Saturday, January 02, 2010

CIA Attacker Driven in From Pakistan - ABC News

CIA Attacker Driven in From Pakistan - ABC News: ..."The attack also killed Captain Al Shareef Ali bin Zeid, a member of the Jordanian spy agency Dairat al-Mukhabarat al-Ammah, according to people who have spoken with bin Zeid's family. The Jordanian military released a statement acknowledging bin Zeid had been killed in Afghanistan, but did not mention he was working with the CIA."...

YouTube - The Truth about Facebook!

YouTube - The Truth about Facebook!

Exclusive: U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets | Danger Room | Wired.com

Exclusive: U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets | Danger Room | Wired.com: "America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords."...

CTV News | Pakistan Taliban claim attack on CIA in Afghanistan

CTV News | Pakistan Taliban claim attack on CIA in Afghanistan: "MIR ALI, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban claimed Friday that they used a turncoat CIA operative to carry out a suicide bombing that killed seven American CIA employees in Afghanistan as revenge for a top militant leader's death in a U.S. missile strike."...

U.S. forces close Mosul airport – source : Aswat Al Iraq

U.S. forces close Mosul airport – source : Aswat Al Iraq: "NINEWA / Aswat al-Iraq: U.S. forces closed the Mosul airport late Thursday after the end of the security company’s contract, which protect the airport and its staff, a source from the airport said on Friday.

“U.S. forces closed the airport and brought out all the staff after the end of the security company’s contract,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency, noting that the contract ended on Dec. 31, 2009.

“They refused to give the responsibility of protecting the airport to the Iraqi forces,” he added.

“Several flights to Dubai and Amman this week were cancelled,” he said."

[bth: odd]

Customs official confirms report of 2nd man held from Flight 253 | detnews.com | The Detroit News

Customs official confirms report of 2nd man held from Flight 253 | detnews.com | The Detroit News: "Detroit -- A federal customs and border protection official reversed himself today, admitting a passenger from Northwest Flight 253 was placed in handcuffs, searched and released after a canine alerted officers to his carry-on luggage.

Ronald G. Smith, chief U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer in the Detroit area, sent an email to The Detroit News late Thursday apologizing that the information on the passenger -- which was reported to federal investigators by a pair of Taylor attorneys who were passengers on the flight -- was not made available earlier.

Federal officials had denied the details of the incident despite repeated accounts by attorneys Kurt and Lori Haskell of Taylor who say they saw a man get questioned by federal officials and be led away from the airport baggage area in handcuffs after a sniffer dog reacted to something in the man's carry-on luggage.

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The couple said the man, who appeared to be in his early 30s and of Indian descent, was taken to a room for questioning and later led out of that room in handcuffs.

In the email, which was also sent to the couple, Smith said he had just received a piece of information he did not have previously and hopes 'it will clear up the matter.'

Smith said the man was handcuffed and escorted to a room where he was interviewed and searched. Nothing was found. The man was not arrested or detained, and no further information was available about him, Smith said."...

[bth: so the eyewitnesses were telling the truth]

CIA caught in dirty and secretive war against al-Qaeda on Afghan border - Times Online

CIA caught in dirty and secretive war against al-Qaeda on Afghan border - Times Online:... "The CIA’s main strike weapons are the drones that loiter over the border areas 24 hours a day, watching and listening to telephone networks. While the drones provide surveillance and electronic intelligence and carry out strikes, human intelligence is far harder to acquire among remote communities suspicious of any outsider.

Then there are the night raids against suspected insurgent and al-Qaeda linked leaders. It was an operation by what are euphemistically called “other government agencies” that was alleged to have killed a number of students in Kunar province on Saturday, causing widespread anger in Afghanistan."...

Suicide bombing at CIA camp in Afghanistan likely revenge attack by Taliban warlord - a former ally

Suicide bombing at CIA camp in Afghanistan likely revenge attack by Taliban warlord - a former ally: ..."Haqqani's son Siraj, the Afghan Taliban's top field commander, introduced suicide bombs as weapons in this war.

Chapman hosted a provincial reconstruction team and was home to 'OGAs' - Other Government Agencies, a euphemism for spies.

The dangerous mission of these CIA paramilitaries, case officers and analysts was to hunt high-value targets from Al Qaeda and the local Haqqani Network.

It's that work that set the camp's fate for what has become a blood feud between the spy agency and the Haqqani family.

In the past year, CIA drones have killed Haqqani relatives in safehouses used by Al Qaeda leaders plotting strikes on U.S. interests globally.

'There is no doubt' Haqqani sees a motive for revenge, said Shir Khosti, an ex-Afghan official now living in Queens who often worked at Chapman with the CIA.

So does the CIA.

'If it wasn't personal before, it sure as hell is now,' a furious counterterror official said Thursday."

[bth: worth reading in full. Its personal now.]

Intel officer: CIA officers' deaths will be avenged - CNN.com

Intel officer: CIA officers' deaths will be avenged - CNN.com: "Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- An American intelligence official vowed Thursday that the United States would avenge a suspected terrorist attack on a U.S. base in Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of seven CIA officers.

