Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top Marine targeted in vehicle runway crash - Friday, March 16, 2012 | 2:09 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun

Top Marine targeted in vehicle runway crash - Friday, March 16, 2012 | 2:09 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun


The top U.S. commander in Helmand Province and his British deputy were with the U.S. Marines that an Afghan man tried to run down as they waited for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to arrive in southern Afghanistan, defense officials acknowledged Friday, proving the incident to be more serious than had been disclosed earlier.

A senior defense official also said that three Afghans, including the father and brother of the alleged attacker, were detained by the military. It was not clear if they were still in custody. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus, the other Marines and the British official were at Bastion Air Field waiting to greet Panetta, when an Afghan contractor hijacked a white Toyota SUV and tried to run down the Marines. The Afghan, who worked as an interpreter, had a lighter and a container of fuel in the vehicle which ignited. He was badly burned and later died.

Panetta's C-17 military transport plane was taxiing toward the landing ramp when officials at the airport saw the smoke and the burning man, and directed the secretary's plane to a different landing area, the senior defense official said....

-bth: so despite statements to the contrary, the interpreter was trying to assassinate senior officials.

Waterboys - Bang on the Ear

Friday, March 16, 2012

Netanyahu is preparing Israeli public opinion for a war on Iran - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Netanyahu is preparing Israeli public opinion for a war on Iran - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News: Since his return from Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has mainly been preoccupied with one thing: Preparing public opinion for war against Iran.

Netanyahu is attempting to convince the Israeli public that the Iranian threat is a tangible and existential one, and that there is only one effective way to stop it and prevent a "second Holocaust":

An Israeli military attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure, which is buried deep underground.
In his speech before the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyahu urged his colleagues to reject claims that Israel is too weak to go it alone in a war against a regional power such as Iran and therefore needs to rely on the United States, which has much greater military capabilities, to do the job and remove the threat.
According to polls published last week, this is the position of most of the Israeli public, which supports a U.S. strike on Iran, but is wary of sending the IDF to the task without the backing of the friendly superpower.
Netanyahu presented three examples in which his predecessors broke the American directive and made crucial decisions regarding the future of Israel: the declaration of independence in 1948, starting the Six Day War in 1967 and the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. ...

-bth: Sure looks like Bibi is going to do it.

Bioterrorism biodetection military technology terrorism | Homeland Security News Wire

Bioterrorism biodetection military technology terrorism | Homeland Security News Wire


A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease-causing bacteria — even the armor-coated spores of microbes like anthrax — in minutes, scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. They describe a range of potential uses for this new killer silk, including make-shift curtains and other protective coatings that protect homes and other buildings in the event of a terrorist attack with anthrax.

An American Chemical Society release reports that Rajesh R. Naik and colleagues explain that in adverse conditions, bacteria of the Bacillus species, which includes anthrax, become dormant spores, enclosing themselves in a tough coating. These spores can survive heat, radiation, antibiotics and harsh environmental conditions, and some have sprung back to life after 250 million years. Certain chemicals — most popular among which are oxidizing agents, including some chlorine compounds — can destroy bacterial spores, and they have been applied to fabrics like cotton, polyester, nylon and Kevlar. These treated fabrics are effective against many bacteria, but less so against spores. The researchers tried a similar coating on silk to see if it could perform better against these hardy microbes.

They developed a chlorinated form of silk, which involves soaking silk in a solution that includes a substance similar to household bleach and letting it dry. Silk treated for just an hour killed essentially all of the E. coli bacteria tested on it within 10 minutes and did similarly well against spores of a close anthrax relative used as a stand-in. “Given the potent bactericidal and sporicidal activity of the chlorinated silk fabrics prepared in this study, silk-Cl materials may find use in a variety of applications,” the authors say. Other applications, they add, include purifying water in humanitarian relief efforts and in filters or to mitigate the effects of toxic substances.

Democratic Senators Warn About Use of Patriot Act - NYTimes.com

Democratic Senators Warn About Use of Patriot Act - NYTimes.com

... “We would also note that in recent months we have grown increasingly skeptical about the actual value of the ‘intelligence collection operation,’ ” they added. “This has come as a surprise to us, as we were initially inclined to take the executive branch’s assertions about the importance of this ‘operation’ at face value.”

The dispute centers on what the government thinks it is allowed to do under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, under which agents may obtain a secret order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing them to get access to any “tangible things” — like business records — that are deemed “relevant” to a terrorism or espionage investigation.

There appears to be both an ordinary use for Section 215 orders — akin to using a grand jury subpoena to get specific information in a traditional criminal investigation — and a separate, classified intelligence collection activity that also relies upon them.

