a house. He has everything and the young people see him, and naturally they ask to be pirates." In January, Yardimci eventually airlifted money to the pirates to secure the release of the Karagöl and its cargo.

U.S. Fires Afghan War Chief - WSJ.com

U.S. Fires Afghan War Chief - WSJ.com: ..."Gen. McChrystal and Gen. Rodriguez bring a different set of experiences. Gen. McChrystal, who currently serves as the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has spent most of his career in the secretive special operations community and oversaw the commando teams that captured Saddam Hussein and killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Gen. Rodriguez, who serves as Mr. Gates's senior military adviser, commanded the 82nd Airborne Division in eastern Afghanistan last year and is seen as one of the military's leading experts on counterinsurgency. He will assume the newly created post of deputy commander for operations for the 45,000 American troops now in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama has made Afghanistan and the troubled Pakistan border his top international priority, saying he would shift the balance of the U.S. military effort away from Iraq. The new Afghan war strategy spelled out earlier this year puts a heavy emphasis on counterinsurgency, and both Gen. McChrystal and Gen. Rodriguez are highly regarded in the Pentagon for their skills in irregular warfare."...

CQ Politics | SpyTalk - Young Pakistan Army Officers May Be Turning to Taliban, Insiders Say

CQ Politics | SpyTalk - Young Pakistan Army Officers May Be Turning to Taliban, Insiders Say: "A retired Pakistani general confided a deep worry to a friend in Washington last week: that some young officers in Pakistan's regular army have become increasingly sympathetic over the past few years to the Taliban and their brand of radical Islam.

While he had no numbers or percentages of officers sympathetic to the Taliban, the possibility of any defections raises questions about the reliability of these officers during any sort of push against the Taliban by the Pakistani army."...

[bth: well worth reading in full. Is this war in Pakistan as much an ethnic war as a religious one?]

AFP: China exports down 22.6 pct in April: state media

AFP: China exports down 22.6 pct in April: state media: "BEIJING (AFP) — Chinese exports fell 22.6 percent in April from a year earlier in the sixth straight monthly decline, state media said Tuesday, as the global financial crisis continued to take its toll.

Exports from the world's third-largest economy totalled 91.94 billion dollars last month, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing figures from the customs bureau.

The drop was larger than that recorded in March, despite hopes that China's exports performance would start to improve.

Commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian said in April that China was confident exports would improve 'on the basis of the gradual recovery seen in the first quarter.'

Exports in March fell by 17.1 percent year-on-year, narrowing from a 25.7 percent dive in February, the worst slump in more than a decade"...

[bth: Soros says China will be the first to recover. I don't see the recovery.]

Soldier kills at least 4 in clinic shooting - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times

Soldier kills at least 4 in clinic shooting - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times: ..."According to the Army official, details of the incident continue to emerge as investigators continue their work, but preliminary reports show the soldier was was being escorted to the clinic, for reasons not yet explained. Once inside, he got into a verbal altercation with the staff and was asked to leave. The soldier and his escort got back into their vehicle and began to drive away, according to the Army official.

At some point during the drive, the soldier got control of his escort’s weapon and ordered the escort out of the vehicle, the Army official said. The soldier then drove back to the clinic, walked in and began shooting, the official said.

Army reports show five people were shot; four of them, all soldiers, were killed. Their identities have yet to be released, pending notification of their families."...

Soros says economic downward trend easing: report

Soros says economic downward trend easing: report: ..."'The economic freefall has been stopped, the collapse of the financial system averted. National economic stimulus programs are starting to take effect. The downward dynamic is easing,' Soros told the newspaper.

'I expect the recovery to make up for around half of the downturn we have had and then to move into stagnation,' Soros said. 'Asia will be first to find out of the crisis, but America is also currently doing that.'"...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Washington's Blog: Why the Government's Attempt to Instill False Confidence Will Backfire

Washington's Blog: Why the Government's Attempt to Instill False Confidence Will Backfire:... "In short, happy talk and fake confidence-building exercises don't work.