Two of those killed were contractors with private security firm Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, a former intelligence official told CNN. The CIA considers contractors to be officers.

A current intelligence official confirmed that the casualties included a mix of people -- CIA staff and contractors. Six others were wounded.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred on Wednesday."....

Somali Rebels Vow to Send Forces to Yemen -- News from Antiwar.com

Somali Rebels Vow to Send Forces to Yemen -- News from Antiwar.com: "Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, a top official in the Somali al-Shabaab militia, today announced plans for the organization to send fighters across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen to take part in jihad there.

The al-Shabaab faction is one of the more hardline of various factions vying for control of Somalia, was presenting hundreds of new recruits at a rally in northern Mogadishu, and said that Yemeni factions should “be ready for our welcome.”"...

[bth: while we focus almost all our deployable forces into Afghanistan where we haven't caught or killed a senior al Qaeda leader in years, the al Qaeda forces shift easily into Yemen and back into Somalia. We need a lighter foot print in Afghanistan and some reprisal raids into Somalia and Yemen.]

Washington's Blog - What the founding fathers said about fire arms

Washington's Blog:

...."What the Founding Fathers Said About Guns

A little research showed me that the Second Amendment had more to do with freedom than historical militias. Here's what the Founding Fathers actually said about arms:

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms, disarm only those who are neither inclined, nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants. They serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1764

What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.
-- Thomas Jefferson

Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't.
-- Ben Franklin

Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property... Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.
--Thomas Paine

A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.
-- George Washington

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.
--Patrick Henry.

Are we at last brought to such an humiliating and debasing degradation that we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference between having our arms under our own possession and under our own direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?
-- Patrick Henry, 3 Elliot, Debates at 386.

The Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.
--Samuel Adams, debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87.

The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country…
--James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).

(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
--James Madison.

If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government...
-- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist (#28) .

The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.
--Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-B.

To disarm the people is the best and most effective way to enslave them.
-- George Mason

The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.
--Noah Webster, “An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (1787) in Pamplets on the Constitution of the United States (P.Ford, 1888)

[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or the state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People.
-- Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788."....

Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan Devastates Critical Hub for CIA Activities - WSJ.com

Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan Devastates Critical Hub for CIA Activities - WSJ.com: ..."Among the casualties was the agency's base chief, former intelligence officials said. There had been only four publicly acknowledged CIA fatalities in Afghanistan prior to this attack.

The Taliban claimed responsibility Thursday for the bombing, which was carried out by suicide bomber wearing an Afghan National Army uniform. Some senior officials think the bomber may have been given access to the base because he was believed to be an informant, said two former intelligence officials.

Several former intelligence officials described the attack in Afghanistan as 'devastating' to the agency. A number of the officers killed had been counterterrorism operatives since before the 9/11 attacks. The base played a critical role in the CIA's significant operations in the country, including helping with drone attacks and informant networks in Pakistan."...

[bth: a painful reminder that the Taliban aren't all a bunch of men picking lice from their beards sitting in a cave. Why wasn't he searched? Had we become lax? Trusting? Have we underestimated the enemy? Was the payback the execution killing of the boys in the school earlier this week in Kunar?]

White House Adviser Briefed in October on Underwear Bomb Technique - Declassified Blog - Newsweek.com

White House Adviser Briefed in October on Underwear Bomb Technique - Declassified Blog - Newsweek.com: "White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan was briefed in October on an assassination attempt by Al Qaeda that investigators now believe used the same underwear bombing technique as the Nigerian suspect who tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, U.S. intelligence and administration officials tell NEWSWEEK.

The briefing to Brennan was delivered at the White House by Muhammad bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s chief counterterrorism official. In late August, Nayef had survived an assassination attempt by an operative dispatched by the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda who was pretending to turn himself in. The operative had tried to kill the Saudi prince by detonating a bomb on his body, but stumbled on his way into the prince's palace and blew himself up."

Saudi officials initially thought the bomb had been secreted in the operative's anal cavity. But after investigating the matter more thoroughly, they concluded it had likely been sewn into his underwear, thereby allowing the operative to bypass security checks before his meeting with the prince. A main purpose of Nayef's briefing for Brennan was to alert U.S. officials to the use of the underwear technique.

U.S. officials now suspect that Nayef's attempted assassin and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspect aboard the Northwest flight, had the same bomb maker in Yemen, intelligence experts tell NEWSWEEK. At the briefing for Brennan, Nayef was concerned because “he didn’t think [U.S. officials] were paying enough attention” to the growing threat from Al Qaeda in Yemen, said a former U.S. intelligence official familiar with the briefing. (A senior Saudi official told NEWSWEEK Saturday that “we don't have any concerns that the U.S. government isn't sufficiently concerned about Yemen. In the latter part of the Bush administration and in this administration, the U.S. has been very focused on the dangers emanating from Yemen.”)...


