Saturday, February 05, 2011
Friday, February 04, 2011
The KGB agent who planned the Bolshevik revolutionary's 1940 assassination first established a safe house in Santa Fe, 1,200 miles away in New Mexico, says a new book by intelligence expert E.B. Held.
'A Spy's Guide to Albuquerque and Santa Fe' by Held -- who is now director of intelligence at the US Department of Energy -- appears to confirm years of speculation about a spy hideaway here.
In a 1994 memoir, 'Special Tasks,' KGB spy master Pavel Anatolievich Sudoplatov wrote that a Santa Fe pharmacy served as a safe house for Trotsky's assassins.
Held's new book identifies the hideaway as Zook's Pharmacy, visible in archive photos although it was replaced in 1990 by a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop....
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
...That factored into his mind heavily in 2010, when he learned his battalion and their Afghan partners, known collectively as Combined Joint Task Force 1-320, would be one of the first surge troops to clear out parts of Kandahar. But it was one thing to visualize the insurgents’ improvised explosive device (IED) tactics — and another to experience them.
“I didn’t anticipate the density of IEDs that we saw,” he says. From July to October, the 1-320th fought its way through an area about 2 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide — and found 200 improvised explosive devices. Later, his men would discover caches of another 200 Taliban bombs. “There was an IED about every 60 meters [200 feet] that you’re out there walking,” he says, “in the gardens, on the roads, in the walls, in the villages, in the buildings.”
And it felt like it. Flynn’s plan was to push south and east to the Arghandab River, through villages the Taliban had controlled for three years. The insurgents had planted an ungodly number of bombs in the interim.
The 1-320th’s first real test came July 30, at a canal crossing it needed to control if it was to gain access to those villages. The fight, which the unit christened the Battle of Bakersfield, took four days. “We had three killed the first day and eight wounded,” Flynn says, “and we lost another 12 wounded during the next couple days of fighting.”...
-- bth: worth reading in full
Tacoma Demands Return of Documents Proving Surveillance of Antiwar Activists -- News from Antiwar.com
An attorney for the city of Tacoma, Washington is demanding that a resident return public records he was given which prove that the city police were surveilling antiwar activists, saying that the information should never have been released to the public.
The documents were public records related to the city’s recruitment of a Mr. John Towery, an employee at the nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, to conduct surveillance against the protesters and collect personal information regarding them.
The records show the city of Tacoma had collected names, photographs, addresses and even social security numbers for a number of people that were believed to be active in the local opposition to the ongoing Iraq War.
The city’s lawyer argues that the records should have been redacted to remove the names of the citizens spied on, but the organization that was chiefly targeted, the Olympia Port Militarization Resistance, is using the documents as part of a federal lawsuit against Towery and the military base itself, arguing that the surveillance violated bans on using federal grants to law enforcement agencies to spy on political dissidents and may have violated the Posse Comitatus Act by the use of Towery, an employee at a military base, for law enforcement activities against civilians.
-- bth: the city's main concern is that by not redacting all identifiable markers, there is proof positive of domestic spying by employees of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord which means that legal action is possible. Contrast this with warrant less wiretapping were the victims are not identified and thus cannot bring charges.
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the ouster of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would speed the timetable for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Do you think that the Israelis are going to have to strike — they are going to have to take action?" Fox News Republican opinion host Sean Hannity asked the former ambassador on his radio program Monday.
"As you pointed out, ElBaradei ran cover for the Iranians for all those years that he was with the IAEA. And, I just don’t think the Israelis have much longer to wait… they're going to have to act in fairly short order."
"I think that's right," Bolton responded. "I don't think there’s much time to act. And I think the fall of a Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost certainly speed that timetable up."...
-- bth: this stupid MF's solution to every problem is to bomb Iran. He is dangerous and stupid.
The suspected terrorists flew from London to New York on a British Airways flight three weeks before the attacks.
They allegedly carried out surveillance at the World Trade Centre, the White House and in Virginia, the US state where the Pentagon and CIA headquarters are located.
Ten days later they flew to Los Angeles, where they stationed themselves in a hotel near the airport which the FBI has now established was paid for by a “convicted terrorist”, who also paid for their airline tickets.
Hotel staff have told investigators they saw pilot uniforms in their room along with computer print outs detailing pilot names, flight numbers and times and packages addressed to Syria, Afghanistan, Jerusalem and Jordan.
