Friday, October 22, 2010

Peter Damon - artist, amputee, veteran, friend

Facebook | Grassroots Marketing's Photos - Wareham Braveheart Awards 2010



We first met in DC the winter of 03-04. I think he showed up in late November or Dec. 03.

Peter was a double amputee at Walter Reed and I had friends there, the Schieders. Nick and Tabatha.

Alma, Peter and I met at the Mayflower Hotel as guests of Sen. Kennedy when Kennedy gave a famous and historical speech first calling Iraq a quagmire and into question the assertions linking al Qaeda to Saddam. The packed room was hushed for much of the speech. Ground breaking did not do it justice; more like earth shattering. Afterward we talked for over an hour, maybe two until the hotel kicked us out of the room, Peter, Alma, Sen. Kennedy, Vicki and I about life's curve balls and making a difference when others around you die, and little things like how to put on a backpack with no arms, of regrets for those lost, and challenges we faced personally and as a country. No self piety, just pain and challenges we all face in time.

A few weeks or months later Peter and I had dinner together with Larry Gill from Alabama who was recovering from a grenade injury. Peter was in pain and Larry said it was Peter's first trip to a restaurant out of Walter Reed. There we were Larry with his bum leg and crutches, Peter with his rigged contraption for holding a fork,more or less,and me directing laser beams from my eyes at well heeled clientele of the steak house who stared at us and then their meals. I was in DC dealing with the budget which to my horror excluded funds for body armor and vehicular armor which we later got added as a supplemental no thanks to President Bush and that rat bastard Rumsfeld.

Peter liked working with his hands and while at Walter Reed or commuting back to Mass. where he had a girlfriend, he decided to pick up old loves, drawing and Jen, but this time with a prosthetic arm and hand. Actually two arms but the other arm's prosthetic never took hold for him without discomfort and so he sticks with just one. To the surprise of us all, including Peter, I suspect, he turned out to be exceptional.

A few years later, he got to throw out the opening pitch to start a Red Sox game. He practiced at home then went to Fenway Park with a bag full of balls, pliers and screw drivers to tighten things down in fear that when he threw the opening pitch his arm might fly off with the ball to the catcher. But fear is not reality. It turned out great to the relief of all and to the pride of his son and family. And me, to have the privilege of calling him a friend.

Some might call Peter a hero, but he would be uncomfortable with that term applied to himself. No Peter as a regular man dealing with great challenges who inspires greatness by example in the face of adversity.


Andrew Bacevich on Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

Andrew Bacevich on Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

Video is available and well worth watching

Sexy Spy Anna Chapman in Russian Maxim (8 pics)

Sexy Spy Anna Chapman in Russian Maxim (8 pics): "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Sexy Spy Anna Chapman in Russian Maxim (8 pics)

So recently at an industry meeting there was an exciting discussion about DOD software programmers ordering mail order brides and then finding out they were more than they seemed. Now comes Russian spy Anna Chapman, recently deported for espionage, doing a piece for Maxim's November issue. Time to check the hard drives software geeks.

Robotic Sea-Glider Achieves First Unmanned Underwater Transatlantic Crossing | Popular Science

Robotic Sea-Glider Achieves First Unmanned Underwater Transatlantic Crossing | Popular Science: "Charles Lindbergh may have shown human fortitude by flying across the Atlantic in his 'Spirit of St. Louis,' but now he has robotic company when it comes to transatlantic records. An underwater robotic glider built by Rutgers University students and scientists has achieved the first underwater robot crossing, after traveling beneath the waves for 221 days.

Rutgers researchers joined some Spanish colleagues today aboard the 'Investigador' ship to recover the drone, after launching it on April 27, 2009 off the coast of New Jersey. The submersible bot made its 4,591-mile journey at the slow but steady pace of 4 centimeters per second....



$19 Billion Later, Pentagon’s Best Bomb-Detector Is a Dog | Danger Room | Wired.com

$19 Billion Later, Pentagon’s Best Bomb-Detector Is a Dog | Danger Room | Wired.com: "Drones, metal detectors, chemical sniffers, and super spycams — forget ‘em. The leader of the Pentagon’s multibillion military task force to stop improvised bombs says there’s nothing in the U.S. arsenal for bomb detection more powerful than a dog’s nose.

Despite a slew of bomb-finding gagdets, the American military only locates about 50 percent of the improvised explosives planted in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that number jumps to 80 percent when U.S. and Afghan patrols take dogs along for a sniff-heavy walk. “Dogs are the best detectors,” Lieutenant General Michael Oates, the commander of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, told a conference yesterday, National Defense reports. That’s not the greatest admission for a well-funded organization — nearly $19 billion since 2004, according to a congressional committee — tasked with solving one of the military’s wickedest problems....

U.S. officials, experts: No high-level Afghan peace talks under way | McClatchy

U.S. officials, experts: No high-level Afghan peace talks under way | McClatchy: "WASHINGTON — Despite news reports of high-level talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, no significant peace negotiations are under way in Afghanistan, U.S. officials and Afghanistan experts said Thursday.

These same experts said the reports, which appeared in a number of U.S. media outlets, could be part of a U.S. 'information strategy' to divide and weaken the Taliban leadership.

'This is a psychological operation, plain and simple,' said a U.S. official with firsthand knowledge of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's outreach effort.

'Exaggerating the significance of it (the contacts) is an effort to sow distrust within the insurgency, to make insurgents suspicious with each other and to send them on witch hunts looking for traitors who want to negotiate with the enemy,' said the U.S. official. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly....

--- bth: is the psyop being run on the Taliban or on the American public?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Multi billion dollar fraud occurring with mortgage foreclosures

Washington's Blog
Same person, the mythical Linda Green, forged billion of dollars in affidavits for foreclosure with the nations leading banks. Compare the signatures. Frauds.

Abide with Me

Abide with Me:

"Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me....

YouTube - Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World

YouTube - Stand By Me | Playing For Change | Song Around the World: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

NBC: Al-Qaida figure was at Pentagon meeting - U.S. news - Security - msnbc.com

NBC: Al-Qaida figure was at Pentagon meeting - U.S. news - Security - msnbc.com: "Al-Qaida operative and American-Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki attended a Pentagon luncheon several months after the 9/11 attacks, Pentagon officials told NBC News on Wednesday.

According to the officials, al-Awlaki was invited as part of a Pentagon outreach program to convince influential Muslims that the war in Afghanistan was aimed at al-Qaida, not Muslims.

The FBI obtained the information during its investigation into the Fort Hood shooting rampage last November and alleged gunman Nidal Hasan's contact with Awlaki.

According to officials, the information came during an FBI interview with a female lawyer who worked in the Defense Department's general counsel's office.