[bth: I saw a briefing on underwear bombs in November. There is little doubt that the issue was understood. The problem is what to do about it and generating the political will to address it. Funding for equipment needed to detect this and the public will to undergo intrusive searches are 'incident driven'. Which means we are reactive and always too little too late in our response.]

No Job Growth in a Decade despite souring productivity gains

YouTube - Last Kiss - Pearl Jam

YouTube - Last Kiss - Pearl Jam: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Obama Disconnect: What Happens When Myth Meets Reality | techPresident

The Obama Disconnect: What Happens When Myth Meets Reality | techPresident: ...."But the question raised by Plouffe's book is, given the grassroots base he helped develop in support of Obama and how powerful it became by the fall of 2008 (raising $150 million in the month of September alone, including more than $10 million the night of Sarah Palin's acceptance speech), why he didn't do more to keep that muscular organization going into Obama's presidency? To put it another way, why did Plouffe discount his own grassroots strategy in favor of the dusty old playbook used by White House insiders for decades? Why wasn't more done to extend that sense of ownership meaningfully into the life of the Administration? If you could trust your volunteers to carry the campaign in all sorts of important ways, why not also give them a real say in how they could shake up Washington?

The answer, ultimately, is that Plouffe and the rest of Obama's leadership team, wasn't really interested in grassroots empowerment. Instead, they think they've invented a 21st century version of list-building, and to some degree they're right. (It's for that reason that I think of the Obama campaign as the first 21st century top-down campaign, while McCain's was the last 20th century top-down version). For Plouffe, the gigantic Obama email list, its millions of donors and its vibrant online social network were essentially a new kind of top-down broadcast system, one even better than the old TV-dominated system. Near the end of his book he writes:"...

[bth: one thing I've learned is that Washington's establishment fears grass roots politics. They want to use it if they can control it, as seen here, but they do not want to share power with anyone. This is why the grass roots movement Obama developed was snuffed out.]

Iraq to sue ex-Blackwater guards - CNN.com

Iraq to sue ex-Blackwater guards - CNN.com: "Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq said Friday that it will file a lawsuit against five Blackwater security guards cleared of manslaughter charges in the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians, an act a government official called murder.

The Iraqi government also will ask the U.S. Justice Department to appeal a federal judge's 'unfair and unacceptable' dismissal of the charges Thursday, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

An Iraqi man wounded in the 2007 incident also voiced his anger Friday, saying U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina's dismissal of the charges showed 'disregard for Iraqi blood.'

Urbina found Thursday that prosecutors wrongly used the guards' own statements against them."...

[bth: its regrettable really. Iraqis can not help but conclude a failure of our lauded justice system to punish murderers.]

General McChrystal: ‘We are going to win’ in Afghanistan | Raw Story

General McChrystal: ‘We are going to win’ in Afghanistan | Raw Story: "In a New Year's Day interview, the commander of NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan offered an optimistic message about the chances for military success prior to a planned drawdown of US combat forces beginning in July 2011.

'I believe that over the next year to 18 months that we’re going to be able to decisively change the perception of momentum and gains by the insurgents,' General Stanley McChrystal told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes by phone from Kabul.

McChrystal defined victory as a situation where 'the insurgency is not an existential threat to the government or the people” of Afghanistan' and asserted that allied forces 'are not winning yet, but we are going to win.'"...

[bth: all meaningful measures of progress or failure have been classified so it is very hard to say what victory is unless Gen. McChrystal tells us. Expect a continuation of a steady beat of messages and message control from McChrystal. Victory for McChrystal will be about perception.]

YouTube - Dramatic Chipmunk Breaks Out

YouTube - Dramatic Chipmunk Breaks Out

December 1st month Without US Combat Death In Iraq

December 1st month Without US Combat Death In Iraq: "BAGHDAD — December was the first month since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq nearly seven years ago in which no U.S. forces died in combat in the country.

Gen. Ray Odierno called it a significant milestone and said it speaks to how the violence in Iraq has diminished. Odierno is the commanding general in Iraq.

There were three U.S. troops who died in December as a result of non-combat related incidents.

According to an Associated Press count, 149 U.S. troops died in Iraq in 2009. That includes combat-related deaths and those not related to fighting.

That's the lowest number of U.S. deaths for a year since the Iraq war began in 2003."...

Thursday, December 31, 2009

5 killed in raid at Pakistan hospital - CNN.com

5 killed in raid at Pakistan hospital - CNN.com: "Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Five people were killed overnight when Pakistani security forces hunting for militants involved in a deadly attack earlier this week raided a hospital in the country's volatile tribal region and battled militants there, two Pakistani intelligence officials said Thursday.

The eight hours of fighting took place at Hafiz Medical Center in the South Waziristan town of Wana, beginning at 11 p.m. Wednesday. A Sudanese man, three men from unidentified Arab countries and a woman of unknown nationality were killed, the officials said.

It is not known whether the men were foreign militant fighters.