- bth: so I read about this in a UK paper. Where the hell are the US investigative journalists?
'They flinched. They looked annoyed,' Mikel said.
The school district saw it as more than a childish prank. School officials expelled Mikel for possession and use of a weapon, and they called a deputy sheriff onto the scene, according to Mikel and his father, Andrew Mikel Sr.
The younger Mikel, a freshman, was promptly charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault.
Parents and civil liberties advocates point to the case as an illustration of the flaws of 'zero tolerance' disciplinary policies implemented in many school districts across Virginia, which they say result in excessive punishments for minor infractions.
Spotsylvania school officials declined to comment on the case, citing student confidentiality.
But documents that the school produced when Mikel's father filed a Freedom of Information Act request show internal division over the matter.
Spotsylvania school officials ruled that the the plastic shooter, fashioned from the casing of a pen, was a weapon 'used to intimidate, threaten or harm others,' making it grounds for expulsion. In e-mails, school officials referred to it as a 'metal tube.' The plastic pellets were called 'B-Bs.'
'We have an obligation to protect the students in our building from others who pose a threat to the over-all safe learning environment,' Russell Davis, the principal of Spotsylvania High, wrote to other school officials.
But the school's hearing officer, John Lynn, wrote to administrators that he was 'not at all comfortable expelling or suspending this student for the remainder of the year,' according to the documents. School officials insisted. And when Mikel's father appealed the case, members of the Spotsylvania School Board upheld the ruling.
'I was just astonished when I heard,' said the younger Mikel, who is now being schooled at home. ...
- bth: what idiocy.
Peter Bouckaert, the emergency director at Human Rights Watch, said hospitals confirmed that they received several wounded looters shot by the army carrying police identification cards. They also found several cases of looters and vandals in Cairo and Alexandria with police identification cards. He added that it was 'unexplainable' that thousands of prisoners escaped from prisons over the weekend.
'Mubarak's mantra to his own people was that he was the guarantor of the nation's stability. It would make sense that he would want to send the message that without him, there is no safety,' Bouckaert said. ...
- bth: So Mubarak is trying to get the fear level up building on a narrative that he is the protection of people from chaos. Doesn't look like that hand is playing out very well for him. Time to go.
...Egypt: Late on 31 January, the Egyptian Army issued a statement that announced that the Army will not use force against the demonstrators. The demands of the Egyptian people are "legitimate," the military said Monday, vowing not to crush mass anti-government protests called for Tuesday. "To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people... have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people," as reported by Egypt's official MENA news agency.
The armed forces also stressed that everyone's peaceful freedom of expression was guaranteed; that no one should act in a way that endangered Egypt's safety and security nor damage public or private property; that the military was aware of the citizens' legitimate demands, and that the military's presence on the streets was for the citizens' safety and security
Comment: This is the most significant development in the past week. It constitutes a pre-emptive attack against Mubarak's new, kinder-gentler government. The message is a warning against the scheduled crackdown because the Army will not back it. It effectively neuters the regime's ability to suppress the protests; encourages the protestors and guarantees that Mubarak cannot remain in office. He has lost the support of the Army. The balance of the guns now favors the opposition.
The over-reaction threat fizzled. The government is now making more concessions and trying to find people who will serve in the cabinet. The Mubarak regime is winding down, trying to find a line it can hold long enough for it to it move national treasure out of the country as fast as time permits.
Readers are witnessing a set of stalling tactics by a dying regime.
The Army/armed forces now appear to be dominant, not the civilian politicians. No one seems to be in charge of anything. The government selected by Mubarak only makes sense as a stalling action that enables Mubarak and his cronies to wind up last minute affairs. These men could never be the agents of reforms they fought viciously during the past three decades.
Every leader of Egypt since the overthrow of the monarchy by Colonel Nasser in 1952 has been a military officer. Readers should expect a military officer to emerge as the power behind the presidency. The key point is that an Army-backed government is likely for now, and will perpetuate the status quo as long as it can....
-- bth: so the Egyptian army is the pivot point, Mubarak is heading to the exit with as much loot as he can carry.
- bth: so much for that. Fascinating that we tolerate this fat murderer yet his own Shia are prepared to assassinate him.
'What business the Pope has when he says that we should repeal the blasphemy law?' he asked, adding that 'the foreign countries want to give a message to their public that it is ok to demean Islam'.
