Saturday, July 31, 2010

WikiLeaks Posts Mysterious ‘Insurance’ File | Threat Level | Wired.com

WikiLeaks Posts Mysterious ‘Insurance’ File | Threat Level | Wired.com: "In the wake of strong U.S. government statements condemning WikiLeaks’ recent publishing of 77,000 Afghan War documents, the secret-spilling site has posted a mysterious encrypted file labeled “insurance.”

The huge file, posted on the Afghan War page at the WikiLeaks site, is 1.4 GB and is encrypted with AES256. The file’s size dwarfs the size of all the other files on the page combined. The file has also been posted on a torrent download site.

WikiLeaks, on Sunday, posted several files containing the 77,000 Afghan war documents in a single “dump” file and in several other files containing versions of the documents in various searchable formats.

Cryptome, a separate secret-spilling site, has speculated that the new file added days later may have been posted as insurance in case something happens to the WikiLeaks website or to the organization’s founder, Julian Assange. In either scenario, WikiLeaks volunteers, under a prearranged agreement with Assange, could send out a password or passphrase to allow anyone who has downloaded the file to open it.

It’s not known what the file contains but it could include the balance of data that U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning claimed to have leaked to Assange before he was arrested in May....

WikiLeaks founder accuses US army of failing to protect Afghan informers | Media | The Observer

WikiLeaks founder accuses US army of failing to protect Afghan informers | Media | The Observer: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has hit out at the US military, saying that it bears the ultimate responsibility for any deaths of Afghan informers in the wake of the publication by his organisation of 75,000 leaked files of American army secrets.

Assange and WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers' website that publishes leaked documents from around the world, have come under increasing fire amid accusations that publishing the files put people's lives at risk. But in an interview with the Observer, Assange said the blame for any deaths lay squarely with US military authorities.

'We are appalled that the US military was so lackadaisical with its Afghan sources. Just appalled. We are a source protection organisation that specialises in protecting sources and have a perfect record from our activities,' he said.

WikiLeaks has been accused of disclosing the names of Afghan collaborators who may now be subject to reprisals. Critics also say that the information it published is unchecked and some of it may be of dubious provenance. But Assange responded to those claims by saying: 'This material was available to every soldier and contractor in Afghanistan… It's the US military that deserves the blame for not giving due diligence to its informers.'...

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bth: If Assange gets people killed then he should share their fate. There are consequences.

That is a collision but with what?

Supertanker 'was damaged by explosion or submarine' - Scotsman.com News
A JAPANESE supertanker which sustained serious hull damage while sailing through the hyper-sensitive Straits of Hormuz was either hit by an explosion or in a collision with a submarine, officials in the United Arab Emirates said yesterday.


•The damage to the hull of the M Star is clear to see. Below, the tanker in open seas Pictures: AFP

When the M Star supertanker reported it had been hit by an "explosion" late on Wednesday, officials in the UAE played down the claim, citing seismic activity and saying the vessel had been hit by "a freak wave".

Yet yesterday, it was confirmed the crude carrier had been hit by an external force and a specialist on military attacks has been asked to help investigate damage to the 1,100-foot vessel laden with oil for Japan.

"What we know is some collision happened. We don't know what it was," said Captain Mousa Mourad, general manager at the UAE port of Fujairah.

"It's possible that it could be a submarine collision, or that it could be a sea mine."

The Straits of Hormuz are a strategically vital waterway; a narrow chokepoint between Iran and an enclave of Oman surrounded by Emirati territory through which 40 per cent of the world's shipped oil must transit.

Iran has frequently threatened to blockade them in the event of any military action against it, and the US maintains a constant naval presence in the area.

A spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said no American warships were in the area at the time the M Star reported the incident.

US nuclear submarines have been involved in two collisions in the busy sealane since 2007, one involving a Japanese supertanker and the other another US warship.

A photograph released by the Emirates state news agency WAM after the tanker arrived in Fujairah yesterday showed a large, square-shaped dent near the waterline on the rear starboard side of the ship's hull.

Wednesday's incident happened shortly after midnight as the ship entered the Strait of Hormuz, heading out of the Persian Gulf, Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK. Lines said.

The incident briefly spooked oil markets particularly in Japan - a sign of the heightened focus on the Gulf after new sanctions were imposed on Iran at the beginning of the week.

"In international waters, it is always difficult to tell what happened," said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at Control Risks. "It could be an accident or it could be an attack.

