Saturday, August 21, 2010

'Shiite Zarqawi' returns to Baghdad from Iran: report - The Long War Journal

'Shiite Zarqawi' returns to Baghdad from Iran: report - The Long War Journal: "An Iranian-backed terrorist known as the 'Shiite Zarqawi' is reported to have returned to Baghdad to carry out attacks in central and southern Iraq.

Abu Dura, the notorious former Mahdi Army commander whose group was behind the butchering and execution thousands of Sunnis in the capital during the height of the violence in Iraq, is said to lead a unit of the Asaib al Haq, or the League of the Righteous, in Sadr City.

Abu Dura is said to have sheltered in Iran for the past two years, where he has been aided by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps.

'Our strategic information indicates that he stayed in the city of Qom and that he received further training at the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to carry out terrorist attacks against the Iraqi and US forces, and Sunni civilians,' an Iraqi intelligence official told Asharq Al Awsat. Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, also shelters in the city of Qom in Iran.

The US Forces - Iraq is aware of the report, a US military intelligence official who tracks the Shia terror groups told The Long War Journal. Abu Dura's return to Iraq was partially responsible for causing General Ray Odierno to sound the alert that Iran is seeking to reignite the Shia terror insurgency.

'The Iranians... continue to fund, train and provide weapons and ammunition to Shiite extremist groups,' Odierno said in a press conference on July 21. 'It's very difficult to say if the extremist groups are directly connected to the Iranian government. But we do know that many of them live in Iran, many of them get trained in Iran, and many of them get weapons from Iran.'

Abu Dura, whose real name is Ismail Hafiz al Lami, served in Saddam Hussein's army up until 2000, when he deserted. He joined the Mahdi Army after the US invasion of Iraq 2003 , and quickly rose through the ranks by running criminal enterprise, extortion, kidnapping, and assassination rings, and by slaughtering Sunnis in Baghdad.

Abu Dura was known to use a power drill to torture and kill his victims. His excessive brutality earned him the comparison to Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the sadistic leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.....

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bth: later in the article you read that he was traded in a prisoners swap and is now back on the loose.

Economic forecaster: ‘Greatest Depression’ coming | Raw Story

Economic forecaster: ‘Greatest Depression’ coming | Raw Story: "Celente said the current unemployment rate, if it were measured as it was measured during the Great Depression, would be around 17.5 percent. And he expects that number to rise to around 22 percent in the coming years.

'One of the good businesses to get in to may be guillotines,' Celente quipped. 'Because there's a real off-with-their-heads fever going on. People are really fed up.'

Celente argued that the conditions needed for an economic recovery simply don't exist. 'Let's go back to the 1990s. We're in a recession. What got us out of it? The Internet. It wasn't a government policy, and Al Gore didn't invent it.'

But today, Celente argued, there are no new booming industries pushing towards economic expansion. And the US middle class may not have the right skills to take up the challenge.

'We went from a country that used to be merchants, craftspeople, manufacturers, to clerks and cashiers,' Celente said. 'We have to bring manufacturing back to America.'

Celente agreed with his Tech Ticker interviewers that the green economy, which seeks to replace fossil fuels with alternative and renewable energy sources, is a good place to start on an economic recovery, but he said the Obama administration's handling of the issue was misguided.

Celente pointed out the US has committed $54 billion for nuclear power expansion, and has also committed to 'clean coal' -- neither of which he sees as being large drivers of the green economy.

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bth: Americans need to get back to making stuff. We need to reinvest in our manufacturing base and get an energy policy.

Increasing violence hits Iraq’s oil sector - Iraq Oil Report

Increasing violence hits Iraq’s oil sector - Iraq Oil Report: "Last weekend’s bombing of Iraq’s northern export pipeline by Kurdish rebels was only the latest attack on the country’s oil industry. Pipelines and storage facilities in both the north and south have suffered several recent acts of sabotage and destruction.

In response to the security problems, Iraq’s Oil Police have beefed up security at one oil field near the Iraq-Iran border and along the country’s northern pipeline into Turkey. A division of the Interior Ministry, the Oil Police are on…

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bth: Turks squeeze the PKK and the Kurds blow up the pipeline for Turkish oil from Iraq.

After leading turnaround, Beiji refinery chief quits - Iraq Oil Report

After leading turnaround, Beiji refinery chief quits - Iraq Oil Report: "KIRKUK, IRAQ - Ali al-Obaidi was credited for squeezing out smugglers and thieves from Iraq’s largest refinery, but he couldn’t escape the consequence: being targeted by the criminals, including al-Qaida, who profited from the illicit trade he was squelching.

On Saturday, Obaidi resigned, according to Iraqi sources including within the North Oil Company and American officials, though the oil ministry press office couldn’t confirm it, ending a long career in Iraq’s oil sector that was capped by a three-year stint reducing corruption and increasing production at Beiji refinery, in northern Iraq’s Salahaddin province.

Abdul Ghafour is now the acting director general of the North Refineries Company, which runs Beiji, an NOC official said
Obaidi couldn’t be reached for this story. But given his statements in recent interviews, it’s likely he leaves with a bitter taste in his mouth.

“This system is bad because of the interference of the parties,” Obaidi told Iraq Oil Report in an interview in February. “We need technocrats. We need independence, not to be under the influence of parties or sectarian people. But they select managers because they are related to political parties, not because they are good managers or good engineers. This is the way. And if it continues, I think that the future for the Ministry of Oil will be very bad.”

Obaidi’s words have proved prophetic. Beiji was shut for 10 days in a row this month as power outages tore through the country, in turn creating a run on fuel for private generators. According to a source at Beiji, the power outage stopped the refining process at such a time, and for so long, that 67 million liters of fuel were ruined: 21 million liters of benzene, 33 million liters of gas oil and 13 million liters of kerosene. Meanwhile, Iraqis waited in hour-long lines at gas stations for just such fuel.

When Obaidi, a veteran of the Iraqi oil sector, took control of Beiji in 2007, he estimated theft was a $1 billion-a-year business. The Pentagon’s estimates were closer to $2 billion. Obaidi’s job was to choke off that black market, tightening the production line that turns crude into fuel so that every drop would be accounted for and graft would be identifiable.

By 2010, the amount of fuel smuggled from the refinery had fallen from an estimated 70 percent of the refinery’s total output to just five percent.

U.S. and Iraqi officials praised his success; it came at a time when the insurgency had reached its peak, largely on the strength of Beiji’s black-market dollars.

Obaidi also made powerful enemies as he plugged their source of funding, and began receiving regular death threats. He tried to quit his job numerous times. Last year he exiled himself to Jordan, where he ran the refinery by phone.

Some of those enemies tried to mobilize the Iraqi criminal justice system against Obaidi, filing false manslaughter and theft accusations. When he returned from Jordan to resume his post at Beiji, Obaidi was met at the Erbil airport by U.S. troops then based in Beiji and escorted home – a protective measure against both violent terrorists and the Iraqi police who were charged with arresting him on spurious charges. (He has since beaten the charges, since there was no evidence to support them.)

“There is no system to protect me or anybody like me,” he said in the February interview. “I cannot trust my government. If there were no coalition force here now, I would not have returned back.”

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bth: note than when the parties against an honest man are not named out right, it most likely means they are government reps or Shia. Also that they used the criminal justice system to try to file false charges against this man is another indication of Shia political involvement.

On Sept. 1, U.S. forces are to draw down to 50,000 troops, providing only assistance and training to Iraqi forces, as part of the gradual withdrawal scheduled to conclude on Jan. 1, 2012.

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Pirates rob American ship in U.S.-guarded Iraqi waters - Iraq Oil Report

Pirates rob American ship in U.S.-guarded Iraqi waters - Iraq Oil Report: "Pirates wielding AK-47 machine guns boarded and robbed at least two cargo ships, one of them American, that were anchored in Iraqi waters early Aug. 8. The daring criminal operation has exposed the security problems that still threaten Iraq and its economy.

