Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Hayden: Congress Was Informed About Surveillance Program

Michael Hayden: Congress Was Informed About Surveillance Program: "WASHINGTON — Former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden angrily struck back Saturday at assertions the Bush administration's post-9/11 surveillance program was more far-reaching than imagined and was largely concealed from congressional overseers.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hayden maintained that top members of Congress were kept well-informed all along the way, notwithstanding protests from some that they were kept in the dark.

'One of the points I had in every one of the briefings was to make sure they understood the scope of our activity 'They've got to know this is bigger than a bread box,' I said,' said Hayden, who also previously headed the National Security Agency.

'At the political level this had support,' said the one-time CIA chief, jumping foursquare into an escalating controversy that has caused deep political divisions and lingering debate on the counterterrorism policies of an administration now out of power."...

[bth: this is going to get interesting]
Informed Comment

[bth: fascinating report on news coverage in Pakistan.]

Ares Homepage - the First Modern Air Defense War

Ares Homepage: "Early analyses of the air war between Georgia and Russia made it obvious that Russian forces had not planned or training for a coordinated attack against Georgia’s relatively modern air defenses.

It signaled a new era in that it was the first time that the Russian Air Force, or for that matter anyone else, has battled a modern air-defense system illustrated by use of the Buk M1, a product of the 1980s. Through the invasion of Iraq in 2003, forces around the world have been pitted against weapons designed in the 1950-60s, although often upgraded with digital components. The exception may be new-generation Manpads like the SA-16 which has been used against U.S. helicopters in Iraq and the SA-18. The latter is supposed to be confined to use by Russian Forces, but a number of them have already found their way into U.S. test laboratories via the black market.

After their initial losses, the Russians regrouped and destroyed both of Georgia’s S-125 Neva-M low-to-high altitude (SA-3) SAM battalions, most of the military and civilian radars, and the Buk-M1 and Osa-AK/AKM(SA-8B)low-altitude SAMs. After the Russian counterattack, air defenses were limited to shoulder-fired missiles (SA-7, SA-14 and SA-16). The Georgian radar network included the Ukrainian-supplied 36D6-M mobile, 3-D radar (which has been used with the S-300P (SA-10 SAM system)), Kolchuga-M passive electronic monitoring radar system and Mandat electronic warfare (jamming) system. The network was connected to the NATO air situation data exchange through Turkey which allowed Georgia to receive data directly from the unified air-defense system, the CAST analysis says.

A realistic analyses of the Russia/Georgia conflict “should serve as a stimulus for the cardinal modernization of the Russian armed forces [and impel] the Russian air force [to] devote greater attention to the suppression of enemy air defenses [and renew] tactics, electronic weapons and increased military training in these areas,” the CAST analyses says.

[bth; this suggests to me that in a new air war against a modern force the casualty rate among attacking aircraft would be extremely high. Does this mean that air forces should be investing in extremely expensive but numerically few stealth aircraft or in a bunch of lower cost aircraft supported by numerous and aggressive UAVs?]

New Unmanned Baby Sub To Protect Coastal Waters

New Unmanned Baby Sub To Protect Coastal Waters
In a move to help combat the growing threat of explosive mines hidden in shallow coastal waters such as ports and harbours and to increase the protection available to world shipping, BAE Systems has launched its first unmanned autonomous submarine to detect and deal with this newfound threat.

The 50kg vessel, called Talisman L, uses high-definition forward and sideways looking sonars, as well as a host of multi-view cameras.

It has a high degree of manoeuvrability and can turn within its own length and is able to operate at depths of 100 metres for anything up to 12 hours. With a top speed of more than five knots, it can hover and move around in any direction.

Paul Laity, Naval Programmes Director at BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies, said:

"While open water threats remain significant, there is an increasing need for a threat detection capability in confined coastal areas. With our new Talisman L we are providing a way of protecting our service men and women in these port and harbour environments.

"Talisman L can be deployed from almost any vessel, including rigid inflatable boats, and can be controlled either from a stand-alone console or integrated into a command ship's Combat Management System, saving space and increasing operational effectiveness."...

[bth: meet the future]

SASC Says No Surface Combatants After 2011 Without Major Analysis :: Defense Daily

SASC Says No Surface Combatants After 2011 Without Major Analysis :: Defense Daily: "By Geoff Fein Language in the Senate Armed Services Committee's (SASC) authorization report for fiscal year 2010 would prohibit the Navy from funding construction of any surface combatants after 2011 unless the service conducts analysis and certain tasks at.."

Eight British soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Eight British soldiers killed in Afghanistan: "Eight British soldiers have died in war-torn Helmand Province in Afghanistan in the 24 hours leading up to Friday night.

The deaths take the toll of British troops killed in the country to fifteen in the past 10 days.

Another milestone also accompanied the latest deaths. The number of fatalities since hostilities began in 2001 has now reached 184, more than the number of British soldiers killed in Iraq.

Five soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, who were on foot patrol were killed Friday in two separate explosions near Sangin, Helmand Province.

A soldier from the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment was also killed Friday as a result of an explosion during a deliberate operation near Nad-e-Ali, central Helmand province.

Two more British soldiers were killed on Thursday night. In the first incident, a soldier from 4th Battalion The Rifles was killed in a contact explosion."...

Roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan shatter record

Roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan shatter record -
WASHINGTON — Roadside bomb attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan are blowing past previous records, causing a rising number of wounded as U.S. troops are waging a major offensive to stop growing violence from Afghan insurgents.

The total number of incidents with roadside bombs, also called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), hit 736 in June, which set a record for the fourth straight month. Incidents have risen from 361 in March, to 407 in April and 465 in May, records show.

Records also show the steadily worsening security situation in Afghanistan during the past two years. In June 2007, there were 234 incidents and another 308 in June 2008, according to statistics from the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization. Incidents include IEDs found and cleared, ineffective attacks and attacks that kill or wound coalition troops.

"Tactically, IEDs remain the No. 1 threat to our troops," Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. He is the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Troops are attempting to dismantle the organizations that build the bombs and pay insurgents to plant them, McChrystal said. Last week, the Pentagon announced it was buying more than 5,200 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles with off-road capability to help troops in Afghanistan survive the blasts. The trucks cost $1 million each.

The number of effective attacks hit 82 in June, compared with 24 in June 2007. This June's attacks killed 23 troops and wounded another 166, records show. That was a 73% increase from the 96 troops wounded in May, the previous high. In June 2007, roadside bombs wounded 43 coalition troops; 85 were wounded by such attacks in June 2008.

The bombs have become more effective weapons for the Taliban, the hard-line Muslim movement that ruled Afghanistan before being run out of Kabul in 2001 by a U.S.-led invasion.

"There is no one solution," McChrystal said. "The best way to defeat IEDs will be to defeat the Taliban's hold on the people — to create a new atmosphere where the people reject the Taliban and their culture of fear and intimidation."

More than 4,000 Marines began an offensive in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province last week to drive out the Taliban. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said IEDs are causing 80% of all Marine casualties in Afghanistan.

British troops are suffering more IED attacks, too, British Defense Minister Bob Ainsworth said in a speech Wednesday. "These are deadly, indiscriminate weapons — the majority being killed and injured are Afghan locals. The technological complexity of the devices we are finding is increasing — as is their size and lethality," he said.

Two NATO soldiers were killed Monday in an IED explosion in Helmand, NATO said. Their identities and nationalities have not been identified.

President Obama has ordered 21,000 U.S. troops there to provide better security. There will be 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by year's end, double the level of U.S. forces there at the end of 2008.

Insurgent attacks have strengthened in Afghanistan over the past three years, and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Tuesday that violence there was likely to increase. "It is indicative of expectations that I've had for some time that this fight is going to be tough," he said. "It's going to be tougher before it gets easier."

Mullen pointed to the loss of seven U.S. troops on Monday. Four of those died when an IED exploded as their vehicle crossed a bridge in the northern Afghan region of Kunduz.