'It's clear at the time (when the Pentagon was reaching out to Muslims) that no one here knew of any terrorist ties Awlaki may have had,' one senior Pentagon official told NBC News reported....

Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing - NYTimes.com

Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing - NYTimes.com: ..."Interviews with lawyers involved in the cases, outside legal experts and a review of some records show that federal prosecutors have failed to overcome a series of legal hurdles, including the difficulties of obtaining evidence in war zones, of gaining proper jurisdiction for prosecutions in American civilian courts, and of overcoming immunity deals given to defendants by American officials on the scene.

“The battlefield,” said Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law in Florida, “is not a place that lends itself to the preservation of evidence.”

The difficulty of these cases also illustrates the tricky legal questions raised by the government’s increasing use of private contractors in war zones.

Such problems clearly plagued the Moonen case. In the immediate aftermath of the Christmas Eve shooting, Mr. Moonen was interviewed, not by the F.B.I., but by an official with the Regional Security Office of the United States Embassy in Baghdad, the State Department unit that supervised Blackwater security guards in Iraq.

Mr. Moonen’s lawyer, Stewart Riley, said that his client gave the embassy officials a statement only after he was issued a so-called Garrity warning — a threat that he might lose his job if he did not talk, but that he would be granted immunity from prosecution for anything he said.

The legal warning and protection given to Mr. Moonen were similar to warnings that embassy officials later gave to Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square case. In each case, the agreements presented an obstacle to prosecution in the United States. In effect, the Blackwater personnel were given a form of immunity from prosecution by the people they were working for and helping to protect.

“Once you immunize statements, it is really hard to prosecute,” said Andrew Leipold, a law professor at the University of Illinois. “In the field, the people providing the immunity may value finding out what happened more than they do any possibility of prosecution. But that just makes any future prosecution really very hard.”

Justice Department officials declined to comment Wednesday about specific Blackwater cases. But the department has appealed the dismissal of the Nisour Square case, and a new trial has been scheduled for next March in the Virginia murder case after a mistrial was declared. And Justice officials noted that the government had had a number of successful prosecutions against contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, including several for sexual assaults and other violent crimes. More than 120 companies have been charged by the Justice Department for contract fraud and related crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, officials said. ....

- bth: the reason these murderers are getting out of jail free cards is because the government created means to avoid prosecuting them. They cases are failing because the government has no interest in winning much less justice for the victims in Iraq of drunken killings from contractors working for the State or Defense dept.

The Day - Inferior metal used on Navy subs | News from southeastern Connecticut

The Day - Inferior metal used on Navy subs | News from southeastern Connecticut: "The Navy is searching for metal used in submarines that fails to meet military specifications and was supplied by a Pennsylvania contractor who recently pleaded guilty to one count of major fraud against the U.S. government.

In a statement provided to The Day, the Navy called the fraud 'calculated and widespread.'

The search has so far cost the government more than $1.3 million, and the Navy said it may take years to determine the scope of the problem.

The Navy did not respond to a question about the safety implications, saying only that the service is 'committed to ensuring the safety of its crews and ships.'

Bristol Alloys Inc. and its president, James Bullick, admitted in court last week to selling metal that had not been heat-treated to be used in Virginia-class submarines to meet the contract's requirements. Heat treatment is used to make metal stronger. The company also admitted that it provided counterfeit certifications that the metal had been treated.

The major fraud charge dealt with parts and materials associated with Virginia-class submarines, but many classes of submarines and the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) are also affected, according to the Navy.

'The fraud perpetrated by Bristol Alloys, Inc. and Mr. Bullick was both calculated and widespread,' according to the Navy's statement. 'Implications from Bristol Alloys, Inc. and Mr. Bullick's scheme to defraud the government have the potential to take years to fully investigate, inspect and adjudicate.'

Bullick faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $5 million fine at his sentencing on Jan. 31, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The company also faces a possible $5 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease, the prosecutor in the case, said Tuesday he plans to ask the court at the sentencing to require restitution for the cost of locating the metal and replacing parts.

Dozens of examples of metal supplied by Bristol that does not meet military specifications have been found in Navy ships in the past year, Pease added. He could not say how many ships were involved since the effort to find where the metal has been used is ongoing.

- bth: 10 years? This guy needs to be shot.

Far more troops survive IEDs in Afghanistan - USATODAY.com

Far more troops survive IEDs in Afghanistan - USATODAY.com: "WASHINGTON — Better battlefield treatment and faster medevac flights have helped to cut nearly in half the number of troops killed by roadside bombs in Afghanistan, military officials say.

The Pentagon says 24 troops died from the 180 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that detonated in September. One year ago, 46 troops died from 131 IEDs in September.

One improvement: Rugged ventilators distributed since 2008 to help wounded troops breathe have saved the lives of eight U.S. troops, said Army Col. Richard Todd Dombroski, surgeon for the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization. The ventilators are used aboard medevac helicopters.

'Time is life,' he said.

Troops are also surviving at higher rates because the number of medevac helicopters used to transport them has increased and hospitals are located closer to troops in combat, said Air Force Maj. Michael Johnson, a military spokesman in Kabul.

Wounded troops are flown from the battlefield to a hospital about 25% faster than they were last year, according to the Pentagon. Medevac flights now take an average of 43 minutes.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates made speedy medical evacuation in Afghanistan a top priority in 2008.

- bth: 25% faster trip to the hospital has got to be the biggest explanation and that must be due to more helicopters in theater since we aren't diverting as many to Iraq.

Give the African Union our used humvees and trucks

NightWatch 20101020 - KGS:.... "Somalia: The United States supports an increased troop presence in Somalia but has no position on how many troops should be there, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said on 20 October. The U.N. Security Council will discuss the issue within 30 days, Carson said. The African Union Mission in Somalia currently has 7,200 troops in Somalia.

Comment: It is common knowledge that the African Union forces desperately need ground transportation vehicles; every kind of sustainment and maintenance support; fuel and air lift, including combat aircraft and helicopters and air transports. Manpower is the least of the problems.

US support for an increased troop presence might be interpreted as an agreement to provide the woefully lacking support, because the US has not agreed to provide troops. Curious.

- bth: we have 10s of thousands of used humvees in various states of disrepair at Red River and Anniston. Those could be reconstructed into some thousands of used but reliable vehicles for the African Union. Also we must have thousands of leased semi trucks and trailers in Kuwait looking for new homes that were run by KBR.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Britain Announces Severe Military Cutbacks - NYTimes.com

Britain Announces Severe Military Cutbacks - NYTimes.com: "LONDON — In a bid to streamline its armed forces and help reduce its daunting levels of national debt, the British government on Tuesday announced plans to cut its military personnel by 10 percent, scrap 40 percent of the army’s artillery and tanks, withdraw all of its troops from Germany within 10 years, and cut 25,000 civilian jobs in its Defense Ministry.