The raid follows an insurgent attack on a Pakistani security force checkpoint Monday, which left two security personnel dead and two others injured. Several militants were injured in the firefight, and some ran away.

Authorities said militants at the hospital put up a strong fight. After the attack, 18 militants were arrested."

[bth: interesting that the 'militants' who all appear to be foreign used a hospital instead of taliban provided medical care.]

Blackwater Shooting Charges All Dismissed By Judge

Blackwater Shooting Charges All Dismissed By Judge: "WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed all charges Thursday against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians on a crowded Baghdad street in 2007.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina said Justice Department prosecutors improperly built their case on sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity. Urbina said the government's explanations were 'contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.'

The decision throws out a case steeped in international politics. The September 2007 shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad. The Iraqi government wanted the guards to face trial in Iraq and officials there said they would closely watch how the U.S. judicial system handled the case."...

[bth: clever how Blackwater lawyers beat the wrap and justice.]

Flight 253 passenger Kurt Haskell: 'I was visited by the FBI' | Detroit News - - MLive.com

Flight 253 passenger Kurt Haskell: 'I was visited by the FBI' | Detroit News - - MLive.com: "Following up on a visit from FBI officials about an eyewitness account first described to MLive.com, Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell described the visit in comment sections across MLive on Wednesday.

Haskell and his wife, Lori, were aboard Flight 253 when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to destroy the plane. They say another man tried to help Abdulmutallab board the plane in Amsterdam.

Haskell had two detailed posts in two different stories. Here is Part One, originally posted here:

'Today is the second worst day of my life after 12-25-09. Today is the day that I realized that my own country is lying to me and all of my fellow Americans. Let me explain."...

[bth: this is worth reading in full. Something isn't right here]

TSA subpoenas bloggers, demands names of sources - Yahoo! News

TSA subpoenas bloggers, demands names of sources - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON – As the government reviews how an alleged terrorist was able to bring a bomb onto a U.S.-bound plane and try to blow it up on Christmas Day, the Transportation Security Administration is going after bloggers who wrote about a directive to increase security after the incident.

TSA special agents served subpoenas to travel bloggers Steve Frischling and Chris Elliott, demanding that they reveal who leaked the security directive to them. The government says the directive was not supposed to be disclosed to the public.

Frischling said he met with two TSA special agents Tuesday night at his Connecticut home for about three hours and again on Wednesday morning when he was forced to hand over his lap top computer. Frischling said the agents threatened to interfere with his contract to write a blog for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines if he didn't cooperate and provide the name of the person who leaked the memo.

'It literally showed up in my box,' Frischling told The Associated Press. 'I do not know who it came from.' He said he provided the agents a signed statement to that effect.

In a Dec. 29 posting on his blog, Elliott said he had told the TSA agents at his house that he would call his lawyer and get back to them. Elliott said late Wednesday he could not comment until the legal issues had been resolved."...

US releases ‘dangerous’ Iranian proxy behind the murder of US troops - The Long War Journal

US releases ‘dangerous’ Iranian proxy behind the murder of US troops - The Long War Journal: "The US has released the leader of an Iranian-backed Shia terror group behind the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007.

Qais Qazali, the leader of the Asaib al Haq or the League of the Righteous, was set free by the US military and transferred to Iraqi custody in exchange for the release of British hostage Peter Moore, US military officers and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal. The US military directly implicated Qais in the kidnapping and murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in January 2007.

“We let a very dangerous man go, a man whose hands are stained with US and Iraqi blood,” a military officer said. “We are going to pay for this in the future.”"...

[bth: bad deal. why are we doing it?]

W.H. stands by watch-list probe pick - Carol E. Lee and Laura Rozen - POLITICO.com

W.H. stands by watch-list probe pick - Carol E. Lee and Laura Rozen - POLITICO.com: "President Barack Obama promised a “thorough review” of the government’s terrorist watch-list system after a Nigerian man reported to U.S. government officials by his father to have radicalized and gone missing last month was allowed to board a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit that he later tried to blow up without any additional security screening.

Yet the individual Obama has chosen to lead the review, White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, served for 35 years in the CIA, helped design the current watch-list system and served as interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center, whose role is under review.

In the three years before joining the Obama administration, Brennan was president and CEO of The Analysis Corp., an intelligence contracting firm that worked closely with the National Counterterrorism Center and other U.S. government intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security agencies on developing terrorism watch-lists."...

[bth: basicaly Obama has hired a contractor to review itself. I think we will know how this ends - no conclusions, no accountability and the bureaucracy learning nothing.]

Is China Winning the Global War on Terror? | Danger Room | Wired.com

Is China Winning the Global War on Terror? | Danger Room | Wired.com: "That’s the thought that ran through my head, as I read about China’s $3.4 billion copper-mining effort southeast of Kabul. It’s “by far the largest foreign investment project in war-torn Afghanistan,” according to the New York Times. And it’s hardly China’s only investment in an American battlefield. Earlier this month, a consortium led by China National Petroleum Company won an auction to develop Iraq’s Halfiya oil field, which is believed to hold 4.1 billion barrels of black gold.