In Iraq, where IEDs remain the top killer of U.S. troops, overall incidents have plummeted, records show. There were 260 incidents in June, compared with 2,588 in June 2007 and 602 in June 2008. Effective IED attacks dropped from 242 in June 2007 and 47 last year to only 26 last month.

[bth: Tom Vanden Brook continues to be one of the better reporters on this subject redeeming USA Today who folded to Pentagon pressure around 2005 and fired one of its reporters for discussing vehicle inadequacies.  Anyway Tom is going OK - at least he is covering a subject that others find too boring yet contributing to 80% of our casualties - vehicles and IEDs.  Analyzing the numbers he has, one conclusion is evident, that IED casualties per incident are a fraction of what they wre from 2003-2006 when they were multiple casualties in 40% of attacks.  Now the figure in Iraq for the last three years seems to hover around 8-10% consistently whie IED attacks have plummeted and in Afghanistan at about 10-11% (probably due to fewer MRAPs while IED attacks have almost tripled from 2007 to 2009.  The lesson is that IEDs haven't become more effective - they have become moe prevalent in Afghanistan.  The taliban can kill 80% of or marine casualties with saw blade pressure switches, batteries and fertilizer.  Because of terrain and policies we remain a road based force and the roads in Afghanistan are narrow, full of bridges and choke points and 95% dirt.  Think about the implications of this.]

DAWN.COM | Provinces | Jihad and the state

DAWN.COM | Provinces | Jihad and the state: "Twice this week President Zardari has spoken about the root of Pakistan’s problems with religious extremism and militancy. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the president said that the military’s erstwhile ‘strategic assets’ were the ones against whom military operations were now required. And in a meeting with retired senior bureaucrats in Islamabad on Tuesday, Mr Zardari was reported in this paper to have said that ‘militants and extremists had been deliberately created and nurtured as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives’."...

[bth: interesting editorial from Pakistan worth a full read to gain their perspective]

Soldiers rely on patience in the heat of battle against Taleban - Times Online

Soldiers rely on patience in the heat of battle against Taleban - Times Online: ..."“We’ve lost count of the firefights. The small arms fire is like a game of tennis really,” said Sergeant Parry. “But as soon as we get the big stuff in,” he nodded skyward, “they tend to bug out.”

Lance Sergeant Skitt said that the Taleban used pre-prepared weapons caches. “They use the ammo and sprint to the next one. You think you are being engaged by several different positions but it’s just one bloke. Then they drop their weapon and turn into a civilian.”"...

There is often nothing to warn of the Taleban’s home-made roadside bombs. The explosive is made from fertiliser, the triggers usually simple pressure plates rigged from saw blades and wooden blocks wrapped in a car innertube. Such devices are responsible for most of the nine deaths that British soldiers have suffered in nine days.

Given the choice every soldier will take a firefight against rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikov fire over a roadside bomb. The bombs are the “worst-case scenario”, says Lance Sergeant Waisale Soko, 28, a Fijian with a soft Welsh accent, compared to the “bread and butter” of a firefight.

The narrow lanes of Nad Ali, an area of dense agriculture and numerous drainage ditches, are perfectly suited to ambush and roadside bombing and there is little chance to vary routes from the few existing roads.

Armoured vehicles could turn into the fields in some places but are forbidden to do so, except in extreme circumstances, because it is believed that local support for Nato forces would be damaged if they destroyed farmers’ fields.

The bombers’ task is therefore made easy and, according to British bomb disposal experts, they are already more prolific and inventive than the IRA managed to become.

In such circumstances patience and discipline are the soldiers’ best defence. Interminable hours are spent sweeping roads and crawling along behind the mine detection crews as the summer heat in Helmand builds higher and higher.

[bth: so the British fielded treaded flat hulled Vikings for the rough terrain of Afghanistan instead of v hull vehicles like MRAPS or M-ATVs better suited for defense against IEDs but then their rules of engagement prevented them from running the Vikings over farm fields restricting movement to dirt roads. Stupid.]

Official: Pakistan can help broker U.S.-Taliban talks -

Official: Pakistan can help broker U.S.-Taliban talks -

[bth: fascinating interview with the ISI. ISI and Omar connection remain. Can a deal be made? One wonders.]

The Taliban's Winning Strategy in Afghanistan - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The Taliban's Winning Strategy in Afghanistan - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: "The Taliban’s clear strategy and increasingly coherent organization have put the International Coalition on the defensive, marginalized the local Afghan government, and given the Taliban control of southern and eastern Afghanistan. Rather than concentrating limited troops in the South and East where the Taliban are firmly entrenched, the International Coalition should prioritize regions where the Taliban are still weak but making alarming progress: in the North and around Kabul."

Far from a loose assortment of local groups, the Taliban are nationally organized, with coherent leadership and a sophisticated propaganda operation. The Coalition, on the other hand, lacks clear direction, largely due to its underestimation of the Taliban. Following a month-long trip through Afghanistan, Gilles Dorronsoro assesses the insurgency and proposes a strategy for the coalition based on a comprehensive understanding of the Taliban’s capabilities and goals.

Key points:

  • The Taliban have built a parallel government in areas they control to fulfill two basic needs: justice and security. An almost nonexistent local government and the population’s distrust of the international coalition allowed the Taliban to expand their influence.
  • Focusing resources in the South and East, where the insurgency is strongest, is risky, especially since the Afghan army is not ready to replace U.S. forces there.

  • The Taliban have opened a front in the northern provinces, having consolidated their grip on the South and East. If the International Coalition does not counter this thrust, the insurgency will spread throughout Afghanistan within two to three years and the coalition will not be able to bear the financial and human costs of fighting.
  • The insurgency cannot be defeated while the Taliban retain a safe haven in Pakistan. The Taliban can conduct hit-and-run attacks from their refuge in Pakistan, and the North remains open to infiltration.
  • The United States must pressure Pakistan to take action against the Taliban’s central command in Quetta. The current offensive in Pakistan is aimed at Pakistani Taliban and does not indicate a major shift in Pakistani policy toward Afghanistan.

Dorronsoro concludes:

“The Taliban have a strategy and a coherent organization to implement it, and they have been successful so far. They have achieved most of their objectives in the South and East and are making inroads in the North. They are unlikely to change their strategy in the face of the U.S. troop surge. Rather than concentrating forces to challenge the International Coalition, the Taliban could decide to exert more pressure on Kabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar, which they have infiltrated. The insurgency does have weaknesses, though. If the Coalition reinforced the Afghan police and military in the North, the insurgents could be stopped relatively easily.”


Resources for this publication

[bth: the proposed strategy is exactly what we are NOT implementing.]

Burqa losing favor as Afghan women opt for chador | U.S. | Reuters

Burqa losing favor as Afghan women opt for chador | U.S. | Reuters: "HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Nehmatullah Yusefy's burqa sales have dropped 50 percent since the Taliban were toppled in 2001 and he says he will soon need to start stocking other styles of Islamic dress to make up for lost profits.

Yusefy has sold the powder blue garb, which covers women from head to foot, for the past ten years. It was mandatory attire for women during the austere rule of the Islamist Taliban.

But he has done so reluctantly.

'I think, God willing, the sales of burqas will decrease, then I will sell chador namaz and even maybe mantau chalvar,' Yusefy said, standing behind the counter of his small outlet on a strip of burqa shops in the main market of Herat city."...

[bth: interesting early trend indicator?]

More Mine-resistant Vehicles Flow to Afghanistan

Digital Video & Imagery Distribution System
WASHINGTON - The military is sending thousands of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Afghanistan, even while a new version is being built, to protect troops against their biggest threat: improvised explosive devices.

Because IEDs pose the biggest threat to troops in Afghanistan, the nation's top military officer said yesterday, the military will keep the MRAPs flowing there until new versions built specifically for the Afghan terrain are ready for shipment.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told a National Press Club audience that IEDs have become "more and more sophisticated over time." Combined with increasingly sophisticated Taliban attacks, they pose an increasing threat to deployed troops, he said.

