Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Last Word in a Bitter Year

Riverbend does her best to try to clear out some of the disinformation propagated in the New York Pravda:

...From the video that was leaked, it was not an executioner who yelled "long live Muqtada al-Sadr". See, this is another low the Maliki government sunk to- they had some hecklers conveniently standing by during the execution. Maliki claimed they were "some witnesses from the trial", but they were, very obviously, hecklers. The moment the noose was around Saddam's neck, they began chanting, in unison, "God's prayers be on Mohamed and on Mohamed's family…" Something else I didn't quite catch (but it was very coordinated), and then "Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada!" One of them called out to Saddam, "Go to hell…" (in Arabic). Saddam looked down disdainfully and answered "Heya hay il marjala…?" which is basically saying, "Is this your manhood…?".

Someone half-heartedly called out to the hecklers, "I beg you, I beg you- the man is being executed!" They were slightly quieter and then Saddam stood and said, "Ashadu an la ilaha ila Allah, wa ashhadu ana Mohammedun rasool Allah…" Which means, "I witness there is no god but Allah and that Mohammed is His messenger." These are the words a Muslim (Sunnis and Shia alike) should say on their deathbed. He repeated this one more time, very clearly, but before he could finish it, he was lynched.

So, no, CNN, his last words were not "Muqtada Al Sadr" in a mocking tone- just thought someone should clear that up. (Really people, six of you contributed to that article!)

Then again, one could argue that it was a judge who gave them that false information. A judge on the Iraqi appeals court- one of the judges who ratified the execution order. Everyone knows Iraqi judges under American tutelage never lie- that explains CNN's confusion...

This makes it quite clear if true. Bu$hCo set up a Shia trial for Saddam under circumstances where evidence of American collusion with Saddam could be ignored instead of a trial in the Netherlands at the Hague. Bu$hCo handed Saddam over to Shia executioners to quickly silence Saddam before he could talk. But the execution was a spectacle of disinformation, designed to pour gasoline on a raging fire in Iraq.

Not that the facts aren't volatile enough. Saddam's supporters and religious Sunni antagonists alike will be impressed at the old tyrant's courage at the end. Far from taunting, he left the world with his eyes on the horizon and not on the smaller men pushing him out the door.

It's all about the oil. Again.

Plans to build a pipeline to siphon oil from newly conquered Iraq to Israel are being discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and potential future government figures in Baghdad.

The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old pipeline, inactive since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's northern oilfields to Palestine was re-directed to Syria.

Now, its resurrection would transform economic power in the region, bringing revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria and solving Israel's energy crisis at a stroke.

It would also create an end less and easily accessible source of cheap Iraqi oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia - a keystone of US foreign policy for decades and especially since 11 September 2001...

Potential future government officials, hmm? Could it be that elections in Iraq are no freer than in the State of Florida?

One wonders if King Abdullah has seen this one.

21st Century Psychological Operations

What Michael Roston says:

...Clearly, the location of Saddam Hussein's execution was one of the most secure settings for an execution ever constructed. So, why are we finding on the move about this planet a bunch of viral, unrestricted and uncensored videos of what is probably the most controversial execution ever carried out?

...It was so top secret that they let multiple men out of that limited group of 20 bring in cellphones with video functions, and then allowed them to record the execution. I bet you couldn't smuggle a gun into that execution chamber. But apparently you could smuggle a cell phone with a video camera into those gallows, and stand out in plain sight 15 feet from the platform and shoot that video of this "top secret event" to your heart's desire.

And just as our fair president raced to wake up Saturday morning and issue a statement about what had been done in Iraq, several of those 20 attendees raced home or to their offices to upload videos of a hanged Saddam Hussein so everyone in the world could see this secretive execution carried out.

What a sham it has been. Pretending at the time of Saddam's capture that now was the time for a trial, and pretending at the time of his sentence that now was the time to order his execution, and pretending at the time of his execution that now was the moment he had to hang, and then pretending that it was a secret act carried out with discretion to avoid antagonizing any of Iraq's population.

Here we are seeing 21st century psychological operations. It's hard to know who is directing this internet traffic, but it can be concluded there were elements within America's government and/or military, working in concert with Iraq's current scarecrow power-holders, who wanted as many people as possible in the world to see Saddam hang. And from that rope hanged not just that bearded old man, but whatever was left of our culture that hasn't been degraded by the 7 years of 'leadership" we've been dragging around with us.

It's a co-operative effort of many, to the same effects. Terror, for the meek. Inflammation, for the irate. Endless War, programmed by those cashing the paycheck.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Now he has become stronger than they could possibly imagine.

The post game breakdown has begun.

Saddam's secrets about Bu$hCo have been documented other places. The worst he could do is provide an extra witness for the Prosecution at the Hague. This was a stupid and futile gesture.

So now Saddam has entered the realm of myth. Not to die the Pinochet death, a weakened and mocked tyrant, but a martyr who followed orders from the Company, and in fact thought he was okay with Poppy when he invaded Kuwait.

Saddam's mistake was that he thought Washington D.C. was in charge of the Company. The locus of control of the Company lies with its major shareholders: during Gulf War I (& the Mess'o'potamia going on now) that was and is the Royal House of Saud, and secular Sunnis of the Ba'ath party were and are an anathema to them no less than the Shia. Poppy's grand alliance with Saddam against the Shia was only good for as long as the secular Sunnis were willing to take the fall for the Salafis. It's like Jonathan Schwarz says:

A war against Saddam, Poppy thought, would be profitable and clinch a second term for him. Poppy just ended it too soon for his chickenhawk base. A war against Saddam's Iraq delivered for Junior for awhile. The Royal House also thought it would be profitable, delivering Iraq into the arms of at least the Salafi if not the Wahhabi Sunni. It's turned sour for the Saudi's, but Junior has no clue yet- after all, the Blank Check is still clearing the bank.

But now Saddam has entered the realm of myth, expanding his bubble of influence into the wider multiverse, leaving the boundaries of space and time.

His power will only be lost when he is forgotten, and even among the mindless bloody handed red numbskulls, his memory will return to confound their complacency and unsettle their cheetos. A video link to the atrocity of his murder may be found here.

Friday, December 29, 2006


From your pocket to theirs:

Nearly a dozen firms, including The Carlyle Group, owner of Hawaiian Telcom, have created a new association to conduct research and advocate on behalf of the growing -- and cash-ready -- private equity industry.

Among the initial members of the Private Equity Council are D.C.-based Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

The 11 firms making up the new D.C.-based trade association have selected Douglas Lowenstein as the group's president and CEO. Lowenstein is currently president of the D.C.-based Entertainment Software Association.

The Private Equity Council plans to launch outreach efforts in research, public affairs and government relations to increase the public awareness of private equity, which has been a popular funding source for mergers and acquisitions in 2006. This year alone, private equity managers worldwide will raise more than $300 billion, according to a statement released Tuesday by the new group.

