Friday, September 11, 2009

Raw Story » ‘Leading architect’ of Bush surveillance quietly appointed to declassification board

Raw Story » ‘Leading architect’ of Bush surveillance quietly appointed to declassification board: "The man who helped oversee President George W. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program now has a new job: a membership on the Public Interest Declassification Board.

Former Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, who led the National Security Agency under President Bush from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 until President Barack Obama’s inauguration, was appointed during the Labor Day recess by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)."....

[bth: this is a total travesty.]

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Iraq, U.S. troops learn to cope with rejection --

In Iraq, U.S. troops learn to cope with rejection -- "'It's not all been roses,' Johnson added. 'What we didn't anticipate was the level of pride and determination that the Iraqi security forces have.'

Iraqi and U.S. officials say the presence of U.S. troops probably would not have deterred the recent bombings, although Odierno worries that U.S. intelligence capabilities are suffering now that American forces are no longer operating in Baghdad's neighborhoods. The payoff for the U.S. has come in the form of sharply reduced casualties, with only seven recorded in August, the lowest monthly toll of the war.

Commanders have urged soldiers to embrace the change as a steppingstone to the departure of U.S. combat troops scheduled to take place by next August and of all forces by the end of 2011.

'I've been very clear about this,' Odierno said. 'We have to allow the Iraqis to do this. We have to be sure the Iraqis can maintain security, and I'd rather do it now while there's a lot of people on the ground so that if there's a problem we can help out.'"...

[bth: Odierno sees a loss of control by the US, but it appears to me that Iraqis police turning away US help and stabilizing their own country may be the closest we come to a victory celebration in Iraq. This is probably a good thing]

Last orders for troops arriving for daily duty with hangovers - Times Online

Last orders for troops arriving for daily duty with hangovers - Times Online: "After a Nato airstrike killed as many as 125 people last week, General Stanley McChrystal was keen to get the situation under control — fast.

When he tried to contact his underlings to find out what had happened, however, he found, to his fury, that many of them were either drunk or too hungover to respond."

Complaining in his daily Commander’s Update that too many people had been “partying it up”, General McChrystal, head of International Forces in Afghanistan (Isaf), banned alcohol at his headquarters yesterday, admonishing staff for not having “their heads in the right place” on Friday morning — a few hours after the deadly attack.

What was an oasis of coffee shops and bars where commanders could enjoy a beer or three will now be a dry area.

German soldiers in northern Afghanistan have been criticised for calling in an American F15 Strike Eagle to drop two 500lb bombs on a pair of hijacked fuel tankers in Kunduz at about 2.30am on Friday. Scores of local people who had gathered to siphon fuel from the lorries were killed in the explosions.

Nato began an investigation later that morning but military sources said that General McChrystal was furious because he “couldn’t get hold of the people he needed to get hold of and he blamed it on all-night partying”.

Rear-Admiral Gregory Smith, the top US spokesman in Afghanistan, accused German troops of waiting too long after the blasts to investigate the scene. When General McChrystal flew north, the local German commander, Colonel Georg Klein, told him that it was too dangerous to visit the blast site, four miles outside their camp, because they might get shot at.

President Karzai called the airstrikes unacceptable, and the fallout has heightened tensions inside Nato. Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, described the bombing as a big mistake and the European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, called it a “very sad event”.

Germany insisted yesterday that the tankers posed an acute threat to their troops because they could have been used for suicide bomb missions. Josef Jung, the Defence Minister, told parliament that there were no civilian casualties, and his deputy, Christian Schmidt, demanded that “foreign ministers from other countries should wait for the investigations”.

The German military is set to face tough questions, however, after a preliminary investigation found that the bombs were dropped in breach of Nato guidelines.

The decision was based mainly on information from a single intelligence source, who claimed that everyone at the scene was part of the Taleban.

Afghan human rights investigators said that as many as 70 civilians were among the dead and only a dozen insurgents were killed....

[bth: just lovely. A giant kegger. .... In mulling over the last week's events I have two observations.