Mullen offered his comments just before traveling to Dover Air Force Base, Del., as the remains of seven servicemembers -- six of them killed by roadside bombs -- were returned home from Afghanistan.

While predicting casualties will continue to spike during tough fighting in the months ahead, Mullen said the Defense Department is flowing thousands of MRAPs into Afghanistan to protect forces there.

So far, 3,020 MRAPs have been shipped to Afghanistan, reported Cynthia Bauer, a U.S. Transportation Command spokeswoman. That brings to more than 15,000 the number of MRAPs that Transcom has delivered to the theater, she said.

About half of the Afghanistan deliveries were by airlift and half by "multi-modal" delivery, a combination of airlift and sealift.

"From an equipment standpoint, there's no higher priority than to get these vehicles in theater as rapidly as we can," Mullen said July 9.

Meanwhile, Transcom is gearing up work with the MRAP Joint Program Office and Centcom to get the M-ATVs to Afghanistan as quickly as it got MRAPs to Iraq. "We will build on that success to field additional life-saving MRAPs as they come on line," said Air Force Col. Greg Schwartz, chief of the East Division at USTRANSCOM's Deployment Operations Center.

The M-ATVs are expected to be fielded later this year, with all deliveries completed by spring.

"We're working hard to get the right vehicle in the right place at the right time," Mullen said. "But in the meantime, we're flowing thousands ... to Afghanistan to meet the needs that are there right now," he said.

Oshkosh Corp., winner of the $1.06 billion contract, has moved into overdrive to meet the accelerated delivery schedule, company officials said. The first vehicles are expected to be delivered this month.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said after visiting Afghanistan in early May that he was impressed to hear firsthand "the real impact" that MRAPs are having in Afghanistan.

"It really was brought home to me when they showed me an MRAP that had been attacked," Gates told reporters traveling with him. "Two of the soldiers that had been inside of it were standing beside the MRAP, completely unscathed," he said. The other two soldiers had non-life-threatening injuries.

Gates was the power behind the effort to move more MRAPs into Iraq to protect troops against underbelly explosions. As security conditions began heating up in Afghanistan, he ordered more there, too.

[bth: I'll give Mullen and Gates credit for at least addressing this issue.  Unfortunately this need was entirely predictable and so was the "too little too late" response for the six soldiers Mullen flew to Dover to acknowledge.  Also the need for more advanced suspension systems for rough off-road terrain was clearly required and known - its not like the lack of paved roads and mountains in Afghanistan is a new discovery..  To Gates' and the US public's credit, we are at least beginning to address the issue.  Compare this to the ridiculous response from the Brits to their own casualties from IEDs.  They continue to deliver new versions of the wrong vehicles to match the threat.  Vikings are deathtraps against IEDs.  They roll and catch on fire because they have the wrong hull shape.  So now what is going to happen is that as British casualties increase, the public pressure to leave Afghanistan will increase and yet the Ministry of Defense will be so fucking cheap, trying to prosecute a war on a peace time budget that they will let their light infantry be chewed up and their UK public become dissillusioned.  A Basra redux. This is how bureaucrats lose wars.] 

VA offers free care to vets who might have been infected in Miami hospital - Florida -

VA offers free care to vets who might have been infected in Miami hospital - Florida - "A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs letter pledges free medical care and treatment for former patients who have tested positive for HIV or hepatitis since being exposed to endoscopic cleaning mistakes at three VA hospitals, including one in Miami.

But advocates for veterans contend the VA should also pledge disability and damage payments."...

[bth: can you believe this BS?]

Kings of War

Kings of War

US Marines and Afghan soldiers take control of Khanishin Castle - The Long War Journal

US Marines and Afghan soldiers take control of Khanishin Castle - The Long War Journal

Sacha Baron Cohen's 9 Wildest Moments - Page 1 - The Daily Beast

Sacha Baron Cohen's 9 Wildest Moments - Page 1 - The Daily Beast

Solutions to the Economic Crisis - WaPo

White House Eyes Bank Bailout Funds to Aid Small Businesses -
The Obama administration is developing an initiative to take money from the $700 billion rescue program for the banking system and make it available to millions of small businesses, which officials say are essential to any economic recovery because they employ so many people, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The effort would represent a striking shift from the rescue program's original mandate, since it would direct billions of bailout dollars toward a plan that aims more at saving jobs than at righting the financial system. Some economists estimate that small businesses, defined as firms with fewer than 500 workers, employ most of the country's workforce.

A proposal being floated by senior Treasury Department officials calls for using the bailout funds to expand a government program that helps small companies borrow from banks at low rates to keep their businesses going, the sources said. These "working-capital" loans would come with few restrictions and could be used to buy inventory, hold on to employees and pay off short-term debt.

The initiative would bulk up the Small Business Administration's most popular lending program, called 7(a). Lines of credit for small companies could greatly increase in size. If a firm failed despite receiving this help, the government would cover most of the losses on the federal loan, perhaps as much as 90 percent. Lines of credit act like the credit cards for companies -- short-term, revolving debt used to pay a variety of immediate expenses....

[bth: all I can say is 'about fucking time'.  Small business create 3/4 of the jobs and are highly efficient.  They also have had their access to capital cut off.  If one believes a consumer based economy cannot grow without higher employment levels then the path seems straight forward - finance small business.  Instead we poured money into banks that then strengthened their balance sheets and failed to lend.  Now instead of doing some fucking study that will take another year and then create a new program, the treasury needs to get down to business.]

Schneier on Security: NSA Building Massive Data Center in Utah

Schneier on Security: NSA Building Massive Data Center in Utah: "hey're expanding:

The years-in-the-making project, which may cost billions over time, got a $181 million start last week when President Obama signed a war spending bill in which Congress agreed to pay for primary construction, power access and security infrastructure. The enormous building, which will have a footprint about three times the size of the Utah State Capitol building, will be constructed on a 200-acre site near the Utah National Guard facility's runway.

Congressional records show that initial construction -- which may begin this year -- will include tens of millions in electrical work and utility construction, a $9.3 million vehicle inspection facility, and $6.8 million in perimeter security fencing. The budget also allots $6.5 million for the relocation of an existing access road, communications building and training area.

Officials familiar with the project say it may bring as many as 1,200 high-tech jobs....

It will also require at least 65 megawatts of power....

Another article."

[bth: comments on the original post are worth reading]

The Raw Story » US military: Gays not welcome; white supremacists ‘OK?’

The Raw Story » US military: Gays not welcome; white supremacists ‘OK?’: "Recently, an Army National Guardsman and Arabic translator who openly challenged the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, was recommended for discharge by a military administrative board because he has publicly said that he is gay. Yet a watchdog group claims dozens of US military personnel have been spotted on a white supremacist social networking Web site in an apparent violation of Pentagon regulations prohibiting racist extremism.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate-group watchdog based in Alabama, will present a report to Congress today and urge them to investigate evidence 'that racial extremists are infiltrating the U.S. military in order to ensure that the armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.'"...

Eight British soldiers killed in bloodiest day of Afghan mission | UK news | The Guardian

Eight British soldiers killed in bloodiest day of Afghan mission | UK news | The Guardian: "Ministers were bracing themselves for an increasingly bloody conflict in Afghanistan as it became clear that a further eight British soldiers have been killed in 24 hours, the worst combat death toll since the war began."...

Friday, July 10, 2009

YouTube - Mr. Mister - Broken Wings

YouTube - Mr. Mister - Broken Wings



YouTube - South Park Mac vs. PC

YouTube - South Park Mac vs. PC

AxisMundi Jerusalem » Blog Archive » Too Close for Comfort | Blogs |

AxisMundi Jerusalem » Blog Archive » Too Close for Comfort | Blogs |

Commander to Seek Expansion of Afghan Forces, Officials Say

Commander to Seek Expansion of Afghan Forces, Officials Say:... "The Afghan army is already scheduled to grow from 85,000 to 134,000, an expansion originally expected to take five years but now fast-tracked for completion by 2011. Several senior Pentagon officials indicated that an adequate size for the Afghan force might be twice the expanded number.

