Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bowing to potentates

King George III

Democrat president Barack Obama bows to Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko 11-09

Democrat president Barack Obama bows to the Saudi king

[bth: The American president is the sole nationally elected official of the USA. We are a free people. We threw off the yoke of royalty several centuries ago. We as a people do not bow and scrape to potentates or despots. Neither should our elected representative but it seems our President now does. Franklin Roosevelt took British royals on a picnic in 1939 and served hot dogs. So what gives with President Obama? Doesn't he have a protocol officer? This action is offensive to many Americans like myself. He doesn't represent just himself but us, the USA. Stand up like a free man.]

New Video of Wanat Attack from Taliban Perspective (SWJ Blog)

New Video of Wanat Attack from Taliban Perspective (SWJ Blog)

[bth: 2-503 of 173rd was put by its senior leaders into an impossible position. How could they have been left in such an obviously indefensible position? Where was the timely air cover or intel that could have prevented 150 insurgents from bring in weapons and using radios and even after the locals warned the Americans and evacuated the fucking village? Where were the senior officer that left these brave men and junior officers in an impossible position? People, Army senior officers, need to be held to account otherwise we will simply repeat this bullshit - like what just happened again in Oct 09. Its pete and repeat if no lessons are learned. Men die over incompetent leadership.]

American Muslims To Fort Hood Shooter: 'Thanks A Lot, Asshole' | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

American Muslims To Fort Hood Shooter: 'Thanks A Lot, Asshole' | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "ORT HOOD, TX—Following Army psychologist Nidal Malik Hasan's shooting rampage on the Fort Hood military base last week that left 13 people dead and 30 others injured, fellow Muslims across the nation sent him a message today, saying 'thanks a fucking bunch, asshole,' to the 39-year-old killer. 'Hey, great, eight years of progress right down the shitter,' St. Cloud, MN resident Zahida Naseem said at one of dozens of impromptu rallies held nationwide. 'And you just had to scream 'Allahu Akbar' while you did it, didn't you? May as well have put on a turban and rode a fucking camel right through the army base, you dick. Thanks for making the foreseeable future a living hell for normal, peace-loving Muslims in this country. Really appreciate it!' American Sikhs are also reportedly enraged with Hasan, and an official statement from the National Sikh Heritage Center read, in part, 'look, we got nothing to do with that guy"

Ford Unveils New Car For Cash-Strapped Buyers: The 1993 Taurus | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Ford Unveils New Car For Cash-Strapped Buyers: The 1993 Taurus | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Ford Unveils New Car For Cash-Strapped Buyers: The 1993 Taurus

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks

Burial incidents prompt Army probe of Arlington National Cemetery -

Burial incidents prompt Army probe of Arlington National Cemetery - "The Army ordered an investigation Friday into operations at Arlington National Cemetery after questions about apparently improper burials.

Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement that the service's inspector general will look into what he said was 'lost accountability' of some graves, as well as poor record-keeping and other issues at the cemetery, the nation's best-known burial ground for its military heroes.

The Army said that McHugh's order came after two separate incidents, which were first reported by

One was the revelation that cemetery workers inadvertently buried cremated remains at a gravesite that was already in use. According to the statement, corrective measures were taken immediately, but questions were raised about whether proper procedures were used in correcting the error."

In addition, the Army said the Military District of Washington, which has responsibility for the cemetery, has concluded an internal investigation into the discovery of an unmarked grave.

According to a Military District spokesman, the investigation and other evidence "strongly indicate" that a husband and wife who died years apart and should have been buried in the same gravesite were instead buried in adjacent graves. Family members declined to have the remains exhumed, which could have provided 100 percent certainty, the Army said.

The Army said the unmarked grave was discovered in 2003, but cemetery officials did not act until this year.

Cemetery officials have ordered new grave markers for the site, the Army said.

The Army's inspector general has already begun a management review of the cemetery, initiated under a previous secretary. This examination is intended to lead to recommendations on how better to operate the facility, including possible changes in policy, procedures and regulations...

[bth: its worse than is being reported]

YouTube - A Pittance of Time - Terry Kelly

YouTube - A Pittance of Time - Terry Kelly

YouTube - Remembrance Day Soldier Cries (Soldier_Song)

YouTube - Remembrance Day Soldier Cries (Soldier_Song)

YouTube - 8th of November - Big & Rich

YouTube - 8th of November - Big & Rich

YouTube - Jerry Jeff Walker Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother

YouTube - Jerry Jeff Walker Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother

YouTube - Ray Wylie Hubbard on Redneck Mother

YouTube - Ray Wylie Hubbard on Redneck Mother

With Few Strong Cases, Government Rushes Toward Plea Deals for Guantanamo Detainees - ProPublica

With Few Strong Cases, Government Rushes Toward Plea Deals for Guantanamo Detainees - ProPublica: "As the United States moves to prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others [1] accused of being conspirators behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, federal and military prosecutors are racing each other to strike plea deals with at least a dozen additional Guantanamo detainees whose testimony could be used against some of the most notorious prisoners.