Thanks to the Project for the Old American Century for the link.

Storm Trooper Boog-a-loo Coming to a War Near You

Buzzflash is all breathless today about a two plus year old report that the D.o'D., and specifically, the TheoCon-controlled Air Force is actively seeking antimatter weapons.

Apart from being a bit dated, the concern is genuine. The proponents suggest that antimatter weapons are extremely explosive- more so than thermonuclear weapons- but leave no radioactive fallout (other than the initial intense gamma burst which they don't call fallout anyway) and therefore more likely to be used.

One problem: you have to store antimatter in a vacuum suspended in a magnetic field. It's not like you can keep a microgram of anti-hydrogen on the shelf. There are massive technical difficulties that will keep this (thankfully) from being deployed.

As an aside: it amazes me that Generals who think the world was created in 6 days 5000 years ago and condemn evolutionary and physical theory on how the universe works as "Godless" will blythely consider using thermonuclear, or as here, antimatter weapons. Weapons that work on principles they actively deny. But then again, failure to understand redox chemistry never stopped a dedicated fundamentalist from shooting at anyone, so perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.

On the other hand, David Hambling at Defense Tech talks about a real horror coming soon to a police action near you.

The Active Denial System:

As described previously, the beam is at least two meters in diameter, and the smallest skin exposure is enough to cause intolerable pain. A red hot poker does not need to be in touch with much skin to make you pull away, and the ADS causes as much pain on your nerve endings. A shield will not work unless it covers your whole body and them some, because the ADS beam diffracts. According to an article in Aviation Week & Space Technology last July -

…actual tests show that the beams penetrate even minute openings or cracks, for example, and sometimes appear almost to wrap around corners to affect fingers and feet of those trying to hide behind or hold up protective devices.

"The radio frequency is hard to block," Booen says. "Some of the people tested against tried to hide by laying down behind some concrete traffic barriers and the beam went underneath [where there was uneven contact with the ground]."

What about that tinfoil? It will have to cover every square inch and any rips or tears will make it useless. Joints may be tricky; if you flex foil too many times holes start appearing. For vision you will need a metal mesh visor, like the kind they use on microwave oven doors. The problem is, the size of the mesh depends on the wavelength of the radiation - so short-wavelength ADS beam requires something much finer than normal microwave mesh. You also need to think about the effect on your breathing, body temperature and communication...

It turns out they've managed to leak that small hand-held lasers are now a possibility too and likely to be coupled with the microwave weapon:

The Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP)... is a non-lethal weapon which fires an extremely short laser pulse, producing a plasma flash-bang at the target. This could be deployed on the same platform as the ADS, using the same power source. “Many of the countermeasures that can be envisioned against the ADS” could be nullified by the PEP by “ablation of the defence” according to a Navy study [.pdf] on the effects of plasmas. Such a laser could chew through a layer of foil with a few pulses.

A PEP might also negate foil without having to blast it away. Ultra-short pulses have recently been demonstrated that can turn metals pitch black , so that the surface absorbs incoming radiation and reflective foil is made useless. This technology was developed at Rochester's High Intensity Femtosecond Laser Laboratory ; they are funded by (among others) DARPA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research...

You have to love that term, non-lethal weapon. Spitballs, none of this stuff is. Non-lethal, unless, of course they accidently kill you with it due to some unfortunate set of circumstances.

This means they've solved the problem of high energy lasers in weapons form: the more energy you pump into a laser, the hotter it gets. A year or so back they wanted to put one of their new x-ray lasers on an airplane, because it had enough juice to blow a hole in 6 inch steel plating from 100 miles away. The only problem was the coolant system took up the greater part of a 747 jumbo jet. The test was eventually scrapped.

But it seems some D.o'D. scientific sociopath has figured out that a high intensity laser doesn't have to be continuous; on for, say, a millisecond/ off for 100 milliseconds gives it plenty of time to cool off the lasing compound. This makes it much easier to use and delivers the same kind of bang. Or blast.

Once again, people with a profound ignorance of the world they live in seem more than ready to use principles they don't understand to an effect they are incapable of appreciating in any more than a brutish, violent way.

The Incredible unShrinking Government

Via Tennessee Guerilla Women, Paul Krugman calls a lie out:

After first attempting to deny the scale of last month’s defeat, the apologists have settled on a story line that sounds just like Marxist explanations for the failure of the Soviet Union. What happened, you see, was that the noble ideals of the Republican revolution of 1994 were undermined by Washington’s corrupting ways. And the recent defeat was a good thing, because it will force a return to the true conservative path.

But the truth is that the movement that took power in 1994 — a movement that had little to do with true conservatism — was always based on a lie...

As long as people like Mr. Armey, Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay were out of power, they could run on promises to eliminate vast government waste that existed only in the public’s imagination — all those welfare queens driving Cadillacs. But once in power, they couldn’t deliver.

That’s why government by the radical right has been an utter failure even on its own terms: the government hasn’t shrunk. Federal outlays other than interest payments and defense spending are a higher percentage of G.D.P. today than they were when Mr. Armey wrote his book: 14.8 percent in fiscal 2006, compared with 13.8 percent in fiscal 1995.

Unable to make good on its promises, the G.O.P., like other failed revolutionary movements, tried to maintain its grip by exploiting its position of power. Friends were rewarded with patronage: Jack Abramoff began building his web of corruption almost as soon as Republicans took control. Adversaries were harassed with smear campaigns and witch hunts: Congress spent six years and many millions of dollars investigating a failed land deal, and Bill Clinton was impeached over a consensual affair.

But it wasn’t enough. Without 9/11, the Republican revolution would probably have petered out quietly, with the loss of Congress in 2002 and the White House in 2004. Instead, the atrocity created a window of opportunity: four extra years gained by drowning out unfavorable news with terror alerts, starting a gratuitous war, and accusing Democrats of being weak on national security.

Yet the Bush administration failed to convert this electoral success into progress on a right-wing domestic agenda. The collapse of the push to privatize Social Security recapitulated the failure of the Republican revolution as a whole. Once the administration was forced to get specific about the details, it became obvious that private accounts couldn’t produce something for nothing, and the public’s support vanished.

In the end, Republicans didn’t shrink the government. But they did degrade it. Baghdad and New Orleans are the arrival destinations of a movement based on deep contempt for governance...

Bu$hCo and its ilk don't want to govern. They want to rule. A big difference exists between the two.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

This is the Harvest

...of the War on Terra.

That's Cheneyburton, making the Middle East safe for Unocal and opium production, breaking records every year.

The people behind Bu$hCo are the people behind the drugs. They're the same people who want to track your every move in cyberspace or the marketplace. They're not just one group or organization, but many people who have the same idea.