It took weeks to raise the South Korean corvette Cheonan after it sank in March and for Seoul to blame North Korea. Investigating this could be easier - the ship is still afloat.

Attacks on land are hard enough to probe, but at sea independent witnesses may be scarce, radar and satellite coverage patchy and physical evidence at the bottom of the sea.
•The damage to the hull of the M Star is clear to see. Below, the tanker in open seas Pictures: AFP

When the M Star supertanker reported it had been hit by an "explosion" late on Wednesday, officials in the UAE played down the claim, citing seismic activity and saying the vessel had been hit by "a freak wave".

Yet yesterday, it was confirmed the crude carrier had been hit by an external force and a specialist on military attacks has been asked to help investigate damage to the 1,100-foot vessel laden with oil for Japan.

"What we know is some collision happened. We don't know what it was," said Captain Mousa Mourad, general manager at the UAE port of Fujairah.

"It's possible that it could be a submarine collision, or that it could be a sea mine."

The Straits of Hormuz are a strategically vital waterway; a narrow chokepoint between Iran and an enclave of Oman surrounded by Emirati territory through which 40 per cent of the world's shipped oil must transit.

Iran has frequently threatened to blockade them in the event of any military action against it, and the US maintains a constant naval presence in the area.

A spokesman for the US Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said no American warships were in the area at the time the M Star reported the incident.

US nuclear submarines have been involved in two collisions in the busy sealane since 2007, one involving a Japanese supertanker and the other another US warship.

A photograph released by the Emirates state news agency WAM after the tanker arrived in Fujairah yesterday showed a large, square-shaped dent near the waterline on the rear starboard side of the ship's hull.

Wednesday's incident happened shortly after midnight as the ship entered the Strait of Hormuz, heading out of the Persian Gulf, Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK. Lines said.

The incident briefly spooked oil markets particularly in Japan - a sign of the heightened focus on the Gulf after new sanctions were imposed on Iran at the beginning of the week.

"In international waters, it is always difficult to tell what happened," said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at Control Risks. "It could be an accident or it could be an attack.

It took weeks to raise the South Korean corvette Cheonan after it sank in March and for Seoul to blame North Korea. Investigating this could be easier - the ship is still afloat.

Attacks on land are hard enough to probe, but at sea independent witnesses may be scarce, radar and satellite coverage patchy and physical evidence at the bottom of the sea.
-----

bth: oddly the impact was on the rear side of the ship.  The impact appears to be at the water line.

Taliban hunt Wikileaks outed Afghan informers - Channel 4 News

Taliban hunt Wikileaks outed Afghan informers - Channel 4 News: "Speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location, Zabihullah Mujahid told Channel 4 News that the insurgent group will investigate the named individuals before deciding on their fate.

'We are studying the report,' he said, confirming that the insurgent group already has access to the 92,000 intelligence documents and field reports.

'We knew about the spies and people who collaborate with US forces. We will investigate through our own secret service whether the people mentioned are really spies working for the US. If they are US spies, then we know how to punish them.'...

---
bth: the problem with WikiLeaks. It can kill people.

YouTube - Merry Green Broom - Kate Rusby

YouTube - Merry Green Broom - Kate Rusby

New Wars: Carriers-Choice of a Weaker Navy

Carriers-Choice of a Weaker Navy « New Wars
....In contrast is the perceived power of an aircraft carrier, with the US Navy being the supreme, really the only practitioner of this type of warfare on a grand scale. Any one of her magnificent and very expensive nuclear carriers are more powerful than all others in the world combined, and their presence on the world’s oceans gives comfort and security to allies, while reminding our enemies of her strength and determination.

As the cost of carriers mount, so have the enemies poised against them. Technology stands still for no nation as the British and French discovered in 1939. It could be we are in a “horse and tank” moment as well with the world’s most powerful navy increasingly burdened by a last century strategy, while so-called weaker navies not so bound to tradition grasps hold of the new technology to challenge us on the world stage. Here are several reasons why the aircraft carrier is increasingly an albatross strangling the future security of the nation:

1. Gives the user very limited options. As pointed out above by Phil Ewing, the choices fall to “bomb or nothing”. In contrast, small patrol vessels such as sloops and corvettes might provide numerous options short of war. This was discovered during the Cuban Missile Crisis when President Kennedy used tin can destroyers to enforce a quarantine of Castro’s island, with carrier support far in the distance. Such actions allowed the US Navy to avoid a nuclear war over a very tiny Third World state. Shows of force such as Operation Invincible Challenge as a warning to North Korea has even the Stars and Stripes questioning “Message Accomplished“?
2. Distracts from other navy missions. An example can be seen with the British Royal Navy, purchasing the most powerful warships in its history, the Queen Elizabeth class supercarriers, having to gut their fleet in order to afford. Given a semblance of great strength, they are forcing arguably the world’s second most powerful navy into a greater dependence on allies, like the Europeans for support. A great many Royal Navy frigates and destroyers, once a comfort to free nations overseas, are deploying less and less in order to pay for the prestige of carriers. With all the talk of the flexibility of carriers, there is a simultaneous realization with a smaller fleet the the navy can’t “be everywhere and do everything“.
3. Drains the economy. Naval warships are far from the most efficient way for shipyards to occupy themselves. The US Navy now depends on a mere 6 yards, with another soon to close. Unable to compete with foreign manufacturing, and with little incentive to try, the shipyards are building fewer and fewer ships in order to accommodate a navy strategy unfriendly to a large fleet without need of sustained hulls.
4. Are at risk from low cost countermeasures. Interestingly few navies have even attempted to build large decks since World War 2 to compete with the USN. The fact is, the large ships are very easily matched with the aforementioned submarines, and also long range airpower based on land. Add to this new nuclear boats which can outsail anything afloat, plus land based cruise missiles available on the open arms market, and even the lowliest of world powers can threaten the carrier under the right conditions.
5. Requires equally expensive planes and escorts. If the $10 billion+ wasn’t enough for the cost of a modern flattop, there is the enormous expense of developing and purchasing advanced planes and ships to protect them. As we noted at the beginning that carriers can only be used under the most dire of circumstances, it has very little use short of warfare. Therefore, low tech navies sailing in the most modest combatant vessels pretty much have the run of the ocean, because the carrier navy emphasizes shows of force over real control. Admittedly a “really big shew”, but still mostly bluff.

Suspected leaker’s Boston ties probed - The Boston Globe

Suspected leaker’s Boston ties probed - The Boston Globe: ..."A military official acknowledged yesterday that Army investigators were looking into whether Manning physically handed compact discs containing classified information to someone in the United States. Manning, an intelligence analyst who was deployed over the past year in Iraq, visited friends in Boston during a home leave in January.

Investigators believe that he exploited a loophole in Defense Department security to copy thousands of files onto compact discs over a six-month period. In at least one instance, according to people familiar with the inquiry, Manning smuggled highly classified data out of his intelligence unit on a disc made to look like a music CD by Lady Gaga.

Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker who this year traded instant messages with Manning, said in a telephone interview yesterday that he believed that WikiLeaks was in part directing Manning and providing technical assistance to him in downloading classified information from military computers. Military officials would not confirm Lamo’s claim. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

One of the civilians interviewed by the Army’s criminal division, who asked for anonymity so that his name would not be associated with the inquiry, said yesterday that the investigators’ questions led him to believe that the Army was concerned that there were classified documents in the Boston area.

“I was under the impression that they believed that perhaps Bradley had used friends in Cambridge as a mechanism for moving documents,’’ he said.

The civilian also said that the Army had offered him “a considerable amount of money if I were to keep my ear to the ground and be an in with them with WikiLeaks.’’ He said that he had turned the Army down and that he had no connection to WikiLeaks.
---
bth: People that worked with us in Afghanistan are likely to be targeted by the Taliban because of these leaks. This isn't a game. Lives are at risk. Manning and Assange will face consequences. Manning under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and his friends may face civilian charges. Assange has crossed a lot of lines here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

YouTube - Black Hawk Down - Leave No Man Behind (Soundtrack)

YouTube - Black Hawk Down - Leave No Man Behind (Soundtrack): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

With Recovery Slowing, the Jobs Outlook Fades - NYTimes.com

With Recovery Slowing, the Jobs Outlook Fades - NYTimes.com:... "The nation’s economy has been growing for a year, with few new jobs to show for it. Now, with the government reporting a growth rate of just 2.4 percent in the second quarter and federal stimulus measures fading, the jobs outlook appears even more discouraging.

“Given how weak the labor market is, how long we’ve been without real growth, the rest of this year is probably still going to feel like a recession,” said Prajakta Bhide, a research analyst for the United States economy at Roubini Global Economics. “It’s still positive growth — rather than contraction — but it’s going to be very, very protracted.”