...The new defense posture also calls for the immediate scrapping of the Ark Royal, Britain’s only aircraft carrier capable of launching fixed-wing jets, along with the entire fleet of Harrier jump jets operated by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force since the 1970s. The demise of the Ark Royal means that Britain will have a 10-year hiatus without a carrier-borne strike force until one of two new aircraft carriers is equipped with a new generation of Joint Strike Fighters in 2020.

The government said that it would go ahead with plans to build both carriers at a cost of about $9.5 billion only because it would be even more costly to cancel one of them, with both already under construction. But after three years in service, one of the vessels will be either mothballed or sold off.

The decision to forgo a carrier-borne strike force caused consternation among naval veterans, military analysts and others who have joined the opposition Labour Party in accusing the Cameron government of hastening the defense review to meet the needs of its overall austerity program.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, told Mr. Cameron in the House of Commons that the revised defense policy was “driven by short-term considerations” and that it was “simply not credible as a blueprint for our future defense needs.”

Mr. Cameron came under even more pointed criticism earlier in the day at a military command center in northwest London. There he was confronted by a pilot from the navy’s Harrier force, Lt. Cmdr. Chris Ward, who said he had flown 140 combat missions over Afghanistan and now found himself facing unemployment.

Mr. Cameron also announced that the government would delay construction of a new fleet of Trident nuclear missile submarines, which now constitute Britain’s nuclear deterrent, for about five years. The first of a new class of vessels is not expected to go into service until 2028. By putting back the final decision on the new submarines until 2016, Mr. Cameron conveniently averted a clash within his coalition government over whether Britain should retain a nuclear strike force at all.

Over all, the government plan will involve a staged, four-year cut of about 8 percent in real terms in Britain’s annual defense budget of about $59 billion. That was significantly less than the 10 to 20 percent cuts that were under discussion as recently as last month, when the defense minister, Liam Fox, wrote a confidential letter to Mr. Cameron — quickly leaked to Britain’s newspapers — that carried a hint that Mr. Fox might resign if the cuts were not scaled back.

The more modest scale of the military cutbacks placed extra strain on the government’s overall effort to save more than $130 billion through spending cutbacks by 2015, a commitment that will require other government departments to make cutbacks averaging 25 percent....

All three arms of Britain’s forces will endure major personnel losses in the cuts. With an overall level of about 175,000 — roughly the size of the United States Marine Corps — the army will lose 7,000 soldiers, with the navy and the air force each losing 5,000. But Mr. Cameron said that the army would still be able to put at least 7,000 troops into combat abroad, down from the current ceiling of 10,000, with a “one-off” capability to field 30,000 troops for a “major operation” should the need arise.

---

bth: so Britain will be able to field a division, maybe 2 in a pinch? Britain's entire DOD budget would be what about a 3 month expenditure by the US in the Afghan theater alone? Britain has simply decided to cease to exist as a military power on consequence. Watch now to see little things start to pop up like Argentina and the Falklands again. Nuts.

YouTube - elvis presley - always on my mind

YouTube - elvis presley - always on my mind: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Army names new superintendent for Arlington National Cemetery

Army names new superintendent for Arlington National Cemetery: "Patrick K. Hallinan, who has been serving as acting superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery since an Army investigation revealed widespread problems there, has been appointed to the position permanently, Army Secretary John McHugh announced Tuesday.


McHugh also said cemetery employees will begin training at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which officials said would help ensure a more professionally run cemetery and prevent some of the problems that have plagued the facility.

In June, a report by the Army inspector general found more than 200 discrepancies between burial maps and grave sites in three of the cemetery's 70 sections. At least four urns were found dumped in an excess-dirt pile. Since then, cemetery officials have also opened graves and found in a few cases that people have been buried in the wrong plots. The full extent of problems at the nation's most hallowed military burial ground remains unknown.

Hallinan, who has worked for more than 30 years in the VA's cemetery system, replaces John C. Metzler Jr., who was superintendent from 1991 until he was ousted in June along with his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham. Investigators found that under the men's leadership, the cemetery paid millions of dollars to digitize its paper record system but had nothing to show for the effort.

Updating the cemetery's antiquated paper records, along with fixing the discrepancies, are top priorities, Hallinan said in an interview. "We have challenges, but we're on the right track," he said.

Last month, a bill introduced by Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called for a study into whether authority over the cemetery should be transferred to the VA - a move some veterans groups have said is long overdue. The VA operates 131 cemeteries with 3 million graves. The Army operates two cemeteries, Arlington and the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home in the District.

The bill would also require the Army to provide Congress with a full accounting of all of the more than 320,000 grave sites at Arlington.

In the meantime, Arlington employees, from upper-level management to grounds crews, will begin course and field work at the VA's National Cemetery Administration Training Center.

Until now, most training at Arlington "has been on the job," said Kathyrn Condon, executive director of the Army's National Cemeteries Program. "There hasn't been a formal school training program."

Before coming to Arlington, Hallinan was the VA's director of field operations for cemeteries, which put him in charge of VA cemetery policy and its vast network of burial grounds. He started his cemetery career in 1977 as a temporary laborer at Long Island National Cemetery. Before joining the VA, he served as an infantry squad leader in the Marine Corps.

--- bth: this is a move in the right direction. The VA is just better organized and has a better track record and 10 times the volume of the Army for cemetery management. The complete transition should be made to the VA with special provisions made at Arlington for Army ceremonial duties. Otherwise this situation will just repeat itself in a decade.
- Sent using Google Toolbar"

NightWatch 20101019 - KGS - Iran and Venezuela

NightWatch 20101019 - KGS: "Iran-Venezuela: President Chavez used his visit to Tehran to issue diatribes against the US. The Tehran-Caracas axis is real. The only missing component is the critical link to North Korea which supports Iran's best weapons programs. Readers should expect North Korean arms merchants in Venezuela.

Comment: Latin American scholars have studied the Latin American leadership and elite penchant for blaming. Montaner, Grondona and others have described cycles in the blame-game over more than 150 years in which Spain, capitalism, the native populations, the church and the 'Yankees' have been the targets of blame. The result, they write, is leadership that has resorted to failed experiments in socialism that served only to perpetuate poverty in potentially rich nations.

Some Latin countries have begun to abandon the path of blaming others. Chavez has taken Venezuela a giant step backwards.

The point is that Chavez is on a path that will validate the findings of the scholars in one of the richest countries of Latin America. His resort to blaming the US and capitalism is leading to Venezuela's gradual impoverishment.