The ships were near the Umm Qasr port and the al-Basra and Khor al-Amaya oil terminals, which combined account for more than 95 percent of the country’s income. In this critical commerce hub, such robberies and criminal impunity could undermine the economy – and a successful terrorist attack could cripple the country and cause massive environmental damage....

Surface Forces : Buying Better Burkes

Surface Forces : Buying Better Burkes: ...."The navy put much effort into developing a successor for the Burke. But, in the end, the navy could only justify building, at most, three of the new DDG-1000 class ships. Instead, they resumed building Arleigh Burke class destroyers. It's a matter of cost, and effectiveness. The new DDG-1000 destroyers (and slightly larger versions designated as cruisers) would cost more than $4 billion each if built in large quantities. The Burkes cost a billion dollars each. The last of Burkes was ordered in 2002 and are under construction. But new orders are now planned, to be built over the next decade.

Meanwhile, the navy will buy some time (about a decade) by upgrading dozens of existing destroyers and cruisers. This is a bitter pill to swallow, as only a decade ago, the navy was so sure about the new DDG-1000, that it accelerated the retirement of a dozen of the 31 Spruance class destroyers, in order to save the $28 million a year it cost to keep each of them in service. These ships were not just retired, they were all either broken up, or sunk in training exercises. The dozen that entered service between 1979-83 could have been refurbished and been available until 2019. That was a lost opportunity. But what can now be done is refurb the Burke class destroyers (which began entering service in the 1990s). Most of the Ticonderoga class cruisers (which entered service in the 1980s and 90s) can use the refurb as well, which could boost their service into the 2030s. This, plus building a dozen or more Burke class destroyers.

The refurb policy will ultimately cost about $200 million per destroyer (and 20-25 percent more for the cruisers). Normally, these ships get one refurb during their 30 year lives. This not only fixes lots of things that have broken down or worn out (and been patched up), but installs lots of new technology. A second refurb is expected to add another 5-10 years of serviceability. But this special refurb will do more than that. The navy wants to add some of the DDG-1000 technology to these older ships. In particular, the navy wants to install the 'smart ship' type automation (found in civilian ships for decades) that will enable crew size to be reduced. The 'smart ship' gear also includes better networking and power distribution. In effect, the ship would be rewired. This could reduce the crew size by 20-30 percent (current destroyers have a crew of 275). In addition to considerable cost savings (over $100,000 a year per sailor), a smaller crew takes up less space, enabling the smaller crew to have more comfortable living quarters. This is a big deal as far as morale and retention (getting people to stay in the navy) goes. Most other new items are not space dependent, except for some of the power based ones (like the rail gun). But these technologies are receding farther into the future. Right now the navy has to find a way to live within its budget, and refurbishing existing warships shows more promise than trying build affordable new ones.

But the navy can afford more Burkes because this is a design that is the culmination of over half a century of World War II and Cold War destroyer design experience. Even after the Burke was designed, in the 1980s, the design evolved. The first Burkes were 8,300 ton ships, while the latest ones, laden with more gear, and smaller crews, are 10,000 ton ships (what heavy cruisers weighed in World War II). With a top speed of nearly 50 kilometers an hour, their main armament is 90 vertical launch tubes flush with the deck, that can contain anti-aircraft, anti-ship, anti-missile or cruise missiles. There is also a 127mm (5 inch) gun, two 20mm anti-missile autocannon, six torpedo tubes and two helicopters. The Burkes were well thought out, sturdy and they got the job done. They became irreplaceable, and thus this class of warships will last more than half a century.

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bth: basically the Navy's new DDG-1000 ships are so expensive we cannot afford to build more than 3 of them, so we are refurbishing a 50 year old design that we can afford and packing it with electronics. Chaulk this experience up to poor planning by the Navy. One is left with the feeling we could have done better had our budgeting been more accurate and our planning more realistic.

Old Ironsides: U.S.S. Constitution vs. H.M.S. Guerriere | Naval History Blog

Old Ironsides: U.S.S. Constitution vs. H.M.S. Guerriere | Naval History Blog: "August 19th is the 198th anniversary of the engagement between the United States Navy frigate Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) and H.M.S. Guerriere that ended in a complete victory for the American vessel. That battle, which took place in the early days of the War of 1812–America’s “Second War of Independence” against Great Britain, established the U.S. Navy as a legitimate fighting force and resulted from superior American technology, tactics, and teamwork.

The technological superiority enjoyed by Constitution came from the genius of ship designer Joshua Humphreys, who designed a frigate that was powerful, fast, and rugged. Constitution was more heavily armed–44 guns–than any man-of-war it could not outsail and its longer and slimmer hull form gave it speed enough to elude any opponent the captain chose not to engage. Also the extensive use of live oak, five times denser than other oaks and available only in the southeastern United States, in a three-layer closely-spaced design gave the vessel’s hull an “iron-like” quality.

The superior tactics was the decision of Constitution’s captain, Isaac Hull, to cautiously maneuver the ship until close to the enemy, whereas the British captain impatiently and fruitlessly ordered his gunners to fire at long range in hopes of disabling his opponent.

The better American teamwork was evidenced in the crew’s skill in maneuvering Constitution close to Guerriere while sustaining limited damage and the discipline the American gunners showed in allowing the British to fire first but on the up roll of the waves, which sent British shot high into Constitution’s rigging and sails where it did little damage. The Americans gunners, by contrast, waited to fire on the down roll, striking Guerriere’s hull and masts and wreaking havoc throughout the British ship. The difference is reflected in the casualty count and the condition of the ships. Constitution suffered minimal damage and had 7 killed and 7 wounded; Guerriere was so shot up that Hull was forced to burn it as an unsalvageable prize. Furthermore, the British suffered 79 casualties.

Constitution went on to win a series of victories during the war, defeating British warships Java, Cyane, and Levant. However, the victory over Guerriere was vital in establishing the fighting ability of the fledgling U.S. Navy for both its own officers and men and for its British opponents.

Old Ironsides: U.S.S. Constitution vs. H.M.S. Guerriere | Naval History Blog

Old Ironsides: U.S.S. Constitution vs. H.M.S. Guerriere | Naval History Blog:

"Long may she ride, our Navy’s pride,
An spur to revolution;
And seaman boast, and landsmen toast,
The Frigate Constitution.
- Navy Song, The Frigate Constitution, c.1813

Scientists simulate terror attack on Boston subway | Antiwar Newswire

Scientists simulate terror attack on Boston subway | Antiwar Newswire: "Scientists are releasing gases and fluorescent particles into Boston's subway tunnels on Friday to study how toxic chemicals and lethal biological agents could spread through the nation's oldest subway system in a terrorist attack.

It's part of a weeklong study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to figure out ways to quickly minimize the impact of an airborne assault on the nation's 15 subway systems and protect the nation's infrastructure. U.S. subway systems include 810 miles of track in tunnels and accounted for about 3.45 billion trips taken last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The scientists are monitoring concentration of the gases — which are invisible to the naked eye and nontoxic — and particles as they move throughout the system and then up into the streets above, pushed by turbulence created by trains thundering through the tunnels. Researchers use electronic devices to take air samples at more than 20 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority stations and in subway cars.

Test results will be used to craft ways to quickly detect an attack so authorities can shut down subways to limit the spread of contaminants.

Federal officials say similar tests were conducted in 2008 in the Washington, D.C., area, serving as an excellent contrast to the Boston study. The Massachusetts subway system, which opened its first tunnels in 1897, is poorly ventilated, while Washington's is relatively modern and well-ventilated, DHS officials said....

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bth: this is a highly prudent move

AFP: Taliban kill 30 security guards

AFP: Taliban kill 30 security guards: "KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghan police said Friday that 30 security guards had been killed in a clash with Taliban fighters and that another 15 had been wounded.

'The Taliban attacked and during the fighting, which lasted the whole day, 30 guards were killed, around 15 were injured and some others were taken by the Taliban,' said the deputy police chief of southern province Helmand.

The clashes took place in Helmand's volatile Sangin district on Thursday, Kamaludin Sherzai told AFP.

Officials earlier said they believed that around 12 guards had been killed when the heavy gunbattles broke out between insurgents and guards working for a road construction company in Sangin.