A Commerce Department report on Friday showed that economic growth slipped sharply in the latest quarter from a much brisker pace earlier, an annual rate of 5 percent at the end of 2009 and 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Consumer spending, however, was weaker than initially indicated earlier in the recovery.

Many economists are forecasting a further slowdown in the second half of the year, perhaps to an annual rate as low as 1.5 percent. That is largely because businesses have refilled the stockroom shelves that were whittled down during the financial crisis, and there will not be much need for additional orders.

Additionally, the fiscal stimulus measures that have propped up growth are expiring. Proposals for individual programs like another expansion of unemployment benefits have been beaten back each time they have come up in Congress.

“We need 2.5 percent growth just to keep the unemployment rate where it is,” said Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. “If you want to get it down quickly, you need substantially stronger growth than that. That’s what I’ve been saying for the last several quarters, and that’s why I’ve been hoping that we’ll please pass the jobs measures just sitting on the floor of Congress.”

The approaching midterm elections, however, may harden the political standoff after Congress returns from its August recess. As a result, pressure will probably increase on the Federal Reserve to use its available tools to prevent a double-dip recession. Recent reports from Fed policy makers suggest the central bank has become increasingly worried about where the economy is headed. ...

---

bth: its as if the country is leaderless in Washington. We have no economic or industrial policy, not energy policy and a congress that is paralyzed.

YouTube - "If I Die Before You Wake" Tribute to Armed Forces

YouTube - "If I Die Before You Wake" Tribute to Armed Forces

US outrage as scandal grows over Arlington military grave mix-up | World news | The Guardian

US outrage as scandal grows over Arlington military grave mix-up | World news | The Guardian: "The families of thousands of dead American soldiers may have been mourning at the wrong graves for years, it was revealed yesterday, as more than 6,000 headstones at Arlington cemetery may have been mixed up.

There was outrage among families, the American Legion and others last month when the number of graves that had been misnamed was thought to be 211. The higher figure was revealed yesterday at a Senate investigation into how there could be so much confusion over the headstones at the US national military cemetery.

Senator Claire McCaskill, who is heading the Senate committee conducting the inquiry, said: 'We now know that the problems with graves at Arlington may be far more extensive than previously acknowledged. At a conservative estimate, 4,900 to 6,600 graves may be unmarked, improperly marked, or mislabeled on the cemetery's maps.'

...Metzler and his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, were forced to retire last month after army investigators discovered the initial mix-up over the 211 graves.

Metzler cited a 35% cut in staff and the complexity of burying 6,000 people a year at the cemetery.

"Those staffing losses were to be offset by increased opportunities for outsourcing to private contractors," Metzler said . "As experience has shown, however, that approach does not always result in the most effective or efficient solution."

Senators appeared frustrated and exasperated at times with Metzler's explanations for the mix-ups. He said that problems down the years had been quickly remedied and that though maps used by cemetery employees were mislabelled, this did not mean people were necessarily in the wrong graves.

The anger among senators applied across partisan lines. McCaskill, a Democrat, said: "The notion that you would come in here and didn't know about it until a month ago is offensive. You did know about it, and you did nothing."

Scott Brown, the Republican who won Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts seat in January, said: "I don't think we're getting straight talk here."...

---
bth: One of these two administrators is incompetent and the other is a crook. They have brought shame to a field of honor that should stand above the rest. The VA administers over 80 other national cemeteries without scandal. Arlington should be taken from the Army and turned over to the VA. Arlington is an administrative afterthought to the Army. At least within the VA Arlington would benefit from a more professional administration, an economy of scale with the other cemeteries and an electronic records system used by the entire VA system - one the Army spent millions trying to replicate and bungled. Those dumb asses could have bought the code from the VA for $50 as open source software, but there was money to be made between the assist. administrator and the contractor he retained. This stinks to high heaven and my son deserves better than these ass clowns.

U.S. Military Learns to Fight Deadliest Weapons | Magazine

U.S. Military Learns to Fight Deadliest Weapons | Magazine: ..."Late one afternoon in April, Llamas shows me the latest device they’ve been working on, just in from Afghanistan. A neatly made plywood box about 8 inches high and 5 inches square, it has a length of replica detonation cord emerging from the base. Llamas pulls the box open, revealing a layer of soft foam and a wooden plunger attached to the lid. When stepped on or driven over, he says, the foam is compressed and the tip of the plunger, which is saturated with a chemical, descends into a chamber at the bottom of the box. That chamber contains a second substance, and when the two chemicals mix, a pyrotechnic reaction ignites the end of the detonation cord, which leads to an explosive charge.