'We would not tolerate such a stance,' he said while referring to a statement of Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict had issued the statement about the need to repeal the blasphemy law in the aftermath of Punjab governor Salman Taseer's assassination by his security guard on January 4.
Saeed said, 'The 'anti-Islamic forces are out to conspire against Pakistan and I urge the government to severe all diplomatic ties with these countries, including the US.'
Meanwhile, police in Karachi have arrested a student for allegedly writing derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed in his examination answer sheets.
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Further passages from WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy, written by Guardian newspaper journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding, also showed that the hacker did not know his biological father until the age of 27.
Assange gained international notoriety in November 2010 when his WikiLeaks website began publishing over 250,000 leaked US diplomatic cables.
The Australian-born hacker was in England at the time and became convinced that CIA agents were following him, despite 'no obvious signs of pursuit,' the book claimed.
'You can't imagine how ridiculous it was,' WikiLeaks's James Ball told the authors. 'He'd stayed dressed up as an old woman for more than two hours.'...
WorldNetDaily columnist Brad O'Leary and American Conservative Union chairman David A. Keene will present the former Defense secretary with the award on Feb 10, according to the conference's schedule of events (.pdf).
Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh was presented with the 'Defender of the Constitution Award' at CPAC in 2009....
- bth: there are lies and then there are damned lies.
The Duke of York is also said to have played a behind-the-scenes role in encouraging the terrorist’s release.
The Libyans closely followed the advice which led to the controversial release of Megrahi – who was convicted of the murder of 270 passengers on Pan Am Flight 103 – within months of the Foreign Office’s secret intervention.
The disclosure seriously undermines British Government claims that is was not complicit in the release of al-Megrahi, and that the decision to free the convicted terrorist was taken by the Scottish Executive alone.
It will also lead to renewed pressure from senior American politicians on David Cameron to release all internal documents detailing Britain’s role in the scandal. Last summer, the Prime Minister pledged to release the relevant information – but the publication has yet to occur sparking fears that a cover-up may have been ordered. ...
- bth: betrayed by the British government.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Qari Zia Rahman, a regional commander who leads forces on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, summoned the tribal leaders to a meeting in the district of Marawara eight days ago, then kidnapped them.
'The Taliban first called them for a meeting at a mosque and after a discussion, the Taliban took all the elders away to an unknown place,' a local Afghan official in Kunar told AFP.
Qari Zai claimed the kidnapping in a text message sent to an AFP reporter, and demanded local Afghans end their cooperation with the Afghan government and security forces.
'The reason behind this act is that some relatives, sons and close family members of these men, work in the Afghan army, Afghan police and some with NATO', Qari Zia text read.
'Unless these people do not resign their jobs with the army, police and NATO, we will not release the hostages.'
The district of Marawara, which directly borders Pakistan, is a known haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban. The US and Afghan forces targeted Qari Zai in three raids in the district during the summer of 2010. On June 29, the US launched a battalion-sized operation. More than 150 Taliban fighters were reported killed in the operation. On July 20, US and Afghan forces launched another battalion-sized operation in Marawara to flush out Qari Zia. And on Aug. 2, combined forces conducted a raid, again in Marawara, that targeted the al Qaeda leader.....
- bth: one wonders how COIN fits in to this equation from the Taliban's perspective. This guy has been around awhile. He is a bad ass and dangerous. I suspect he has just outworn his welcome.
EFF has uncovered widespread violations stemming from FBI intelligence investigations from 2001 - 2008. In a report released today, EFF documents alarming trends in the Bureau’s intelligence investigation practices, suggesting that FBI intelligence investigations have compromised the civil liberties of American citizens far more frequently, and to a greater extent, than was previously assumed.
Using documents obtained through EFF's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, the report finds:
• Evidence of delays of 2.5 years, on average, between the occurrence of a violation and its eventual reporting to the Intelligence Oversight Board
• Reports of serious misconduct by FBI agents including lying in declarations to courts, using improper evidence to obtain grand jury subpoenas, and accessing password-protected files without a warrant
• Indications that the FBI may have committed upwards of 40,000 possible intelligence violations in the 9 years since 9/11...
...What has occurred thus far is an uprising. The salient characteristic of all uprisings is the lack of leadership. If they do not evolve a higher level organization and become a movement, they collapse, if only because people must eat and take care of daily necessities. The key indicator that this is still an uprising is that there is no group with which the government can negotiate and the protestors have no goals except the ouster of Mubarak.