The plea bargaining exposes the difficulty the government faces in bringing prosecutable cases against these defendants and others still in Guantanamo. Most of the remaining detainees are considered too difficult to prosecute, mostly because the evidence against them is thin or based on statements obtained through coercion.

One defense attorney said federal prosecutors had so little on his client that they asked the detainee to suggest a charge he would be willing to plead guilty to."....

India to move for extradition of Headley from US - India - The Times of India

India to move for extradition of Headley from US - India - The Times of India: "NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: India has decided to move for the extradition of US-based terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Taiba -- David Coleman Headley and
Tahawwur Hussain Rana -- with indications that the former may have done the recce in Mumbai for 26/11 and in New Delhi and other cities where the LeT had planned similar carnages.

Investigations have established that besides Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Agra, Headley also visited Pune and Kochi.

The inclusion of Kochi is significant beacause of Lashkar's plan to target tourist destinations, while Pune should ring a bell because of the intercepted email echange between Headley and a Lashkar leader where he was told that a city close to Mumbai could be the target.

Sources in the home ministry said India would move US for extradition of Headley and Rana in January after FBI files its report against Headley in a US court. The authorities are hopeful of a positive response because Headley and Rana have been charged with using US soil to target India and Denmark."...

Beirut attack victims’ families face new hurdle - The Boston Globe

[bth: Chris Devlin is a wonderful person who befriended us six years ago. Her family and the other Beirut bombing victims deserve restitution from Iran. The US seizes after 20 years a half billion in assets out of the blue from Iran and these families have won court judgments against the Iranian government. Give them the buildings. Why does the executive branch mistreat US terror victims? What am I missing?]

Beirut attack victims’ families face new hurdle - The Boston Globe
: "On Veterans Day, Christine Devlin stood in the cold in Westwood for the unveiling of a new memorial to local soldiers lost overseas, including her son Michael, one of the 241 servicemen killed in the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983."

Devlin is among 30 Massachusetts relatives of victims of the Beirut attack who have been fighting for more than a decade to get compensation for what many consider the first major terrorist attack against the United States. After a federal judge ruled in 2007 that Iran was liable for $2.65 billion in damages to be shared by 150 families seeking restitution, they believed they were on the cusp of victory.

But now, the Obama administration is going to court to try to block payments from Iranian assets that the families’ lawyers want seized, contending that it would jeopardize sensitive negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and establish a potentially damaging precedent.

In a little-noticed filing in federal court, the Justice Department is arguing that giving the money to the victims “can have significant, detrimental impact on our foreign relations, as well as the reciprocal treatment of the United States and its extensive overseas property holdings.’’

The Obama administration’s position is a blow to those like Devlin, who is still waiting for some measure of justice for her son, who was 21 when Hezbollah terrorists rammed a suicide truck bomb into the peacekeepers’ headquarters.

“It is offensive that our government - the government that [the Marines] were fighting for, who sent them there - are against us collecting from Iran,’’ Devlin said in an interview this week. “I felt justice was going to be served, but so far it hasn’t.’’

“We can’t go on with our lives,’’ said Marlys Lemnah, 62, of St. Albans, Vt., whose husband, Richard, a Marine sergeant nearing his 20-year retirement, was killed in Beirut. “It’s not about the money. We need something tangible: responsibility and accountability. We will fight until we have no more fight left.’’

The lawsuit, specialists say, also demonstrates the enormous difficulty for terrorism victims in general to collect damages. Despite a host of court rulings in its favor and legislation passed by Congress to make it possible to sue foreign governments that sponsor terrorism, the executive branch has long resisted such payments, arguing that seizing the assets of another country could restrict the president’s ability to conduct diplomacy. There are also significant legal disagreements over what kind of assets can be seized.

“Two branches are supporting [the families’] position and the executive branch is directly trying to undermine them,’’ said David J. Strachman, a Providence lawyer who has represented numerous families in terrorism cases involving Iran, but is not involved in this case...

Headley may be missing clue to 26/11 puzzle: India News

Headley may be missing clue to 26/11 puzzle: India News: "As investigators continue to dig into American terror suspect David Headley's antecedents, more interesting details on him are emerging.

One of the facts that emerged from Headley's interrogation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation is that the American national stayed at the Taj Hotel [ Images ] in Mumbai [ Images ], which came under attack on November 26 last year.

Investigations showed that during his first visit to Mumbai in the year 2007, he stayed at the Taj Mahal hotel [ Images ] for nearly 10 days. As per investigations, Headley checked into room number 1809 in the Taj Mahal hotel and stayed there between April 20 and 30 2007."

The IB says that this information is being verified and would prove crucial to the 26/11 probe. He is accused of having guided the Mumbai attackers. He could have drawn out a detailed blue print of the hotel during his stay over there and then guided the attackers who went about their job easily.

Another interesting detail that has cropped up during Headley's interrogation is that he shared direct links with the Pakistan Army [ Images ] through his accomplice Tahawwur Hussain Rana, whose two brothers are Brigadiers.

Sources in both the IB and investigating agencies told say they managed to track down Headley's Pakistan army link through the transcripts of his email. Headley interacted with his bosses in Pakistan through the ID

Investigating agencies say Headley used another email ID to interact with Rana. In his reply, Rana told Headley to get in touch with two of his brothers, identified as Brigadier Mohawat Rana and Sibte Hassan Rana Monie from Rawalpindi.