He is doing the same old things of past Latin authoritarian leaders. Not surprisingly he is obtaining the same results, except for introducing new destabilizing elements from the Middle East into the Americas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

C.I.A. Was Told About Bomber of Afghan Base, Inquiry Finds - NYTimes.com

C.I.A. Was Told About Bomber of Afghan Base, Inquiry Finds - NYTimes.com:

..."A meeting at the Khost base was set up for the Americans to meet Mr. Balawi in person, and discuss specific ways that he might be able to consistently pass along information to the C.I.A.

Mr. Panetta said that because he was considered a reliable source, normal security procedures were eased: Mr. Balawi was not subjected to screening at the perimeter of the Khost base, and a large group of C.I.A. officers gathered to greet him when he arrived at the base.

C.I.A. officers became suspicious however, when Mr. Balawi chose to get out of the car on the side opposite the security personnel, who were waiting to pat him down. The security guards soon drew their guns, and Mr. Balawi detonated his suicide vest.

The force of the bomb killed the seven C.I.A. employees, the Jordanian intelligence officer who was Mr. Balawi’s handler, and an Afghan driver. Six more C.I.A. officers were wounded, but Mr. Panetta said that the bomb could have been deadlier had Mr. Balawi’s car — which blunted the explosion — had not been between the bomber and most of the Americans.

Current and former American officials said that the final report on the Khost attack went through several drafts, in part because an already complex investigation was made even more difficult by the bomb’s devastating impact.

As Mr. Panetta said, “A lot of the evidence here died with the people.”

- bth: so much for field craft. Wasn't it the guard's job to frisk this bastard and weren't the guards Blackwater? As usual no one is held to account. Nuts. Amateur hour.

Beginning of the end in Afghanistan

Troops chafe at restrictive rules of engagement, talks with Taliban | Washington Examiner
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- To the U.S. Army soldiers and Marines serving here, some things seem so obviously true that they are beyond debate. Among those perceived truths: Tthe restrictive rules of engagement that they have to fight under have made serving in combat far more dangerous for them, while allowing the Taliban to return to a position of strength.

"If they use rockets to hit the [forward operating base] we can't shoot back because they were within 500 meters of the village. If they shoot at us and drop their weapon in the process we can't shoot back," said Spc. Charles Brooks, 26, a U.S. Army medic with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, in Zabul province.

Word had come down the morning Brooks spoke to this reporter that watch towers surrounding the base were going to be dismantled because Afghan village elders, some sympathetic to the Taliban, complained they were invading their village privacy. "We have to take down our towers because it offends them and now the Taliban can set up mortars and we can't see them," Brooks added, with disgust.

In June, Gen. David Petraeus, who took command here after the self-inflicted demise of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, told Congress that he was weighing a major change with rules for engaging enemy fighters in Afghanistan. That has not yet happened, troops say. Soldiers and Marines continue to be held back by what they believe to be strict rules imposed by the government of President Hamid Karzai designed with one objective: limit Afghan civilian casualties.

"I don't think the military leaders, president or anybody really cares about what we're going through," said Spc. Matthew "Silver" Fuhrken, 25, from Watertown, N.Y. "I'm sick of people trying to cover up what's really going on over here. They won't let us do our job. I don't care if they try to kick me out for what I'm saying -- war is war and this is no war. I don't know what this is."

To the soldiers and Marines risking their lives in Afghanistan, restrictions on their ability to aggressively attack the Taliban have led to another enormous frustration stalking morale: the fear that the Karzai government, with the prodding of the administration of President Obama, will negotiate a peace with the Taliban that wastes all the sacrifices by the U.S. here. Those fears intensified when news reached the enlisted ranks that the Karzai government, with the backing of senior Obama officials, was entering a new round of negotiations with the Taliban.

"If we walk away, cut a deal with the Taliban, desert the people who needed us most, then this war was pointless," said Pvt. Jeffrey Ward, with 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, who is stationed at Forward Operating Base Bullard in southern Afghanistan.

"Everyone dies for their own reasons but it's sad to think that our friends, the troops, have given their lives for something we're not going to see through."

Other soldiers agreed. They said they feared few officials in the Pentagon understand the reality on the ground.

From the front lines, the U.S. backing of the Karzai government, widely seen as riddled with corruption by the Afghans living in local villages, has given the Taliban a position of power in villages while undercutting U.S. moral authority.

Corrupt government officials have made "it impossible for us to trust anyone," said elder Sha Barar, from the village of Sha Joy. The people of that village and many others profess fear of the Taliban, and recount tales of brutality and wanton killings by the Taliban and their sympathizers. But they don't see the Karzai government as a positive force in their lives.

Karzai said that talks need to continue with the Taliban "at a fixed address and with a more open agenda to tell us how to bring peace to Afghanistan and Pakistan."

But U.S. troops and Marines interviewed during the past month in Afghanistan question what negotiations would really mean, to both them and the Afghan people. And they almost universally believe that negotiating would be a mistake before achieving decisive gains they believe are attainable once oppressive rules of engagement are relaxed.

"What does it mean if we give in to the Taliban? They are the enemy," Brooks said. "This place is going to be a safe haven for terrorists again. The government doesn't care about the sacrifices already made. As far as the mission goes, I want to see these kids go to school and have a future but not at the expense of my friends -- not anymore."

Sara A. Carter is The Washington Examiner's national security correspondent. She can be reached at scarter@washingtonexaminer.com.

--- bth: Americans are unlikely to look favorably on a long drawn out wind down.  If we are going to pull out, we better get on with it.  If we are staying in Afghanistan then we had better make that clear and step up the fight and loosen the rules of engagement.  This middle ground creates a weak negotiating position, and slowly bleeds out our treasury and demoralizes our troops.

The inevitable Pakistani shakedown

Sources: U.S. finalizing aid package to help Pakistan fight extremists - CNN.com: "Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration is putting the final touches on a security assistance package totaling as much as $2 billion over five years to help Pakistan fight extremists on its border with Afghanistan, senior U.S. officials and diplomatic sources tell CNN.

The aid is expected to be announced later this week when Pakistani officials are in Washington to hold high-level talks.

The package aims to address Pakistan's insistence it does not have the capability to go after terrorists, and needs more support from the United States, the sources said. The aid will help the Pakistanis purchase helicopters, weapons systems and equipment to intercept communications.

It falls under the United States' Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which provides grants and loans to countries to purchase weapons and defense equipment produced in the United States. It also includes more counterinsurgency assistance to Pakistani troops and a program allowing members of the Pakistani military to study at American war colleges.

The $2 billion package is on top of billions of dollars the United States already gives Pakistan in military aid and a $7.5 billion aid package over five years in non-military counter-terrorism assistance approved by Congress last year.

'They key is to beef up their ability to go after militants, it can't be diverted to other threats,' one senior U.S. official said...