The box is the logical conclusion of years of reverse evolution in insurgent weapons technology. Without a power source, a blasting cap, or a single piece of wire or metal contact, it has no electromagnetic or metallic signature. Linked to a charge mixed up from odorless homemade explosives, packed beneath a dirt road, it would be all but impossible to detect: a Flintstones land mine. “It’s a block of wood, basically,” Llamas says.

And although the wooden IED was found and photographed in Afghanistan and has been carefully reconstructed thousands of miles away here in the Mojave Desert, the Taliban insurgents apparently remain one step ahead of technicians here. The pyrotechnic chemical mix remains a mystery.

“We don’t know what it is yet,” Llamas says. “We’re still trying to figure that
----------
bth: this is an excellent article on IEDs and a bit of a propaganda piece from JIEDDO whose budget and effectiveness is in question. Worth a full read.

U.S. Military Learns to Fight Deadliest Weapons | Magazine

U.S. Military Learns to Fight Deadliest Weapons | Magazine: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

The End of (Military) History? by Tom Engelhardt -- Antiwar.com

The End of (Military) History? by Tom Engelhardt -- Antiwar.com:... "If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars (and from their Israeli equivalents), it’s this: victory is a chimera. Counting on today’s enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, Americans contemplated their equivalent of Israel’s 'demographic bomb' — a 'fiscal bomb.' Ingrained habits of profligacy, both individual and collective, held out the prospect of long-term stagnation: no growth, no jobs, no fun. Out-of-control spending on endless wars exacerbated that threat.

By 2007, the American officer corps itself gave up on victory, although without giving up on war. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, priorities shifted. High-ranking generals shelved their expectations of winning — at least as a Rabin or Schwarzkopf would have understood that term. They sought instead to not lose. In Washington as in U.S. military command posts, the avoidance of outright defeat emerged as the new gold standard of success.

As a consequence, U.S. troops today sally forth from their base camps not to defeat the enemy, but to 'protect the people,' consistent with the latest doctrinal fashion. Meanwhile, tea-sipping U.S. commanders cut deals with warlords and tribal chieftains in hopes of persuading guerrillas to lay down their arms.

A new conventional wisdom has taken hold, endorsed by everyone from new Afghan War commander General David Petraeus, the most celebrated soldier of this American age, to Barack Obama, commander-in-chief and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. For the conflicts in which the United States finds itself enmeshed, 'military solutions' do not exist. As Petraeus himself has emphasized, 'we can’t kill our way out of' the fix we’re in. In this way, he also pronounced a eulogy on the Western conception of warfare of the last two centuries....

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Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador: Afghan War Unwinnable - World Watch - CBS News

Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador: Afghan War Unwinnable - World Watch - CBS News: ..."While discussing the WikiLeaks documents at length, Haroon said the documents pointing to Pakistani intelligence aid to the Taliban are flawed.

The ambassador also said Pakistan needs more help to fight the Taliban-al Qaeda insurgency in the north.

'The concentration of al Qaeda has shifted to Yemen, number one, and, number two, in Afghanistan itself in the province of Kunar in the north, which everyone in Afghanistan and Pakistan knows is where the Taliban and al Qaeda have put a very formidable enclave, why isn't anyone doing anything about it?' asked Haroon. 'Has the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces gone into Kunar? They want us to do more. We have limited resources.'

In his opinion, the insurgent attacks plaguing the region will decrease when U.S. and NATO troops leave.

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bth: He is right about Kunar

Dutch pull out of Afghanistan at weekend | Herald Sun

Dutch pull out of Afghanistan at weekend | Herald Sun: "About 1950 Dutch troops are deployed in Afghanistan under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), mainly in the southern Oruzgan province, where Australia has operated as junior partner to the Dutch since 2006.

As from Sunday, Dutch troops will be replaced by a US-lead multinational Combined Team Oruzgan comprising Australian, Slovak and Singaporean forces.

NATO had asked the Netherlands to extend the mission, which started in 2006 and has cost the lives of 24 soldiers, by a year to August 2011.