Indeed, trying to instill false confidence will actually backfire on Geithner, Summers and the boys and make the crisis worse.

Why?

Because psychologists say that - until government and business leaders prove they can behave responsibly, and until the perpetrators of financial fraud are held accountable - real trust will not be restored and the economy will not recover.

Trying to put a happy face on a grim situation, continuing to do things which are transparent attempts to instill false confidence, and leaving in power the people who caused the crisis reinforces the market's convictions that (1) government and business leaders are behaving irresponsibly instead of addressing the fundamental problems and (2) there is no accountability."

So people's trust declines still further, thus substantially delaying any chance of a sustainable economic recovery. In other words, by trying too hard to instill confidence, the powers-that-be actually undermine it and exacerbate the financial crisis.

Keeping quiet about how bad things are won't help. As the leading independent economists and financial experts all agree, the three things that will help are:
  1. Honestly addressing the causes of the crisis;

  2. Honestly addressing the necessary - if bitter - medicine needed to get out of the crisis; and

  3. Holding responsible those who caused the crisis.
[bth: worth reading in full]

Shaky Pakistan Is Seen as a Target of Plots by Al Qaeda - NYTimes.com

Shaky Pakistan Is Seen as a Target of Plots by Al Qaeda - NYTimes.com:... "Intelligence officials say the Taliban advances in Swat and Buner, which are closer to Islamabad than to the tribal areas, have already helped Al Qaeda in its recruiting efforts. The officials say the group’s recruiting campaign is currently aimed at young fighters across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia who are less inclined to plan and carry out far-reaching global attacks and who have focused their energies on more immediate targets.

“They smell blood, and they are intoxicated by the idea of a jihadist takeover in Pakistan,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former analyst for the C.I.A. who recently led the Obama administration’s policy review of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It remains unlikely that Islamic militants could seize power in Pakistan, given the strength of Pakistan’s military, according to American intelligence analysts. But a senior American intelligence official expressed concern that recent successes by the Taliban in extending territorial gains could foreshadow the creation of “mini-Afghanistans” around Pakistan that would allow militants even more freedom to plot attacks."...

When Chevron Investigates Chevron on Pollution - NYTimes.com

When Chevron Investigates Chevron on Pollution - NYTimes.com: "What did Chevron do when it learned that “60 Minutes” was preparing a potentially damaging report about oil company contamination of the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador? It hired a former journalist to produce a mirror image of the report, from the corporation’s point of view."...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Motherlover: SNL, Justin Timberlake Digital Short With Susan Sarandon, Patricia Clarkson, Andy Samberg (VIDEO)

Motherlover: SNL, Justin Timberlake Digital Short With Susan Sarandon, Patricia Clarkson, Andy Samberg (VIDEO)

Al Qaeda's Global Base Is Pakistan, Says Petraeus - WSJ.com

Al Qaeda's Global Base Is Pakistan, Says Petraeus - WSJ.com: ...."U.S. officials once believed that years of strikes had broken al Qaeda's leadership into smaller, less effective splinter groups. But in the interview, Gen. Petraeus said U.S. intelligence information suggested that al Qaeda has re-emerged as a centrally directed organization capable of helping to plan attacks in other countries. 'There is a degree of hierarchy, there is a degree of interconnection, and there is certainly a flow of people, money, expertise, explosives and knowledge,' he said."

Gen. Petraeus painted a picture of a globalized al Qaeda that maintains extensive logistical and communications links to terror groups in Morocco, Somalia and other countries. He said militants and supplies pass through southern Iran, helped by Sunni Arab "facilitators" in the predominantly Shiite Persian country.

A ring of Tunisian suicide bombers who were recently apprehended in Iraq appear to have received their directions from al Qaeda figures in Pakistan as well, he said. "There's absolutely no question about these links," he said.

American intelligence agencies have used drones to fire missiles at dozens of militant targets inside Pakistan in recent months, killing several top al Qaeda figures. But U.S. officials acknowledge that al Qaeda's senior leadership has survived those attacks....