'There are not enough Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police for our forces to partner with in operations . . . and that gap will exist into the coming years even with the planned growth already budgeted for,' said a U.S. military official in Kabul who is familiar with McChrystal's ongoing review.

Without significant increases, said another U.S. official involved in training Afghan forces, 'we will lose the war.'"...

[bth: Bush now Obama keeps dancing around this point. We need probably 250-450K Afghan troops - not international troops, but trained Afghan soldiers. We are not even planning these levels. So we are sending marines to take territory we cannot hold nor pacify without Afghan soldiers and police that do not exist and are not being even budgeted or trained. Americans are being deceived about what our soldiers and marines can accomplish. We will see PR and media coverage of the tactical advances the marines are making, but they can't hold the ground damn it. We saw the same thing in Anbar province in 2005 after troop levels were reduced - post Fallujah. There simply were not enough troops so the marines would retake the same village over and over again. In the meantime the enemy would melt away and return killing all who worked with us that lived there. Very quickly anyone willing to work for us was dead. The Afghans in the newly taken territories have seen this. They understand. The Taliban will melt away, then return.]

Law will let Afghan husbands starve wives who withhold sex - Asia, World - The Independent

Law will let Afghan husbands starve wives who withhold sex - Asia, World - The Independent: ..."The amendments were passed to the cabinet this week and signed by Mr Karzai on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said last night.

The women's rights activist Wazhma Frough, who was involved in the review, said that conservative religious leaders had pressured the Justice Ministry to keep many of the most controversial clauses.

'There have been a few little changes, but they are not enough,' she said. 'For example, if the wife doesn't accept her husband's sexual requirements then he can deny her food.'"...

Military Looks to Stop Drivers With Laser Blasts | Danger Room |

Military Looks to Stop Drivers With Laser Blasts | Danger Room | "Laser dazzlers — or “optical distraction devices,” as the military prefers to call them — have proven invaluable in Iraq as a way of warning drivers to stop at checkpoints. (A flash of bright light does tend to give people pause.) But as Danger Room reported, several U.S. troops have suffered serious eye injuries from laser “friendly fire” incidents. So the U.S. military’s Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate is developing a new type of laser which aims to be both safer and more effective than existing dazzlers, I report in New Scientist. Whether it will work is still an open question.

Rather than a continuous beam, the Laser Windshield Obscuration project works by firing a short laser pulse, which is absorbed by the vehicle windscreen. That produces a brilliant white ‘re-radiation’ flash (see photo, right), leading to cracking or hazing of the glass (photo, left)."...

[bth: worth reading in full]

Wired: CIA Drone targeting Tech Revealed, Qaeda Claims

CIA Drone Targeting Tech Revealed, Qaeda Claims | Danger Room |
...The gadgets use LEDs, powered by a 9 volt battery, to emit beacons of infrared light that are visible only through night vision equipment. A six-second memory can be programmed to flash in Morse-type codes and other sequences. The lights can be seen at “distances of over five miles and can also be seen through clothing and underwater,” according to one distributor. from a distance of up to five miles. They can weigh as little as a half-ounce, are as small as an inch-and-a-quarter, and have a battery life of nearly 100 hours. The Phoenix family of infrared beacons have been in use since 1984, making them the “the most widely used electronic Combat ID system in the world.”

American Predator and Reaper unmanned aircraft are both equipped with infrared cameras, making such beacons a natural drone signaling mechanism. And because the devices are relatively simple and cheap — less sophisticated models can be purchased online for as little as $25 each — they can be handed out to informants, without fear of compromising clandestine, sophisticated American technology.

“Transmitters make a lot of sense to me,” former CIA case officer Robert Baer previously told about the general notion of beacons guiding in drone strikes. “It is simply not possible to train a Pashtun from Waziristan to go to a targeted site, case it, and come back to Peshawar or Islamabad with anything like an accurate report. The best you can hope for is they’re putting the transmitter on the right house.”

In April, 19 year-old Habibur Rehman made a videotaped “confession” of planting such devices, just before he was executed by the Taliban as an American spy. “I was given $122 to drop chips wrapped in cigarette paper at Al Qaeda and Taliban houses,” he said. If I was successful, I was told, I would be given thousands of dollars.”

But Rehman says he didn’t just tag jihadists with the devices. “The money was good so I started throwing the chips all over. I knew people were dying because of what I was doing, but I needed the money,” he added. Which raises the possibility that the unmanned aircraft — America’s key weapons in its covert war on Pakistan’s jihadists and insurgents — may have been lead to the wrong targets.ir_aq_crop21

[bth: probably very credible]

IR Flash Locator Devices

Informed Comment

YouTube - Journalist describes time in Iranian custody - 09 July 09

YouTube - Journalist describes time in Iranian custody - 09 July 09

Vast majority of scientists say Bush Administration suppressed research findings

The Raw Story » Vast majority of scientists say Bush Administration suppressed research findings: "A new Pew Research Poll released Thursday found that a vast majority of scientists -- some 77 percent -- say that claims the Bush Administration suppressed research reports that didn't align with Administration's point of view are true.

The survey polled more than 2,500 scientists in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science"...

Truck Bomb Kills 25 outside Afghan Capital - Truck Bomb Kills 25 outside Afghan Capital
An overturned truck rigged with massive explosives went off south of Kabul, killing at least 25 Afghans, including 4 police, an official said

The truck, loaded with firewood and apparently deliberately overturned overnight in Mohammmad Agha district of Logar, about 40 km south of the Afghan capital, blew up as policemen were trying to remove it, a spokesman for Afghan Ministry of Interior said.

MoI spokesman Zeramay Bashari added that most otruck_bomb-logar.jpgf the victims of the blast, which occurred Thursday morning at around 7:30 am, were schoolchildren and ordinary villagers.

The powerful blast destroyed a number of shops in a district bazaar, and dozens of civilian vehicles nearby the area were also damaged, Bashari further said.

It was apparently a remote-control bomb that went off immediately after the police unit neared the truck....

High-Priced F-22 Fighter Has Major Shortcomings -

High-Priced F-22 Fighter Has Major Shortcomings - "The United States' top fighter jet, the Lockheed Martin F-22, has recently required more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000, a far higher figure than for the warplane it replaces, confidential Pentagon test results show."

The aircraft's radar-absorbing metallic skin is the principal cause of its maintenance troubles, with unexpected shortcomings -- such as vulnerability to rain and other abrasion -- challenging Air Force and contractor technicians since the mid-1990s, according to Pentagon officials, internal documents and a former engineer.

While most aircraft fleets become easier and less costly to repair as they mature, key maintenance trends for the F-22 have been negative in recent years, and on average from October last year to this May, just 55 percent of the deployed F-22 fleet has been available to fulfill missions guarding U.S. airspace, the Defense Department acknowledged this week. The F-22 has never been flown over Iraq or Afghanistan.

Sensitive information about troubles with the nation's foremost air-defense fighter is emerging in the midst of a fight between the Obama administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress over whether the program should be halted next year at 187 planes, far short of what the Air Force and the F-22's contractors around the country had anticipated.

"It is a disgrace that you can fly a plane [an average of] only 1.7 hours before it gets a critical failure" that jeopardizes success of the aircraft's mission, said a Defense Department critic of the plane who is not authorized to speak on the record. Other skeptics inside the Pentagon note that the planes, designed 30 years ago to combat a Cold War adversary, have cost an average of $350 million apiece and say they are not a priority in the age of small wars and terrorist threats....

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Active duty Army suicide rate on record-setting pace

Raw Story » Active duty Army suicide rate on record-setting pace: "Suicides in the US Army are on the rise with 88 suspected cases in the first six months of the year, compared to 67 in the same period in 2008, according to Pentagon figures issued.

The latest figures confirmed warnings from top US military officers that the number of suicides among active-duty soldiers this year was on track to surpass a record level set in 2008.

Last year 128 soldiers took their lives, up from 115 in 2007, amid increasing strain on Army troops serving repeated combat tours.