Following this interaction, Headley changes his email id to

This ID was first used in the month of March 2009. Created on a Chicago IP address, these mails were first accessed by Headley while he was in the United Arab Emirates [ Images ]. From UAE, he informed Rana about the creation of this ID and directed him to get in touch with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] bosses.

Headley also used the same mail ID to interact with the Pakistani agencies, including the Lashkar. In the emails, he gave in-depth details about his plans for India [ Images ]. He also updated them with details regarding the reccee conducted in India and also about how he planned on going about his work.

He also kept in touch chat and long distance calling cards.
Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru

British ship watched pirates seize couple: ministry

The Raw Story | British ship watched pirates seize couple: ministry: "The crew of a British military ship watched as a British couple were taken hostage by Somali pirates but were ordered not to open fire, the Ministry of Defence said.

The ministry insisted that the ship, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary replenishment tanker Wave Knight, could not have acted without endangering the lives of Paul Chandler, 59, and his wife, Rachel, 55.

The couple were sailing near the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean on their yacht the Lynn Rival when pirates boarded as they slept on October 23.

The British ship was carrying 75 merchant seamen and 25 Royal Navy sailors as well as a helicopter at the time of the incident."....

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pitts' Notebook: IEDs - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Pitts' Notebook: IEDs - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Army says morale down among troops in Afghanistan - Yahoo! News

Army says morale down among troops in Afghanistan - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON – Morale has fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, where troops are seeing record violence in the 8-year-old war, while those in Iraq show much improved mental health amid much lower violence, the Army said Friday.

Soldier suicides in Iraq did not increase for the first time since 2004, according to a new study.

Though findings of two new battlefield surveys are similar in several ways to the last ones taken in 2007, they come at a time of intense scrutiny on Afghanistan as President Barack Obama struggles to come up with a new war strategy and planned troop buildup. There is also perhaps equal new attention focused on the mental health of the force since a shooting rampage at Fort Hood last week in which an Army psychiatrist is charged.

Both surveys showed that soldiers on their third or fourth tours of duty had lower morale and more mental health problems than those with fewer deployments and an ever-increasing number of troops are having problems with their marriages."...

Ex-Lockheed Engineer Says F-22 Skin Defective | Product Design and Development

Ex-Lockheed Engineer Says F-22 Skin Defective | Product Design and Development: "ATLANTA (AP) -- A former engineer for defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. claims in a federal lawsuit that the company knowingly used 'defective' stealth coatings when building its F-22 Raptor jets.

Darrol Olsen claims Lockheed had 'falsely certified' the coatings between 1995 and 1999, saying they had passed stealth tests and concealed test results that showed otherwise."...

[bth: hello]

Gates 'appalled' at leaks on Afghanistan, shooting case

The Raw Story | Gates 'appalled' at leaks on Afghanistan, shooting case: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday angrily denounced leaks of sensitive details to the media about Afghan war deliberations and the probe into last week's army base shooting.

'I have been appalled by the amount of leaking that has been going on,' Gates told reporters on route to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he was to tour an armored vehicle factory.

Responding to a flurry of media reports about troop numbers in Afghanistan and the killing of 13 people at a Texas military base, the normally reserved Gates said in an unusually feisty tone that it 'doesn't serve the country' and was not in the military's interest.

He said the leaks were coming from different government sources but some were coming from his own department, adding that if someone was found leaking from the Pentagon 'that would probably be a career ender.'"...

[bth: until Gates fires some generals and Pentagon advisers in a very public way over leaks, they will continue. These leaks are designed to shape the debate - box the president in. Gen. Keane, AEI sponsors or affiliates, McChrystal, Eikenberry or their minions are all likely guilty of this. Gates needs to fire people.]

Militants Hit Pakistan Spy Agency in New Escalation -

Militants Hit Pakistan Spy Agency in New Escalation - "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Militants stepped up their fight against the Pakistani government on Friday, striking a building belonging to the country’s main intelligence agency in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistani television reported."

The early morning explosion killed at least eight people and wounded more than 30 in what has become a grimly familiar cycle of violence. Peshawar, a bustling city on the edge of Pakistan’s western frontier, has been particularly hard hit, with near daily bombings that have unsettled residents and interrupted daily rhythms.

“Peshawar seems to have become the main target,” said Hasan Askary, an analyst, speaking on Dawn Television.

The bombing’s location left no doubt about the insurgent’s motive: Pakistan’s intelligence agency is a symbol of the power of the military, which has been conducting a campaign against Taliban militants in the western mountains of South Waziristan.

The intelligence agency, know by its initials, ISI, has carried out operations against al Qaeda operatives hiding in the western mountains, and in recent years, it has itself become a target. An ISI building was attacked this spring in Lahore, one of Pakistan’s largest cities....

[bth: this is certainly a significant action]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Feds Move To Seize 4 Mosques, Tower Linked To Iran

Feds Move To Seize 4 Mosques, Tower Linked To Iran: "NEW YORK — Federal prosecutors took steps Thursday to seize four U.S. mosques and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper owned by a nonprofit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government.