I think Phillip K. Dick saw MK Ultra, saw his own humanity, and the writing on the wall.

Moon Over Washington

Spending $100 million a year over 30 years to get your TheoCon message of racism, sexism, and theocracy across is impressive. In a dedicated, Morgoth sort of way.

Robert Parry:

George Archibald, who describes himself “as the first reporter hired at the Washington Times outside the founding group” and author of a commemorative book on the Times’ first two decades, has now joined a long line of disillusioned conservative writers who departed and warned the public about extremism within the newspaper.

In an Internet essay on recent turmoil inside the Times, Archibald also confirmed claims by some former Moon insiders that the cult leader has continued to pour in $100 million a year or more to keep the newspaper afloat. Archibald put the price tag for the newspaper’s first 24 years at “more than $3 billion of cash.”

At the newspaper’s tenth anniversary, Moon announced that he had spent $1 billion on the Times – or $100 million a year – but newspaper officials and some Moon followers have since tried to low-ball Moon’s subsidies in public comments by claiming they had declined to about $35 million a year.

The figure from Archibald and other defectors from Moon’s operation is about three times higher than the $35 million annual figure...

Lots of details follow here. This is a good summary of one man's attempt at hegemony, and the prostitution of the American political system for anyone with enough cash. Exactly how this man keeps his cash flow running, and who supports him for what reasons is enough to keep your tinfoil buzzing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Preemptive Healing

When you close a wound before cleaning it out, you invite infection.

As Lambert notices, some people seem to have forgotten that.

Atrios points to the fact that premature closure- the pardon of Dick Nixon- set the stage for both the Reagan/Bush I and the Bush II assaults on the Constitution.

Poppy Bush in fact did quite well during the Nixon/ Ford era: United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China (back when China was part of the Evil Empire, of course, and had no Embassy), and Director of Central Intelligence.

In fact, after the Democrats won again, Poppy Bush was part a pre-PNAC pre-AEI unofficial but utilized "alternative: to the CIA, the pretentious Committee on the Present Danger. These primordial NeoCons were about as right about the world as the contemporary ones were about Iraq. They just didn't have a dupe like Dear Leader to game.

So let's not glorify a man whose rush to closure settled nothing.

Ford covered the tracks of a very bad man. As a result, many other bad men had theirs covered as well. Let's try to remember that in the New Year to come, because when it comes to ending the Rethuglican assault on the Constitution, it's not over until they're actually doing time.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

...and he's on the Company payroll just like everyone else with clout:

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in a move announced late on the last business day before Christmas, reversed a decision it had made in July and adopted a rule that would allow many companies to report significantly lower total compensation for top executives.

The change in the way grants of stock options are to be explained to investors is a victory for corporations that had opposed the rule when it was issued in July, and a defeat for institutional investors that had backed the S.E.C.’s original rule.

“It was a holiday present to corporate America,” Ann Yerger, the executive director of the Council of Institutional Investors, said yesterday. “It will certainly make the numbers look smaller in 2007 than they would otherwise have looked.”

Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, said yesterday that he viewed the decision as “a relative technicality” that improved the rule. When the rule was adopted in July, Mr. Cox said it was aimed at providing information that would allow shareholders to “make better decisions about the appropriate amount to pay the men and women entrusted with running their companies...”

...by keeping them in the dark about what those people are actually making.

This actually works for the Ruling Class in many ways. Since they get to keep shareholders and other company board members in the dark about what they're making, they get more freedom to agitate for higher pay without causing the jealous fits of greed among the rabble. Not only do they get to take the money and run, it makes it easier to lie work with the Internal Revenue Service for their just rewards.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"...an army of stateless people with no intrinsic loyalty to the United States..."

"...what could possibly go wrong?" [thanks Gummo]

Atrios points out a really bad idea being pushed by the same idiotic minds that cheerled the Iraq war.

Alas, this is not a new idea.

Business Ventures and Expenses

Sometimes the collateral damage is in the interest of the business.

BAGHDAD, Dec. 25 — Hundreds of British and Iraqi soldiers assaulted a police station in the southern city of Basra on Monday, killing seven gunmen, rescuing 127 prisoners from what the British said was almost certain execution and ultimately reducing the facility to rubble

Woops! There goes all the evidence! They couldn't help it, of course. But there's a history behind this response as you might expect.

When the combined British and Iraqi force of 1,400 troops gained control of the station, it found the prisoners being held in conditions that a British military spokesman, Maj. Charlie Burbridge, described as “appalling.” More than 100 men were crowded into a single cell, 30 feet by 40 feet, he said, with two open toilets, two sinks and just a few blankets spread over the concrete floor.

A significant number showed signs of torture. Some had crushed hands and feet, Major Burbridge said, while others had cigarette and electrical burns and a significant number had gunshot wounds to their legs and knees.

The fetid dungeon was another example of abuses by the Iraqi security forces. The discovery highlighted the continuing struggle to combat the infiltration of the police and army by militias and criminal elements — even in a Shiite city like Basra, where there has been no sectarian violence.

As recently as October, the Iraqi government suspended an entire police brigade in Baghdad on suspicion of participation in death squads. The raid on Monday also raised echoes of the infamous Baghdad prison run by the Interior Ministry, known as Site 4, where more than 1,400 prisoners were subjected to systematic abuse and torture.

The focus of the attack was an arm of the local police called the serious crimes unit, which British officials said had been thoroughly infiltrated by criminals and militias who used it to terrorize local residents and violently settle scores with political or tribal rivals.

“The serious crimes unit was at the center of death squad activity,” Major Burbridge said.

A little over a year ago, British troops stormed the same building seeking to rescue two British special forces soldiers who had been captured by militants. A mob of 1,000 to 2,000 people gathered in protest, and a widely circulated video showed boys throwing stones at a burning British armored fighting vehicle parked outside the station. The soldiers, who were being held in a nearby building, were eventually freed.

This sounds like the incident where the Iraqi police arrested British Special Forces dressed as civilians firing on Iraqi citizens. Interestingly, this police force had been trained by the British as well. And, deja vu all over again, this building was previously stormed by British troops- with tanks, no less- to release those Special Ops [with thanks to Ibn Alrafidain].

Most of the police training in Iraq hasn't been done by the American forces, but by private security firms. A more comprehensive discussion is found here. Most of the police "mentoring" in Basra seems to have been done with the UK's Armor Group.

More from the Telegraph:

The unit has long been accused of involvement in murders, attacks on coalition forces and kidnappings in the southern oil city, where rival Shia factions are fighting for control.

The British military acted after learning that some of the prisoners, all suspected criminals, inside the police station faced imminent execution, Maj Burbridge said.

The troops found dozens of detainees in the station, many of whom had injuries. "But we don’t know if it was torture at this stage," he said.

Capt Dunlop said Iraqi forces had transferred the detainees to another police station. "We used explosives to put the building beyond use so it can no longer be used by the criminal enterprise," he said.