The 2008 suicide rate among active duty soldiers rose to 20.2 per 100,000, surpassing a demographically adjusted national suicide rate of 19.5 per 100,000 in 2005, the latest year on record."...

Hitler reacts to Michael Jackson

Scholars and Rogues

Friendly fire downed Russia jets in Georgia-report | Reuters

Friendly fire downed Russia jets in Georgia-report | Reuters: ..."'Of these (six), two aircraft were certainly downed by enemy fire, three were probably hit by 'friendly fire' and it remains difficult to determine who shot down the last one,' it said. Five aircraft fell in South Ossetia and one in Georgia, it said. Contacted by Reuters, Russia's Defence Ministry declined immediate comment. A Georgian Defence Ministry official told Reuters that Georgia had shot down 15 Russian aircraft.

Aside from the downed aircraft, several other Su-25 ground attack aircraft were seriously damaged, though they managed to return to base, the journal said. All of these jets had been hit by shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, it said. The worst day of the campaign for Russian aviation was the war's second day, Aug. 9, with a total loss of four planes. A transport helicopter was destroyed in South Ossetia a few days after the end of combat when it collided with and badly damaged a helicopter gunship on landing.

'Russian Ground Forces ... were not sure until the end of combat whether Russia's aviation had achieved air superiority,' the Moscow Defense Brief said.

'Russian aircraft were frequently taken by Russian and Ossetian forces for Georgian aircraft, and they were fired upon without identification and in the absence of any aggressive action on their part.' (Additional reporting by Margarita"

[bth: interesting and perhaps useful information]

Calculated Risk: Banks Will Stop Accepting California IOUs Friday

Calculated Risk: Banks Will Stop Accepting California IOUs Friday: "From the WSJ: Big Banks Don't Want California's IOUs

A group of the biggest U.S. banks said they would stop accepting California's IOUs on Friday ... if California continues to issue the IOUs, creditors will be forced to hold on to them until they mature on Oct. 2, or find other banks to honor them.
The group of banks included Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., among others.

I guess the banks don't think the 3.75% annual interest rate is worth the risk for a 'BBB' rated debtor on the Rating Watch Negative list."

[bth: interesting. I wonder what they think the rate should be especially since they've been bailed out with taxpayer dollars?]

Rep Murphy taking lead on repeal of don't ask don't tell

Alternate Brain

[bth: I'm known Rep. Murphy for a few years now and I've got to say I am more and more impressed with him. I appreciate the fact he is taking the lead on this issue. 75% of the American public supports eliminating don't ask don't tell. Let's get on with it.]

Panetta Orders Probe of Secret Spy Program | Newsweek Nation |

Panetta Orders Probe of Secret Spy Program | Newsweek Nation | "CIA and congressional officials have refused to describe the nature of the covert program, but insisted it is not connected to the CIA's use of controversial 'enhanced' interrogation techniques. But the program's existence erupted into a major political dispute Wednesday night when seven Democrats on the House intelligence committee released a letter charging that the agency had 'concealed significant actions' and 'misled' members of Congress by failing to inform the oversight committees about the program until last month. The Democrats demanded that Panetta 'publicly correct' his statement of May 15 declaring that 'it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.'"...

[bth: so we have a new 'she said, he said' controversy about a topic we know nothing about because its secret. Congress is obviously upset that they are going to get the blame for being complicit - What is it? Assassinations? Overthrowing Iran? Domestic spying?]

Roadside bombs 'No. 1 threat' to troops in Afghanistan -

Roadside bombs 'No. 1 threat' to troops in Afghanistan - ..."In June there were 736 incidents in Afghanistan involving roadside bombs, called improvised explosive devices or IEDs, and 82 'effective attacks,' ones that caused casualties among coalition forces, the figures show.

That was up from 263 incidents and 25 effective attacks in February, with the numbers increasing each month, said the Pentagon's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, an agency dedicated to thwarting roadside bombs.

The number of coalition forces killed and wounded by such bombs has climbed, though not steadily, from 18 killed and 33 wounded in February to 23 killed and 166 wounded in June, the agency said."...

[bth: looking at those stats, 11% casualties to incidents in June and 9.5% in February, 10.7% overall. Those stats are much better than prior year stats (in terms of casualties to incidents) in both Afghanistan and Iraq. That is an indication of improved equipment. A more disturbing pictures is 18 KIA v 33 wounded in Feb. and 23 KIA 166 WIA in June which is a very high KIA to wounded ratio. Just an oddity, I don't see stats for March, April or May. I wonder why? Also curiously the total IED incidents for June and Feb. combined are 999 and the WIA for both months totaly 199. Anyway I'd have expected KIA to WIA to be about 1:10 not closer to 21%. I wonder if we are having trouble evacuating wounded in a timely manner?]

Specter Calls Sestak ‘Flagrant Hypocrite’ - Roll Call

Specter Calls Sestak ‘Flagrant Hypocrite’ - Roll Call: "Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) took direct aim at Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.) for the first time Thursday, calling the two-term Congressman “a flagrant hypocrite” for challenging him in the Senate Democratic primary.

In a statement from his campaign, Specter cited Sestak’s past voting history in Pennsylvania in an effort to paint him as a political opportunist who only joined the Democratic Party in order to run for Congress.

“Congressman Sestak is a flagrant hypocrite in challenging my being a real Democrat when he did not register as a Democrat until 2006 just in time to run for Congress,” Specter said. “His lame excuse for avoiding party affiliation, because he was in the service, is undercut by his documented disinterest in the political process.”"...

[bth: I think Specter is losing it.]

AMERICAblog News| A great nation deserves the truth: AIDS activists shut down US Capitol rotunda over Obama reversal on AIDS policy

AMERICAblog News| A great nation deserves the truth: AIDS activists shut down US Capitol rotunda over Obama reversal on AIDS policy: "...Let's see...

1. The candidate promised to lift the ban.
2. The White House Web site reaffirmed the president's commitment to lifting the ban.
3. The White House Web site no longer reaffirms his commitment to lifting the ban.
4. The president now refuses to lift the ban.
5. The president actually affirmatively makes things worse by administratively supporting defending the ban.
6. The spokesman reiterates the president's support for lifting the ban, some day, once Congress gets around to it."

[bth: Obama backs down again]

US frees five Iranian diplomats in Iraq

The Raw Story | US frees five Iranian diplomats in Iraq: "The US military in Iraq on Thursday freed five Iranian diplomats held since January 2007 in a major source of friction between archfoes Tehran and Washington, Iraqi and Iranian officials said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the five men were handed over to the government under a security accord which lays out the terms for the US pullout from the war-torn nation and the transfer of prisoners in US custody.

'This process is taking place today and includes the Iranian officials arrested in Arbil,' he told AFP.

The US military, which has long accused Iran of funding and equipping Shiite militias in Iraq, had arrested the five at an office in the Kurdish city of Arbil in northern Iraq on January 11, 2007."...

[bth: why now?]

Raw Story » Senator won’t deny urging fellow Republican to pay woman he had affair with

Raw Story » Senator won’t deny urging fellow Republican to pay woman he had affair with: "Updates at bottom: Ensign’s parents paid $96,000 ‘gift’ to Hamptons; Coburn says Ensign mistress’ husband spreading ‘untruths’ and claims convos with Ensign were ‘privileged communications’"

Conservative Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) purportedly urged Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) to pay off a mistress with whom he admitted having an affair — and wouldn’t deny urging payments to the woman and her husband when asked about the charge.

Ensign admitted having an affair last month, saying he “violated the vows” of his marriage and adding, “It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything in my life that I could take back, this would be it.”

Apparently Oklahoma’s Republican senator urged just that....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Raw Story » Exclusive: Robert McNamara deceived LBJ on Gulf of Tonkin, documents show

Raw Story » Exclusive: Robert McNamara deceived LBJ on Gulf of Tonkin, documents show:... "Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1967, took many secrets with him when he died Monday at 93. But probably no secret was more sensitive politically than the one that would have changed fundamentally the public perception of his role in Vietnam policy had it been become widely known."