“CNPC already has the rights to develop Rumaila, Iraq’s largest oilfield, alongside BP,” as the Times of London notes. “It is also helping to restore production at al-Ahdab field. Sinopec, another Chinese oil group, has a strong position in northern Iraq, after its $7.9 billion acquisition of the London-listed Addax Petroleum, which has been exploring for oil in the autonomous Kurdish region.”"...

[bth: it should be remembered that in the early half of the 20th century it was the Americans that played the spoiler to the colonial actions of England and France in the Middle East. We're being beaten at our own game.]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children - Times Online

Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children - Times Online: "American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.

Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.

Western military sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.

“This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”."...



Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest in Kabul
[bth: reading the article one can't help but wonder what the rest of the story is. Are these students in fact suicide bombers in training for example? This wasn't a random bombing from 10,000 feet. It was a targeted hit of some sort against specific people. Also note in the original article there is a student protest that is photographed. Note the professionally prepared sign in English. That costs money and takes time to prepare. The Kabul student protest is somehow organized or constructed and not a spontaneous event by the nature of that sign.]

Scott Atran: The Terror Scare

Scott Atran: The Terror Scare: ..."Terrorists are directly responsible for violent acts, but only indirectly for the reaction that follows. To terrorize and destabilize, terrorists need publicity and our complicity. With publicity, even failed terrorist acts succeed in terrorizing; without publicity, terrorism would fade away. The irony is that press and publicity are also the oxygen of an open society. But this does not require that our leaders equate what is most scary and spectacular with what is really most threatening and politically important. By amplifying and connecting relatively sporadic terrorist acts into a generalized 'war,' the somewhat marginal phenomenon of terrorism has become a primary preoccupation of our government and people. This transformation puts the lie to the constant refrain by our same leaders that 'terrorists will gain nothing.'

Terrorism remains at the top of the behavioral agendas of our political parties. This means that no matter what the outcome of our democratic elections, terrorists will continue to hold sway over our society in ways only the most audacious and outrageous among them ever imagined, at least in their thinking about the short term product of their actions. In this sense, Bin Laden has been victorious beyond his wildest dreams -- not because of anything he's done, but because of how we have reacted to the episodic near-misses and rare successes he inspires.

Scott Atran, an anthropologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, John Jay College and the University of Michigan, is the author of the forthcoming Listen to the Devil."

[bth: worth reading in full. Isn't it telling that our current generation of leaders don't have the courage to stand up to fear, to inspire fearlessness, but instead use fear to gain power? Be afraid, be very afraid. Our fear allows others to gain power over us.]

Security put to the test with Joint Chiefs of Staff visit | Military News - The News Tribune | Seattle-Tacoma News, Weather, Sports, Jobs, Homes and Cars | South Puget Sound's Destination

Security put to the test with Joint Chiefs of Staff visit | Military News - The News Tribune | Seattle-Tacoma News, Weather, Sports, Jobs, Homes and Cars | South Puget Sound's Destination: "ABU GHRAIB, Iraq – Word arrived to brigade officials Monday: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was visiting Baghdad, and he wanted to tour the main marketplace in the western Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib.

Protecting the United States’ top uniformed service member during his 45-minute walk was no small task.

Hundreds of soldiers from Fort Lewis’ 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were already positioned around the sprawling market by the time Adm. Mike Mullen stepped out of his Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle Saturday morning. Other service members were out of sight but still working detail, while aerial firepower remained ready if needed.

“There were a lot of moving pieces and a lot of contingencies,” said Capt. Gabby Niess, a California resident who helped plan the security mission, dubbed Operation Rock Sword. “It looked like there was a lot going on, and there was even more going on in the air and behind the scenes.”

A company from 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment and the battalion’s personal security detail element – a total of about 160 soldiers – created two security cordons around the market and stationed snipers throughout the area. Two F-16 fighter jets and attack AH-64 Apache helicopters flew overhead to provide firepower if needed, and Air Force joint tactical air controllers were on the ground to coordinate attacks. A Shadow drone aircraft circled in the air to provide a view of the ground."...

[bth: all this for a PR stunt]

Confidence in War in Afghanistan Down Again - Rasmussen Reports™

Confidence in War in Afghanistan Down Again - Rasmussen Reports™: "Following President Obama's speech outlining his new strategy, there was a bounce in optimism about the war in Afghanistan. But the bounce has ended and confidence has fallen again. Confidence has also fallen in the broader War on Terror.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only 21% of U.S. voters now think the situation in Afghanistan will get better over the next six months. That’s down 13 points from the survey immediately following the president’s speech.

Prior to that, voter confidence that things will get better in Afghanistan ranged from a low of 13% in October to a high of 29% in late June.

Forty-five percent (45%) now believe the situation in Afghanistan will worsen in the next six months, up six points from early December. Still, that’s a modest improvement when compared to attitudes captured from August until the President’s speech."...

