Tuesday, October 20, 2009

US scientist charged with attempted spying for Israel - ASDNews - Be the first to know

US scientist charged with attempted spying for Israel - ASDNews - Be the first to know: "WASHINGTON, Oct 19, 2009 (AFP) - An American scientist who once worked for the Pentagon and the US space agency NASA has been arrested and charged with attempted spying for Israel, the Department of Justice said Monday.

Stewart David Nozette, 52, is charged with 'attempted espionage for knowingly and willfully attempting to communicate, deliver, and transmit classified information relating to the national defense of the United States to an individual that Nozette believed to be an Israeli intelligence officer,' the DOJ said."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

DAWN.COM | Security blunder

DAWN.COM | Pakistan | Security blunder: "At a time when militants are using all means at their disposal to attack state institutions, there is no room for security lapses. Hence the recent report that police and army uniforms and paraphernalia are being sold in Kohat despite a ban is distressing to say the least. The laxity of the law-enforcement agencies in preventing the sale of these uniforms is confounding. After the attack on GHQ in Rawalpindi, the sale of such items was proscribed. Yet the ban is being taken lightly by the authorities. Private tailors continue to sell uniforms and badges associated with the armed forces and police, while those that have stopped the open sale of these items have started selling them out of their homes instead."....

Weekly US Railroad Carloadings Down 17.2%, Cumulative Decline By 18.1% | zero hedge

Weekly US Railroad Carloadings Down 17.2%, Cumulative Decline By 18.1% | zero hedge: "Even as we have anniversaried the Lehman collapse, the primary indicator of economic viability and potential growth: intermodal traffic, continues to decline. In fact the weekly decline was slight worse, and came out at -17.2% YoY for week 40, nominally worse than the prior week's -17.1%. The categories most impacted were Primary Forest Products and Lumber and Wood Products, both instrumental in new housing construction. If there is a reason to be buying Centex, Lennar and Toll, sure don't look for it here."...

[bth: this is being pretty much confirmed by suppliers we use. private sector business is through the floor. only government stimulated construction and defense work is being sustained.]

Al Jazeera English - Video: Iran's Guards under attack

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Video: Iran's Guards under attack

October 18: 7 Best Moments From Sunday Talk - Page 1 - The Daily Beast

October 18: 7 Best Moments From Sunday Talk - Page 1 - The Daily Beast

Insurgents Destroy 2 Bridges in Anbar - washingtonpost.com

Insurgents Destroy 2 Bridges in Anbar - washingtonpost.com: "RAMADI, Iraq, Oct. 17 -- Insurgents detonated a truck loaded with five tons of explosives Saturday on a bridge here that links western Iraq to Jordan and Syria, pulverizing part of the overpass and paralyzing traffic for hours.

Another, smaller bridge was also destroyed in Fallujah, where a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi military patrol on the highway, killing four soldiers and wounding 14 others, said Sulaiman al-Dulaimi, a spokesman for the Fallujah General Hospital.

The attacks underlined the potency that insurgents still wield in a long-restive Anbar province that the U.S. military and Iraqi government tout as a showcase of their success in defeating the insurgency. They come after numerous attacks that have led many Anbar residents to fear that fighting may worsen as the U.S. military withdraws, insurgents remain and tribal rivalries mount ahead of parliamentary elections in January."...

An explosives-laden truck destroyed a well-traveled land route that connects western Iraq to Jordan and Syria.

[bth: in the past bridge bombings appeared designed to funnel heavy vehicle traffic or block military advances into certain areas. It isn't clear to me what the purpose is here.]

U.S. ignored warnings before deadly Afghan attack - Washington Times

U.S. ignored warnings before deadly Afghan attack - Washington Times: "Three intelligence reports warned that Taliban insurgents were planning an attack just days before this month's raid on two remote military outposts in eastern Afghanistan that killed eight U.S. soldiers, but the reports were dismissed as insignificant, U.S. officials told The Washington Times.

As a result, military officials did not send additional troops or make preparations to protect the 140 U.S. and Afghan troops at the combat outposts near Kamdesh in Nuristan province by the Pakistan border, the officials said."

Army Maj. T.G. Taylor, a spokesman for the Army's Task Force Mountain Warrior, told The Times that the three reports did not stand out among hundreds of others and that the intelligence was deemed to be not specific and uncorroborated.