The secret was his deliberate deceit of President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 4, 1964 regarding the alleged attack on US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Documents which have been available for decades in the LBJ Library show clearly that McNamara failed to inform Johnson that the U.S. naval task group commander in the Tonkin Gulf, Captain John J. Herrick, had changed his mind about the alleged North Vietnamese torpedo attack on U.S. warships he had reported earlier that day.

By early afternoon Washington time, Herrick had reported to the Commander in Chief Pacific in Honolulu that “freak weather effects” on the ship’s radar had made such an attack questionable. In fact, Herrick was now saying, in a message sent at 1:27 pm Washington time, that no North Vietnamese patrol boats had actually been sighted. Herrick now proposed a “complete evaluation before any further action taken.”...

Raw Story » Video Report: Taliban buys children to use as suicide bombers

Raw Story » Video Report: Taliban buys children to use as suicide bombers

Nightwatch: summary on recent afghan activities

..."Afghanistan: Note. NightWatch is half way finished with its analysis of fighting in June 09. What jumps off the data sheets is that the basic nature of the fighting has changed. Open source information shows that 50% of all attacks/clashes are roadside bombs. They are responsible for most Allied casualties. The enemy now is less Pashtun fighting men than Pashtun bomb makers.

The significance is that the bomb makers are using their improvised weapons to shepherd and corral Coalition forces on the roads to keep them away from the villages the Taliban control in the Districts. One USMC general said the Corps is adopting the Korean War strategy of fighting side by side with local soldiers.

The general was prophetic in ways he might not understand and, surely, did not intend. During the Korean War, the American decision to operate on the limited Korean road infrastructure surrendered the countryside to the Chinese communist forces.

US and Coalition forces use of the Afghan roads is unavoidable, but is producing the Korean War result – lots of casualties and abandonment of the country-side to the enemy. The only way to avoid this outcome is to provide more forces permanently so as to hold ground. American military doctrine does not seem to entertain the idea of holding ground.

At the risk of alienating readers, there are not enough pro-government forces in Afghanistan to provide the level of security that will make Pashtun tribal and clan elders support the Kabul government. In fact, US and Coalition forces only can protect themselves reliably with air support.

The Afghan Pashtuns are no more afraid of Coalition ground troops than they were of Alexander’s Greeks. US military spokespersons assured the Afghans today that the difference in the latest US Marine Corps offensive in Helmand Province is the US will not leave until permanent security is assured.

Not even the Afghan illiterates believe such statements. US military spokespersons should by now understand that history is not measured in months of deployment in South Asia, tied to election security. Pashtun memories of past foreign invasions and occupations are longer than the US has existence....

[bth: conclusion. this mission is a pr event. simply not enough troops in Afghanistan. IEDs now are 50% of our casualties in Afghanistan and that figure, if it rises to Iraqi levels will likely be near 80%. Why fight us when they can bleed us slowly until we go away?]

Allies fear U.S. just shifts Taliban problem

Allies fear U.S. just shifts Taliban problem | Philadelphia Inquirer | 07/08/2009
KABUL, Afghanistan - Taliban fighters and their commanders have escaped the Marines' big offensive in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province and moved into areas to the west and north, prompting fears that the U.S. effort has just moved the Taliban problem elsewhere, Afghan defense officials said.

The movement of the Taliban into those areas has prompted complaints from German and Italian commanders, whose troops operate there, and it has prompted questions about whether the United States has enough troops to pursue the Taliban while at the same time carrying out Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal's plan to "clear, hold, and build" in areas wrested from Taliban control.

Last week, the national security adviser, James L. Jones, said no additional troops would be sent to Afghanistan this year, even as some NATO nations threaten to draw down their presence.

Even with the addition of 17,500 troops ordered by President Obama to Afghanistan, commanders fear they will not have enough troops to clear large swaths of the country and then hold them.

Since the Marines began their offensive Thursday, Taliban fighters have moved to northern parts of Helmand province, near Baghran, an area controlled by German forces, and the eastern edge of Farah province, largely under Italy's control, said Gen. Zahir Azami, the Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesman.

In at least one case, Taliban fighters donned women's tentlike burqas and held children's hands to pass disguised as women to flee from a compound in the Helmand River Valley, said Brig. Gen. Mahaiddin Ghori, the Afghan commander in Helmand....

[bth: the Taliban simply displaced to adjacent areas because we do not have enough troops or allies.  This mission - this mini-surge - will fail because of this.  Now out supply lines will be ambushed and IED'd.]

Afghan Forces Missing From Helmand Offensive -

Afghan Forces Missing From Helmand Offensive - "NAWA, Afghanistan — One week after several battalions of Marines swept through the Helmand River valley, military commanders appear increasingly concerned about a lack of Afghan forces in the field.

“What I need is more Afghans,” said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marine expeditionary brigade in Helmand Province. He accompanied the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, during a visit with troops at Patrol Base Jaker here on Monday.

General Nicholson and others say that the long-term success of the operation hinges on the performance of the Afghan security forces, which will have to take over eventually from the American troops.

General Nicholson said the American force of almost 4,000 had been joined by about 400 effective Afghan soldiers.

“The net increase in Afghan security forces is zero” since the brigade arrived a few months ago, he said. The lack of Afghan forces “is absolutely our Achilles’ heel,” added Capt. Brian Huysman, commander of Company C of the First Battalion, Fifth Marines in Nawa."

Captain Huysman said the Afghan forces were critically important in establishing trust and communication with citizens. “We can’t read these people; we’re different,” he said. “They’re not going to tell us the truth. We’ll never get to build and transition” — the last phase of the operation — “unless we have the Afghans.”

American military officials say they want at least a full brigade of Afghan forces in Helmand, thousands more than are here now. ...

[bth: last I read we were going to start funding and training about 200,000 Afghan soldiers and police which even if fully completed was about 40% of the estimated needed. This marine surge is going to get headlines but then it is going to fail because we simply have not trained Afghans in sufficient quantity to complete and sustain the mission.]

Detainees, Even if Acquitted, Might Not Go Free -

Detainees, Even if Acquitted, Might Not Go Free - "WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said Tuesday it could continue to imprison non-U.S. citizens indefinitely even if they have been acquitted of terrorism charges by a U.S. military commission.

Jeh Johnson, the Defense Department's chief lawyer, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that releasing a detainee who has been tried and found not guilty was a policy decision that officials would make based on their estimate of whether the prisoner posed a future threat.

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration argues that the legal basis for indefinite detention of aliens it considers dangerous is separate from war-crimes prosecutions. Officials say that the laws of war allow indefinite detention to prevent aliens from committing warlike acts in future, while prosecution by military commission aims to punish them for war crimes committed in the past.

Mr. Johnson said such prisoners held without trial would receive 'some form of periodic review' that could lead to their release."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a leading Republican on detainee policy, approved. "Some of them will be able to get out of jail because they've rehabilitated themselves and some of them may in fact die in jail," Mr. Graham said. But "I don't want to put people in a dark hole forever" simply "because somebody like Dick Cheney, or you fill in the blank with a politician, said so."

Also at the hearing, Obama administration officials differed with the Navy's senior uniformed lawyer over whether coerced statements should be used to convict Guantanamo defendants.

David Kris, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, warned that federal courts might reverse convictions in military commissions if they were based on coerced statements.

Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald, giving his independent opinion as the Navy's judge advocate general, testified that the standard should be whether a statement was "reliable," rather than whether it was coerced.

The question could be central to whether military-commission convictions stand up. Military prosecutors have said that involuntary statements make up the lion's share of evidence against detainees.

Congress is considering several proposals for trying Guantanamo detainees. The issue is one of several administration officials are struggling to resolve so they can meet President Barack Obama's commitment to close the Guantanamo prison by January.

While Mr. Obama wants to continue in modified form the commissions conceived under former President George W. Bush, officials said the administration favors an expiration date for the experiment unless reauthorized by Congress.