Yemen permits wanted al Qaeda leaders to operate in the open - The Long War Journal

Yemen permits wanted al Qaeda leaders to operate in the open - The Long War Journal: "Even as the US has stepped up cooperation with Yemen in targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known terrorists wanted by the US government continue to operate in the open while the Yemeni government looks the other way.

The US has increased military and intelligence support to the weak Yemeni government and President Ali Abdullah Saleh over the past several months as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has grown more bold. The terror group has been plotting to target the Yemeni state as well as US and other foreign targets inside and outside Yemen, according to US intelligence officials.

In the fall, the US deployed special operations forces to Yemen to work with the country's army and security serves to root out al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The terror group has opened large training camps in Sana'a, Abyan, and Shabwa provinces over the past year. Camps in these provinces were targeted in US airstrikes on Dec. 17, while a high-level leadership meeting was hit a week later in Shabwa on Dec. 24."...

[bth: it probably would be fair to say that Yemen is on the verge of a religious civil war and the power of the central government is extremely weak.]

Firm employs large number of Pentagon mentors - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times

Firm employs large number of Pentagon mentors - Army News, news from Iraq, - Army Times: "In a marketplace awash in consulting firms that help defense companies sell to the Pentagon, the Durango Group has a unique advantage. The Colorado-based firm has become a base of operations for retired officers who also are handsomely paid by the military for their advice.

No other defense consulting firm employs more “senior mentors” than Durango. Of the 59 former officers who work for Durango, 15 also serve as mentors, a USA Today investigation found.

As Durango associates, the retired officers are paid to help private companies win and administer Pentagon contracts. As mentors, the retirees are paid by the military to help run war games, which also gives them access to classified strategies and weapons systems. Durango cites these mentoring assignments on its Web site as signs of its associates’ unique connections.

Along with their work for Durango and the military, these retired officers, mostly from the Air Force, are paid advisers, consultants and corporate directors on the boards of at least 20 companies, according to public records. Three of them work for private equity firms to help them identify, buy and then run defense contractors."....

[bth: at some point you just realize that its the tax payer that is getting screwed.]

Al-Qaeda ‘groomed Abdulmutallab in London’ - Times Online

Al-Qaeda ‘groomed Abdulmutallab in London’ - Times Online: ..."It emerged last night that Mr Abdulmutallab featured on the periphery of one counterterrorism intelligence operation in Britain. US intelligence authorities are also looking at conversations between him and at least one al-Qaeda member.

The event he organised took place in January 2007 and included talks on Guantánamo Bay, the alleged torture of prisoners and the War on Terror.

He is the fourth president of a London student Islamic society to face terrorist charges in three years. One is facing a retrial on charges that he was involved in the 2006 liquid bomb plot to blow up airliners. Two others have been convicted of terrorist offences since 2007."...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Official: U.S. intelligence found Iran nuke document was forged | Raw Story

Official: U.S. intelligence found Iran nuke document was forged | Raw Story: "WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (IPS) - U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by the Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a 'neutron initiator' for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.

Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.

The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document. But it quoted 'an Asian intelligence source' - a term some news media have used for Israeli intelligence officials - as confirming that his government believes Iran was working on a neutron initiator as recently as 2007."....

Who's running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint | McClatchy

Who's running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint | McClatchy: "WASHINGTON — An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — if there were one.

The post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has held up President Barack Obama's nominee in opposition to the prospect of TSA workers joining a labor union."...

AFP: Three sentenced to death in Iraq for June bombing

AFP: Three sentenced to death in Iraq for June bombing: "BAGHDAD — Three men were sentenced to death by hanging on Tuesday after being convicted of helping to plan an Al-Qaeda truck bombing in northern Iraq in June that killed 72 people.

A judge at Rusafa criminal court in central Baghdad said the court 'sentences to death by hanging Adnan Jassim Ali al-Juburi, Walid Mahmoud Mohammed al-Hamdani and Jawad Falah al-Hamdani.'

He cited 'sufficient evidence of their involvement in the planning and execution of the bombing in Taza.'

The judge's name cannot be published for security reasons.

According to a security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the three men were arrested three months ago near the northern oil city of Kirkuk.

The June 20 attack struck the predominantly Shiite Turkmen town of Taza, 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Kirkuk, killing 72 people and wounding more than 200 in a bombing blamed on Al-Qaeda.

The truck was carrying around a tonne of explosives and caused serious damage to dozens of houses, with several people killed when their homes collapsed."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Taliban commander killed by Pakistani forces dies of cancer - Threat Matrix

Taliban commander killed by Pakistani forces dies of cancer - Threat Matrix: "Daily Times inadvertently stumbles across one of the many mysteries that is Pakistan. Shah Doran, the second in command of the Swat chapter of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and Mullah Fazlullah's right hand man, died of complications from cancer in the Bajaur tribal agency and was buried the other day:

A leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s Swat chapter and a broadcaster of the illegal Taliban FM radio, Shah Doran, died of cancer in Bajaur last week, sources said on Saturday. The sources said that Doran had been suffering from prostrate and kidney cancer and had died from a lack of proper medical care on December 17, adding that he was buried in a remote area of Mamond tehsil the day after he died. They said that several TTP commanders attended his funeral prayers.