In what could prove to be one of the biggest counterterrorism seizures in U.S. history, prosecutors filed a civil complaint in federal court against the Alavi Foundation, seeking the forfeiture of more than $500 million in assets.

The assets include bank accounts; Islamic centers consisting of schools and mosques in New York City, Maryland, California and Houston; more than 100 acres in Virginia; and a 36-story glass office tower in New York.

Confiscating the properties would be a sharp blow against Iran, which has been accused by the U.S. government of bankrolling terrorism and trying to build a nuclear bomb."...

[bth: this is a really unusual move. Why now? What is happening that isn't being reported?]

Taliban govern openly in Nuristan - The Long War Journal

Taliban govern openly in Nuristan - The Long War Journal: "One month after US forces abandoned outposts in the Kamdesh district in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nuristan, the Taliban are operating in the open, without fear of retaliation.

The Taliban and their commander Dost Mohammed recently flaunted their control of the district to Al Jazeera. Dost, who some had claimed was killed during US and Afghan raids in Nuristan, granted an interview with the news organization from Kamdesh. Coalition forces attacked the Taliban in mid-October after the battle of Combat Outpost Keating and the subsequent US withdrawal. Mullah Abdul Rahman Mostaghni, a district-level Taliban commander, was thought to have been killed in the raid.

The Taliban have created 'administrative units and the officials have been appointed,' an unnamed commander told Al Jazeera.

'We also established the judiciary department and the commission for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice section,' the commander told the news agency. 'We are working on providing people's basic needs.'

The promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice section will enforce the Taliban's strict, repressive brand of sharia, or Islamic law.

The Taliban also hold "scores" of Afghan police and soldiers who have been captured since the fall of Kamdesh, and claim to have seized large quantities of US munitions left at Keating [see video below].

Local Afghans acknowledge the Taliban's control and say they do not believe the government will return.

"The area is currently under the control of Taliban, who walk freely in the Kamdesh District," a local resident told Al Jazeera. "I do not think that the government plans to regain control over it. The local authorities, especially the security ones, are very weak and cannot do anything."

Last month, the US military withdrew from Camp Keating, Camp Fritsche, and several small, remote outposts in Kamdesh just four days after a major battle that pitted more than 350 Taliban fighters backed by al Qaeda and members of the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin against platoon-sized forces of US soldiers and Afghan police. More than 100 Taliban fighters, eight US soldiers, and seven Afghan police were killed during the fighting.

The Taliban entered the perimeter of Camp Keating's defenses, and damaged three Apache helicopter gunships, according to ABC News. Several Apache pilots were said to have been shocked by the scale of the Taliban assault. Most of Keating was destroyed during the battle....

[bth: there isn't a nice way to say this, we were simply shoved out of this province last month and in 2008 the one next to that. This was a combined Taliban al-Qaeda operation to provide a large regional safe haven for Pakistani Taliban being hard pressed by the Paki Army. The motive - strategic depth for the bad guys - was even discussed in an interview with Asia Times last month. Good grief, their leaders are thinking more strategically than ours are and they are using rather than being hindered by the international boundaries to their advantage. ... As one watches the Taliban video which I posted below, of enemy fighters gathering up our left behind mortars, rockets, grenades and claymores from the base we abandoned, one wonders why we didn't put a bomb right on the top of these guys when they gathered up the weapons stocks? Where were our eyes in the skies? Those seized weapons will be used against us in coming months.]

Read more:

Taliban govern openly in Nuristan - The Long War Journal

Taliban govern openly in Nuristan - The Long War Journal

GOP senator slammed for being lone holdout blocking veterans’ health bill | Raw Story

GOP senator slammed for being lone holdout blocking veterans’ health bill | Raw Story: "Sen. Tom Coburn is taking political heat this week for blocking a vote on a bill that would significantly expand access to health care for American veterans, despite broad bipartisan support for the measure.

Using a Senate procedure known as a 'hold,' Coburn (R-OK) has single-handedly stopped the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009 from moving forward, and in the process exposed himself to accusations of hypocrisy, acting 'illogically' and acting 'shamefully.'

The bill is designed to address the health needs of at least some of the roughly 1.5 million US veterans who are not currently covered by the military's health system. It would also provide assistance to veterans' caregivers."...

[bth: Coburn is a stinking piece of dog crap.]

My solemn meeting on Veterans Day with President Obama at my friend's resting place in Arlington

My solemn meeting on Veterans Day with President Obama at my friend's resting place in Arlington: "DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU

Thursday, November 12th 2009, 4:00 AM"

ARLINGTON, Va. - He didn't introduce himself. He didn't have to.

President Obama simply stuck out his hand and asked for my name as he stepped toward me amid a bone-chilling drizzle in the Gardens of Stone.

This was Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery. I wasn't there as a reporter, but to visit some friends and family buried there when Obama made an unscheduled stop - a rare presidential walk among what Lincoln called America's "honored dead" - after laying a Veterans Day wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

What I got was an unexpected look into the eyes of a man who intertwined his roles as commander in chief and consoler in chief on a solemn day filled with remembrance and respect for sacrifices made - and sacrifices yet to be made.