"Reports like this happen all the time in all of our areas," Maj. Taylor said in an e-mail. "It is only through corroboration of reports and/or multiple instances of reporting that we can develop patterns."

One U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said that despite the Army's characterization of the reports as insignificant, some of the reporting was included in finished intelligence that circulated in classified channels throughout the region before the attack. Finished intelligence is material that has been analyzed and determined to be of value.

A former senior Army officer said the intelligence should have prompted action to provide the outposts with more defenses.

"Why didn't they react and have immediate support on site, based on the intelligence, and even based on the initial attack that occurred?" retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely asked.

Gen. Vallely said the outposts near the border should have been staffed with more Afghan troops, who despite eight years of U.S. assistance and training are not deemed capable of running such posts themselves.

The attacks on the Keating and Fritsche outposts - the deadliest in more than a year - are now being reviewed by the Pentagon. The disclosure of prior intelligence warnings comes as President Obama is weighing a request by his top commander in the region to deploy up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

Some 200 Taliban insurgents attacked the outposts on the morning of Oct. 3 with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, nearly overrunning the fortified bases.

They killed eight U.S. Army soldiers and two Afghan soldiers, making it the deadliest single attack against allied forces in Afghanistan since a similar raid in nearby Wanat in July 2008. Nine U.S. soldiers were killed in that battle, which prompted a re-evaluation of U.S. counterinsurgency tactics in Afghanistan.

One of the intelligence reports on Kamdesh, released in part to The Times, stated that a new Taliban sub-commander in Kamdesh, named Ghulan Faroq, had been appointed and "charged with attacking COP Keating," but no date for the attack was given. COP is military shorthand for combat outpost.

The report also stated that on or about Sept. 29 or 30, "fighters in Kamdesh received a resupply of B-10 ammunition" suitable for use with Soviet-design B-10 recoilless guns that fire 82 mm mortarlike rounds.

A second report stated that, around Oct. 2, a Taliban meeting took place in Kamdesh and that "a Taliban commander will arrive in Kamdesh soon to conduct attacks against coalition forces."

The third report stated that around late September, "a Taliban commander planned to conduct simultaneous attacks against coalition bases in Gewardesh, Kamu and Kamdesh regions of Nuristan and that each attack would be perpetrated by 10-15 Taliban fighters in each location."

"At the same time as these attacks, another unit would attack Barg-e Matal with up to 150 fighters."

Despite the information in the intelligence reports, Maj. Taylor insisted that the attack took the 50 U.S. troops and 90 Afghan police officers and soldiers at the combat outposts by surprise.

"There was no early warning of attacks or significant reporting in the area, which would lead us to believe there would be attacks," he said.

Asked to define significant reporting, Maj. Taylor said that "no significant reporting means that there was no reporting that would lead anyone to believe that anything was out of the ordinary."

Nuristan province is considered a hotbed of al Qaeda and Taliban forces. It is located close to the border where insurgents regularly cross into refuges in Pakistan.

The Army operates several intelligence units in the eastern region of Afghanistan that are in charge of collecting, analyzing and disseminating reports. A military official said communications between headquarters and the outposts was not a problem.

Maj. Taylor said the attack on the outposts, which left at least 27 injured, is under investigation by the military under Article 15-6 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Such inquiries occur "any time there is a loss of life," he said.

Before the attack, the 200 Taliban and other Islamist insurgents infiltrated a mosque in Kamdesh and dug into positions on adjacent hillsides within firing range of the bases.

The U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought back with 155 mm artillery despite heavy enemy fire that limited their capacity to return fire. The soldiers received no combat air support until Apache attack helicopters reached the outposts 30 minutes after the attack began.

After the July 2008 battle at nearby Wanat, the military conducted an investigation to determine whether commanders had been negligent. Military analysts say that battle led to a decision to begin moving forces out of remote hard-to-defend areas.

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, has proposed a counterinsurgency strategy that would move U.S. troops closer to larger population centers with a goal of better protecting the Afghan public against the insurgents. The risk is that the Taliban will be able to move more freely and control more of the countryside.

Both Kamdesh and Wanat are symptomatic of what critics have called the "under-resourced war" in Afghanistan - one that is being fought with too few troops and without other needed equipment.