Helmand provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said a dozen bodies were evacuated Friday to a hospital in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah.

'We know that they were killed during yesterday's fighting with the Taliban. We don't know whether they are guards or workers,' he said.....

Abdul Mohammad, an employee of the road construction company, said he accompanied the bodies to the hospital.

He described the fighting as "fierce" and said at least another 20 bodies had been either left behind or removed from the battle scene.

"Yesterday the Taliban attacked us. We requested help from Afghan and foreign forces but no one helped. Lots of people were killed, I think more than 20 other bodies were left in the area or have been taken elsewhere," he said.


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bth: so what gives here? The battle lasted all day and neither Afghan nor foreign forces offered assistance to the guards and road crews in an areas we have thousands of troops in?


Friday, August 20, 2010

The DEW Line

The DEW Line: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Why many Pakistani-Americans aren't sending flood donations home - CSMonitor.com

Why many Pakistani-Americans aren't sending flood donations home - CSMonitor.com:... "On Thursday, the slow giving is one reason why Hillary Clinton will visit the United Nations for a General Assembly plenary session on the humanitarian situation in Pakistan. Last week, the UN appealed for pledges of $460 million. The US responded with a pledge of $90 million but other nations have been slower, says Mr. MacSorley.

For example, MacSorely says 10 days after the earthquake hit Haiti, there were pledges equal to $495 for each person affected by the disaster. So far, he says there have been pledges of $3 for each person affected by the flooding.

The lack of response by international donors is perplexing, says Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Relief, the largest Muslim charity.

“In the past there was a lot more media coverage, more government officials and celebrities organizing benefits for those in need,” she says. “We don’t see that now.”

Islamic Relief has raised $2 million in cash and $22 million in donations of food, water, and clothing. But, the charity has now increased its appeal to raise $4 million.

“Our supporters have to dig deep,” says Ms. Ahmed, who adds that this is now the religious period of Ramadan, a time of giving.

Some of that money will come through grass-roots efforts such as one in Plainfield, Ind., where a local mosque will ask its members to give money for flood relief during an Iftar dinner. Iftar is the meal after the day-long Ramadan fast.

Some organizations are hopeful that in the next few days the pace of giving will pick up. For example, the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), which sent six doctors to Pakistan Aug. 14, is sending its members e-mails and appealing on its Facebook page for contributions. By Friday it also plans an appeal on ARY, a Dubai-based digital television station watched by many Pakistanis.

“When people donate to us, all the money goes to medical relief,” says Abida Haque, IMANA president in Houston. “Our physicians all travel at their own expense.”

She says there is a desperate need to vaccinate children, to treat wounds, and provide potable drinking water.

Organizations such as IMAMA, however, will have to win over people like Syed Irshad Bukhari, a Pakistani-American news dealer in Manhattan and Rizwan Hamid, manager of a restaurant in Queens.

Mr. Bukhari recalls giving money for earthquake relief in Pakistan and finding out corrupt officials took a generous amount for themselves. Now, he says, “If you are going to give help, you give it directly to relatives.”....

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bth: where is a rich Saudi when you need one?

Helicopters Equipped With Acoustic Shot Detection Bound for Afghanistan | Defense Tech

Helicopters Equipped With Acoustic Shot Detection Bound for Afghanistan | Defense Tech: ..."According to data compiled by a congressionally mandated study (see article pg. 9) on helicopter survivability, a total of 70 U.S. helicopters have been downed by hostile fire in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 through 2009. The report found that 375 helicopters in total have been lost; 305 of those classified as non-hostile and non-combat events. The study found that insurgents most often visually acquired their targets as 75 percent of helicopters were downed during daylight hours; the report does not say whether infra-red tracking missiles accounted for any night-time losses.

Small arms fire, including machine guns, have accounted for 31 percent of helicopter losses in Iraq and Afghanistan; the majority of losses came from enemy RPGs and MANPADS. The low loss rate to small arms fire actually represents a huge improvement over Vietnam, where some 2,000 helicopters were downed by enemy fire; 94 percent of those losses coming from small arms fire.

The study concluded that better tactics, flying at night with the aid of night vision and hardier aircraft design in today’s wars account for the dramatic difference. In the early Vietnam years, single engine designs, lack of night vision goggles, lack of critical system redundancy and non-crashworthy fuel systems resulted in high losses.

The study says there were no reported losses in Iraq or Afghanistan to radar-guided weapons.

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bth; that is an impressive improvement in small arms survivability.

YouTube - Poco - Keep on Tryin' (1975)

YouTube - Poco - Keep on Tryin' (1975): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Presidents flying blind

Presidents flying blind: "We've been conditioned to trust presidents, but as recent history shows, they're often clueless too. Can Obama admit error and stop trying to tell us, and Afghans, what's best for Afghanistan?

By Andrew J. Bacevich

August 19, 2010

Fifty years ago this summer, with Americans riveted by a presidential contest pitting John F. Kennedy against Richard M. Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower contemplated his departure from the White House. As he prepared to retire from public life, Ike sketched out the ideas that would inform his celebrated farewell address, presciently warning against the dangers of a military-industrial complex. Simultaneously, he was plotting ways to overthrow the Cuban government.

Eisenhower did not remain in office long enough to implement the plan that his minions hatched. Instead, he bequeathed it to JFK, who promptly and naively allowed it to proceed. We remember the ensuing debacle by the place where it occurred: the Bay of Pigs.

Although Kennedy took the fall for the bungled, CIA-engineered invasion by Cuban exiles, his predecessor deserves a share of the blame. Without Eisenhower, the Bay of Pigs would never have occurred. How could such a careful and seasoned statesman have concocted such a crackpot scheme? The apparent contradiction — wisdom and folly coexisting in a single figure — forms a recurring theme in presidential politics, one that persists today.

What was true then, when the ostensible threat posed by Fidel Castro loomed large, remains true now, when the issue has become Afghanistan: The formulation of American statecraft rests on three widely accepted fictions. Presidents, we are led to believe, know things the rest of us can't know, or at least can't be allowed to know. Armed with secret knowledge and abetted by sophisticated advisors, presidents are by extension uniquely positioned to discern the dangers facing the nation. The surest way to address those dangers, therefore, is for citizens to defer to the Oval Office. Call it the Trust Daddy principle.

Yet there are at least two problems. First, presidential judgment has repeatedly proved to be fallible; Ike's reckless campaign to unseat Castro providing a case in point. Perhaps worse, presidential claims of being able to connect the dots, thereby revealing the big picture, have turned out to be bogus. Eisenhower (and Kennedy) viewed Castro's revolution as an intolerable affront — tiny Cuba placing the entire Western Hemisphere in jeopardy. The Cuban dictator had to go. Yet half a century later, Castro survives and his revolution wheezes along. Who cares? It's difficult to recall exactly what all the fuss was about.

Pretending to navigate by some sort of acutely accurate presidential GPS, the man in the White House actually flies blind. Whether it's Lyndon B. Johnson plunging into Vietnam, Jimmy Carter unleashing the CIA in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, Ronald Reagan dispatching U.S. 'peacekeepers' to Beirut, George H.W. Bush setting out to feed starving Somalis or Bush's son, George W., invading Iraq, the man ostensibly in charge quite literally doesn't know what's coming next. Hence, the frequency with which events catch presidents (or their unwary successors) by surprise.

No one in Washington will acknowledge this, of course. After all, maintaining an aura of omniscience is necessary to sustain illusions of omnipotence, which in turn justify the vast prerogatives to which the White House lays claim. Once it's admitted that presidents and their 'wise men' rely mostly on guesswork and are no smarter than the geezers meeting over coffee down at the corner cafe, the mystique enveloping the nation's capital — all those important people busily making important decisions — will vanish in thin air. Plain folk might get restive.

This describes the predicament that President Obama will soon encounter in Afghanistan. In time-honored presidential fashion, Obama has issued any number of pronouncements regarding Afghans, their problems and aspirations. He has invested Afghanistan's fate with historic importance: Americans dare not flinch from their obligation to fix that distant land. Our president knows what Afghans need. And he has articulated a strategy — winning Afghan hearts and minds — that will assure our success, all between now and July 2011, when U.S. troops will begin coming home.