The past four days have shown that unemployed educated youth will burn things in protest of their plight and can make government quail. They have not shown they achieve fundamental change. In Tunis and Cairo, the old regime remains in power. There is no revolution yet in Egypt and a large government distribution of bread would go far to stabilizing the situation.
As in Tunisia, the Egyptian uprising looks to be more driven by economics than more cerebral ideas of politics. The revolutionary phase has not begun.
Somebody in Washington needs to be working seriously on the future security of Israel. There is no guarantee that an anti-Israel Islamist government will not emerge, in the revolutionary phase of this uprising, if it moves in that direction. Such a government would abrogate the peace treaty and large scale, conventional warfare with tanks would re-establish itself as the future of warfare.
China: Authorities blocked the word "Egypt" from micro-blog internet searches, including Chinese web portal sites Sina.com and Sohu.com which are comparable to Twitter. Search results for "Egypt" said the resulting page could not be found or displayed according to regulations.
Comment: This is cyber control in China. It probably is just one of a full-spread set of controls to safeguard against attempts by Chinese youths to mimic Tunisia and Egypt. When a government blocks specific search terms, that is an indicator of much more widespread interference with the internet and social media. They are vulnerable to interdiction and to the insertion of misinformation.
Egypt-US: The U.S. Embassy in Cairo asked American citizens to leave Egypt as soon as possible. The Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of diplomatic families, dependents and non-essential workers. It also is arranging transportation for U.S. citizens out of Egypt to safehaven locations in Europe with flights to begin departing on the 31st. The State Department statement said the evacuation is voluntary for those who wish to leave.
Comment: This action during an apparent lull in the disorders signifies that the US has intelligence that the situation is likely to get much worse. Any kind of evacuation is exceptional and exceptionally expensive. State would not order it, if its experts expected an early improvement. This is a behavioral indicator that more trouble is imminent...
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Iran cleric: Mideast unrest replay of our 1979 Islamic revolution - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News
'I herewith proclaim to those (Western leaders) who still do not want to see the realities that the political axis of the new Middle East will soon be Islamic rulership and a democracy based on religion,' Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said.
'All these protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen are inspired by Iran's Islamic revolution and these countries are de facto rocked by the aftershock of the Iranian revolution,' the ultra-conservative cleric added.
The ayatollah said that the era of 'Western-backed dictators' in the Arab world was over and the people have entered the scene with the slogan of Allaha Akbar (God is Great), which Khatami said. ...
Weighing 22 kg and approximately 1.3 metres long, the system is able to deploy sonobuoys traditionally used to detect submarines or for underwater research.
Further development work is ongoing to allow the system to deliver different payloads as decoys, training aids and emergency supplies.
Balkan military officials and other experts have told The Associated Press that in all probability the Chinese gleaned some of their technological know-how from an American F-117 Nighthawk that was shot down over Serbia in 1999.
Nighthawks were the world's first stealth fighters, planes that were very hard for radar to detect. But on March 27, 1999, during NATO's aerial bombing of Serbia in the Kosovo war, a Serbian anti-aircraft missile shot one of the Nighthawks down. The pilot ejected and was rescued.
It was the first time one of the much-touted 'invisible' fighters had ever been hit. The Pentagon believed a combination of clever tactics and sheer luck had allowed a Soviet-built SA-3 missile to bring down the jet.
The wreckage was strewn over a wide area of flat farmlands, and civilians collected the parts — some the size of small cars — as souvenirs.
'At the time, our intelligence reports told of Chinese agents crisscrossing the region where the F-117 disintegrated, buying up parts of the plane from local farmers,' says Adm. Davor Domazet-Loso, Croatia's military chief of staff during the Kosovo war.
'We believe the Chinese used those materials to gain an insight into secret stealth technologies ... and to reverse-engineer them,' Domazet-Loso said in a telephone interview.
A senior Serbian military official confirmed that pieces of the wreckage were removed by souvenir collectors, and that some ended up 'in the hands of foreign military attaches.'
In Washington, an Air Force official said the service was unaware of any connection between the downed F-117 plane and development of Chinese stealth technology for the J-20. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject involves classified information....
- bth: it is probably worth remembering that we put a missile through the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and they allowed crowds to attack ours in China.