This sparked a political row that led to the Government collapsing in February and the end of the Dutch deployment....
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bth: Note that this is reported in an Australian paper, not a US paper. Also note that our American surge forces are really going in to replace departing allies. I think Canada will be next followed by the Germans and the Brits.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Senator: 6K graves at Arlington could be wrong

Senator: 6K graves at Arlington could be wrong - Yahoo! News
WASHINGTON – A Senate Democrat says that as many as 6,600 graves at Arlington National Cemetery could be misidentified because managers there didn't do their job properly.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., spoke at a hearing Thursday, where the cemetery's former superintendent and deputy superintendent were scheduled to testify.

McCaskill says she believes that between 4,900 and 6,600 graves may be unmarked or mislabeled on cemetery maps.

The estimate far exceeds one given by Army investigators last month that some 211 remains could be affected by the graves scandal.

---
bth: unfucking believable.
YouTube - US Army Ambushed by Taliban NEW: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"



I stumbled on this video on CNN from FOB Keating. It was later overrun in 2009 and abandoned by the Americans

When we saw this video we started our robotic company

YouTube - vehicle born IED explosion + second IED explosion (Car Bomb): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

YouTube - Army bomb disposal team clears Afghan highway of IEDs

YouTube - Army bomb disposal team clears Afghan highway of IEDs: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"



Note no robot with this British team. Also that the bomb is a fertilizer bomb in a plastic jerry can

Report on IEDs in Afghanistan

Informed Comment | Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
?

al Jazeera is now a better news source on Afghanistan than American news agencies. Who would have ever thought we'd be at that point

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Former Body-Armor Executive on Trial for Fraud - NYTimes.com

Former Body-Armor Executive on Trial for Fraud - NYTimes.com: "Several years ago, David H. Brooks, the chief executive and chairman of a body-armor company enriched by United States military contracts, became fixated on the idea of a memory-erasing pill.

It was not just fanciful curiosity. A veterinarian who cared for his stable of racehorses said Mr. Brooks continually talked about the subject, pressing him repeatedly to supply the pill. According to Dr. Seth Fishman, the veterinarian, Mr. Brooks said he had a specific recipient in mind: Dawn Schlegel, the former chief financial officer of the company he led until 2006, DHB Industries.

There is no memory-erasing pill. And so Mr. Brooks sat and listened this year as Ms. Schlegel, her memory apparently intact and keen, spent 23 days testifying against him in a highly unusual trial in United States District Court on Long Island that has been highlighted by sweeping accusations of fraud, insider trading, and company-financed personal extravagance.

DHB, which specialized in making body armor used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, paid for more than $6 million in personal expenses on behalf of Mr. Brooks, covering items as expensive as luxury cars and as prosaic as party invitations, Ms. Schlegel testified.

Also included were university textbooks for his daughter, pornographic videos for his son, plastic surgery for his wife, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees, and, for him, a $100,000 American-flag belt buckle encrusted with rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

The expense-account abuse, the prosecution has said, represented a pittance compared with the $190 million that Mr. Brooks and another top employee are accused of making through a stock fraud scheme in which he falsified information about his company’s performance — including significantly overstating the inventory of bulletproof vests — to inflate the price of the stock before selling his shares in 2004.

As a whole, the accusations might present just another cautionary tale of excess and entitlement in a powerful individual, but Mr. Brooks’s story stands out because of details and characters that give it the strange and sordid depth of a long-running soap opera.

“What makes it interesting isn’t that there is anything novel legally about it, but just how egregious this guy’s alleged behavior is, how gross the abuses are and how much greed is involved,” said Meredith R. Miller, an associate law professor at Touro College in Central Islip, N.Y. “Add in what the company does — the fact that this is a military contractor — and the facts are really interesting,” she said.

Lawyers for Mr. Brooks have repeatedly pressed for a mistrial, accusing the prosecution of highlighting irrelevant evidence to portray Mr. Brooks “as a sex-obsessed, tax-cheating boor.”

“The accumulation of titillating and scandalous evidence,” Mr. Brooks’s lawyers wrote in one court filing, “has become a centerpiece of the trial and has incurably prejudiced the jury.”

Despite the drama, the trial has largely been ignored outside Long Island, where the body-armor company used to be based.

In court in Central Islip on Monday, prosecutors provided jurors with a recap of seven months of testimony from more than 70 witnesses, and a lawyer for Mr. Brooks began his closing argument.

Christopher Ott, of the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, said that although the facts of the case were complicated, Mr. Brooks was simply a thief...

---
bth: worth reading in full. It fascinates me at how poorly this trial of a truly rotten scumbag defense contractor is getting.