"We had clear directions from the prime minister and governor to dissolve the unit."

Television footage showed most of the building reduced to rubble with at least one police vehicle crushed and one lying upside down.

Looks like somebody got some pics before it was all reduced to rubble. One hopes anything incriminating was, to say the least, taken care of.

There was more monkey business from this fine, private contractor-trained police group last month, as you may recall:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition and Iraqi troops in southeastern Iraq continued their hunt Friday night for five Western security contractors abducted the day before.

The five included four Americans and an Austrian, all employees of Crescent Security Corp. operating over the southeastern border in Kuwait.

The Iraqi Interior Ministry said earlier Friday that police had rescued two Americans from a house but later retracted the statement. (Read full story about abducted man from Minnesota)

A strike operation was conducted Friday by multinational forces in the Safwan area, where the kidnappings took place, the U.S. military said.

Neither the British nor the U.S. military would say whether it was in connection with the abductions. Britain's 7,000-member contingent in Iraq is based in nearby Basra.

During the operation, troops were fired on by gunmen in buildings. The troops returned fire and killed two gunmen, the U.S. military said. There were no detentions.

An official from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad provided more details about the Thursday incident:

- The convoy, consisting of 43 heavy trucks and six security vehicles, was stopped at what appeared to be an Iraqi police checkpoint on Highway 8 near Safwan on the Kuwait border.

- People posing as Iraqi police officers took 19 trucks and one security vehicle.

- Fourteen people were taken and nine of those -- truck drivers -- were released. Five security personnel were kept.

The supply convoy was traveling from Kuwait, where Crescent Security operates, to Tallil Airbase near Nasiriya, a company spokesman said.

The embassy's information conforms with what a military source told CNN earlier, except that the source identified the people who ambushed the convoy as local militiamen posing as police...

One wonders if this didn't start as a turf war among local entrepreneurs. How do people getting paid from the Armor kitty get along with Crescent, for example? It brings a whole new meaning to the term fierce competitor.

Even with a scorecard, it's getting hard to sort out the players.

One longs for the days when everyone wasn't crossdressing in everyone else's uniforms, and competition for the family business didn't involve bullets, torture, and tanks.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Move Along, These Aren't the 'Droids You're Looking For

Who you gonna believe, people who were part of it or Your Government?

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee has rejected as untrue one of the most disturbing claims about the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes — a congressman's contention that a team of military analysts identified Mohamed Atta or other hijackers before the attacks — according to a summary of the panel's investigation obtained by The Times.

The conclusion contradicts assertions by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) and a few military officers that U.S. national security officials ignored startling intelligence available in early 2001 that might have helped to prevent the attacks.

In particular, Weldon and other officials have repeatedly claimed that the military analysts' effort, known as Able Danger, produced a chart that included a picture of Atta and identified him as being tied to an Al Qaeda cell in Brooklyn, N.Y. Weldon has also said that the chart was shared with White House officials, including Stephen J. Hadley, then deputy national security advisor.

But after a 16-month investigation, the Intelligence Committee has concluded that those assertions are unfounded.

"Able Danger did not identify Mohammed Atta or any other 9/11 hijacker at any time prior to Sept. 11, 2001," the committee determined, according to an eight-page letter sent last week to panel members by the top Republican and Democrat on the committee.

Weldon, the focus of an unrelated Justice Department corruption probe, was defeated last month in his campaign for an 11th term in a suburban Philadelphia district that has a large GOP majority in voter registration. Attempts were unsuccessful Sunday to reach a Weldon spokesman and an attorney representing Weldon in the Justice Department investigation.

The Senate panel began investigating Able Danger in August 2005, after Weldon and people close to the program went public with their claims. At the time, Weldon was the vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.

The recently completed probe also dismissed other assertions that have fueled conspiracy theories surrounding the Sept. 11 attacks.

There was no conspiracy, and anyone who says there was probably has terra'ist ties, criminal motivations, or both.

Remember, Strength through Unity, Unity through Faith in your Dear Leader.

Christmas Presents

From the Company, to the Company.

Many Americans probably think it's the government's job to train foreign security forces, eradicate drug crops or maintain Air Force One. But these and other sensitive Pentagon and State Department tasks are in the hands of a private company with such a secretive history that even members of Congress say they have a hard time getting information about it.

Those lawmakers, along with some military leaders, academics and human rights groups, are pressing to lift the cloak of confidentiality over DynCorp and other military contractors while asking whether their performance justifies the billions of dollars being spent for their services.

"Members of Congress have a hell of a time" getting information about DynCorp and other contractors, said Rep. Janice Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who has monitored DynCorp's activities for several years. "It's one of the biggest scandals – and least known – that we have."

Ms. Schakowsky complained that she has been repeatedly thwarted in efforts to review U.S. government audit reports of DynCorp's contracts because, according to the State Department, the need to protect DynCorp's commercial secrets supersedes the public's right to know...

The company does argue against releasing government audit reports, Mr. Lagana added, because they can show cost-per-employee figures that, if obtained by DynCorp's competitors, could help them undercut the company in future contract bids.

The little information that has come to light about the company's performance appears to raise questions about DynCorp's effectiveness.

Last month, a joint Pentagon and State Department review found that after three years of training at a price of more than $1 billion, the Dyncorp-trained police force in Afghanistan is rife with corruption and largely incapable of assuming basic security duties. The report praised the dedication of DynCorp's staff but suggested the training program had fallen short of its goals.

In October, a U.S. government review of Iraqi police training concluded that there were no accurate means to verify the operational capabilities of more than 120,000 officers reported to have passed through DynCorp and U.S. Army classes...

With more than 5,000 employees in and around Iraq and Afghanistan, DynCorp's paramilitary workforce deploys alongside the U.S. military, putting the company at the center of a global debate on the "outsourcing" of war zone jobs that once were the Pentagon's exclusive domain.

DynCorp is one of the dominant private military companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Its active and pending federal contracts, if brought to fruition, have a current value of $5.7 billion. Taxpayers provide 97 percent of DynCorp's revenue...

Since they operate beyond U.S. borders and frequently are employed by offshore subsidiaries, private military contractors are not necessarily bound by U.S. law. Although the company requires them to abide by domestic laws, the lawless nature of some countries where they operate typically means the chances of local enforcement are minimal.

Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar and author of a 2003 book, Corporate Warriors, said the insertion of civilian paramilitary operators into combat zones has significantly muddled international conventions on the conduct of war...