- bth: the recent convoy attacks, likely staged by ISI or elements of the Pakistani army in an insurance scam, the Paki army statements that it is unable to pursue OBL in certain provinces because of a lack of resources, the leaked Indian intel report showing ISI funded Mumbai, all this is prelude to the inevitable shakedown of the US for more aid to Pakistan. That is what this is about. Now we will see some third level al Qaeda person arrested by ISI in Pakistan and in a few months he will be released or escape. This is all grand theater now and has nothing to do with capturing OBL or American security. It is about the money.

Word games and secret prisons in Afghanistan

ISAF rules out any secret prison at Bagram | Pajhwok Afghan News: "KABUL (PAN): The international coalition on Monday denied the existence of a secret detention site at the Bagram airbase in central Parwan province.

Speaking to journalists, Josef Blotz, the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said “there is only one American prison in Parwan” and the authority of that prison will be handed over to the Afghan government in May 2011.

Currently the Parwan prison, previously called Bagram Detention Centre, houses more than a thousand inmates, with 50 of them non-Afghans.

President Hamid Karzai on Sunday assigned a commission headed by Justice Minister, Habibullah Ghalib, to probe reports about the existence of a secret US cell at the airbase....

--- bth: note he is not denying that there are secret prisons, only that they are presently American run and presently at Bagram.

Bedford Minuteman Statue in Memorial Park

OFFICIALS PUSH TO BOLSTER LAW ON WIRETAPPING - NYTimes.com

OFFICIALS PUSH TO BOLSTER LAW ON WIRETAPPING - NYTimes.com: "WASHINGTON — Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, citing lapses in compliance with surveillance orders, are pushing to overhaul a federal law that requires phone and broadband carriers to ensure that their networks can be wiretapped, federal officials say...

- bth: note the debate in this article is about how to wiretap not whether it is legal or not. Why has this country given up our rights so easily to an encroaching and overreaching government? I grow disgusted with Americans unwilling to defend their own civil liberties.

Pakistan intelligence services 'aided Mumbai terror attacks' | World news | The Guardian

Pakistan intelligence services 'aided Mumbai terror attacks' | World news | The Guardian: "Pakistan's powerful intelligence services were heavily involved in preparations for the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, according to classified Indian government documents obtained by the Guardian.

A 109-page report into the interrogation of key suspect David Headley, a Pakistani-American militant arrested last year and detained in the US, makes detailed claims of ISI support for the bombings.

Under questioning, Headley described dozens of meetings between officers of the main Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, and senior militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

He claims a key motivation for the ISI in aiding the attacks was to bolster militant organisations with strong links to the Pakistani state and security establishment who were being marginalised by more extreme radical groups.

Headley, who undertook surveillance of the targets in Mumbai for the operation, claims that at least two of his missions were partly paid for by the ISI and that he regularly reported to the spy agency. However, the documents suggest that supervision of the militants by the ISI was often chaotic and that the most senior officers of the agency may have been unaware at least of the scale and ambition of the operation before it was launched....

--- bth: Are there any consequences to Pakistan's ISI supporting terrorist surrogates? It looks to me as if it is an effective strategy for Pakistan with little downside risk. ISI is able to shelter OBL and attack Mumbai, and so what? The Pak government simply asks for more western aid to combat a problem the Pak government creates.

A little quanitification of the Taliban

NATO official: Bin Laden, deputy hiding in northwest Pakistan - CNN.com: ...."The NATO official, who has day-to-day senior responsibilities for the war, offered a potentially grimmer view than what has been publicly offered by others.

'Every year the insurgency can generate more and more manpower,' despite coalition military attacks, he said.

Although there has been security progress in areas where coalition forces are stationed, he said in other areas, 'we don't know what's going on.'

He pointed to an internal assessment that there are 500,000 to 1 million 'disaffected' men between the ages of 15 and 25 in the Afghan-Pakistan border region. Most are Afghan Pashtuns, and they make up some of the 95 percent of the insurgency who carry out attacks just to earn money, rather than to fight for a hard-core Taliban ideology, he said.

The official said it is now absolutely vital for the Afghan government to address the needs of this group with security, economic development and jobs in order for the war to end and for Afghanistan to succeed.

'We are running out of time,' he said.

In recent days, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has made a number of public statements expressing some optimism about the progress of the war. Petraeus 'doesn't think time is running out, ' his spokesman, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, told CNN.

The NATO official said the entire scenario is made more complex by the fact that 'there is a huge criminal enterprise' in Afghanistan, dealing in human, drug and mineral trafficking. Those crimes are also tied in to the insurgency.

He acknowledged the overall strategy now is to increase offensive airstrikes and ground attacks in order to increase the pressure on the Taliban and insurgent groups to come to the negotiating table with the current Afghan government.

There is a growing sense that many insurgent leaders may be willing to accept conditions such as renouncing al Qaeda because they want to come back to Afghanistan.

But, the official cautioned, hard-core Taliban groups such as the Quetta Shura run by Mullah Omar, the Haqqanis, the HiG (Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin) and the Pakistani Taliban still could potentially muster as many as 30,000 fighters.

The U.S. continues to face a more localized insurgency in the south. In places like Marja and the Helmand River Valley, the majority of the fighters captured are within a few miles of their homes.

The insurgent leader Mullah Abdullah Zakir has increased his strength in the south, the official said. He essentially exerts some levels of control and influence both in the greater Kandahar region and across the south from Zabul to Farah province.

The official continued to stress the urgency of getting the Afghan government to deal with the multitude of problems it faces.

Right now, the U.S. war plan approved by President Barack Obama extends through 2014, the official said. That is the official document that spells out matters such as troop rotation schedules.

The U.S. military could sustain a war ''indefinitely,' the official said. But the goal is to achieve reconciliation and allow the Afghan government to function and provide security and services to the people.

Without that, he said, 'we will be fighting here forever.'

- bth: the American public has moved on. There is no clear strategy for victory in Afghanistan, no meaningful milestones of success, not overarching strategy worth 200 billion dollars a year. Our intel is horrible and al Qaeda and the Taliban have a state sponsor in Pakistan.

In Afghan Town, Insurgents Vanish After Battles - CBS News

In Afghan Town, Insurgents Vanish After Battles - CBS News: ...."When gunbattles erupt, Marines must simultaneously take cover and figure out where the Taliban are so they can return fire. They first listen to the crack and pop of gunshots, then look for muzzle flashes - although sometimes gunmen are hiding in foliage so thick they can't even see those.

Firefights often last around 15 or 20 minutes because the Taliban know how long it takes for troops to call in helicopter gunships or mortar barrages, Marines say. If air support doesn't arrive, the gunmen often start shooting again.