After some trials are held, "a fresh look" could be useful, Mr. Kris said.

The offshore prison holds about 229 detainees. The administration plans to release some prisoners, while others could be tried in federal court, by military commission or held indefinitely without trial.

Some House Democrats say the limited number of additional protections for defendants the administration has proposed don't go far enough.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.), who has scheduled a Wednesday hearing on military commissions before the House Judiciary subcommittee he heads, questioned the administration's plan to allot prisoners to federal courts, military commissions or indefinite detention.

"What bothers me is that they seem to be saying, 'Some people we have good enough evidence against, so we'll give them a fair trial. Some people the evidence is not so good, so we'll give them a less fair trial. We'll give them just enough due process to ensure a conviction because we know they're guilty. That's not a fair trial, that's a show trial," Mr. Nadler said.

Former Gitmo prisoner says abuse photos exist - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times

Former Gitmo prisoner says abuse photos exist - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times: "WASHINGTON — A former Guantanamo Bay prisoner says the U.S. has photographs of him being beaten during his detention and has asked a judge to preserve the evidence."

Binyam Mohamed says guards at the U.S. facility beat him in May 2006 after he refused to come out of his cell for fingerprinting and an eye scan. He says he resisted because his lawyers had advised him not to give any samples without consulting them first.

Mohamad, an Ethiopian native and British resident, was accused of plotting to explode a “dirty bomb” in the U.S., but the charges were eventually dropped. He was released from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in February and returned to Britain.

A Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Jeffrey D. Gordon, said repeated internal reviews showed no evidence that Mohamed was mistreated while in U.S. custody.

Mohamed’s attorneys provided a copy of an affidavit, first reported Sunday by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, they say he filed along with a sealed motion to the U.S. District Court in Washington last month. In it, Mohamed says he has seen one photograph of himself that was taken after the cell extraction, in which he says five or six guards “beat me up very badly” and later cut off half his beard and subjected him to a “humiliating” anal cavity search.

He said the photo shows swelling from a hand being shoved into his nose and a mark on his forehead from being slammed into the concrete floor. He said he got a copy of the photo and turned it over to his attorney during a visit at Guantanamo and was told it would be classified.

“I believe that the world has the right to see this photograph,” Mohamed said in the affidavit. “The authorities have consistently denied that I have been abused, and this is physical evidence that I am telling the truth, and they are not.”...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

White House: Acquitted detainees may not be released

Raw Story » White House: Acquitted detainees may not be released: "The Obama Administration signaled Tuesday it may keep terrorism detainees even if they’ve been acquitted.

Chief Department of Defense lawyer Jeh Johnson told a Senate committee “that releasing a detainee who has been tried and found not guilty was a policy decision officials would make based on their estimate of whether the prisoner posed a future threat,” according to a report by Jess Bravin in the Wall Street Journal.

Bravin notes that the Bush administration maintained the same stance, “but its legality was never tested.”

Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent characterized Johnson’s response as moving the Obama administration “into new territory from a civil liberties perspective.”"...

[bth: new boss same as the old boss]

Nightwatch comments on Afghanistan

"Comment: NightWatch has been following Afghanistan since 1979, literally since before the day the Soviets invaded. The notion of outreach to Pashtun tribal elders, imams and councils has always sounded eminently practical and reasonable to Westerners. The problem is that Pashtuns do not want outreach or even good “governance” – whatever that means. They are very clear that they want security and will be loyal to whoever provides it.

As for Coalition forces, the Pashtuns want them out of Afghanistan. They say so, openly. They do not need Coalition friendship, however, well intended. The window of openness to foreign forces closed five years ago, including to Arabs; the opportunity for good government closed with it.

Judging by the increase in the number of wounded Western soldiers in May, the reduction in air support has had the predictable effect of increasing Coalition losses. During May, 27 allied soldiers were killed and 58 wounded.

May 2009 was the second month of the Taliban summer offensive, which was just beginning to ramp up. May was the worst month for Western causalities since September 2008. In the seven-year history of the conflict, May 2009 ranks as the fourth bloodiest month.

In successful counter-insurgency operations, outreach and cultural sensitivity initiatives make a difference only after secure conditions have been restored, meaning that security problems have been reduced to the level that they can be managed by police or paramilitary police without the assistance of military combat forces.

Energy and resources devoted to making friends with Pashtun elders in Helmand are a waste of time unless accompanied by a guarantee of security for more than a few weeks. They will be loyal to whoever can provided reliable protection 24X7 for persons and property all the time. For now that is the Taliban.

More importantly, Pashtun elders will and do understand and interpret Coalition initiatives as short term dodges that implicitly admit the Coalition is not able to provide the security that commands their respect and loyalty. The Coalition is only the latest outside power to make promises that it cannot keep for more than a few months, not the first.

Security is what the Taliban offer in over 150 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts. Their leaders know the increased US and other Coalition forces are to help ensure the security of national elections in August. They can out wait them. Meanwhile, the reduction in air support exacts a high price in Allied casualties on the ground....

[bth: basically they just want to be left alone. If we could get some assurance that they wouldn't harbor international terrorists willing and able to attack us, I'd be inclined to leave them to their stone age culture.]

Obama Poll Numbers Take Beating In Ohio Over Economy

Obama Poll Numbers Take Beating In Ohio Over Economy: "President Barack Obama's approval rating in Ohio has fallen rapidly in the past months.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,259 voters in Ohio from June 26 to July 7. The poll found that 49% of voters disapprove of the job Obama is doing, while 44% approve.

That is 13 points down from May, when a separate Quinnipiac poll found a 62% approval rating and a 31% disapproval rating.

The most recent Quinnipiac poll also surveyed voters on Obama's handling of the economy, finding 48% disapproval and 46% approval. In May, Obama received a 57% approval rating on the economy."...

[bth: its the jobs stupid! Screw Bank of America and the banksters. Focus on jobs. The rest will start to take care of itself. We cannot function with 9.5% unemployment and the real unemployment rate much higher. Its about jobs Obama.]

Alberto Gonzales To Teach At Texas Tech

Alberto Gonzales To Teach At Texas Tech: "LUBBOCK, Texas — Alberto Gonzales, who resigned as U.S. attorney general two years ago, is coming to Texas Tech this fall to teach political science.

Texas Tech Unversity System Chancellor Kent Hance confirmed the hiring on Tuesday.

It was first reported on the Austin American-Statesman in its online edition. A senior business assistant in Tech's political science department, Dora Rodriguez, told the newspaper that Gonzales will teach a 'special topics' course on contemporary issues in the executive branch.

Gonzales served as then-Gov. George W. Bush's personal attorney, then was Texas secretary of state and a Texas Supreme Court justice before joining Bush in Washington."

[bth: at least the idiot won't be practicing law]

Training PLA shooters

China Military Report: Superior training of PLA shooter

July 2, 2009 CCTV7 "military reported" program, Heilongjiang frontier forces in military training,learned from the old hunter in order to improve military skills.

[bth: a bunny with horns?]

war+cost+jesus.jpg (image)[war+cost+jesus.jpg]

[bth: holy crap that's a lot of money]

Naval Open Source INTelligence

Taliban launch counter operation against US in Afghanistan - Telegraph

Taliban launch counter operation against US in Afghanistan - Telegraph: ..."However, Yousef Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, said fighters had now responded with Operation Foladi Jal, or 'iron net'.

He said: 'Their Khanjar will get stuck in our Foladi Jal.' 'In this operation we'll teach them a lesson so they will never again dare to come into our areas.'

'We will not engage them in front battles. We would rather hit them by mines and guerrilla attacks,' he said."...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Egyptians angry over German court slaying -

Egyptians angry over German court slaying - "Hundreds of Egyptians took part Monday in the funeral of Marwa Sherbini, an Egyptian woman who was stabbed to death last week in the German city of Dresden in a crime believed to be racially motivated."

herbini, 33, was stabbed to death Wednesday in a courtroom as she prepared to give testimony against a German man of Russian descent whom she had sued for insult and abuse.