The Pakistani military claimed Doran was killed, however, in June during the military operation in Swat."...

[bth: Hard to believe anything from Pakistan unless it is independently verified.]

9/11 hijackers spiritual leader ordered bombing of US airliner - Yahoo! India News

9/11 hijackers spiritual leader ordered bombing of US airliner - Yahoo! India News: "London, Dec 27 (ANI): Al Qaeda commander and spiritual leader of the 9/11 hijackers and Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal Hasan is said to be behind the failed plot to blow up an US airliner on Friday.

Yemen-based cleric Anwar al Awlaki whose messages have been promoted at British mosques and universities was last night named as the inspiration for Friday's US bomb plot.

Senior Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra said that according to his US intelligence sources, Awlaki and the failed bomber, University College London student Umar Abdulmutallab, had been in touch with each before Friday's flight.

The 38-year-old cleric is believed to have been the target of a US-backed Yemeni air strike last week, the Daily Express reports.

Security sources believe the military assault was launched after American, Yemeni and Saudi intelligence services discovered major terror plots against Western targets.

Initial reports suggested that Awlaki and dozens of other Al Qaeda operatives were killed, but his allies claim he survived.

If his links to the Northwest Airlines bomb are confirmed, it will again expose the increasing threat of radicalisation on Britain's university campuses.

The American born imam is a hero to Islamic student societies throughout Britain. He is invited regularly to send video messages to students who believe he is a devout man of peace.

He has also spoken at the radical East London Mosque, while its controversial offshoots, the Islamic Forum Europe and the Young Muslim Organisation, have promoted his work.

On Saturday, hours after the US terror plot, students at the City University Islamic Society in London were defending Awlaki on their message board.

They said his attackers were 'liars and evil doers' and called for him and Al Qaeda 'soldiers' to be blessed. (ANI)"
Informed Comment

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cops fear 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners | The Sun |News

Cops fear 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners | The Sun |News: "COPS fear that 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners.

The fanatics, in five groups, are now training at secret terror camps in Yemen.

It was there London-educated Umar Abdulmutallab, 23, prepared for his Christmas Day bid to blow up a US jet.

The British extremists in Yemen are in their early 20s and from Bradford, Luton and Leytonstone, East London.

They are due to return to the UK early in 2010 and will then await internet instructions from al-Qaeda on when to strike."...

Brace For Impact: In 2010, Demand For US Fixed Income Has To Increase Elevenfold... Or Else

Brace For Impact: In 2010, Demand For US Fixed Income Has To Increase Elevenfold... Or Else | zero hedge


...Bottom line: everyone has major problems at home, and is more focused on the supply than the demand side of the equation.

What options does this leave for the administration? Very few, and all of them are ugly. As we stated earlier on, the options for the Fed are threefold:

  1. Announce a new iteration of Quantitative Easing. This will be met with major disapproval across all voting classes (at least those whose residential zip codes do not start with 10xxx or 068xx), creating major headaches for Obama and the democrats which are already struggling with collapsing polls.
  2. Prepare for a major increase in interest rates. While on the surface this would be very welcome for a Fed that keeps hinting that deflation is the biggest concern for the economy, Bernanke's complete lack of preparation from a monetary standpoint (we are surprised the Fed's $200 million reverse repos have not made the late night comedy circuit yet) to a forced interest rate increase, would likely result in runaway inflation almost overnight. The result would be a huge blow to a still deteriorating economy.
  3. Engineer a stock market collapse. Recently investors have, rightfully, realized there is no more risk in equities, not because the assets backing the stockholder equity are actually creating greater cash flow (as we demonstrated recently, that is not the case), but simply because taxpayers have involuntarily become safekeepers for the entire stock market, due to Bernanke's forced intervention in bond and equity markets. Yet the President's Working Group is fully aware that when the time comes to hitting the "reverse" button, it will do so. Will the resultant rush into safe assets be sufficient to generate the needed endogenous demand for Treasuries is unknown. It will likely be correlated to the size of the equity market drop.

If the Fed decides on option three, we fully believe a 30% drop (or greater) in equities is very probable as the new supply/demand regime in fixed income becomes apparent. We hope mainstream media takes the ideas presented here and processes them for broader consumption as indeed the Fed is caught in a very fragile dilemma, and the sooner its hand is pushed, the less disastrous the final outcome for investors. Then again, as Eric Sprott has been pointing out for quite some time, it could very well be that the US economy has become merely one huge Ponzi, and as such, its expansion or reduction on the margin is uncontrollable. We very well may have passed into the stage where blind growth is the only alternative to a complete collapse. We hope that is not the case.

[bth: what I don't understand is he seems to say inflation will be spurred by higher long term interest rates and I would think just the opposite would occur.]