The interpretation of Section 215 that authorizes this secret surveillance operation is apparently not obvious from a plain text reading of the provision, and was developed through a series of classified rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The letter from Mr. Wyden and Mr. Udall also complained that while the Obama administration told Congress in August 2009 that it would establish “a regular process for reviewing, redacting and releasing significant opinions” of the court, since then “not a single redacted opinion has been released.” 

-bth: Senators Wyden and Udall are not whack jobs and they are making these statements from their position on the intelligence committee.  We need to be paying attention to what the government is doing under Holder and Obama.  We are losing our rights to secret court rulings.

U.S. doubling minesweepers in Persian Gulf - Navy News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Navy Times

U.S. doubling minesweepers in Persian Gulf - Navy News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Navy Times


Four more minesweepers and four more minesweeping helicopters are to be sent to the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy’s top officer said Thursday, a move which will increase the number of mine countermeasure forces available to keep open the sea lanes around the Strait of Hormuz should Iran choose to mine that critical waterway.

“We are moving four more minesweepers to the region, making eight,” Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations (CNO), told the U.S. Senate Armed Services committee during a Navy budget hearing. “We want to improve our underwater minehunting capability.”...

Insurgents Used Cell Phone Geotags to Destroy AH-64s in Iraq | Defense Tech

Insurgents Used Cell Phone Geotags to Destroy AH-64s in Iraq | Defense Tech


Here’s a battlefield safety issue that some people have been warning about –and others have been ignoring —  for a while now; an enemy using social media and cellphone geotagging to identify the precise location of troops on a battlefield.

When you take a photo with your cellphone, the gps coordinates of the location you took the picture is embedded into the image. When you upload said photo onto the internet for all to see, people can pull the location data from that picture. If you think this is just people being paranoid and that the Taliban would never do this in Afghanistan, think again. Insurgents figured out how to use this to their advantage in Iraq years ago. In 2007, a group of Iraqi insurgents used geotags to destroy several American AH-64 Apache choppers sitting on a flightline in Iraq.

From an Army press release warning of the dangers of geotags:
When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.
During Israel’s 2006 war in southern Lebanon with Iranian-backed militia (more like a full on army) Hezbollah, Iranian SIGINT professionals tracked signals coming from personal cell phones of Israeli soldiers to identify “assembly points of Israeli troops that may have telegraphed the points of offensive thrusts into Lebanon.

This is just one more example of low-end cyber warfare that can be as deadly as expensive software worms designed to infiltrate an enemy’s most heavily defended networks.

My Way News - APNewsBreak: New case of Aghan killing Marine

My Way News - APNewsBreak: New case of Aghan killing Marine

....  In none of those cases did the Pentagon's casualty announcement mention that the Americans were killed by their supposed Afghan allies. It said, for example, that the two killed Feb. 23 died of "wounds suffered when their unit came under small arms fire." It happened amid an anti-American protest outside the Americans' base. Two protesters were killed by Afghan police there before the Afghan soldier turned his gun on U.S. troops.

-bth: here is the last paragraph from an article discussing a previously undisclosed murder of a US marine last month by an Afghan ally.  The Pentagon is dissembling the truth about green on blue force murders.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Disconnect Clear in U.S. Bafflement Over 2 Afghan Responses - NYTimes.com

Disconnect Clear in U.S. Bafflement Over 2 Afghan Responses - NYTimes.com


KABUL, Afghanistan — The mullah was astounded and a little angered to be asked why the accidental burning of Korans last month could provoke violence nationwide, while an intentional mass murder that included nine children last Sunday did not.

“How can you compare the dishonoring of the Holy Koran with the martyrdom of innocent civilians?” said an incredulous Mullah Khaliq Dad, a member of the council of religious leaders who investigated the Koran burnings. “The whole goal of our life is religion.”

That many Americans are just as surprised that what appears to be the massacre of 16 people at the hands of an American soldier has not led to mass protests or revenge killings speaks volumes about a fundamental disconnect with their Afghan partners, one that has undermined a longstanding objective to win the hearts and minds of the population. After more than 10 years, many deaths and billions of dollars invested, Americans still fail to grasp the Afghans’ basic values. Faith is paramount and a death can be compensated with blood money.

“To Muslims, and especially to Afghans, religion is much higher a concern than civilian or human casualties,” said Hafez Abdul Qayoom, a member of Afghanistan’s highest clerical body, the Ulema Council. “When something happens to their religion, they are much more sensitive and have much stronger reaction to it.”...

Ruling coalition decides in principle to reopen NATO supply route – The Express Tribune

Ruling coalition decides in principle to reopen NATO supply route – The Express Tribune


In a meeting among the country’s top civil and military leadership, the proposal to lift the ban conditionally was discussed and consensus was reached. The meeting was attended by President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Director General ISI Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, the Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman, the foreign secretary and heads of the coalition partners including Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali and MQM deputy convener Farooq Sattar.