Short of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, few directing bodies can boast a more star-studded and influential leadership group than does the DynCorp International board of directors. Drawing from the Pentagon's top echelon, the board has expertise in virtually every modern theater of war in the world, with a broad list of contacts that include presidents, prime ministers, kings and military commanders. Now they face the challenge of boosting DynCorp's stock, which opened in May at $15 a share and quickly slumped to $8.87 and only recently recovered. They also have had to guide the company through a major shake-up this summer and fall, which led to the ouster of DynCorp's chief executive officer and numerous other top executives amid concerns over management irregularities. The board includes Gen. Richard E. Hawley, retired head of the U.S. Air Combat Command and Adm. Leighton W. Smith, former chief of U.S. Naval Forces Europe. Also:

GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY (retired 1996)

Background: Gen. McCaffrey retired as the U.S. Army's most highly decorated four-star general. As head of the U.S. Southern Command, he ordered U.S. forces to conduct military operations against Colombian guerrillas and drug lords. In 1996, he became White House drug czar, where he devised Plan Colombia, a multibillion-dollar counter-narcotics operation. It provided DynCorp with a major drug-crop eradication contract. DynCorp director since February 2005.

ADM. JOSEPH W. PRUEHER (retired 1999)

Background: Before retiring, Adm. Prueher was chief commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. He previously commanded Carrier Battle Group One, based in San Diego, and the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. After retiring, he became U.S. ambassador to China. Adm. Prueher serves on the boards of directors of Fluor Corp., Merrill Lynch, New York Life Insurance and Emerson Electric. DynCorp director since February 2005.

GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (retired 2000)

Background: In the U.S. Marine Corps, Gen. Zinni served as chief commander of the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. Before that, he was commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force. In 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell appointed him as senior adviser and U.S. envoy to the Middle East. DynCorp director since February 2005.


Background: The former U.S. ambassador served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Clinton administration, where he supervised administration of Plan Colombia and the herbicide-spraying effort conducted by DynCorp International. He also is vice chairman of the Cohen Group, a Washington research firm headed by William Cohen, the former secretary of defense. DynCorp director since March 2006...

Yes, you read that list right. Both Bu$hCo and Clintonista personnel make up DynCorp. An ex-In-Q-Tel, the CIA's proxy hardwardware company, ex-Computer Sciences Corporation (the company that now owns DynCorp) ex-CEO is now head of NASA. These guys are hard core Corps, and they run the Company.

Merry Christmas, ye Faithful. The privatization of war keeps incidents like this from breaking out all over. Endless profit for these ronin requires endless war, Christmas be damned.

Just to keep that Christmas spirit alive, check out Lambert's Kleptocrat Fatigue, v.1, 2, and 3.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Star in the East

...would tell an astrophysicist the universe is indeed stranger than we could have imagined.

Eight years ago results were first presented indicating that most of the energy in our universe is not in stars or galaxies but is tied to space itself. In the language of cosmologists, a large cosmological constant is directly implied by new distant supernovae observations. Suggestions of a cosmological constant (lambda) are not new -- they have existed since the advent of modern relativistic cosmology. Such claims were not usually popular with astronomers, though, because lambda is so unlike known universe components, because lambda's value appeared limited by other observations, and because less-strange cosmologies without lambda had previously done well in explaining the data. What is noteworthy here is the seemingly direct and reliable method of the observations and the good reputations of the scientists conducting the investigations. Over the past eight years, independent teams of astronomers have continued to accumulate data that appears to confirm the unsettling result. The above picture of a supernova that occurred in 1994 on the outskirts of a spiral galaxy was taken by one of these collaborations.

No wonder the TheoCons hate the Hubble. Its findings are as incomprehensible to them as a rising star in the east.

Connecting Dots and Bulletholes

Avedon points to Raw Story's follow up of Leverett's citations.

The story is everything Mr. Leverett said it was, and of course embarassing to Dear Leader.

Ron Brynaert and Michael Roston at Raw Story:

...What the information reveals is a series of events in which US-Iran dialogue broke down. In the aftermath of 9/11, the cooperative spirit around the world sparked by America's victimhood encouraged Iran to collaborate with the United States in its effort to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the goodwill that might have been sustained by those early negotiations was undermined by a series of disputes between the US and Iran.

The matters that particularly undermined US-Iran dialogue involved the Mujaheddin-e-Khalq(MEK) -- an anti-Tehran militia that had been given safe harbor by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and had surrendered to the US -- as well as US allegations that Iran was giving safe haven to al Qaeda terrorists who had fled Afghanistan.

As the disputes over these issues deepened, and worries about Iran's nuclear ambitions spread, the conflict between the two states became more intractable. Leverett and Mann warn in their op-ed that negotiations between the two states on improving Iraq's stability will suffer as a consequence of this history of tumult. They write that "issue-specific engagement with Iran is bound to fail," because "resolving any of the significant bilateral differences between the United States and Iran inevitably requires resolving all of them..."

Meanwhile, an unnamed D.o'D. official announces [for them] that the top brass are now with Dear Leader's strategery for his Excellent Adventure. Or at least somebody who works for Robert Gates says so:

Until recently, the top ground commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., has argued that sending more American forces into Baghdad and Anbar Province, the two most violent regions of Iraq, would increase the Iraqi dependency on Washington, and in the words of one senior official, “make this feel more like an occupation.”

But General Casey and Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who has day-to-day command of American forces in Iraq, indicated they were open to a troop increase when Mr. Gates met with them in Baghdad this week.

He wouldn't have any other motivation to say that would he?

On the Eastern front, America continues with its efforts to help Ahmadinejad consolidate his weakening base:

The Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved sanctions intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program, capping months of negotiations over how severe and sweeping the restrictions should be.

The resolution, prepared by Germany and the Security Council’s five permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — bans the import and export of materials and technology used in uranium enrichment, reprocessing and ballistic missiles.

Alejandro D. Wolff, the acting American ambassador to the United Nations, hailed the measure as an “unambiguous message that there are serious repercussions” for Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear ambitions. He added, however, that it was “only a first step,” saying, “If necessary, we will not hesitate to return to this body for further action if Iran fails to take steps to comply.”

Nothing unifies the opposition like a good saber rattling.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

That's Pre 8-29 Thinking

Gotta keep those resorts open, baby. Among other things.

The scientists and the corps agree on one point: Hurricane Katrina “changed Mississippi’s Gulf Coast forever,” as the corps said in its outline of its proposals, “Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program, Interim Report”.

As the report puts it, “beachfront neighborhoods were leveled entirely, and estimates by officials have calculated that 90 percent of the structures within one-half mile of the coastline were completely destroyed.”

But Dr. Young said the corps’s approach was “designed to let those folks put most of that infrastructure back in place.”

“We have already seen those communities wiped out twice in 37 years,” he went on, referring to Hurricane Camille, in 1969, and Hurricane Katrina. “And it’s not just that the coast of Mississippi is going to have the same vulnerability; the vulnerability is only going to increase because of sea level rise,” which most climate experts agree is accelerating because of global warming.