I'm sure the cynics will assume this wasjust anotherObama photoop.

If they'd been standing in my boots looking him in the eye, they would have surely choked on their bile.

His presence in Section 60 convinced me that he now carries the heavy burden of command.

I had stopped at Arlington to see the resting place of Ken Taylor, Ed Lenard and Dave Sharrett. Ken and Ed survived their service, in World War II and Korea, and died as old men. Dave did not leave Iraq alive. He was 27.

Obama arrived just before noon at the serene Section 60, where many of the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried together - and where many more heroes will undoubtedly be laid to rest before this President leaves office.

It's a section typically bustling with those visiting loved ones. Every time I go there, more and more graves have been dug into the earth.

The President and First Lady Michelle Obama emerged from their armored limousine hatless in the frigid downpour and took a slow stroll into the soggy rows of white marble headstones.

They stopped first at the grave of Medal of Honor recipient Ross McGinnis, an Army private who threw himself on a grenade in Iraq three years ago to save four buddies.

A sad-faced woman reached for Obama's hand and pointed him to a nearby plot.

The face of another woman - who had grimly sat in a folding chair for hours next to a headstone she'd arranged flowers around - suddenly broadened into a smile as she stood to embrace Obama and thank him for paying his respects.

She was so overcome with emotion that a soldier from the Army's Old Guard had to console her afterward.

The President patted backs of adozen other Gold Star relativesand troops visiting buddiesnow in the ground.

He gave hugs. He shook wet, chilly hands. He wanted to know something about each fallen warrior.

He began to slowly trudge back toward the motorcade - and to another White House huddle with his war council, which is advising him whether to send up to 40,000 additional troops into harm's way in Afghanistan.

And then Obama noticed a tall, bearded figure. He probably didn't see the mud-caked combat boots I trudged around Afghanistan in a few years ago.

"What's your name?" a somber President asked as he extended his hand.

"James Meek, sir," I replied, struggling to pull off my wool glove and pull my hood back from my head. "I'm here visiting a friend, Pfc. David H. Sharrett II, who was killed in Iraq last year."

He asked how I knew Dave. I explained that his father, also named David, was my high school English teacher in nearby McLean, Va. My classmates and I knew Dave as a little boy playing at our feet.

"He became a star football player and was one of the toughest soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division," I told Obama.

I didn't tell the commander in chief that Dave was killed by friendly fire. Or that the Army bungled notifying Dave's parents of a probe that concluded his lieutenant tragically mistook him for a terrorist in the dark and shot him. Or that his family had to fight for accountability - which two battlefield commanders promised but stateside generals derailed.

That wouldn't have been appropriate, Dave's deeply grateful father later agreed.

"Well, we appreciate his service very much," Obama told me.

I then told him I'm a reporter for the Daily News - but was just there to visit friends.

"Well, James," he said, looking me in the eye, "just because you're a journalist doesn't mean you can't honor your friends here."

The First Lady smiled and squeezed my hand. I thanked her for coming to Section 60.

Her face opened up into a smile filled with warmth and comfort, a welcome antidote for the weather and sadness around her. She said there was no finer place to be on Veterans Day.

Ironically, I was ready to leave the cemetery an hour earlier, but it went into lockdown because of Obama's visit.

"Sorry for any inconvenience," a terribly polite Secret Service agent whispered in my ear.

As the Obamas ended their pilgrimage through Arlington's hallowed ground, inconvenience was hardly what I felt standing there as the rain pelted my coat, staring at blades of grass around a headstone etched with a name and a date I will never forget.

[bth: thanks to my friend that sent this to me. I am very pleased that President Obama went to Section 60. A section President Bush never visited to his shame. Section 60 will be Obamas's section just as it is President Bush's - their war, their responsibility. I have absolute admiration for anyone willing to have the moral courage to visit there and talk to the family and friends who pass through on a daily basis. It will change you.]

Fort Hood Hero Story Questioned -

Fort Hood Hero Story Questioned - ..."The eyewitness, however, offered a different account. He said he was walking in a roadway between the main building, known as the Sportsdome, and five smaller buildings. Major Hasan was headed toward the main building, the witness said, when Sergeant Munley came around the corner of a smaller building. Major Hasan wheeled on her and shot her several times, the witness said. It was unclear whether she squeezed off a shot or not, but she fell over backward, disabled with wounds in her legs and one of her wrists, the witness said.

Major Hasan then turned his back on her and began to shove another magazine into his pistol. He did not appear wounded, the witness said. A few seconds later, Sergeant Todd came around another corner of the same building. He raised his weapon and fired several times at Major Hasan, who pitched over backward and stopped moving.

“He shot her, turned away from her and was reloading, when he was shot,” said the witness, who was nearby."...