The draft proposals would still need to be cleared by a joint session of the Parliament before the four month ban can be effectively lifted....

-bth: Note the timing matches the Russian offer of the airbase.  

Russia may give NATO a base for Afghan supply runs - Yahoo! News

Russia may give NATO a base for Afghan supply runs - Yahoo! News


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's foreign minister on Wednesday endorsed a proposal to allow NATO use of a southern Russian air base as a hub for transport of supplies to Afghanistan and suggested it was premature to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.
Sergei Lavrov said the proposal to lease NATO an air base in the Volga River city of Ulyanovsk for non-lethal NATO supply transits to Afghanistan via Central Asia must get formal government approval but is in Russia's "national interest."

It would be the first deal allowing U.S.-led coalition forces a logistical base on Russian territory rather than simply a corridor for Afghan supply transports.

The proposal to use the base for a "combined" air, road and rail traffic to Afghanistan came originally from NATO in May 2011. It requires the Russian cabinet's go-ahead but no date for a meeting on the issue has been set.Lavrov called the deal "a means to assist those who are eradicating the threats of terrorism and drug trafficking in Afghanistan....

-bth: a little late now for the Russians to make the offer.

DoD says amputations reached wartime high - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times

DoD says amputations reached wartime high - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times


The number of U.S. troops who lost limbs reached a wartime high in 2011, according to data from the Defense Department, but along with the spike came advances in medicine and technology that have enabled troops with devastating wounds to survive and, in some cases, return to duty.

In 2011, 240 deployed troops had to have at least an arm or a leg amputated, compared with 205 in 2007, the height of the surge in Iraq, according to data published by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

The increase in 2011 coincides with the surge of troops in Afghanistan, who often dismount on foot patrols in the country’s austere and rugged terrain.

Troops wounded in Afghanistan also have suffered the loss of multiple limbs — of the 187 service members with major limb loss in 2010, 72 of them lost more than one limb, according to the report from the Army’s

Dismounted Complex Blast Injury Task Force.

That’s an increase from 2009, when of the 86 troops with major limb loss, 23 had multiple amputations, according to the task force’s report.

The “most dramatic changes” in the wounds coming out of Afghanistan were the increased number of troops with above-the-knee amputation of both legs, triple and quadruple amputations, and the associated genital injuries, the task force reported....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Israel's Dimona Nuclear Weapons Factory In 3D - YouTube

Heroin harvest: NATO losing Afghan war on drugs — RT

Heroin harvest: NATO losing Afghan war on drugs — RT

... 
The Russian minister recently revealed that the heroin flow from Afghanistan has increased to dangerous levels.
"The production of hard drugs such as heroin, opium, and hashish in Afghanistan remains at a high level. Opium production in Afghanistan went up 61 percent in 2011, while areas used for poppy production have increased by some 7 percent,” Ivanov said.
This indicates that the narcotic production infrastructure continues to grow stronger in Afghanistan, which leads to drug trafficking…in the direction of Russia, he added.
US and NATO officials have been stuck in a Catch-22 in the fight against Afghan opium. On the one hand, they are attempting to "win the hearts and minds" of the local population, which increasingly depends on the cultivation of opium poppy for their livelihood. On the other, they need to cut off finances to the Taliban insurgency, which is fueled by the sale of opium poppy to foreign markets.
The Islamic country now produces some 90 percent of the world’s opium, the great bulk of which ends up on the streets of Europe and Russia.
According to recent statistics from the Federal Drug Control Service, Russia has over one million drug addicts, while the majority of them are addicted to Afghan heroin. More than 100,000 Russians die from drug abuse each year, and with the country in the grips of a dire demographic crisis, it cannot afford to ignore NATO’s flagging efforts to combat the opium scourge.

The Drone Secrecy Farce—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

The Drone Secrecy Farce—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)


... The cable goes on to question whether the tactic of claiming that drone strikes are in fact Yemeni air-force attacks would hold up under the scrutiny of international press observation. Indeed, it hasn’t. Not only has the deal with Yemen become the subject of broad commentary, a detailed discussion of the agreement between the Yemeni dictator and General David Petraeus has been published. The agreement has also been routinely confirmed by Yemeni officials, who are increasingly stressed at having to spin unconvincing lies to cover the CIA’s tracks, and who cannot be bothered to keep up the facade.

This brings us to a fundamental question: Why would the domestic political concerns of a malicious dictator be allowed to chill America’s internal democratic process? I don’t for a second believe that the memo is being kept secret in order to maintain the stability of the regime in Sanaa. The Yemeni government is unstable for many reasons, and would not be affected by the disclosure of an American legal memo. Besides, everyone in Yemen knows that the CIA is running a drone war on Yemeni soil. The real party behind the Obama Administration’s dodge is the CIA, which can only maintain its control of the drone program if it is classified as covert action, and which is prepared to engage in bizarre, sustained contortions to do so. The Obama White House needs to end this farce and publish the OLC Memo.