The proposal that seems to have aroused the most shock and amazement among the geologists would be the most seaward line of defense: a proposal to rebuild offshore barrier islands to their size and shape before Camille, an epic undertaking that would require almost unimaginable amounts of sand, to say nothing of money. “We are in the billions, easily,” said Rebecca Beavers, coastal geology coordinator for the Park Service and another organizer of the G.S.A. session.

When the geologists at the meeting heard about this plan, “some people were quite dismayed,” she said. “Some people were almost incensed...”

Despite all the cheery news about how most of the Gulf's industrial base was and is doing quite fine now thanks to Dear Leader's excellent energy strategery, thank you, a glimmer of what really happened to the industry can be gleaned if you read the .pdfs prepared by the DOE shortly afterwards.

The excuse that this is all going to benefit the Gulf residents is absurd disinformation. Check out oyster's site, or scout prime's blog or her work at First Draft if you don't believe me. The rebuilding is for the oil. The resorts are a fluffy distraction.

You don't get the full Atlantis/ NĂºmenor effect if you don't rebuild the circuses and the oil company infrastructure and let the people drown.

Turn and Face the Strain


The agricultural industry adjusts because it has to stay in business.

More on this here.

Thanks to Xan.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Retracted Redaction

Flyntt Leverett got it together to publish all the citations for the Pravda Op-Ed the White House wanted canned.

...Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.

Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; a former State Department policy planning director, Richard Haass; and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins.

These aspects have been extensively reported in the news media, and one of us, Mr. Leverett, has written about them in The Times and other publications with the explicit permission of the review board. We provided the following citations to the board to demonstrate that all of the material the White House objected to is already in the public domain...


* “Iran’s Leader Condemns Saudi Attacks,” The Washington Post, May 15, 2003
(Articles on The Washington Post are preview only. Full versions require purchase.)
* “Time to Deal With Iran,” The Washington Post, May 6, 2004
* “Foreign Minister Briefs MP’s on Talks With the United States,” BBC Monitoring, May 20, 2003
* “In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran’s Offer of Dialogue: Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity,” The Washington Post, June 18, 2006
* “U.S. Ready to Resume Talks With Iran, Armitage Says,” The Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2003
* “U.S. Eyes Pressing Uprising in Iran: Officials Cite Al Qaeda’s Link, Nuclear Program,” The Washington Post, May 25, 2003
* “Iran, Afghanistan Juggle Hot Potato Hekmatyar,” Time, Feb. 23, 2002
* “The Gulf Between Us,” The New York Times, Jan. 24, 2006
* “Dealing with Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran,” (PDF) Century Foundation, Dec. 4, 2006
* “Iran, U.S. Holding Talks in Geneva,” USA Today, May 11, 2003
* “Mutual Terror Accusations Halt U.S.-Iran Talks,” USA Today, May 21, 2003
* “Press Briefing on Board Plane, En Route Moscow,” State Department Web site, Dec. 9, 2001

Interesting the White House doesn't want to admit Iran's been trying to negotiate with us about Iraq for a few years now. Especially since Iran's main saber rattler, Ahmadinejad, is beginning to have a hard time electorally in Iraq.

Nationwide, his allies won fewer than 20 percent of the city council seats in the elections, held last Friday.

In the politically influential Tehran council, which commands a large budget, four seats went to reformist politicians and eight to moderate conservatives close to the current mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. The winners for those slates included three prominent athletes. An independent candidate also won a seat.

Reformist politicians complained about the vote count, which was controlled by Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Qalibaf. Reformist members of Parliament were barred from monitoring the counting.

But since the elections, some of the most outspoken critics of Mr. Ahmadinejad, a leader whose extreme views have been criticized in the West, have been his former supporters here.

Emad Afrough, a former supporter, said the vote was a rejection of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “superstitious and populist tendencies,” the news agency ISNA reported.

“People said ‘no’ to a superficial interpretation of justice that cannot tolerate cultural, political and economic aspects of justice and does not respect the rights of citizens,” Mr. Afrough was quoted as saying, referring to the crackdown on civil liberties by Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Sounds like another saber-rattling fundamentalist President is having serious problems with his own Party. It's hard to start a World War without support, isn't it?

Meanwhile, the on the Sunni side of the street, Prince Bandar seems to be trying to do his part to support the Bu$h family business.

...cross the kingdom, in both official and casual conversation, once-quiet concern over the chaos in Iraq and Iran’s growing regional influence has burst into the open.

Saudi newspapers now denounce Iran’s growing power. Religious leaders here, who view Shiism as heresy, have begun talking about a “Persian onslaught” that threatens Islam. In the salons and diwans of Riyadh, the “Iranian threat” is raised almost as frequently as the stock market....

...In recent weeks, the Saudis, with other Persian Gulf countries, have announced plans to develop peaceful nuclear power. Saudi officials publicly welcomed the Iraqi Harith al-Dhari, whose Muslim Scholars Association has links to the
[Iraqi] insurgency, during a visit in October, and they have indicated that they may support Iraq’s Sunnis over the majority Shiites with links to Iran. All were meant to send a message to Iran...

The apparent split burst into the open last week when Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, abruptly resigned after just 15 months. The resignation is seen by many here as part of a long-running battle over Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy.

On Tuesday, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the country’s ailing foreign minister, confirmed the ambassador’s resignation, citing personal reasons. Privately some Saudi officials and analysts with knowledge of the situation say Prince Turki resigned over deep differences with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the national security minister and former Washington ambassador, over how to deal with Iran.

Prince Bandar is believed to favor the tough American approach of confronting Iran, analysts say, while Prince Turki advocates more diplomatic tactics, including negotiating with Iran.

If this is the case, then the successor to Prince Turki as Saudi ambassador — Adel al-Jubeir, a foreign policy adviser to King Abdullah — is a wild card, Saudi and American officials said Thursday.

Polished and American-educated, Mr. Jubeir, 44, once worked for Prince Bandar when he was ambassador to Washington. Mr. Jubeir became well known as the public face of Saudi Arabia, defending Saudi policy after the Sept. 11 attacks, appearing on talk shows and escorting NBC’s White House correspondent at the time, Campbell Brown, around town...

A wild card that does whatever Prince Bandar and King Abdullah say. A yes-man sort of wild card. A wild card that is extremely dependable; just follow the money.

But let's get this straight.

Iraq, now led by Shiia fundamentalists, is basically in accord with Dear Leader's grand new strategeric plan that looks pretty much like the same old plan with more American soldiers.

On the other hand, Bandar Bu$h is funneling money directly to the Sunni insurgency in Iraq- the Al Qaeda-linked one, not the secular Sunni Ba'athists.

On the other hand (there's always another hand in the multiverse), the Iranian people are starting to get really annoyed by their Dear Leader with nukular aspirations, so our Dear Leader's people are going out their way to bury any indication the Iranians have ever wanted to talk peace.