Yet that strategy is not working, even as the clock keeps ticking. Time is running out. So for the president, a great opportunity is about to present itself. He can admit the obvious: Afghanistan's fate is not his (or ours) to decide. Or he can recycle the standard guff about persevering in the promotion of freedom, with American soldiers (as usual) paying the price for presidential unwillingness to acknowledge error.

Eisenhower has much to teach Obama. During his two terms in office, Ike did some things right and more than a few things wrong. Where he most disappointed his admirers, however, was in waiting until the eve of his departure from office before speaking the truth. Here's hoping that Barack Obama won't wait that long.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His new book, 'Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War,' has just been published.

Sniper in Afghan Town - WSJ.com

Sniper in Afghan Town - WSJ.com: "SANGIN, Afghanistan—Somewhere in this dusty town, concealed among the cornfields, irrigation canals and mud-walled compounds, is a man the Marines particularly want to kill.

They don't know what he looks like. But they know he is a very good shot with a long rifle, and, every day he remains alive, he is drawing Marine blood.

In the seven days since the men of Lima Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment arrived in town, the Sangin sniper has persecuted them with methodical, well-aimed shots, fired one at a time. His toll so far: two men killed—one American and one British—and one man wounded.

Two Marines have survived hits they say came from a second shooter, believed to be less proficient and careful than the first.

Sangin has for years been a hotbed of insurgent activity in volatile Helmand province, and, in its first days here, Lima Company has pressed through a belt of farmland between the Helmand River and a main road, Route 611. The Marines have been met with hidden explosives and ambushes.

But the sniper has caused the most damage—a deadly reminder that the Taliban insurgency has its share of well-trained fighters capable of frustrating the allied mission.

'He's hitting people—that's very disruptive,' said 1st Sgt. John Calhoun, 41 years old, from Konawa, Okla. 'But it's not interfering with what we're trying to do here.'

The sniper struck first on Aug. 13, the day after Lima Company arrived. A Marine stepped out of his armored vehicle just 100 yards or so from a secure U.S.-British patrol base. He threw away some trash and exchanged a few words with another Marine. The sniper fired a single, lethal shot.

On the same day, a British army engineer—20-year-old Darren Foster from Carlisle, England—was in a guard post in front of the same patrol base. British troops have built a covered, bunkered pathway so the guards aren't exposed to enemy fire as they walk down from the hilltop base. The post is protected by bulletproof glass, except for small gaps through which the guards fire their weapons. The sniper timed his single shot and killed the engineer as he walked past the opening.

'He hit a moving target in a space this big,' said Capt. Jim Nolan, Lima Company's commander, holding his hands about nine inches apart....

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bth: the army has deployed excellent acoustic counter sniper detection systems. Perhaps the marines and Brits should as well. Good grief. Get these men the right fucking equipment.

Britain warns Libya not to celebrate Megrahi release

The Raw Story | Britain warns Libya not to celebrate Megrahi release: "A year after the Lockerbie bomber was released from a Scottish prison, Britain warned Libya not to celebrate the anniversary on Friday, saying to do so would be 'tasteless, offensive and deeply insensitive'.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was thought to have only three months to live because of terminal prostate cancer when he was freed on compassionate grounds and returned to his homeland Libya to a hero's welcome.

But he has defied his prognosis, to the dismay of the mainly American relatives of the 270 people who died when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, four days before Christmas in 1988.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond again defended his government's decision to free Megrahi in a round of interviews Friday, telling the BBC it acted 'in good faith on the information that was available at the time'.

'No-one could have absolute certainty (about how long Megrahi would live),' Salmond said. 'That was a reasonable expectation of his life expectancy.'

Earlier, the Foreign Office issued a strongly-worded statement urging Libya not to hold celebrations honouring the only man 'convicted for the worst act of terrorism in British history'.

'Particularly on this anniversary, we understand the continuing anguish that Megrahi's release has caused his victims, both in the UK and the US,' a spokeswoman said.

Any celebration of Megrahi's release will be tasteless, offensive and deeply insensitive to the victims' families.'...

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bth: the Brits cut a deal with Libya on behalf of BP and sold out the Pan Am families and America. BP has done nothing good for America.

Ex-CIA officer: Assassination strategy in Afghanistan ‘may just work’ | Raw Story

Ex-CIA officer: Assassination strategy in Afghanistan ‘may just work’ | Raw Story: ..."'An official back from Washington told me I'd be surprised at the extent to which my former colleagues in the CIA are caught up in this new Afghan strategy,' Baer writes. 'The CIA in Afghanistan wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night thinking about how it can better guide [White House counterterrorism adviser John] Brennan's scalpel. ... But the flaw in the new strategy remains the availability of good, solid intelligence.'

Baer has been warning for years that the CIA is overly enamored of its electronic spying devices and badly neglects human intelligence on the ground. His 2002 best-seller, See No Evil, even blamed this tendency for allowing 9/11 to happen.

Now he suggests, 'What's clear in Afghanistan is that while our military is more than capable of wielding a scalpel, we don't have the intelligence to point out where to strike. We saw evidence of this in the Wikileak documents on the failed assassination of al-Qaeda operative Abu Laith al-Libi in Afghanistan.'

WikiLeaks responded quickly to this mention of its document dump, twittering angrily, 'Time mentions Abu Laith al-Libi assassination attempt. Neglects to mention killed 7 children.'

Baer, for his part, concludes by writing, 'Like any Hail Mary pass, we'll just have to wait and see whether the play works.'

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bth: I find it fascinating that the Afghan government would argue about due process in America's attacks on al Qaeda and the Taliban while Karzai let's major corrupt players in his government free despite overwhelming evidence of corruption and worse.

Karzai aide part of wider investigation, Afghan officials say

Karzai aide part of wider investigation, Afghan officials say: .... "An Afghan official with direct knowledge of the case said that Aloko had come under 'enormous pressure' from Karzai to set Salehi free. A second Afghan official with direct knowledge of the events said that Aloko 'received an order from the president' that Salehi be released.

Aloko could not be reached for comment. Another deputy attorney general, Fozel Faqiryar, said that the office came under no pressure from Karzai's office, and that Salehi was released on bail and has been cooperating with the investigation.

According to the Afghan officials, corruption investigators now say they fear for the safety of their families and do not believe it is possible to convict those close to the president. They do not expect Salehi to be indicted. Some believe the two elite task forces will be disbanded. Stankezi, the legal adviser, said that evidence collected by wiretapping was not admissible in court.

Salehi, meanwhile, has returned to his job in the palace.

One official likened Afghan law enforcement to a spider web, capable of trapping small insects but useless against heavier prey. The official likened the political pushback that followed Salehi's arrest to a falcon tearing through a web and said: 'I don't want to face the falcon anymore.'

---

bth: is Karzai worth it?

What Is Left Behind - In Iraq, Soldiers Say They Had a Job to Do - NYTimes.com

What Is Left Behind - In Iraq, Soldiers Say They Had a Job to Do - NYTimes.com:... "The irony is that for many soldiers and officers, the end seems like a victory, if a subdued one, measured in the progress that has been made since the worst days of violence.

“We’re not doing this for a victory parade,” said Col. Roger Cloutier, commander of the First Brigade, which after the official end of combat will oversee security for much of Baghdad.

Even so, a parade of a sort was on his mind, his own sense of what has been accomplished after the worst bloodshed in 2006 and 2007.

“When I go to downtown Baghdad, and I’m stuck in traffic, and I’m not jumping curbs, and going against traffic, I’m driving in traffic like everyone else — and I’m looking to my left and right, and there’s a guy selling fish,” he said at Forward Operating Base Falcon, a base on Baghdad’s outskirts.

“He’s got a fish cart. He’s cooking fish. And there’s a watermelon stand and then there’s an electronic store right next to it, and people are everywhere. And I’m sitting in traffic and I’m going, ‘Man, this is unbelievable.’ That’s a victory parade for me.”