[bth: Worth reading in full. Those idiots in PAO have created a Jessica Lynch redux for no good reason whatever. You have two civilian police officers that did their job, one getting wounded and the other shooting the suspect - both brave. Now we have a Jessica Lynch event which will only go down badly with the public. Also note that Hasan was handcuffed. Military accounts said that he was dead, then mixed up with the wounded which explained the confusion as to his condition. This does not look like it was true either, as it is clear that he was identified and handcuffed from the get go. ... The problem here is that the Army isn't clearing up the facts as they become evident. Its not that the facts were initially reported incorrectly, its that they weren't corrected. Now they are going to look bad unnecessarily. A shame.]

Former Ambassador Galbraith’s Kurdistan Millions -- News from

Former Ambassador Galbraith’s Kurdistan Millions -- News from "After a very high profile ouster from his role as Deputy Special Representative to Afghanistan just over a month ago, former US Ambassador Peter Galbraith has landed on his feet in a big way."

Galbraith, an outspoken advocate for Kurdish secession, helped the Kurdistan Regional Government negotiate when Iraq’s constitution was being written in the Summer of 2005, and is now reportedly standing to earn over $100 million for this brief advisory role.

The rub, assuming there needs to be one, is that Galbraith was also evidently on the payroll of a Norwegian oil company called DNO and helped them negotiate an exploration deal with Kurdistan that paid off big, and he stands to share greatly in the profit of a strike he holds interest in largely because of laws regarding oil revenue distribution that he helped put into the constitution.

DNO chief Helge Eide insists that as far as they know, Galbraith had no official political assignments at the time of his employment. He was working for the National War College as of 2003 but resigned to advocate more freely for Kurdish independence.

Top Iraqi official Feisal Amin al-Istrabadi expressed dismay that, in effect, “an oil company was participating in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution.”

[bth: the links in the original article are worth following. I too am amazed if he was on the US government payroll at the time. Fishy.]

How the US Funds the Taliban

How the US Funds the Taliban:... "But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997.

Flash forward to 2009, and Afghanistan is ruled by Popal's cousin President Hamid Karzai. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who in a separate case pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn. The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals' private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan. One of Watan's enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies.

Welcome to the wartime contracting bazaar in Afghanistan. It is a virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers joining hands with former Taliban and mujahedeen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort."...

[bth: a fascinating article worth reading in full. It essentially says that Karzai's drug dealing Taliban affiliated family and the Minister of Defense's son along with most of the country are involved in hosing the US military and taxpayer. It describes how we pay 10-20% of our logistics costs to the Taliban not to be attacked. It describes how the US Army lets this happen because we don't want to staff the security details ourselves nor train the Afghan Army to deal with it. ... In reading the full article one wonders what happens if we increase troop levels by 40,000? It would be a boom to the economy of Afghanistan including the Taliban but it isn't clear it would accomplish anything useful.]

The Raw Story | US doctors worried suspect was 'psychotic:' report

The Raw Story | US doctors worried suspect was 'psychotic:' report: "US military doctors had worried that the suspected gunman in the Fort Hood shootings was 'psychotic' and unstable but did not seek to sack him, National Public Radio reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed officials.

Psychiatrists and medical officials who oversaw Major Nidal Hasan, accused of opening fire on fellow soldiers at the Fort Hood base in Texas last week, held a series of meetings between the spring of 2008 and the spring of this year to discuss serious concerns about his work and his behavior, NPR reported."

"Put it this way. Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your fox hole," one official was quoted as saying.

One official who participated in the conversations had reportedly told colleagues that he was concerned Hasan might leak secret military information to Islamic extremists if he was assigned to Iraq or Afghanistan, NPR said.

Another official "wondered aloud" to colleagues whether Hasan might be capable of killing fellow soldiers in the same way a Muslim sergeant in 2003 had set off grenades at a base in Kuwait and claimed the lives to two comrades, the radio reported....

[bth: read the entire article. You realize that these officers, these mental health professionals, just decided it was easier to pass the problem on to Ft. Hood and transferred him. A total lack of leadership or moral courage. They probably got 13 people killed and 31 wounded. The department heads should be sacked over this failure of professional integrity or moral courage. But that won't happen. That would require somebody to actually become a leader.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

YouTube - Here Comes Another Bubble v1.1 - The Richter Scales

YouTube - Here Comes Another Bubble v1.1 - The Richter Scales

Nightwatch: Taliban moves into abandoned Konar Province

..."Afghanistan: An Afghan Taliban spokesman described follow-on activities in Kamdesh District, Konar Province, after NATO and Coalition forces abandoned their operating bases and retreated. The area is currently under the control of Taliban, who walk freely in the district, according to al Jazeera.

“We finished forming our administrative units and the officials have been appointed. We also established the judiciary department and the commission for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice section. We are working on providing people's basic needs.”

The estimated scores of captured members of the Afghan police and army hope for Taliban's pardon after Taliban said that the captives regretted working for the government and pledged to treat them well.

The significance of the report is that it exposes as false the idea that the presence of Coalition forces creates instability and that their withdrawal would restore quiet normality. On the contrary, in the absence of Coalition forces, the Taliban moved in to establish their own administration.

The fight is not simply an Afghan tribal fight against outsiders and their puppets. The Taliban have a religio-political program and are determined to re-impose their extremist and unbalanced ideas about Islamic practices and observances. They simply will not leave the tribes be. That is their weakness."...