The way he inflated his inventory is that he failed to report body armor that was failing QA tests and so as much as 240,000 pieces of body armor went to troops in 2003/2004 that were potentially defective.

And the DOD kept it quiet for about six months after they knew it and when they finally called an end to the scam the stock had collapsed but in the meantime in the summer of 2004 Brooks and his co conspirators dumped their stock in the high teens and he made off with $180 million while his honest stock holders saw their holdings drop to $2 because of his fraud.

So instead of prosecuting him with the embarrassing report that the government let him produce faulty body armor for over a year, they went after him for securities fraud which was of course true.


He lost his bail earlier this year as his brother was caught hauling duffle bags of cash in London safety deposit boxes that they had stashed there and he paid his lawyers $22 million last year.

I would not be surprised if the lawyers helped move the money. Anyway, he is the worst of the worst but all the media can talk about is his $10 million parties and his jeweled belt buckles. What about the shitting body armor? What of the dead soldiers and marines?

Monday, July 26, 2010

WikiLink Oddities

So the Guardian, Spiegel and NYT claim to have read the 90,000 documents sent to them and Julian Assange is asserting war crimes but can point to nothing that indicates such.

A few oddities worth noting.

1. Far more than 90,000 documents were pinched. Where are the rest of them?

2. Manning will face prosecution under Uniform Code of Military Justice though I'm not sure charges have been brought about even after the passing of weeks. Were documents not released - 15,000 or more - held back because of content or because there is a negotiation going on between Assange and the US government with regard to his own status and Mannings?

3. Julian Assange continues to assert that war crimes may exist if the documents are studied but does not present anything particularly new that has not shown up in the news - though perhaps with more texture and granularity that these daily messages provide. So where is the beef?

4. Why now? Why not release them a month ago or next month or never? Some parts of this aren't adding up. What's being negotiated behind the curtain?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eight more fall prey to Karachi target killings

Eight more fall prey to Karachi target killings: "Karachi: The city remained in the grip of violence on the second day on Saturday, as eight people, including four supporters of the Awami National Party (ANP) and a bus conductor were gunned down in different parts of the city. Armed miscreants torched mini-buses in various areas in which several people sustained injuries.

Violence erupted after unidentified armed men, riding a car, attacked Unit-B office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Block-17, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, late Friday night in which the party activist Shafiq Kermani alias Rizwan Shah was killed and several others were injured.

Later, violence gripped many parts of the city, including New Karachi, Shah Faisal Colony and Gulshan Town areas. Meanwhile, Deputy Convener MQM Coordination Committee Dr Farooq Sattar directly accused the Awami National Party (ANP) of the armed attack on the party’s unit office. Addressing a hurriedly-called press conference at the Khursheed Begum Memorial Hall on Saturday, he demanded of President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik to arrest the ANP ìterroristsî who had attacked the MQM unit office last night.

On the other hand, the Awami National Party (ANP) Sindh President Shahi Syed slammed the allegations levelled by Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders against his party, saying that it was ridiculous to associate ANP with Taliban and Al-Qaida.

Speaking at a press conference here on Saturday evening, Shahi Syed condemned the incidents of target killings of Pakhtoons in the city and said that every dead body being sent upcountry has been shockwaves all over the country.

In a late night development, the ANP office in Lyari was attacked. An unidentified man was also gunned down in Lyari while another person was killed in the New Karachi area.
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bth: this almost sounds like gang land hits

DraganFlyer X6 Mini Drone Chopper at Farnborough | Defense Tech

DraganFlyer X6 Mini Drone Chopper at Farnborough | Defense Tech: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Huzzah! For The Humble Yet Effective Logistic Support Vessel (LSV) | Defense Tech

Huzzah! For The Humble Yet Effective Logistic Support Vessel (LSV) | Defense Tech: "One of the more thankless contributors to America’s “National Fleet” is the U.S. Army’s Logistic Support Vessel (LSV). The 8 General Frank S. Besson Class LSVs are next-generation LSTs–an expendable, beach-able, plodding, “fill-with-what-you-will” vessel.

The LSV is a perfect example of defense “humbletech”–a technical asset so mundane it gets completely overlooked by the wiz-bang gadgetry of modern defense technologists.

LSVs are unexciting–they are cheap, slow, and built by VT Halter Marine–an entirely off-the-DC-radar shipbuilding company. That is probably why the national role of LSV advocate has been assumed by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael W. Carr–and not some high-profile member of Congress or a two-star Powerpoint Ranger skippering a desk in Crystal City....