After one recent firefight, one Marine squad scooped up spent bullet cartridges from a compound insurgents had just fired from. It was the first time they'd found such a trace since arriving in July, said Sgt. Jeffrey Benson, 34, of Medina, Ohio.

'Usually they take everything after a firefight,' Benson said. 'They're real good at getting their dead and injured out.'

During another 20-minute battle two days later, guerrillas ambushed Marines from the broken windows of a small, abandoned school compound. When Marines pushed up to it, they found more spent bullet casings - but again, no dead or wounded.

Soon, they began taking fire again from two more locations; the insurgents had merely withdrawn and found somewhere else to shoot from.

'It's like a little cat-and-mouse game,' Martin said. 'We try and get them. They hide their weapons ... then they just come back to the same location, pick up the same rifle, shoot at us again.'

During the second gunbattle, Marines radioed for a mortar bombardment to suppress their attackers. A wave of shells exploded along the outer wall of a compound, shaking the area and kicking up vast brown clouds of dust.

When Martin arrived afterward to assess the damage, he found the father of a family who claimed he'd seen no Taliban in the area at all - a common refrain.

'It's one of the most frustrating things out here,' Martin said. 'We know there's Taliban in the area, and they're like, 'No, they're not.''

'I pressed him about it because I saw the guy right outside his compound shooting at me with a rifle, but he still said no,' Martin said. 'I'm not sure if they think we're stupid, or if they're so afraid of the Taliban they won't talk.'

U.S. forces across Afghanistan say the key to turning the tide in the nine-year war rests largely on civilians turning against the Taliban. In Marjah, though, that has yet to happen on any significant level, despite the steady presence for more than eight months of two Marine battalions and their Afghan counterparts.

'They always ask us, 'why do you need our help anyway? You're the ones with the guns ... you have the planes, you have the helicopters,'' Martin said. 'They don't realize that just the information that they give us is the most helpful thing.'

Some residents, having heard about President Barack Obama's pledge to begin withdrawing Americans from Afghanistan next summer, believe U.S. forces are not going to be in Marjah for long, Marines say. And whenever U.S. forces leave, they people who live here think they'll be left with an ineffective and undedicated force of Afghan police and soldiers - and of course, the Taliban, who are already among them.

'They don't know who to trust,' Long said.

Neither do the Marines.

On the eve of the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections, one U.S. base in Marjah hosted a delegation of 20 government poll organizers. Two of them were detained, though, after they were found to have smuggled in a pressure-plate bomb and a pair of grenades.

On election day, the base was attacked in a six-hour firefight that saw insurgents - with clear knowledge of the base's interior - angling their machine gun fire up and over the walls in an attempt to strike the vulnerable tents inside.

During a patrol one week later, Marines were astonished to find a crude drawing of what was clearly the exterior of the base, scrawled in white chalk on a wall in a man's home. Lines of fire were drawn at what appeared to be the post's guard towers.

'This looks a lot like an attack plan to me,' said Lance Cpl. Patrick Cassidy, 23, of Stroudsburg, Pa. The Marines' base was only a couple dozen meters (yards) away, on the other side of a wide canal built with U.S. aid money half a century ago.

Bismullah Nazir Ali, the home's white-bearded owner, pleaded innocence. No Taliban had been there or in his fields, he said.

As he spoke, another gunbattle raged a few hundred meters away. Cobra attack helicopters were pounding targets with rockets that shook the area.

'Those are just flowers, children's drawings,' Ali said, before being detained and carted away.

- bth: this is the status after 8 months of 'surge'.. So far as I can tell there is no indication that the population has changed sides against the Taliban. All evidence points to an ineffective COIN operation. The only thing I would add is that shoulder mounted acoustic shooter locators for $5K would be hugely helpful in this environment. Why aren't they being actively fielded? I've personally seen the tests and they are amazing pieces of equipment every infantry squad should have. These won't win wars, but they will shorten gunfights and if you are on the ground in one, that has some value.

National Journal Online - Al-Qaida Returning to Afghanistan for New Attacks

National Journal Online - Al-Qaida Returning to Afghanistan for New Attacks: "KABUL, Afghanistan -- Al-Qaida militants are moving back into Afghanistan to plot new attacks here, highlighting the terror group's resilience despite nearly a decade of U.S.-led efforts to prevent its return to the country.

Several dozen al-Qaida operatives have left their bases in Pakistan and taken up new positions in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar and Nuristan provinces, remote regions which lie along the porous border between the two countries, according to senior officials with the International Security Assistance Force here.

The influx of al-Qaida fighters into Afghanistan, which hasn't previously been reported, could trigger fresh attacks on coalition and Afghan targets and hamper the intensifying push to strike peace deals with moderate elements of the Taliban.

ISAF officials said that al-Qaida operatives were returning to Afghanistan because they no longer felt as secure inside Pakistan as they once did. Central Intelligence Agency drones have carried out an escalating wave of strikes on militant targets inside Pakistan, including a record 21 such attacks last month alone. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, has been conducting ongoing offensives inside several longtime insurgent strongholds.

'Al-Qaida is being squeezed by the Pakistani operations, but we're beginning to see al-Qaida in the northeastern part of Kunar,' said Maj. Gen. William Mayville, the head of operations for the ISAF high command here. 'Some are crossing back.'

An ISAF official here estimated in an interview that up to 50 al-Qaida fighters had returned to Afghanistan and were 'actively planning' fresh attacks inside the country. U.S. officials have long estimated that al-Qaida had just a few hundred operatives left inside Afghanistan, so a movement of that many fighters would represent a fairly significant boost to the armed group's depleted ranks.

'There are emerging cells of card-carrying al-Qaida members moving up into the Kunar and Nuristan areas,' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing counterterrorism operations against the militants. 'We're concerned that they will use the mountainous terrain out there to build new training camps for their operatives.'....

- bth: we were driven out of large sections of Kunar and Nuristan. Is it any surprise that al Qaeda is showing back up? One wonders why we try COIN in such areas at this point in the war and simply don't destroy those villages actively supporting and housing al Qaeda. There are some areas that simply are not going to be defeated with the force strength we have and because of local politics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No jets for Navy carriers in cutbacks

Express.co.uk - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: No jets for Navy carriers in cutbacks: "ROYAL Navy aircraft carriers could go to sea without planes for several years as a result of budget cuts, Liam Fox admitted yesterday.

The Defence Secretary confirmed Harrier jets are likely to be withdrawn from service before the new ­US F35 Joint Strike Fighter ­aircraft are delivered.

But Dr Fox insisted that Britain will still be able to defend the Falkland Islands from any Argentinian threat.

Substantial reductions in warships, aircraft, tanks and troop numbers will be announced tomorrow in the Government’s Strategic Defence Review....