Missing US soldier's body found in Afghan river - Yahoo! News

Missing US soldier's body found in Afghan river - Yahoo! News: "KABUL – Military divers have found the body of one of two U.S. soldiers who went missing last week as they tried to recover airdropped supplies that fell into a river in western Afghanistan, NATO said Wednesday."

The two paratroopers, from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, disappeared in Badghis province, a remote area that borders Turkmenistan, on Nov. 4. Local police had said the two had been swept away by the river as they tried to recover the supplies.

Afghan and international forces are still searching for the second soldier, NATO said in a statement.

During the first days of the search, intense fighting broke out with militants in the area. Eight Afghans — four soldiers, three policemen and an interpreter — were killed, while 17 Afghan troops and five American soldiers were wounded.

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry had said at the time that the deaths and injuries likely happened "during an air attack by NATO forces" during the fighting.

NATO has said authorities are investigating whether some of the casualties were caused by a friendly fire airstrike....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NATO, Afghan Forces Seize 250 Tons of Bomb Material (Update1) -

NATO, Afghan Forces Seize 250 Tons of Bomb Material (Update1) - "Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Afghan National Police and NATO- led forces seized 250 tons (225,000 kilograms) of bomb-making material in an operation in the southern province of Kandahar, the alliance said.

A patrol investigating a warehouse found 1,000 bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a material that is illegal in the country and is often used by insurgents to make bombs, and detained 15 people, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s force said today in an e-mailed statement. Another 4,000 bags were later found at a nearby compound, NATO said. Some 5,000 components used for making bombs were also discovered."

“This find will undoubtedly save many lives and points to the increasing capability of the Afghan national security forces,” Lieutenant Colonel Todd Vician, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, said in the statement.

The alliance also said a member of the U.S. forces in southern Afghanistan was killed today by an insurgent bomb. The location of the attack wasn’t given.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Langan in London at

[bth: keep in mind that bomb making material is probably fertilizer that has civilian uses. On the other hand bomb making components is much more specific and substantial.]

The Associated Press: TV footage shows Afghan insurgents with US ammo

The Associated Press: TV footage shows Afghan insurgents with US ammo: "KABUL — Television footage broadcast Tuesday showed insurgents handling what appears to be U.S. ammunition in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan that American forces left last month following a deadly firefight that killed eight troops.

The U.S. military said the forces that left the area said they removed and accounted for their equipment.

Al-Jazeera broadcast video showing insurgents handling weapons, including anti-personnel mines with U.S. markings on them. The television station reported that insurgents said they seized the weapons from two U.S. remote outposts in Nuristan province. It was unclear when the video was filmed.

The ammunition could be used against U.S. and Afghan forces, although the amount shown was not extensive. However, the footage will no doubt be used by insurgent propagandists to promote their 'victory' over the Americans and encourage their supporters.

Nuristan was the site of an Oct. 3 battle in which some 200 fighters bombarded a joint U.S.-Afghan army outpost with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells. Eight U.S. troops died — as well as three Afghan soldiers — in one of the heaviest losses of U.S. life in a single battle since the war began."...

Afghan, Coalition forces strike the Taliban in Kunduz - The Long War Journal

Afghan, Coalition forces strike the Taliban in Kunduz - The Long War Journal: "Afghan forces, backed by Coalition troops, have killed more than 130 Taliban fighters during an operation in the northern province of Kunduz. Eight Taliban commanders were among those killed while the operation 'disrupted the insurgent shadow governor in Kunduz province.'

The operation took place in the district of Chahara Dara, one of several districts contested by or under the control of the Taliban.

More than 700 Afghan security forces backed by 50 NATO soldiers carried out the five-day-long operation that cleared the Taliban from a number of villages, the US military reported in a press release. The provincial governor said 133 Taliban fighters were killed during the operation."...

[bth: it would be helpful to know what made this operation a success so we can repeat it.]

Monday, November 09, 2009

Allied forces ‘may abandon most of northern Helmand’ - Times Online

Allied forces ‘may abandon most of northern Helmand’ - Times Online: "A new strategy for Afghanistan that could lead to a British troop withdrawal from a former Taleban stronghold in northern Helmand province sparked immediate controversy yesterday."

According to a senior Nato source, Western military commanders in Afghanistan are considering a radical shift in policy that would see British and US forces conduct a tactical pull-out from most of northern Helmand, including the town of Musa Qala. The source said that the plan to withdraw from northern Helmand would be considered if proposed reinforcements, currently being examined by President Obama, were not approved. General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Kabul, has asked for 40,000 more troops but President Obama has yet to make a decision.

British military sources said, however, that a withdrawal from Musa Qala would be viewed as a defeat and could not be countenanced. They said it would also be a betrayal of the governor of the district, who risked his life to take a stand against the insurgents.