He then talked about his children, ages 9, 14 and 16, sounding very much like a father who had spent much of their young lives overseas.

“I want my family to be able to look at me and say, you know what — I’m getting emotional, guys — when America called, we as a family sacrificed,” he said.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

YouTube - Black Hawk Down Soundtrack- Leave No Man Behind

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

The public moves on

McClatchy blog: Nukes & Spooks: "A new poll shows opposition to the war in Afghanistan reaching an all-time high.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey published today put opposition to the nearly nine-year-old conflict at 62 percent.

Moreover, only three out of 10 Americans are confident that the U.S.-backed government of President Hamid Karzai can handle the crisis, according to the poll.

The poll was published two days after the new U.S. commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David Petraeus, said in television and newspaper interviews that time will be needed for the Obama administration's counter-insurgency strategy to work.

In other finding, the survey of 1,009 Americans showed that an all-time high of 69 percent oppose the war in Iraq. At the same time, 65 percent support President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of this month, leaving 50,000 there for training Iraqi security forces and other non-combat duties.

China Cuts Long-Term Treasuries By Most Ever as Yields Drop - Bloomberg

China Cuts Long-Term Treasuries By Most Ever as Yields Drop - Bloomberg: "China cut its holdings of Treasury notes and bonds by the most ever, raising speculation a plunge in U.S. yields that sent two-year rates to a record low has made government securities unattractive.

The Asian nation’s holdings of long-term Treasuries fell by $21.2 billion in June to $839.7 billion, a U.S. government report showed yesterday. Total Chinese investment in U.S. debt declined 2.8 percent to $843.7 billion, the least in a year, following a 3.6 percent slide in May.

China, America’s largest creditor, is cutting back after scrapping its currency peg in June, giving it less reason to buy dollars and invest them in Treasuries. China is also turning more bullish on Europe and Japan, purchasing bonds of both nations. The shift comes as President Barack Obama increases U.S. debt to record levels, counting on overseas investors to buy, as he borrows to sustain the U.S. economic expansion.

“This may have been opportunistic,” said James Caron, head of U.S. interest-rate strategy in New York at Morgan Stanley, one of 18 primary dealers that trade with the Federal Reserve. “Look at the level of yields. If you’ve held a lot of Treasuries, you’ve done well.”

The two-year note yielded 0.51 percent as of 9:11 a.m. in London, after falling to a record 0.48 percent earlier today. The 0.625 percent security due July 2012 traded at 100 7/32, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Yields Will Rise

Two-year rates will climb to 0.85 percent by year-end, according to Bloomberg surveys of financial companies. Investors who purchased the securities today would lose 0.4 percent if the projection is correct, according to Bloomberg data....
This Fucking War: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Roger Clemens Perjury? Pitcher Indicted On Federal Charges

Roger Clemens Perjury? Pitcher Indicted On Federal Charges: "WASHINGTON -- A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens for allegedly lying to Congress about using steroids.

Clemens faces charges of obstruction of Congress, making false statements and perjury....

---

bth: of all the lying mothers that go before congress, the generals, the banksters, the BP execs, we file perjury charges against a baseball player? Isn't that just grand?

The departure of the last combat brigade

I've gotten 3 phone calls requesting interviews from TV news stations about the departure of the last combat brigade from Iraq.

What's to say?

Do I say that this is the victory that was worth so many lives and a trillion dollars? That this day was seven years in coming and was so important to America that it is largely ignored by the American public? That this is the closest we get to a victory parade? So now the Shia majority can lord it over the Sunni minority instead of the other way around and that as usual the Kurds are screwed?

What's to say? I can't do the interviews.

NightWatch 20100817 - North Korean Drones

NightWatch 20100817 - KGS: "North Korea: On 9 August North Korea flew a remotely piloted aircraft, possibly for surveillance, after it fired a volley of artillery shells near the Yellow Sea border with South Korea, a South Korean military official said on 17 August, according to Agence France-Presse. The seven-meter-wide (23 feet) aircraft flew at a low altitude about 20 kilometers (13 miles) north of the Yeonpyeong Island, the official said, adding that it may have been a decoy intended to 'excite' South Korea's radars and surveillance aircraft.

Note: Press TV reported this was the first time a North Korean drone aircraft has been spotted in the offshore islands area. Reports from 1996 relate North Korea's effort to obtain remotely piloted aircraft from Europe so as to build an indigenous program.

Open source materials contain little information about the North's program. Today's report implies that it has reached a point of maturity for use and public exposure....

---

bth: drone technology is simple and ubiquitous now. To me this has begged the question of stealth naval littoral ships. Why spend the money on exotic littoral ships which will operate close to shore when $50K drones can spot them at will? It is pointless. Drones are simple and cost effective means of overcoming the most expensive stealth naval technologies. Iran is also clearly putting them to use over the Strait of Hormuz as spotters.

Japan tanker spotted 'suspicious' boat

Japan tanker spotted 'suspicious' boat: "A Japanese oil tanker damaged in a suspected militant attack in the Strait of Hormuz last month detected a small boat moving suspiciously nearby on its radar at the time, media reports said on Tuesday.

The reports came after the United Arab Emirates this month said an explosives-laden boat had struck the M Star in a 'terrorist attack' that dented the side of the Japanese vessel and left one crew member slightly injured.

Militant jihadists have made unconfirmed claims that a suicide bomber attacked the ship, owned by Mitsui OSK Lines and crewed by 16 Filipinos and 15 Indians, on July 28 in international waters between Iran and Oman.
Advertisement: Story continues below

Japan's Jiji Press and other media said the tanker's Voyage Data Recorder had captured radar images that showed a small vessel making suspicious movements, such as close approaches to the tanker and not sailing straight....

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bth: again note that this article is in an Australian paper not in the US

Al Qaeda Plans for War With Israel - The Daily Beast

Al Qaeda Plans for War With Israel - The Daily Beast: ..."Al Qaeda has consistently said a struggle between Israel and Iran can only be good for the global Islamic jihad by blooding two of its enemies and forcing America to side with Israel. But this warning is the most vivid by far and comes with the most explicit instructions on how to exploit a new conflict.

Shehri tells his supporters that AQAP is ready for the next war. He says the “Shura Council of the Mujahedin in the Arabian Peninsula” has held a meeting to prepare for the coming apocalypse and is ready to act. AQAP has demonstrated in the last year that it can reach beyond Yemen to carry out its plans when it dispatched the suicide bomber who tried to blow up Northwest Flight 253 last Christmas. It has been active this summer in attacking intelligence officers of the Yemeni government and in publishing Inspire, the first al Qaeda journal in English on the Internet. General James Mattis, the new commander of Central Command, told the Senate this week that al Qaeda is putting significant pressure on the Yemeni government, already stretched by other internal problems and that there are “signs of decline in the capacity of Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih to control the situation.”...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz

IS3301_pp082-117_Talmadge.pdf (application/pdf Object): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

An article from 2008 which is worth a read. It looks like Iran could shut it down for about 6 weeks with mines.
The DEW Line: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

PressTV - 'Iran will block Hormuz if attacked'

PressTV - 'Iran will block Hormuz if attacked': ..."'Three measures are in store to counter any potential aggression against the country', he said.

'The first action would be to take full control of the Strait of Hormuz whereby we wouldn't allow any move by anybody', the top military official underlined.

He said the enemy 'will be brought to its knees' as soon as it makes a move.

As for the second measure, General Shademani said, 'We are keeping a close watch on all American military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.'

'With the slightest move against Iran, we will paralyze the troops stationed in those bases and won't allow them to make any move.' he stressed.

The top general also elaborated on the third plan.

'Israel is the United States' backyard', he highlighted, 'So we will disturb the peace there.'

'The US and Israel well know that we can do it', he added....


- ---
bth: I hope we have contingency plans.

A Plan B For Afghanistan

A Plan B For Afghanistan: ..."Plan B has five major points:

1. Emphasize power-sharing and political inclusion. The U.S. should fast-track a peace process designed to decentralize power within Afghanistan and encourage a power-sharing balance among the principal parties.