A draft U.S. military report circulating in military circles stated that troops at the Wanat outpost were distracted by preparations for replacements and did not have enough surveillance drones in use to detect preparations for the attack.

The combat posts at Kamdesh were abandoned days after the battle and then bombed by U.S. aircraft. Western news agencies reported that a Taliban spokesman had boasted that the group's flag was flying over the abandoned outposts.

[bth: I thought about responding to the commentary to this article in the Wash Times but it is so consumed with idiots trying to blame this on Obama or Bush that I won't waste my time.

Just a couple of observations: First, that the intelligence reports were ignored because they were one of many is the common refrain of officers that failed to read or heed. Note that they are being contradicted by reports being internally leaked from within the military that there were at least 3 reports and warnings that were finished but ignored.

Second, Asia Times conducted an interview with a leading al-Qaeda/Taliban military commander in Pakistan last week which I posted yesterday on this blog which said that the base was attacked to force the Americans out of the province in order to give Taliban forces a place to flee when they are attacked by the Pakistani army, an attack which started this week.

Third, Major Taylor, if quoted properly about the 15-6 is blowing smoke up somebody's ass. Its occurred because there was negligence.

Four, so far as I can tell there was no 155 mm artillery at the bases so statements that that fire was inhibited by enemy contact appears to be bogus. It appears that both air and artillery support for the bases was late. Very late. The base was actually not reinforced until 16 hours later and that the wounded weren't evacuated until then.

Fifth, the insurgents were able to get a B-10 recoilless gun into combat. I looked into it and this looks like a small cannon on wheels. It could not be missed by an aircraft if air cover were provided. Most likely then this was used to fire down into the base from elevated ground surrounding the base. If the insurgents opened with this, they likely devastated the base from the get go.

Sixth, while its true the base was not overrun, it is also true it was abandoned and seized by the Taliban and in fact it looks like we retreated from the province providing the Taliban/al-Qaeda in Pakistan the safe haven - their strategic objective in the first place - according to the Asia Times interview.

In conclusion, this is the July 2008 Wanat replayed with the same devastating outcome. Despite the bravery of the men in the two bases, they were let down by their officers which failed to heed multiple intelligence warnings of attack, who located the base in an indefensible location, half staffed it, inexplicably delayed air and artillery support or medical evacuations and abandoned the base once the engagement was over pretending it wasn't a victory for the enemy. These brave men in the bases were betrayed by incompetent military leadership that should have had their backs. Now the lies have begun - lies from our government which kill brave men and undermine the credibility of the military in the eyes of the American public. But then lies come easy to those who would be held to account so they are not, and this debacle will repeat itself as it did with Wanat last year.]


Karzai Rejects Call for Runoff Vote -- News from Antiwar.com

Karzai Rejects Call for Runoff Vote -- News from Antiwar.com: "Officials in the Karzai campaign may have been suggesting for days that they expect a runoff vote, but today’s announcement was delayed reportedly as a result of indications that Karzai is not planning to abide by the results."

Karzai’s dramatic lead plummeted markedly in the face of mounting evidence of fraud, and the UN-backed Election Complaints Commission has, according to officials, put Karzai’s lead at only 47%, well short of what he needs to avoid a run-off.

Now diplomatic efforts are on to convince Karzai to actually cooperate with the ECC’s findings, and the Karzai-appointed Independent Election Commission (IEC) will have to sign off on the findings to move on. US Sen. John Kerry, visiting the country, has reportedly told Karzai that the US wants a “legitimate outcome.”

But it’s likely far too late for that. Reports of massive fraud and voter intimidation were one thing, but at this point the Karzai campaign is said to have operated 800 completely fictitious polling places and the fraud is likely to reach into the millions of vote.

Even the votes Karzai has reportedly lost in the recount are only a fraction of the extent of the fraud reported by ousted UN official Peter Galbraith, and still the run-off vote is predicated on getting Karzai’s consent. Failure to do so would be a disaster, as supporters of opposition candidates are threatening to take to the streets in armed riots, but even a second round of voting is unlikely to do much to convince anyone that this election has been run in a credible manner.

[bth: now is the time for Obama to state that we will not increase our combat presence. We will not endorse or validate what appears to be a large scale fraud by a corrupted government.]