Kerry Floats Plan to Visit Tehran - WSJ.com

Kerry Floats Plan to Visit Tehran - WSJ.com: "WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Kerry has suggested becoming the first high-level U.S. emissary to make a public visit to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, a move White House officials say they won't oppose."

The offer comes as mass protests against Iran's regime are resurfacing and a U.S.-imposed deadline nears to broach international sanctions against Iran.

"This sounds like the kind of travel a chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee would -- and should -- undertake," said a White House official, adding it would be at Sen. Kerry's own behest....


[bth: talking is better than fighting]

AFP: Iraq troops defuse bombs as millions mark Ashura

AFP: Iraq troops defuse bombs as millions mark Ashura: "KARBALA, Iraq — Iraqi security forces said on Sunday they had defused nine bombs as millions completed the annual Ashura rituals in the Shiite shrine cities free of the massive attacks that have marred recent years.

But violence again hit the ceremonies elsewhere in Iraq, with five dead in the bombing of a procession near the northern oil city of Kirkuk among a total of 32 faithful killed since Tuesday.

The chief of military operations in Karbala, which is the focal point of the rituals, said two Al-Qaeda cells were arrested north of the central shrine city.

'They had a plan to target visitors and even put several IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the main road,' General Usman al-Ghanemi told a press conference as the 10 days of ceremonies concluded."...

Freddie Mac sees rates headed to 6 percent by end of 2010 | Reuters

Freddie Mac sees rates headed to 6 percent by end of 2010 | Reuters: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After hitting an all-time low in early December, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.05 percent this week and could climb to 6 percent by the end of 2010, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing U.S. mortgage financier Freddie Mac's latest survey."...

Surface Forces : Robotic Armored Speedboats Challenge Sailors

Surface Forces : Robotic Armored Speedboats Challenge Sailors: "December 22, 2009: A British firm has developed an armored, robotic speedboat that sailors can use for target practice. This enables sailors to learn how to aim their heavy machine-guns and small arms accurately enough to take down hostile speedboats quickly. The $45,000 FMTDs (Fast Marine Target Drones) move at up to 60 kilometers an hour, and are guided by remote (up to ten kilometers away) operators, using cameras in a moveable mast. The five meter (15.5 foot) boats have sensors that record hits. Data travels two ways between the operator (who can control up to six boats at a time) and the boats. Upgrades include a larger (6.2 meter) boat and a sensor system that can also count near misses."...

Pentagon reviewing strategic information operations - washingtonpost.com

Pentagon reviewing strategic information operations - washingtonpost.com: "Trying to counter information-savvy enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has rapidly spent nearly $1 billion in the past three years on strategic communications.

Paid-for news articles, billboards, radio and television programs, and even polls and focus groups have been sponsored by the U.S. Central Command, which has raised its spending for information operations programs from $40 million in 2008 to $110 million in 2009 to a requested $244 million in 2010.

But when Congress asked this year what the Defense Department across the services and commands proposed spending for strategic communications -- or information operations as it is often called -- in the fiscal 2010 budget, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates found that no one could say because there was no central coordination. The first answer came back at $1 billion, but that was later changed to $626 million.

As a result, Gates has multiple studies underway to get a firmer grip over the individual military services' plans for strategic communications next year, according to Pentagon officials.

'Just what is the DoD [Defense Department] role?' is one of the questions Gates is asking as part of the department's Quadrennial Defense Review, according to a senior defense official, authorized to speak only on the condition of anonymity. In a more basic sense, the defense secretary also wants a definition of just what is strategic communications."...

Al-Qaida has changed its face and operates from a different base | World news | The Observer

Al-Qaida has changed its face and operates from a different base | World news | The Observer:.... "The emergence of the Shabaab, which controls large swaths of Somalia, has coincided – if the claims of the US intelligence agencies are to be believed – with events in the 'Af-Pak' theatre. Seasoned Arab al-Qaida fighters have been replaced by Central Asians and transferred to Yemen and Somalia under the guidance of its chief of external operations, Saleh al-Somali, who was killed in a drone attack in Waziristan this month.

What has also been well documented in the past few months has been the existence of an active recruitment system targeting young Somalis with US, European and Australian passports to train in camps that have sprung up in Somalia in particular. Twenty, it is believed, travelled from Minneapolis alone. Twenty more from Stockholm are also thought to have attended training camps, along with dozens of young British Somalis. Last spring it emerged that some of the four Australian citizens arrested and charged with planning to attack an army barracks had trained in Somalia.

It is not only in Somalia that it is claimed al-Qaida is reconstituting itself. In Yemen an insurgency in the remote Shabwa region backed by groups claiming loyalty to al-Qaida has provided a second regional centre. It was there, four days ago, that an al-Qaida-supporting group said it had declared war on the US."...

[bth: as we concentrate our troops and resources in Afghanistan, al Qaeda has morphed and spread out to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. We need a more amorphous organizational response with fewer troops, more special forces and more ugv assets. And most of all better intel assets. ]