2. Downsize and eventually end military operations in southern Afghanistan, and reduce the U.S. military footprint. The U.S. should draw down its military presence, which radicalizes many Pashtuns and is an important aid to Taliban recruitment.

3. Focus security efforts on Al Qaeda and Domestic Security. Special forces, intelligence assets, and other U.S. capabilities should continue to seek out and target known Al Qaeda cells in the region and be ready to go after them should they attempt to relocate elsewhere or build new training facilities. In addition, part of the savings from our drawdown should be reallocated to bolster U.S. domestic security efforts and to track nuclear weapons globally.

4. Encourage economic development. Because destitute states can become incubators for terrorism, drug and human trafficking, and other illicit activities, efforts at reconciliation should be paired with an internationally-led effort to develop Afghanistan's economy.

5. Engage regional and global stakeholders in a diplomatic effort designed to guarantee Afghan neutrality and foster regional stability. Despite their considerable differences, neighboring states such as India, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia share a common interest in preventing Afghanistan from being dominated by any single power or being a permanently failed state that exports instability to others.

Specifically, the report urges Obama to stick to his pledge to begin withdrawing U.S. troops in July 2011 -- or earlier. There will soon be 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan; the report calls for that number to decrease to 68,000 troops by October 2011, and 30,000 by July 2012....

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bth: worth reading in full. This plan has merit.

Naval Open Source INTelligence

Naval Open Source INTelligence: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

FBI and ATF Turf War Creates 'Confusion' At Bomb Scenes - ABC News

FBI and ATF Turf War Creates 'Confusion' At Bomb Scenes - ABC News:... "In the case of many explosive incidents, such as the car bomb placed in New York's Times Square in May, local authorities actually defuse the bomb. While each agency has a handful of bomb technicians – 143 at the FBI and around three dozen at ATF – the several thousand bomb technicians on the nation's local and state police forces, fire departments and sheriff's departments are very often the first line of defense in defusing an explosive device. ...

----

bth: first responders are almost invariably local. The locals should be able to tap federal support. There should be no turf war over this matter at the federal level. It should probably be handed entirely over to the FBI.

Pentagon rules out negotiations on ‘sanitized’ WikiLeaks | Raw Story

Pentagon rules out negotiations on ‘sanitized’ WikiLeaks | Raw Story: "WikiLeaks said Wednesday the US military is willing to discuss the removal of sensitive data from a second batch of Afghan war documents it plans to release, but the Pentagon insisted it will not negotiate on a 'sanitised version'.

The whistleblower website has already released nearly 77,000 leaked US military documents about the war in Afghanistan and is preparing to publish 15,000 more in the coming weeks, despite criticism that doing so could endanger lives since the files include the names of some Afghan informants.

Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic spokesman for the website, said the US military had a change of heart this week and told WikiLeaks it was prepared to talk about helping to remove sensitive details from the files.

'I am aware that (the US military) has expressed the willingness to open a dialogue on that,' Hrafnsson told AFP. 'It is obviously not the intention of WikiLeaks to put anybody in direct harm so these documents are being reviewed and this process is ongoing.'

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said the second batch of documents was set aside because they were 'more likely to contain personal identifying information,' and therefore required line by line review.....

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bth: this is probably a regrettable decision

Iran's secret pipeline into the U.S. - wtop.com

Iran's secret pipeline into the U.S. - wtop.com: "WASHINGTON - Iran Air 744 is a bimonthly flight that originates in Tehran and flies directly to Caracas with periodic stops in Beirut and Damascus. The maiden flight was Feb. 2, 2007.

The mere existence of the flight was a significant concern for U.S. intelligence officials, but now a broader concern is who and what are aboard the flights.

'If you [a member of the public] tried to book yourself a seat on this flight and it doesn't matter whether it's a week before, a month before, six months before -- you'll never find a place to sit there,' says Offer Baruch, a former Israeli Shin Bet agent.

Baruch, now vice president of operations for International Shield, a security firm in Texas, says the plane is reserved for Iranian agents, including 'Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) and other intelligence personnel.'

Current and former U.S. intelligence official fear the flight is a shadowy way to move people and weapons to locations in Latin America that can be used as staging points for retaliatory attacks against the U.S. or its interests in the event Iranian nuclear sites are struck by U.S. or Israeli military forces.

'My understanding is that this flight not only goes from Caracas to Damascus to Tehran perhaps twice a month, but it also occasionally makes stops in Lebanon as well, and the passengers on that flight are not processed through normal Venezuelan immigrations or customs. They are processed separately when they come into the country,' says Peter Brookes, senior fellow for National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation.

The 16-hour flight typically leaves Tehran and stops at Damascus International Airport (DAM), which is Syria's busiest. In 2009, almost 4.5 million passengers used the airport.

After a 90-minute layover, the flight continues the remaining 14 hours to Venezuela's Caracas Maiquetía International Airport (CCS). Upon arrival, the plane is met by special Venezuelan forces and sequestered from other arrivals.

'It says that something secretive or clandestine is going on that they don't want the international community to know about,' says Brookes, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs and CIA employee.

'The fact that there is a flight is of course of interest, but the fact that not anybody can gain access to this flight or buy a ticket for that flight is of particular curiosity and should be of concern to the United States.'

In addition to speculation about who is aboard, there are significant concerns that the Boeing 747SP airplane might be transporting uranium to Tehran on the return flight. The U.S. government has enacted strong sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program and there are worries the flight might provide an opportunity to skirt the embargo against materials that might be used for the program. ...

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bth: yup looks pretty strange.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How The Unemployment Crisis Has Swept Across America (VIDEO)

How The Unemployment Crisis Has Swept Across America (VIDEO): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Poll: U.S. opposition to Afghan war at all-time high – Afghanistan Crossroads - CNN.com Blogs

Poll: U.S. opposition to Afghan war at all-time high – Afghanistan Crossroads - CNN.com Blogs: "Unpopularity with the war in Afghanistan reached an all-time high in CNN polling with 62 percent saying they oppose it, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey. Moreover, confidence in the Afghan government is low. Seven in 10 Americans are not confident that Hamid Karzai's government can handle the situation there. ...

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bth: I don't see this trend reversing

Courthouse News Service - U.S. Loses FOIA Ruling on Body Armor Records

Courthouse News Service: "(CN) - A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered the Army's medical examiner to release information about the effectiveness of body armor used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan or to justify the decision to withhold it.

The records were sought by Roger Charles, a retired veteran and vice chairman of Soldiers for the Truth, a nonprofit organization aimed at 'ensuring America's frontline troops get the best available individual protective equipment and combat gear.'

Charles began to research after hearing reports that the body armor U.S. soldiers are given does not provide adequate protection. To gather empirical data, he requested documents from the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner that purportedly describe bullet wounds to the torso area covered by armor.

Charles's Freedom of Information Act request yielded 103 autopsy results and 18 body armor records, which the agency refused to release, citing personal privacy and privileged intra-agency concerns.

Hoping to obtain redacted versions of the autopsy results, Charles narrowed his request, seeking records
'commenting [on], discussing or indicating' fatal torso bullet wounds or body armor failure.

But the documents were once again withheld, with the government claiming to have no 'statements' fitting the revised request. The agency said it was impossible for the person conducting the search to draw 'scientifically valid conclusions' based on the content of the autopsy reports.

U.S. District Court Ricardo Urbina ruled that the agency's restrictions on the search were unreasonable.

'To allow an agency to restrict the number of documents it deems responsive during a FOIA search based on its interpretation of the plaintiff's purpose in making the requests ... is inconsistent with the spirit and purpose of FOIA,' Urbina wrote.