Oh yes, this is indeed the front line of the War on Terra.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Doubtless Only a 3 Hour Tour

The UN Security Council is poised to order sanctions against Iran today, placing an embargo on sensitive nuclear exports in the international drive to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. With the diplomatic pressure set to increase after months of negotiations, the US and Britain are moving extra warships and strike aircraft to the Persian Gulf.

Much of the military focus is on countering any attempts by the Iranians to block oil shipments by mining sea lanes in retaliation against a UN resolution which British diplomats hope will be adopted unanimously by the 15-nation security council...

* Equipment for light-water reactors is not included... Exempts an $800m light-water reactor Russia is building in Iran at Bushehr...

So if military action against the only reactors they have right now is precluded, why call the Marines?

...Iran has threatened immediate retaliation, even though the proposed sanctions have been significantly watered down this week. Tehran's options include withdrawal from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, which would mean Iran would conduct its nuclear programme free from international monitoring, and possible closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the channel for 20% of the world's oil supplies...

...Mr Ahmadinejad was also dismissive about the impact of sanctions. "America and some European countries know well that they are incapable of doing anything against the Iranian nation," he said...

One wonders if Mr. Ahmadinejad knows something Commander CooCoo Bananas doesn't.

...The aircraft carrier Eisenhower and its strike group — including three escort ships, an attack submarine and 6,500 sailors in all — entered the Persian Gulf on Dec. 11 after a naval exercise to practice halting vessels suspected of smuggling nuclear materials in waters across the region. A carrier had not been inside the gulf since the Enterprise left in July, according to Pentagon officials. The next carrier scheduled to sail toward the Middle East is the Stennis, already set to depart Bremerton, Wash., for the region in late January, Navy officers said.

Officials expressed doubt that the Stennis and its escorts would be asked to set sail before the holiday season, but it could be ordered to sea several weeks earlier than planned. It could then overlap for months with the Eisenhower, which is not scheduled to return home until May, offering ample time to decide whether to send another carrier or to extend the Eisenhower’s tour to keep the carrier presence at two...

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations, has made the case that the United States should seek to create “a thousand-ship Navy.” That would be impossible for the United States alone given current budgets, so instead it would be accomplished by operating more closely with allied warships to better cover critical areas like the Persian Gulf.

He said that such a cooperative naval concept would be a “global maritime partnership that unites navies, coast guards, maritime forces, port operators, commercial shippers and many other government and nongovernment agencies to address maritime concerns..."

Let me guess. Under Dear Leader's directions, the Navy's hired some special private contractors to help with its armada against the Iranians. They'll doubtless do the same fine job free enterprise has done for the Marines in Iraq.

Why, just listen to the wonderful things the Army has to say about their private sector help:

"It takes a great deal of vigilance on the part of the military commander to ensure contractor compliance," said William L. Nash, a retired Army general and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "If you're trying to win hearts and minds and the contractor is driving 90 miles per hour through the streets and running over kids , that's not helping the image of the American army. The Iraqis aren't going to distinguish between a contractor and a soldier."

Leave it to Bu$hCo to improve the image of all branches of government equally

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Too Crooked and Too Ignorant for Either

Crooks and Liars points to the interesting essay, Republic or Empire?

Neither, alas.

How can you have Representation about a war when neither the Legistlative nor the Executive understand the difference between Sunni and Shiite? How can you have informed policy when most officials don't understand the Hubbert curve? Or the physical basis for global warming? Or evolution? Or just about any issue they have to deal with?

Elected officials of both politcal parties in Washington consistently misunderstand the world outside of the political realm.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Flynt Leverett Talks

He basically tells C-Span what Dear Leader didn't want published in the New York Times.

Apparently the CIA had okayed it, but Bu$hCo didn't want that sucker out.

This boils down to 1) the previous reports of Iran offering to negotiate a comprehensive deal for peace in the Middle East, and,

2) The dialog that Iran had with the USA right after 9-11 and the lead up to Afghanistan. Remember, the Iranians are Shiite, the Taliban are Wahhabi Sunni. Basically the Iranians don't like them, either.

The conclusions of the Op-Ed were that we're being lied to in order for Dear Leader and Big Time Dick to get this war on again with Iran.

On You Tube here. [Thanks to Uncle $cam]

Billmon suggests the Cheneyburton Corporation wants Total War in Iraq. Read what Bernhard's barflies think about that here. This is doubtless the reason the Joint Chiefs are pissed: when you go to War, you need an objective endpoint, and a pogrom is not an endpoint.

What Mission Can You Accomplish, Sir?

Somebody wants to interfer with Dear Leader playin' with his G.I. Joes:

White House, Joint Chiefs At Odds on Adding Troops

By Robin Wright and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 19, 2006; Page A01

The Bush administration is split over the idea of a surge in troops to Iraq, with White House officials aggressively promoting the concept over the unanimous disagreement of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intense debate.

Sending 15,000 to 30,000 more troops for a mission of possibly six to eight months is one of the central proposals on the table of the White House policy review to reverse the steady deterioration in Iraq. The option is being discussed as an element in a range of bigger packages, the officials said.

But the Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission and is latching on to the surge idea in part because of limited alternatives, despite warnings about the potential disadvantages for the military, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House review is not public.

The chiefs have taken a firm stand, the sources say, because they believe the strategy review will be the most important decision on Iraq to be made since the March 2003 invasion.

At regular interagency meetings and in briefing President Bush last week, the Pentagon has warned that any short-term mission may only set up the United States for bigger problems when it ends. The service chiefs have warned that a short-term mission could give an enormous edge to virtually all the armed factions in Iraq -- including al-Qaeda's foreign fighters, Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias -- without giving an enduring boost to the U.S military mission or to the Iraqi army, the officials said...

Dear Leader don' need no steenkin' plan, he's gonna surge and the surgent surginess of his big bad surgin' will be enough to surge them Democrats right back outa Washington. You'll see!

And at all the NeoCon policy wonk mazagines an' web sites, they're followin' up the reasonable reasonin' behind Dear Leader's reasons. You see, it's the same policy that enabled us to win in Viet Nam!

You see, the plan will work like what really happened in the '70s:

The Keane-Kagan plan is not revolutionary. Rather, it is an application of a counterinsurgency approach that has proved to be effective elsewhere, notably in Vietnam. There, Gen. Creighton Abrams cleared out the Viet Cong so successfully that the South Vietnamese government took control of the country. Only when Congress cut off funds to South Vietnam in 1974 were the North Vietnamese able to win.

The Government had control! Just like Saddam's did in Bagdad when we arrived. Just like we do now.

Those of you like me, old enough to remember, who you gonna believe, Henry Kissinger, or your own lyin' memory?