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bth: an article well worth a read especially the comments section.

France24: Iraq's volatile north still a powder keg as US exits

France24 - Iraq's volatile north still a powder keg as US exits
AFP - As US troops withdraw from Iraq, a large swath of the oil-rich north coveted by the Kurdish regional government remains a powder keg that threatens to explode in violence, experts here say.

Since the 2003 invasion, US forces have managed to keep an uneasy peace in the ethnically diverse area, home to Turkmen, Kurds and Arabs -- including many forced to resettle there under Saddam Hussein's regime.

The US military withdrawal from Iraq is on schedule, according to the commander of US forces there, General Raymond Odierno.

Just 50,000 troops will remain after August 31, down from a peak of more than 170,000 and ahead of a full withdrawal in 2011.

Odierno however acknowledged to reporters in Washington at mid-week that despite some progress, "we have not solved the problems of the disputed areas" of northern Iraq.

"That's a problem that has to be dealt with in the future," he said. "Do I think this will be resolved by the end of 2011? No."

The US intelligence community's annual threat assessment earlier warned about the volatile region.

Regional tensions "have the potential to derail Iraq's generally positive security trajectory, including triggering conflict among Iraq 's ethno-sectarian groups," then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair wrote in the assessment, out in February.

Land ownership, control of oil resources, and integrating Kurdish peshmerga fighters into Iraq's army are issues that "still need to be worked out, and miscalculations or misperceptions on either side risk an inadvertent escalation of violence."

US diplomatic and military involvement "will remain critical in defusing crises in this sphere," Blair wrote....

A US soldier looks at the damage in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on July 23. As US troops withdraw from Iraq, a large swath of the oil-rich north coveted by the Kurdish regional government remains a powder keg that threatens to explode in violence, experts say.

Black smoke billows from a burning vehicle in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on July 23. As US troops withdraw from Iraq, a large swath of the oil-rich north coveted by the Kurdish regional government remains a powder keg that threatens to explode in violence, experts say.
A worker walks at the gas-operated power station of Taza Khormato, 25 kms south of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, June 2010. As US troops withdraw from Iraq, a large swath of the oil-rich north coveted by the Kurdish regional government remains a powder keg that threatens to explode in violence, experts say.

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bth: So I read this article which is posted in France and not the US regarding the continuing problems in the Kurdish areas.  The photos were taken 2 days ago in Taza where my son was killed, probably by Sunni Arab former Baathists, but no one seems to know for sure.  That was 2003. Seven years later the town of Taza is still fighting.  We spent hundreds of millions trying to get the natural gas fired electric plants going there.  Much of the money was stolen.  I see from the photos, construction continues.  About a year or two ago a huge truck bomb destroyed a Shiite mosque killing and wounding several hundred.  The is Iraq, same as it ever was.  I had hoped after all this time, something better would have come from all this.  So the US will leave and the Kurds will fight the same Arab Sunnis that gassed them out of this region in a genocide and the Arab Shiites who want to control the oil fields to cut of any viable source of funds for the Kurds.

Free Range Intl: photo of vbied attack on Beshud bridge

Free Range International » East Afghanistan
There was another VBIED on the Beshud bridge the other day.  None of the soldiers in the MRAP were injured but local bystanders did not fare well.

There was another VBIED on the Beshud bridge the other day. None of the soldiers in the MRAP were injured but local bystanders did not fare well.

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bth: I think that's an MATV and not an MRAP and the author notes the crew survived.  that said it looks like there is a fire in the cabin as flames are coming from the gunners hatch it appears. My guess is that the attacker was trying to blow the MATV into the water to drown the crew.

Free Range Intl: IED picture

Free Range International » East Afghanistan
This is typical - the Taliban trigger man gets a bomb to set off but it doesn't come with a motorcycle battery so he has to walk to the big city to buy one.  Correctly thinking it to be a bad idea to walk around with the bomb he hides it in the median strip of the busiest road in Jalalabad hoping none of the 2 or so thousand people walkng by will take notice.

This is typical - the Taliban trigger man gets a bomb to set off but it doesn't come with a motorcycle battery so he has to walk to the big city to buy one. Correctly thinking it to be a bad idea to walk around with the bomb he hides it in the median strip of the busiest road in Jalalabad hoping none of the 2 or so thousand people walking by will take notice.