He ordered the agency to release the documents or to further justify why they warranted withholding under specific FOIA exemptions

YouTube - Kate Rusby Who Knows Where The Time Goes

YouTube - Kate Rusby Who Knows Where The Time Goes: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Saudi Gazette - Fourth assassination attempt against Prince foiled

Saudi Gazette - Fourth assassination attempt against Prince foiled: "RIYADH – Security authorities have foiled a fourth assassination attempt against Prince Muhammad Bin Naif Bin Abdul Aziz, Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs, which was being carried out late last year, security sources disclosed to Okaz/Saudi Gazette Sunday.
Prince Muhammad had earlier survived three assassination attempts – one of which coincided with this day in Ramadan last year and took at his palace in Jeddah when a terrorist, Abdullah Asiri, detonated an explosive capsule inside his body. The blast killed Asiri and slightly injured Prince Muhammad.
Two Al-Qaeda terrorists, Yusuf Al-Shehri and Raed Al-Harbi, who were armed with explosive belts, were involved in the fourth attempt, which was to have taken place several months after the attempt at the palace, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned.
The terrorists were confronted by security men at Hamra Al-Darb checkpoint, located in the southwest part of the Kingdom, and killed in a shootout at the scene.
The first attempt, which took place in 2004, involved a bomb-laden vehicle that was used to target the Ministry of Interior building in Riyadh. In the second attempt, which took place in Yemen, a missile was fired at Prince Muhammad Bin Naif’s plane and the pilot was successful in taking evasive action.
After Asiri’s attack, which took place on the 6th of Ramadan 1430H, August 27, 2009, terrorists formulated plans for the fourth attempt, according to sources.

Suicide attempt
Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned from sources that Al-Shehri and Al-Harbi were involved in that plot.
After they were killed in the confrontation at Hamra Al-Darb checkpoint on Oct. 13, 2009, an investigation revealed that they were carrying four explosive belts from Yemeni territories to the Kingdom, sources said.
This took place at a time when the terrorist organization, acting on orders from an Al-Qaeda leader in Yemen, had psychologically prepared two terrorists in the Kingdom to carry out the fourth attempt against Prince Muhammad Bin Naif’s life, according to sources.

First leads
Information about that plot was uncovered by security authorities after Al-Shehri and Al-Harbi were killed and security forces found the explosive belts. Each man was wearing one belt and two more were found in their car, according to sources, who confirmed that the belts were to have been used in the assassination attempt.
Sources said the plan was uncovered after the arrest of 113 militants in several regions of the Kingdom, which was announced by the Ministry of Interior in a statement it issued on March 24, 2010.
Two suicide bombers who were recruited by Al-Qaeda to assassinate Prince Muhammad are among those being held, sources said.

Skillful approach
The assassination attempt against Prince Muhammad last August was widely condemned at local, Gulf, regional and international levels.
Experts said Prince Muhammad has established an effective security presence and takes a wise approach in dealing with difficult security issues, foremost of which is terrorism. He is considered to be one of the most skillful commanders who are fighting terrorism – not only at the local or regional level, but at the international level, they added.
He has earned the respect of his counterparts throughout the world through his efficiency in dealing with terrorism in the Kingdom, to the extent that he forced elements of the terrorist organization to flee to Yemen after he built security agencies that can confront terrorism and launch attacks against terrorists, experts said....


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bth: something you aren't reading about in US mass media.

Govt: Private Security Firms to be Banned in 4 Months

Govt: Private Security Firms to be Banned in 4 Months: "The spokesperson for President Karzai Monday told reporters in a Press Conference that private security firms are to be banned in four months time

Based on decree that will be issued by President Karzai soon, private security companies will be dissolved within four months.

'A four-month deadline will be set to private security firms; which means private security firms will be dissolved within four months. And this is going to happen based on a process,' he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson remarked that the Afghan President will fly to Russia on Tuesday to attend a quadrilateral summit among Afghanistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Pakistan.

The Afghan president will also hold a bilateral meeting with the Russian President on the sidelines of the summit.

The President's spokesperson also acknowledged that efforts are on the ground to secure the upcoming Afghan parliamentary poll.
----

bth: so who will guard the supply convoys and diplomats?

Afghan officials seize truck with 37,000 lbs of explosives - CNN.com

Afghan officials seize truck with 37,000 lbs of explosives - CNN.com: "Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Kandahar police have seized a truck carrying 17,000 kg (37,478 lbs) of explosives skillfully placed in boxes marked paint and pickles, authorities said.

The truck, with Pakistani license plates, was seized by Kandahar customs agents on Sunday as it came in from the Quetta province in Pakistan, officials said.

'Our enemies use various techniques with the purpose of destroying our country, but our alert police have been defusing their plans, as you see from today's good example,' said General Mohammad Shafiq said Sunday.
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bth: I suspect a lot is being displaced by the floods in Pakistan

Monday, August 16, 2010

YouTube - Women In Art

YouTube - Women In Art: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

YouTube - Diana Krall - Walk On By (From "Live In Rio")

YouTube - Diana Krall - Walk On By (From "Live In Rio"): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

AP-GfK polls show Obama losing independents | Raw Story

AP-GfK polls show Obama losing independents | Raw Story:... "Independents who embraced President Barack Obama's call for change in 2008 are ready for a shift again, and that's worrisome news for Democrats.

Only 32 percent of those citing no allegiance to either major party say they want Democrats to keep control of Congress in this November's elections, according to combined results of recent Associated Press-GfK polls. That's way down from the 52 percent of independents who backed Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain two years ago, and the 49 percent to 41 percent edge by which they preferred Democratic candidates for the House in that election, according to exit polls of voters.

Independents voice especially strong concerns about the economy, with 9 in 10 calling it a top problem and no other issue coming close, the analysis of the AP-GfK polls shows. While Democrats and Republicans rank the economy the No. 1 problem in similar numbers, they are nearly as worried about their No. 2 issues, health care for Democrats and terrorism for Republicans.

Ominously for Democrats, independents trust Republicans more on the economy by a modest but telling 42 percent to 36 percent. That's bad news for the party that controls the White House and Congress at a time of near 10 percent unemployment and the slow economic recovery....

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bth: it's jobs stupid. Don't vacation in Spain. Focus on jobs or get a new job.

Hamas Leader: Mosque Near Ground Zero Must Be Built

Hamas Leader: Mosque Near Ground Zero Must Be Built: "NEW YORK — A Hamas leader says Muslims 'have to build' a mosque near ground zero.

Mahmoud al-Zahar said Muslims 'have to build everywhere' so that followers can pray, just like Christians and Jews build their places of worship.

Al-Zahar spoke Sunday on 'Aaron Klein Investigative Radio' on WABC-AM. He is a co-founder of Hamas and its chief on the Gaza Strip.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says Al-Zahar's comments don't carry any weight because Hamas is a terrorist organization. Schumer hasn't taken a stand on the mosque.

Rep. Peter King, who opposes the mosque, says he won't respond to Hamas.

The mosque is a project of the Cordoba Initiative, an advocacy group that promotes improved relations between Islam and the West. It didn't respond to Al-Zahar's comments.

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bth: just when I thought America had a monopoly on politicians with tin ears this jack wad opens his mouth.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Soldiers with PTSD dismissed, told they have ‘personality disorder’ | Raw Story

Soldiers with PTSD dismissed, told they have ‘personality disorder’ | Raw Story: "At the height of the Iraq war, the Army routinely dismissed hundreds of soldiers for having a personality disorder when they were more likely suffering from the traumatic stresses of war, discharge data suggests.

Under pressure from Congress and the public, the Army later acknowledged the problem and drastically cut the number of soldiers given the designation. But advocates for veterans say an unknown number of troops still unfairly bear the stigma of a personality disorder, making them ineligible for military health care and other benefits.

'We really have an obligation to go back and make sure troops weren't misdiagnosed,' said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a clinical psychologist whose nonprofit 'Give an Hour' connects troops with volunteer mental health professionals.

The Army denies that any soldier was misdiagnosed before 2008, when it drastically cut the number of discharges due to personality disorders and diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorders skyrocketed....

...

bth: its as if the system is stacked against the normal GI.

Pakistani floods and Afghn Taliban

Curious that we have seen no articles or intelligence assessments on the impact of massive floods on the Afghan Taliban activities.