First, the George Will article recommended getting out of Afghanistan will likely be viewed as the Walter Cronkite moment - when he advocated leaving Vietnam after Tet. Its the water shed statement that moves public opinion. A less glamorous but in retrospect huge shifter of public opinion came in the Iraq conflict when Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford and sat outside the President's ranch. People may argue about her politics and message but public opinion against the Iraq war shifted 20 points in six months.

Second, people think the public (Nato and US) won't tolerate casualties, as if the public from WWII or even Vietnam has changed, and as a result the military and politicians that attempt to control us see a need to control the news - the message - and frame and so on as the propagandists advocate. They are wrong. People will tolerate casualties among troops and also errant bombings like this one if the mission is worthwhile and obtainable. In Afghanistan there is none of that. That's the core of the problem. Its not the public, its not the 'framing of the message', it's that there is no message, no mission. If it was to get Bin Laden or Omar, it looks like we aren't even in the right country anymore.]

Sunday, September 06, 2009

george will afghanistan - Google News

george will afghanistan - Google News

Obama's surge moment: We need a clear mission to accomplish in Afghanistan

Obama's surge moment: We need a clear mission to accomplish in Afghanistan: "With casualties rising and support from Americans falling, the military will deliver a new plan for Afghanistan, including beefing up troops.

There's good reason the public has soured on a conflict that had enjoyed far more backing than had the effort in Iraq: Americans have had enough of pouring blood and money into an ill-defined, ill-managed campaign.

Here, then, is President Obama's surge moment. Under more dire circumstances, George W. Bush discarded a failed approach in Iraq and went all in. And it worked."...
george will afghanistan - Google News

The ship that started WWII in Europe with a sneak attack on Poland Sept 1 1939

Fallen hero was ‘ray of sunshine’ -

Fallen hero was ‘ray of sunshine’ - "A 22-year-old soldier from Amesbury - killed Tuesday just weeks into his second tour of duty in Iraq - was remembered yesterday as a “ray of sunshine” by his distraught family.

Spc. Jordan Shay, an E4 leader in an attack company assigned to the 5th Battalion of the 20th Infantry regiment, was one of two soldiers killed in a motor vehicle accident in Baqubah, said Dawn Palmer, his aunt, and Master Sgt. Pallas A. Wahl, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts National Guard. The cause of the accident is under investigation, Wahl said."

Shay belonged to the 3rd Stryker Brigade, based in Fort Lewis, Wash., and was deployed only weeks ago on his second tour, Palmer said. He planned to propose to his girlfriend of three years, Kelsey Chandonett, when he returned.

“Dying for your country has new meaning, now,” Palmer said outside her sister, Holly Shay’s Newburyport home. “Now I know the suffering and the sacrifice and the loss that goes along with it. . . . My sister, Holly, will never have a grandchild.”

An only child who was 2 years old when his father died of cancer, Shay graduated in 2005 from Amesbury High School and worked a variety of jobs before joining the Guard, Palmer said.

“He said, ‘I don’t want a dead-end job. I don’t want to be a thug on the street. I want to make a difference,’ ” Palmer said. “He was a ray of sunshine, and we’re proud of the choices he made. . . . The world is not going to be the same without him.”

Once in Iraq, Shay asked his mother to send him Matchbox cars that he could give to children there, she said.

“In one of his last blog posts, he wrote, ‘We hope to make a difference, but we fear we won’t,’ ” said Ali Watt, a family friend.

The day before Shay was killed was the last time he logged on to his MySpace [website] page, where a clock counting down how many days he had left on his tour was still running yesterday.

“Our hearts and our prayers are with the Shay family,” said Kristen LaRue, Amesbury’s director of veterans services. “As a community, we are standing together to assist the family in any way.”

Joanne Ross, a family friend, said the Shays would like people to also remember Lt. Todd Selge, a father of two who was also killed in the accident, and those soldiers who were inthe accident, and those soldiers who were injured.