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Iraq’s Air Force won’t ready to maintain air sovereignty any time in the foreseeable future, the experts said. Last year, the government announced its intention of purchasing 18 F-16 Block 52 multi-role interceptors in an effort to fast track its way to an effective air defense, but delivery will only begin in 2013 and even this date is reportedly being pushed back, they said
“I don’t think the US Air Force will be able to leave Iraq for at least five years, as there’s no way that the Iraqis alone will be able to deal with any kind of air threat for this period,” said Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Musa Qallab, an independent defense expert and former program manager for Gulf Cooperation Council Defense Issues Gulf Research Center in Dubai.
“But the probable threats are not imminent right now,” Qallab told The Media Line.
The US has been working feverishly to bring the Iraqi capabilities up to a level capable of patrolling its own airspace.
In just the past 12 months US airmen have doubled the number of trained Iraqi airmen and helped field more than 130 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft for the Iraqi air force. These were mostly helicopters, transport planes and some T-6 Texans. But, hobbled by a shrinking budget, the Iraqi Air Force has delayed procurement programs, setting back its timetable for getting fighter aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-16s, the first purchase of US combat platforms in a $4.3 billion deal.
“This is a particularly important time in Iraq,” Daniel Ginsberg, assistant secretary of the Air Force, was quoted as saying during a visit to Baghdad this week, where he met with US airmen working to equip and train the Iraqi Air Force. “Airmen, like you all, are stepping up to make sure the mission gets done.”
Brig.-Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the top US military spokesman in Iraq, recently said the Iraqi Air Force was ill equipped to maintain air sovereignty alone.
“Their ability to defend their air space against air threats is … not going be what they desire by the time” US forces leave, Defense News quoted Buchanan as saying in December.
Iraqi airspace has reportedly been penetrated repeatedly in recent years. Turkish aircraft have crossed into Iraqi airspace to strike at Kurdish forces in the north. Israel has used Iraqi skies to practice attacking Iran, Defense News reported. And, in March 2009, US forces shot down an Iranian drone flying over Iraqi territory....
- bth: convenient.
'If you asked most Americans, I think they would tell you that surreptitiously turning somebody's cell phone into a modern-day tracking device ... and using it to monitor their movements, 24/7, is a pretty serious intrusion into their privacy, pretty much comparable to searching their house or tapping their phone calls,' Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said.
Wyden, speaking at a Cato Institute forum, added that in the 112th session of Congress, he would file legislation requiring such court orders.
A uniform legal standard for law enforcement to obtain electronic data from mobile phones is in need of updating, he noted.
However, the US Justice Department has shown little interest in revising a similar set of laws related to the 25-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
James Baker, associate deputy attorney general at the DOJ, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2010 that changing the ECPA would hinder law enforcement's ability to find criminals by tracking their electronic data.
'Congress should refrain from making changes that would impair the government's ability to obtain critical information necessary to build criminal, national security and cyber-investigations, particularly if those changes would not provide any appreciable or meaningful improvement in privacy protection,' he said....
- bth: Wyden is correct and it is no surprise that DOJ wants unfettered access to your civil rights. But where is the President on issues like this? He is a constitutional lawyer. It is going to take direction from the President for DOJ to back off, but it doesn't seem to be happening. Amazing how willing people are to give up the civil rights.
Said Jaziri, who called for the death of a Danish cartoonist that drew pictures of the prophet Mohammed, was being smuggled into California when he was arrested, along with his driver Kenneth Robert Lawler.
The 43-year-old was deported from Canada to his homeland Tunisia in 2007 after it emerged he had lied on his refugee application about having served jail time in France.
Asylum: Jaziri had allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a 'safe place anywhere in the U.S.'
Asylum: Jaziri had allegedly paid a Tijuana-based smuggling group $5,000 to get him across the border near Tecate, saying he wanted to be taken to a 'safe place anywhere in the U.S.'
His fire and brimstone sermons and rabble-rousing antics catapulted him into the public eye during his short tenure as imam at a Montreal mosque.
He branded homosexuality a disease and led protests over cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's illustrations poked fun at Islam and were published in a Danish newspaper in 2006.
He also caused anger when he campaigned for a bigger mosque to accommodate Montreal's burgeoning Muslim population.
- bth: why here? This is a horribly written article as if the author stripped one line at a time from other sources and tried to make a story.