The man, identified in German media as Alex A., 28, was convicted of calling Sherbini, who wore a headscarf, "terrorist," "bitch" and "Islamist" when she asked him him to leave a swing for her 3-year-old son Mustafa during an August 2008 visit to a children's park.

He was fined and appealed the ruling. The two were in court Wednesday for that appeal when Alex A. attacked, pulling out a knife and stabbing Sherbini 18 times. He also stabbed her husband three times and attacked another person.

According to Arab media, police officers tried to intervene to end the fight, and a number of shots were fired. One hit the husband, who fell unconscious and is currently in intensive care in the hospital of Dresden University.

Sherbini was three months pregnant at the time of her death.

Hundreds attended Sherbini's funeral in Alexandria, Egypt, her hometown, among them government officials, including Egyptian Manpower Minister Aisha Abdel Hadi and Telecommunications Minister Tariq Kamel, Egyptian media reported....

[bth: this ridiculous CNN article doesn't even tell us whether the attacker Alex A. was killed or not. Clearly this was a hate crime. Stabbed her 18 times and the guards shot her husband? What were they shooting at for God's sake? The article doesnt' even mention if the attacker was shot. We will see if it gets any more coverage in the US. I doubt it.]

Commentary: Galloway on McNamara: Reading an obit with great pleasure | McClatchy

Commentary: Galloway on McNamara: Reading an obit with great pleasure | McClatchy: "'I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.' —Clarence Darrow (1857–1938)

Well, the aptly named Robert Strange McNamara has finally shuffled off to join LBJ and Dick Nixon in the 7th level of Hell."

McNamara was the original bean-counter — a man who knew the cost of everything but the worth of nothing.

Back in 1990 I had a series of strange phone conversations with McMamara while doing research for my book We Were Soldiers Once And Young. McNamara prefaced every conversation with this: "I do not want to comment on the record for fear that I might distort history in the process." Then he would proceed to talk for an hour, doing precisely that with answers that were disingenuous in the extreme — when they were not bald-faced lies.

Upon hanging up I would call Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam and run McNamara's comments past them for deconstruction and the addition of the truth.

The only disagreement i ever had with Dave Halberstam was over the question of which of us hated him the most. In retrospect, it was Halberstam.

When McNamara published his first book — filled with those distortions of history — Halberstam, at his own expense, set out on a journey following McNamara on his book tour around America as a one-man truth squad.

McNamara abandoned the tour.

The most bizarre incident involving McNamara occurred when he was president of the World Bank and, off on his summer holiday, he caught the Martha's Vineyard ferry. It was a night crossing in bad weather. McNamara was in the salon, drink in hand, schmoozing with fellow passengers. On the deck outside a vineyard local, a hippie artist, glanced through the window and did a double-take. The artist was outraged to see McNamara, whom he viewed as a war criminal, so enjoying himself.

He immediately opened the door and told McNamara there was a radiophone call for him on the bridge. McNamara set down his drink and stepped outside. The artist immediately grabbed him, wrestled him to the railing and pushed him over the side. McNamara managed to get his fingers through the holes in the metal plate that ran from the top of the railing to the scuppers.

McNamara was screaming bloody murder; the artist was prying his fingers loose one at a time. Someone heard the racket and raced out and pulled the artist off.

By the time the ferry docked in the vineyard McNamara had decided against filing charges against the artist, and he was freed and walked away.

[bth: knew the cost of everything and the worth of nothing. That pretty much says it all. How many people died because McNamara lied -- sniveled his way through seven years in office. A traitor to real Americans who fought and died. A well dressed liar.]

Military official: Afghan insurgents dressed as women to escape – The CNN Wire - Blogs

Military official: Afghan insurgents dressed as women to escape – The CNN Wire - Blogs:... "After the Marines began taking fire from insurgents in the town of Khan Neshin, located in south Afghanistan near the Helmand River, the militants ran into a multiple-room compound, the U.S. military said."

Unsure of whether civilians were inside the compound, the Marines had an interpreter talk to the insurgents, said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly. After some time, a number of women and children left the compound, the military official said.

The insurgents denied any more civilians were inside, the official said, but the Marines held their fire anyway. About 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET), in the midst of the standoff, another group of women and children emerged from the compound, the official said. As of 4:30 p.m., the Marines were holding all fire and waiting out the insurgents, the official said.

Finally, a screaming woman emerged from the compound with a bullet wound to her hand, Pelletier said. Then, another group of women come out, covered from head to toe according to custom, he said. The Marines attended to the wounded woman while the others walked away.

When the Marines went into the compound, they discovered it empty, Pelletier said. That’s when they realized the fighters had dressed up as women to escape, he said.

“Apparently these were tall, rather broad-shouldered women with hairy feet,” Pelletier said.

[bth: disregarding the fact that this is a PR puff piece, one should note that a thermal camera would probably have determined who was male or female.]

A $10 Billion Add-On -

A $10 Billion Add-On - "TUCKED AWAY in the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill just passed by the House is a provision that should give senators -- and taxpayers -- pause. Over the next five years, 17,000 U.S. troops and dependents will relocate from Okinawa to a new base on Guam. This project will require billions of dollars to build the base itself, as well as billions more to repair and add to Guam's infrastructure. The $10 billion projected cost is to be split by Japan and the United States: Japan would supply $2.8 billion directly and an additional $3.2 billion in third-party funds while the United States would contribute $4.2 billion."

That was the plan. But the provision inserted by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) changed all that. It has more than doubled the cost of the relocation by requiring that at least 70 percent of the construction force be U.S. citizens and that construction workers be paid at the Hawaiian prevailing wage rate, which is double to triple Guam's. The ostensible rationale is that Guam does not have a large enough workforce to meet the demand, and it is necessary to bring wage levels into a competitive range to attract U.S. workers. But the initial estimate for construction expenses was near $300 million, while the change would drive construction worker compensation costs to more than $10 billion.

If giving U.S. workers jobs on Guam is a priority, this could be accomplished without driving wages up artificially to such a high level. You could, for example, keep the 70 percent restriction on foreign workers and let the market determine their wages. But given that Japan is paying for much of the relocation, does it make sense to limit the participation of Japanese construction firms and their workers?

These provisions will complicate a process already fraught with challenges. Guam's overburdened infrastructure will be sorely taxed by the new arrivals, who will amount to a 14 percent population increase, requiring an estimated $6.1 billion of work on roads, water, sewerage, waste processing and the power grid. Since Guam's annual budget is less than $1 billion, this money will have to come from outside. Why add to the burden on taxpayers with these unnecessary provisions? It is tempting to seize on any plan that tries to offer Americans jobs, but this cost is too great.

[bth: one wonders if we couldn't have found a better way to use $10 billion - like better body armor or heathcare for soldiers]

Sunday, July 05, 2009

New textile based anti-RPG armor from the UK

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Equipment and Logistics | Revolutionary armour unveiled at Defence equipment event

Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Equipment and Logistics | Revolutionary armour unveiled at Defence equipment event: "A ground-breaking armour system and a fleet of new armoured vehicles that will provide better protection to troops in Afghanistan were unveiled at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) event yesterday, Wednesday 24 June 2009.
TARIAN vehicle armour system on a truck cab

A truck cab fitted with the textile-based TARIAN vehicle armour system at the DVD event at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford
[Picture: Andrew Linnett, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The revolutionary, textile-based TARIAN vehicle armour system will give lightweight protection against rocket-propelled grenades, in place of the current bar armour that is fitted to vehicles such as Mastiff and Ridgback.

More than 20 sets of TARIAN armour have been ordered and are already being used on operations in Afghanistan, with half of them fitted to the Heavy Equipment Transporters.

The new system, developed with Dorset-based AmSafe in Bridport, will mean weight saved on armour can be applied elsewhere on the vehicle.

The DVD event also saw the unveiling of the Wolfhound, Husky and Coyote Tactical Support Vehicles (TSV), the first time these newly-purchased trucks have been seen in public."