American Public Opposes Israel Striking Iran - World Public Opinion

American Public Opposes Israel Striking Iran - World Public Opinion

 A new poll finds that only one in four Americans favors Israel conducting a military strike against Iran's nuclear program. Seven in ten (69%) favor the US and other major powers continuing to pursue negotiations with Iran, a position that is supported by majorities of Republicans (58%), Democrats (79%) and Independents (67%).
Consistent with this emphasis on a diplomatic approach, three in four say that the US should primarily act through the UN Security Council rather than acting by itself in dealing with the problem of Iran's nuclear program.
If Israel goes ahead with a military strike against Iran's nuclear program and Iran retaliates, but not against American targets, only 25% favor the US providing military forces if Israel requests them (though support is a bit higher among Republicans at 41%). Another 14% favors the US providing diplomatic support only.
However, few would support open opposition. The most popular position is for the US to take a neutral stance, which is supported by 49%.
Asked what they think the US government would do if Israel strikes, a slight majority (54%) thinks that the US would at least provide diplomatic support, including 32% who think that it would join the conflict militarily....

Monday, March 12, 2012

My 130 days in the hands of al-Qaeda's African "monsters", by former hostage - Telegraph

My 130 days in the hands of al-Qaeda's African "monsters", by former hostage - Telegraph

...
Kidnappings of Westerners have fueled debate among securocrats as to whether our AQIM captors might simply bandits flying an Islamic flag of convenience. I know that to be the wrong answer. Our kidnappers were utterly focused religious zealots who believed absolutely in their cause. They sought to expel Western infidels from Muslim lands and to destroy what they saw as apostate Western-stooge governments who were usurping God’s purposes across the Muslim world. The concepts and ideals we hold most dear were anathema to them: liberty, freedom, justice, democracy, human rights, equality between the sexes — all matters which they considered to be the exclusive province of Allah.
Our kidnappers were certain, they would prevail, but whether it took 20, 200 or 2,000 years was of no consequence. God’s will would be done.
Their objective was to establish a 7,000 km wide caliphate, stretching from Nouakchott in Mauritania to Mogadishu in Somalia, to be ruled by stern Allah-fearing Islamic sages who could be relied upon to understand and execute God’s will. AQIM believe that by replicating across the Sahel the chaos and anarchy caused by their Al Shabaab colleagues in present day Somalia, they will be creating the perfect growth medium in which their vision will flourish.
In the face of the murderous rampage of Boko Haram in Nigeria over the past year, which included the bombing of Nigerian police headquarters in Abuja and the destruction of UN headquarters, many hundreds have been killed (thousands over the past decade). There seems, though, to be a reluctance to believe that it is all part of the same jihadi movement. Many want to believe that Boko Haram is different, somehow less dangerous than Al Qaeda’s other African affiliates. While I understand the reluctance to acknowledge that Al Qaeda might have won a solid foothold in Africa’s most populous and important country, again, I know that to be the case. One of my captors was a young Nigerian from Kano; clearly what we would call an “exchange officer.”
The threat to the stability of the northern half of Africa posed by militant jihadi Islam is present and real. It has been exacerbated by the fall-out from our Libyan adventure, which has caused weapons in untold quantities to spew across one of the most fragile parts of the world. Not only do Al Qaeda’s predations endanger the development gains of the past half-century in the upper part of Africa, but chaos there will very directly impact Western Europe as human emergencies of immense proportion bloom, and illegal refugee flows multiply by orders of magnitude. Our African friends need help to defeat such a scourge, and we, throughout the West, need to get a lot more serious — and very quickly - about discouraging the Saudis and Gulf States from their generous funding of radical Salafist madrassas across the world, and most immediately in Africa where they are providing the recruits toAl Qaeda’s African franchises.....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Poll: Few in U.S. sense Afghan support for war

Poll: Few in U.S. sense Afghan support for war - Behind the Numbers - The Washington Post
Few Americans sense widespread Afghan support for what the United States is trying to do in that country, a perception that bolsters public backing of a troop withdrawal, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Overall views of the war in Afghanistan are in the pits: 60 percent of Americans see the war as not worth its costs, nearly double the 35 percent saying the decade-long effort has warranted the expense and lost lives. There has been consistent majority opposition to the war for nearly two years.

Big majorities of Democrats and independents continue to call the war not worth its costs, and for the first time in polls stretching back five years, Republicans are evenly divided on whether the war has justified its price. Also for the first time, more Republicans “strongly” see the war as not worth fighting as see it as strongly justifying its costs....

-bth: its time to go

LiveLeak.com - Neil deGrasse Tyson - We Stopped Dreaming

LiveLeak.com - Neil deGrasse Tyson - We Stopped Dreaming