Mullah Abdul Salaam, a former Taleban commander, only hours before British troops from 52 Brigade and Afghan soldiers retook the town from insurgent control in December 2007. British troops had withdrawn from Musa Qala in 2006 after a “deal” with the local tribal elders, but the Taleban seized control until the arrival of 52 Brigade...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A E Housman, Poem Here Dead We Lie

A E Housman, Poem Here Dead We Lie: "Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

A E Housman"

Wilfred Owen - Dulce et Decorum Est - best known poem of the First World War

Wilfred Owen - Dulce et Decorum Est - best known poem of the First World War: "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares2 we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest3 began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots4
Of tired, outstripped5 Five-Nines6 that dropped behind."

Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets8 just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime9 . . .
Dim, through the misty panes10 and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,11 choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud12
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest13
To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.15

8 October 1917 - March, 1918

1 DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country

Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon

Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon:
"Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same--and War's a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget."

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads--those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon

Memorial Tablet by Siegfried Sassoon

Memorial Tablet by Siegfried Sassoon:
"Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’ ... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

Siegfried Sassoon"

For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon at Old Poetry

For The Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon at Old Poetry: "With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears."

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Perhaps (To R.A.L.) by Vera Brittain at Old Poetry

Perhaps (To R.A.L.) by Vera Brittain at Old Poetry: "Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away."

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.'

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

Army Withholds Anti-Burn Humvee Panels as IED Deaths Continue -

Army Withholds Anti-Burn Humvee Panels as IED Deaths Continue - ..."IED attacks and the fires that often result from them are a nightmare scenario that many soldiers and marines have experienced. And it continues to happen as insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan attack American patrols, their IEDs frequently targeting and breaching the fuel tank, causing devastating fires. Insurgents are now reportedly adding accelerants to the top of IEDs to increase the chances of fire."

Soldiers who have served in those wars said again and again that the Humvee, despite all the extra armoring added by the Pentagon, remains the most vulnerable vehicle they use. One soldier said the fuel tank is the weakest link of that vehicle and that the enemy is very well aware of that.

"Our greatest fear is getting burned alive," another soldier said.

The Pentagon has added fire suppression technology to the Humvee's crew compartment and to the engine compartment, but it has not added fire suppression technology for the fuel tanks, the most combustible part of any vehicle.

And yet, the technology is available to protect the fuel tanks on the roughly 13,000 Humvees currently being used for patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two companies in the U.S. make plastic panels, weighing less than 30 pounds in total, that can be attached to the Humvee fuel tank in less than an hour. Those panels are filled with a fire suppressing powder that is released when the panels are shattered by a blast and instantly extinguishes any fire.

Fox News has seen video from an Army test of the fire panels in which an unprotected fuel tank bursts into flames when struck by a rocket propelled grenade. The same test on a fuel tank with the fire panels attached results in no fire.

The Army has also tested the technology on a Humvee itself, although that video is classified. The test happened on Feb. 1, 2006, and Fox News has learned that two days later an Army test engineer wrote in an e-mail to a Marine colleague who had inquired about the test, "Fuel tank and powder panel were penetrated several times and there was no resulting fire."

But nearly three years later, those panels, which cost roughly $2,000 per vehicle, have not been fitted to a single Humvee in either Iraq or Afghanistan. That's despite a formal request in the form of what the Pentagon calls an operational needs statement from then Lt Gen. Ray Odierno in Iraq in August 2007 calling for all vehicles to be fully equipped with fire suppression technology for all areas, including fuel tanks.

Pentagon officials say the plastic fire panels have cracking problems underneath the low-slung Humvee, a problem one of the manufacturers acknowledges but claims was fixed in 2007. The Army admits that there is always a trade-off in choosing how best to protect a vehicle given the weight and power constraints, but officials say the improvements they have made to Humvees offer the best solutions.

"The fuel tanks on the Humvee are not exposed," Gen. Ross Thompson said. "They're underneath the vehicle. They're behind armor protection, and so the most comprehensive thing we can do is protect the crew compartment and to provide the armor protection on the sides to keep the fuel tank from being hit."...

[bth: there is no justifiable excuse for not correcting this weakness as soon as possible. I had heard independently that insurgents especially in Iraq had switched to napalm like accelerants to burn the vehicles up and their occupants since it was becoming increasingly difficult to penetrate the armor with IEDs. Unfortunately casualties are down, the public has lost interest and it appears that the army is up to its old tricks of delay and denial. All the while young men and women are burned alive because the army won't put on a 2k fire suppressant. Holy Christ, are we going to go back to bake sales to buy flame retardant and armor again? Haven't we moved past this bull shit? Evidently not.]

The Associated Press: Homeland chief warns against anti-Muslim backlash

The Associated Press: Homeland chief warns against anti-Muslim backlash: "ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The U.S. Homeland Security secretary says she is working to prevent a possible wave of anti-Muslim sentiment after the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas.

Janet Napolitano says her agency is working with groups across the United States to try to deflect any backlash against American Muslims following Thursday's rampage by Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim who reportedly expressed growing dismay over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The shootings left 13 people dead and 29 wounded.

Napolitano was in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday for talks with security officials and a meeting with women university students in Abu Dhabi."

[bth: the lack of backlash over the last 8 years speaks volumes about tolerant Americans.]

Seth Meyers & Amy Poehler Go Off On Goldman Sachs (VIDEO)

Seth Meyers & Amy Poehler Go Off On Goldman Sachs (VIDEO)