- bth: another indication of declining British military might - fielding aircraft carriers without planes. Stupidity at its best.

Brian & Alma Hart at 173rd Airborne Memorial Ft. Benning Oct 2010

Bedford Memorial Park John D. Hart’s Marker Oct 18, 2010

 

U Mass Lowell Robotic Door Opener for Handicapped

richardhowe.com | Lowell Politics and Lowell History: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Marines Train Bomb Disposal Teams with Hidden (Fake) IEDs - World Watch - CBS News


An IED consists of a power source - batteries taped together - a
length of wire, a pressure plate or some other initiation device, the
main explosive charge and blasting caps to start the explosion. In this
part of Afghanistan the explosives are usually packed in yellow 20 liter
plastic jugs that were originally used for holding vegetable cooking
oil.

I watched Gunnery Sergeant Garret Schmidt take a
shovel, dig a hole in the dirt, plant two yellow jugs with a pressure
plate on top, link them to the wire which ran 15 feet away to the
battery pack - and then cover everything up again. The whole operation
took a matter of minutes. The dry, dusty soil in this semi-desert
environment is easy to dig up and when it is pushed back into the hole
it leaves little trace of being disturbed.

Barbara Billingsley on Airplane - "Stewardess I speak Jive"

The Daily Beast: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

TVKim- Watching: Kim's Picks- Jetman flies in formation

TVKim- Watching: Kim's Picks- Jetman flies in formation: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot - Father of Fractals

Firedoglake: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Fabius Maximus
“What’s past is prologue.”
— Antonio, in Act II Scene 1 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare

U.S. won't support a Maliki-Sadr alliance - UPI.com

U.S. won't support a Maliki-Sadr alliance - UPI.com: "BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Washington said it would no longer back incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unless he breaks ties with Moqtada Sadr, a source said.

Maliki moved close to the 163-seat majority needed to form a government in Iraq after lawmakers loyal to Sadr, an anti-American cleric, their support behind the incumbent.

In turn, Sadr supporters allegedly gave Maliki until Friday to meet their calls for key ministerial positions in a new government, including oversight over appointments in the ministry of defense, London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reports.

Washington expressed reluctance over dealing with a Baghdad government with supporters of its arch Iraqi foe holding key Cabinet positions. Sources in the Shiite-led National Iraqi Alliance, led by revered cleric Ammar al-Hakim, said Washington called on Maliki to abandon the Sadrists, the London newspaper adds.

Jawad al-Hassanawi, a leading figure in the Sadrist movement, told the newspaper, however, that Maliki was 'strongly committed' to the Sadrists. Sources close to Hakim, meanwhile, said Washington 'will stop supporting' Maliki if he continues with the Sadrist alliance.

Iraqi has gone 222 days since March 7 elections gave the secular Iraqiya slate a two-seat win in parliamentary elections, a world record in being unable to form a government after a vote.

- bth: So what sort of choice does this leave Maliki? The US will leave. Sadr is a permanent fixture.

McClatchy: Soldiers and Suicide

GilroyDispatch.com | Soldiers and suicide
Orrin Gorman McClellan grew up among the alder and cedar that cover his family's 11-acre homestead on Whidbey Island, Wa. He relished painting, music and acting.

McClellan seemed an unlikely Army recruit. But in the post-9/11 world, he responded to talk of honor, service and camaraderie. After graduating from high school, without informing his parents, McClellan signed up for three years of active duty.

He served in Afghanistan, where he lost friends to enemy bullets, picked up the body parts of blown-up soldiers and wrestled with the emotions unleashed by combat missions.

"Have you ever felt that each word you say brings you further away from explaining yourself," he wrote in an April 30, 2005, poem in a computer journal. "Everything you create puts a sour taste in your mouth and every action you take burns you with shame."

In the fall of 2006, McClellan left the Army and came back to his Western Washington island and a strong support network eager to help him rebuild his life. But family and friends were not enough to save him.

This year, on May 18, McClellan took his life with a handgun.

McClellan is among the war casualties that the Department of Veterans Affairs has just begun to track - young men and women who served in the post-9/11 military, and killed themselves after struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and other war wounds.

In 2007, the last year figures were available from the VA, the suicide rate for veterans ages 18 to 29 was 37.1 per 100,000. That's more than 80 percent higher than the rate for the civilian population and the active-duty military.

"He never really came all the way home," said his mother, Judith Gorman, a social worker skilled in counseling traumatized people. "If some good can come out of this, I would like communities to be able to recognize that we all have to be able to bear some of the burden. We can't just expect veterans to heal ...

"We have to listen to their stories. Deep listening."

During nine years of war, suicide rates among active-duty soldiers, once far below the civilian population, have been on the rise. From January through June 10 of this year, 115 soldiers had taken their lives. The even higher rate of veterans taking their own lives after leaving the military also has raised major concerns.

More than 35,800 Washington state veterans have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan war era. If the national veteran suicide rates also are representative of the state level, then more than a dozen young Washington veterans kill themselves each year.

These veterans can turn to a network of hospitals, clinics and counseling centers that have benefited from increased federal funding. Washington state has developed a network of 37 counselors who offer free services to veterans, while King County voters approved a 2005 levy that expanded services to veterans.

These efforts have aided plenty of people. But the failures are wrenching.

In the summer of 2008, for example, two 25-year-old Iraq veterans in Washington state killed themselves: Timothy Juneman, who was attending school in Spokane, hung himself in his apartment. Tim Nelson, who was working at a Bellingham veterans center, shot himself at his home.

"As I've often asked, mostly of myself, but also of others from time to time, why do we know so much about suicides but so little about how to prevent them?" said Eric Shinseki, a retired Army general who now heads the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Orrin McClellan served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in a unit that called itself the Chosen Company, working in mountainous eastern Afghanistan. His photos and poems reflect the physical and emotional grind of serving in what was then a war largely forgotten back home.

But he took great pride in being a good soldier, and in the bonds forged with combat buddies.

His parents say McClellan was stung by the loss of an older soldier he particularly respected, and a young one he had befriended. He also had trouble reconciling the warrior creed of protecting the innocent and fighting a war rife with civilian casualties.

In July of 2005, near the end of his time in Afghanistan, McClellan wrote a bitter ode to military recruiters:

"take your pleasantries

your generalizations, good intentions,

sweet words, and half truths,

put them in a box.

drape a flag over it.

and bury it with the rest of the dead."

When McClellan left Afghanistan to return to his post in Italy, he was already struggling with PTSD and other ailments, according to Gorman.

McClellan was sent to Germany for a tonsillectomy, and his mother, without checking with the Army, flew there to watchdog his care.

She believes her intervention helped save his life as she fought for additional treatment of post-surgical bleeding and other complications.