While in different countries, many Afghan families still live in Pakistan and their Taliban sons will have to decide how to spend their time - going to Pakistan to check on their families or terrorizing and extorting Afghan poppy farmers and CD shop owners.

It may be that the flooding truncates the fighting season for this year.

But like any Red Sox fan will tell you, there is always next year and the Yankees are still going to be around and hated.

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents - NYTimes.com

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents - NYTimes.com: "WASHINGTON — At first, the news from Yemen on May 25 sounded like a modest victory in the campaign against terrorists: an airstrike had hit a group suspected of being operatives for Al Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province, birthplace of the legendary queen of Sheba.

But the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes.

The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh’s decrepit Soviet-era air force. It was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on Al Qaeda in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December.

The attack offered a glimpse of the Obama administration’s shadow war against Al Qaeda and its allies. In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.

The White House has intensified the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone missile campaign in Pakistan, approved raids against Qaeda operatives in Somalia and launched clandestine operations from Kenya. The administration has worked with European allies to dismantle terrorist groups in North Africa, efforts that include a recent French strike in Algeria. And the Pentagon tapped a network of private contractors to gather intelligence about things like militant hide-outs in Pakistan and the location of an American soldier currently in Taliban hands. ...

Intelligence official shot dead in S. Yemen, al-Qaida blamed

Intelligence official shot dead in S. Yemen, al-Qaida blamed: "SANAA, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- A senior Yemeni intelligence official was shot dead on Friday in Yemen's southern province of Lahj, and initial investigations suggested that 'the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida', a provincial councilman and police official said.

'A motorcycle gunman opened fire at Colonel Ali Abdulkarim, a top official of the Yemeni Intelligence Headquarters in al-Houta, the capital city of Lahj, when he went out from the mosque after finishing this evening's prayer,' the unnamed councilman told Xinhua.

According to the councilman, who asked not to be named, 'no group has been accused so far.'

A police official, however, told Xinhua that 'the initial investigations pointed out that the attack bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida again.'

He said that 'during the past two months, a numbers of security and intelligence personnel have been assassinated by the same terrorist group.'

'And al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula (AQAP) has so far claimed responsibility of all attacks targeted the security and intelligence officials and facilities recently,' he added....

Army Ranger, Kensington native, killed in Afghanistan - Monday, Aug. 9, 2010

Army Ranger, Kensington native, killed in Afghanistan - Monday, Aug. 9, 2010: "KENSINGTON – Army Sgt. Andrew Nicol was respected by his peers, whether it was on a wrestling mat as a high school athlete trying to beat his opponent, or on the battlefield as a soldier fighting for his country.

Family and friends are now remembering Nicol as a hero after the Army Ranger was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan Sunday morning.

The 23-year-old serving with the 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning, Ga., grew up in Kensington and was a 2006 graduate of Exeter High School. His death came just a couple of weeks before he was expected to return home.

He had served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Medal of Valor in 2008, according to The Associated Press. While Nicol was living in the Fort Benning area during his time in the military, his roots were in Kensington.

His parents, Roland and Patricia, still live in town, where the flag outside the town hall was lowered to half-staff in honor of their son.

Nicol

Before joining the military, Nicol left his mark on Exeter High, where he competed on the wrestling team for all four years and was elected team captain as a senior.

"He will always be remembered for his work ethic in the room and his willingness to put himself out there for the team," said former head coach Bob Brown of Brentwood.

When he would return home from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nicol would often stop by Exeter High to chat with Brown. The last time Brown saw him was about a year ago.

While Nicol wasn't able to share many details about his missions, he was proud of his work and talked about the progress that the military had made.

"He was equally as confident in what he was doing there as he was on the mat with me," Brown said. "Once you've wrestled, everything else is easy."

Brown recalled times during wrestling matches when Nicol was behind, but somehow managed to pull off a comeback with just seconds on the clock.

"It was with that confidence in himself and also the ability to keep things in perspective that I always appreciated about him," Brown said. "He was never somebody that was intimidated by reputable opponents. He was the underdog in a lot of matches, but he was always going out there and giving it everything he had."

Roy Morrisette of Exeter also remembered coaching Nicol in high school. "He was a good kid," he said.

The death hit close to home for the Kensington neighbors who know the Nicol family.

"It's something you think happens to someone else in some other place. It's tough to process at this point," said neighbor Dewey Watkins.

Watkins spoke to Nicol's father Monday morning before he headed to Delaware to retrieve his son's casket.

Meanwhile, Gov. John Lynch offered his condolences to the family in a statement Monday afternoon.

"My thoughts and prayers, and those of my wife Susan, are with the family of Sgt. Andrew Nicol. ... He served his nation with dignity, courage and honor, and was a decorated hero who sacrificed protecting all of us. On behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire, our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Nicol family," Lynch said.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter also spoke about Nicol's death.

"Sgt. Andrew Nicol was a hero to our country, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family," she said in a statement.

Last Wednesday, Laconia native and Plymouth High School graduate Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst, 34, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Warren, 28, of Manchester was killed in Afghanistan on July 29.

Solider with local family dies in Afghanistan | HoumaToday.com

Solider with local family dies in Afghanistan | HoumaToday.com: "HOUMA — A nurturing father who always opened doors for women, Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst, the soldier son-in-law of a Houma family, died a week ago while serving in Afghanistan.


The 34-year-old leaves behind his wife, Katie, a 29-year-old Houma native, and two daughters, 7-year-old Kaylie and 22-month-old Ava.

Katie, who is three months pregnant, is the daughter of Mona LeBoeuf Dove and stepdaughter of Gordon Dove Sr., a state representative and Houma businessman. The family lost Gordon Dove Jr., 23, more than a year ago in a wreck on Interstate 310 near Destrehan.

Van Aalst, 34, was killed Aug. 4 during what Army officials say was “a combat operation in Afghanistan.” He was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and on his sixth overseas deployment.

The New Hampshire-born soldier and his wife met at a mutual friend’s wedding about three years ago, Mona Dove said.

“They were dancing,” the mother said. “Just watching them, I knew they would be good together.”

The family was instantly smitten with Van Aalst, she said. They married in October 2009.

“The first time I met him I really thought he was a unique person. I liked everything about him,” Mona said. “They started dating, and I was hoping he would be the one.”

Gordon Dove said he admired Van Aalst’s dedication to the military and his pursuit of terrorists.

“Thank God we have soldiers like Jared to keep us free,” Dove said, adding that he once asked Van Aalst about his tours. “He said, ‘I go where my country sends me.’ … Our grandchildren, we’ll never let them forget Jared.”

Van Aalst graduated from Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, N.H., in 1993 and enlisted in the Army two years later.

He completed various training, including Ranger and Sniper schools. He was also selected as an instructor and a shooter in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning, Ga.. He served in other positions and participated in five previous combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2008 he was selected for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg.

In addition to his numerous medals, Van Aalst was posthumously recognized with a second Bronze Star, a third Purple Heart and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but the service will be at Fort Benning where Van Aalst served 13 years. A burial is being planned in Arlington National Cemetery.

Staff Writer Naomi King can be reached at 857-2209 or naomi.king@houmatoday.com.


Bomb disposal man: 'I knew I was going to die' - Channel 4 News

Bomb disposal man: 'I knew I was going to die' - Channel 4 News: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"



So the Dragon Runner is too light for bomb disposal work. That makes sense. The physics are just not in its favor.

An Israeli Attack on Iran would reduce Barack Obama to a One-Term President | Informed Comment

An Israeli Attack on Iran would reduce Barack Obama to a One-Term President | Informed Comment: ..."Obama’s plans for a decisive and timely withdrawal from Iraq would be completely ruined by an attack on Iran, which would reactivate the Shiite militias at a time when the US military is weak and open to attack. Obama would not have that achievement to run on in 2012. The Iranians can behind the scenes be major spoilers for the Afghanistan War, which already is not going well for Obama.

A Netanyahu attack on Iran would reduce Barack Obama to a one-term president, which may be what Goldberg and his fellow conspirators are really aiming for. That success would after all allow them to keep to the 5-year timetable for another Asian land war.