But McClellan was disciplined by a superior for his mother's unauthorized appearance, according to Gorman. Later, he would tell his family that his morale hit rock bottom after he was punished by being forced to hold concrete blocks while treading water, a practice that he said felt like drowning.

"I will be forever angry at how they treated him," Gorman said. "They made him sign something saying that he had no control of his mother and tried to cut off family ties."

Back on Whidbey Island in the fall of 2006, McClellan moved into a small cottage on his family's property. On this familiar terrain, he tried to heal.

He suffered from constant headaches and back pain. His hearing was damaged from mortar blasts. He feared sleep for the nightmares that left him screaming in the dark.

In his daytime hours, he appeared to lose track of time and place, packing his truck with gear as if he was about to head off on a combat mission, or constantly taking apart and cleaning the family hunting rifle.

His mother took a counseling job at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and helped her son navigate through the VA system. He eventually received a 100 percent disability rating due to post-traumatic stress disorder.

He cycled through therapy sessions, as well as inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse and PTSD. Just the commute from Whidbey Island to the Seattle VA hospital created stress. He would walk around the driveway again and again, trying to muster up the fortitude to get into the car.

In the summer of 2007, McClellan left Whidbey Island to get a fresh start at Montana State University in Bozeman. But he struggled with alcohol and drugs. By February 2008, McClellan was back home.

That summer, a police reprimand for kicking over a barricade at a Whidbey Island music festival turned into an ugly incident. McClellan repeatedly urged police to shoot him, and he was arrested after a struggle.

By the spring of this year, McClellan appeared to be starting to put his life together. He and his fiancee, childhood friend Michelle McGowan, had moved into their own cottage by a lake and McClellan quit drinking hard liquor.

He was also helping to promote the Whidbey Island Veterans Resource Center, which his parents had established in 2009 to offer referrals, networking and other assistance.

But one night, McClellan relapsed. He was anxious about yet another drive to the Seattle VA scheduled for the next morning. He was uneasy about what seemed like an invasion of privacy: a noisy construction crew working on the house next door had asked to use the electrical plugs in his cottage.

That night, in addition to his Ambien sleep medication, he drank Wild Turkey whiskey. A stranger, apparently a new neighbor seeking to introduce himself, approached the house with a barking dog.

McClellan appeared to launch into a flashback. He retrieved his semi-automatic from a lockbox. Then, he went outside and fired several warning shots into the ground.

McGowan looked at McClellan. He seemed startled by what he had just done. But she eventually was able to calm him down.

Somewhere outside, there was a bang, perhaps a firecracker lit by a neighbor.

McClellan was set off once again. He fired more shots, then walked into a bedroom and shot himself.

In the following weeks, the family thought of the suicide as a kind of accident - that McClellan, his mind fogged by alcohol and prescription drugs, had not realized what he was doing as he pulled the trigger.

More recently, his mother has come to believe McClellan sensed, in his final moments of life, that he had been out of control. That he had the potential to hurt innocent people. To keep that from happening, she thinks, he took his own life.

"Warriors are supposed to protect people, and that's what he did."



David Headley's Wives Warned U.S. Authorities Before Mumbai Terrorist Attacks

David Headley's Wives Warned U.S. Authorities Before Mumbai Terrorist Attacks

...The official, who is familiar with the matter, said the FBI interviews in New York City occurred three years before the 2008 rampage that killed 166 people. The woman was not identified.

Headley last March pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Chicago to laying the groundwork for the massacre in Mumbai and performing similar surveillance in anticipation of an attack on a Danish newspaper whose cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad were offensive to Muslims.

The New York Times reported Saturday that the second wife, a Moroccan, provided information at the American Embassy in Islamabad in 2007 that Headley was involved in a terrorist group that was actively plotting against targets in India. It said the second wife, Faiza Outalha, met twice with an assistant regional security officer and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer at the embassy.

The Times said Headley had at least three wives, and at one time was married to all three.

One of the two American officials confirmed that Headley's wives shared concerns with U.S. officials prior to the attack and that those concerns warranted attention....

--- bth: if I read this correctly, not just one wife reported him, but a second and possibly a third to the US. What the hell is going on here? Why wasn't this dirt bag hauled in before he caused real damage?

Mullah Baradar released?

Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan - Mullah Baradar released?

Daily Times has learnt from credible sources that Mullah Ghani Baradar, who was arrested earlier this year from Karachi, had been “freed” due to mediation with the Taliban leadership. Mulla Baradar was caught by a special team of the ISI and the CIA hit squad in Karachi in an action, which resembled any Hollywood flick.

Earlier, it was Daily Times which broke the news about certain Arab envoys, who were active in the back-channel diplomacy with the consent of Pakistani and American leadership to solve the Afghan crisis.

Talking to Daily Times, a Taliban leader did not confirm or denied the reports about Mullah Baradar, but commented “Baradar was never arrested in the first place”. It is to be noted that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was extremely angry at the arrest of Mullah Baradar, who saw it as a dent to the on-going peace talks between Kabul and Taliban. Initially, the arrest was taken as a sign of anger by the ISI which wanted to micro-manage the talks, and would want Islamabad’s active role in the move.

The Federal Interior Ministry had failed to comment on the story, while the Americans also did not confirm the story but as per sources “the folks in Washington DC had given a nod for the release of Baradar”, and that the Americans and the British were aware of the situation. A western diplomat commented, “This could be the biggest risk we are taking to seal a deal in Afghanistan but I am not too optimistic about it.”

“That’s about as far as I can go on that at this point,” he said. US and NATO leaders said on Thursday they were ready to help the Afghan president to pursue reconciliation efforts with the Taliban.

-- bth: part of the on going catch and release plan for terrorists?

Military medics combine ultramodern and time-honored methods to save lives on the battlefield

Military medics combine ultramodern and time-honored methods to save lives on the battlefield

...On each leg the soldier has a tourniquet, ratcheted down and locked to stop all bleeding below it. These ancient devices went out of military use more than half a century ago because of concern that they caused tissue damage. But research in the past 15 years has shown that they can be left on for two hours without causing permanent harm to limbs. Now every soldier carries a tourniquet and is instructed to put one on any severely bleeding limb and not think of taking it off.

Tourniquets have saved at least 1,000 lives, and possibly as many as 2,000, in the past eight years. This soldier is almost certainly one of them. They're a big part of why only about 10 percent of casualties in these wars have died, compared with 16 percent in Vietnam.

On the soldier's left leg, the tourniquet is above the knee. Both bones below his knee are broken, and the limb is bent unnaturally inward. The tourniquet on his right leg is lower, below the knee; how badly his foot is injured is hard to tell from the dressings. His left hand is splinted and bandaged, too.....


bth: this article is worth reading in full about current battlefield medical treatment.