You see, you just thought we pulled out of VietNam because it was impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys any more. You just thought it was because every last person there hated us and was either out to get us or bleed us or sell us China White or Cambodian Black Tar or settle a score. You only thought it was the biggest clusterfuck in American history.

You see, we have a potentially bigger one right here, that's already made far more money for all the right people. You really think they're going to let it go because 9 out of 10 people, soldiers included, want us out of there?

These guys really do think we're cattle, and they doubtless have a plan to stop our bleating and get the herd moving to the abattoir.

Why did they let an American city be destroyed?

Some might say it was a matter of principle.

Others might say it's because there's oil under them there ruins:

Developers plan to drill for oil and gas in the heart of Chalmette, which has Keith Gex and his neighbors in the nearby Buccaneer Villa South subdivision in Chalmette thrilled.

In fact, Gex, a lifelong resident of the subdivision, is so encouraged that he recently bought his mother's nearby house and has tried to buy the property of two neighbors who demolished their homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"Everyone is pleased," said Gex, 32, an operations manager of a stevedoring company. "They can't wait for them to drill."

Gex said his neighbors wouldn't sell to him; they want to wait and see if prospectors find oil under the neighborhood.

The St. Bernard Parish Council recently cleared the way for the oil exploration by agreeing to rezone 2.2 acres off West Judge Perez Drive from general commercial to heavy industrial conditional use.

Martin-Marks Operating Co. and Clovelly Oil Co. will search for the oil and gas on land owned by J & A Meraux Inc., a company owned by the Meraux Foundation.

The council included safeguards in its approval. Fencing and landscaping will be required. And if no oil or natural gas is found, the land will revert to its original zoning, parish officials said.

A similar proposal in 1992 drew a chorus of criticism from angry homeowners, and the council quickly nixed the plan. But things were different when developers asked again.

"Most of the people in that area have lost their homes," said Councilman Mark Madary, who represents the area...

Our Dear Leader, always looking out for what's important .

[thanks to Scout Prime and Sarah and a tip o' the tinfoil to THB]

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Price of the Message

....Shortly after school began in September, the teacher told his sixth-period students at Kearny High School that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark, and that only Christians had a place in heaven, according to audio recordings made by a student whose family is now considering a lawsuit claiming Mr. Paszkiewicz broke the church-state boundary.

“If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” Mr. Paszkiewicz was recorded saying of Jesus. “He did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he’s saying, ‘Please, accept me, believe.’ If you reject that, you belong in hell.”

The student, Matthew LaClair, said that he felt uncomfortable with Mr. Paszkiewicz’s statements in the first week, and taped eight classes starting Sept. 13 out of fear that officials would not believe the teacher had made the comments.

Since Matthew’s complaint, administrators have said they have taken “corrective action” against Mr. Paszkiewicz, 38, who has taught in the district for 14 years and is also a youth pastor at Kearny Baptist Church. However, they declined to say what the action was, saying it was a personnel matter.

“I think he’s an excellent teacher,” said the school principal, Al Somma...

In this tale of the teacher who preached in class and the pupil he offended, students and the larger community have mostly lined up with Mr. Paszkiewicz, not with Matthew, who has received a death threat handled by the police, as well as critical comments from classmates.

Greice Coelho, who took Mr. Paszkiewicz’s class and is a member of his youth group, said in a letter to The Observer, the local weekly newspaper, that Matthew was “ignoring the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gives every citizen the freedom of religion.” Some anonymous posters on the town’s electronic bulletin board, Kearnyontheweb.com, called for Matthew’s suspension...

While science teachers, particularly in the Bible Belt, have been known to refuse to teach evolution, the controversy here, 10 miles west of Manhattan, hinges on assertions Mr. Paszkiewicz made in class, including how a specific Muslim girl would go to hell...

Doubtless Mr. Paszkiewicz and the good citizens feels some religons deserve more freedoms than others.

Somehow this case reminds me of this story, also in today's Pravda:

...Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

At Camp Cropper, he took notes on his imprisonment and smuggled them out in a Bible.

“Sick, very. Vomited,” he wrote July 3. The next day: “Told no more phone calls til leave.”

Nathan Ertel, the American held with Mr. Vance, brought away military records that shed further light on the detention camp and its secretive tribunals. Those records include a legal memorandum explicitly denying detainees the right to a lawyer at detention hearings to determine whether they should be released or held indefinitely, perhaps for prosecution...

It's always good to know this kind of thing happens to patriotic Americans who blow the whistle on illegal activities of the Authorities.

What these people thought, the youth who thought that freedom of religion worked for him, too, and the contractor who thought the FBI would appreciate knowing about fraud in its own ranks, fraud that endangered the lives of American soldiers, was the simple idea that somewhere there would be an Authority that would care about fairness.

This is the kind of thing the Authorities do [via Truthout]:

A Midtown strip mall that should have housed the best of the best served as Corruption Central in Tucson.

Two military recruiting stations sit side-by-side there, one run by the Army, the other by the Marines. Between them, a total of seven recruiters were on the take, secretly accepting bribes to transport cocaine, even as most spent their days visiting local high schools.

They had help from several more recruiters at an Army National Guard office, where one recruiter was said to be selling cocaine from the trunk of his recruiting vehicle.

Together, these dozen or so recruiters formed the nucleus of one of the FBI's biggest public corruption cases, the sting known as Operation Lively Green, which unfolded in Southern Arizona from 2002-2004 and was made public last year.

Many of the drug-running recruiters remained on the job, with continued access to local schools, for months - and often, years - after FBI agents secretly filmed them counting cash next to stacks of cocaine bricks, the Arizona Daily Star found in a months-long probe of court records and military employment data.

Some were still recruiting three years after they first were caught on camera running drugs in uniform. Most have pleaded guilty and are to be sentenced in March. Some honorably retired from the military...

The FBI let them do that for three years? What are the odds if those recruiters had given a cut of their patriotic duty to the proper Authorities, they'd still be in business today?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Out for Blood

...and I bet it wouldn't be screened for BSE, either.

WASHINGTON - A Navy plan to test a blood substitute on civilian trauma victims should remain on hold, federal health advisers recommended Thursday, saying the experiment’s risks outweigh its benefits.

The nonbinding vote appears to be the latest blow to the Navy, which has repeatedly sought Food and Drug Administration approval to test the product, derived from cow blood, on roughly 1,100 trauma victims in emergency situations. It proposes doing so without obtaining the customary informed consent of patients...

This is such a bad idea I don't know where to start.

Even if the patient survived the first transfusion, there would be an antibody response, such that the second exposure would kill.

Then there's the little detail of testing the agent without patient consent- or knowledge.

This is exactly the sort of thing no one believes when you tell them.

It looks like the FDA stopped it this time. But just wait. As soon as the company making it figures out who to buy, the D.o'D. will try it. And the inevitable deaths will be hushed as a matter of national security.

The Disappeared

Last month Lambert pointed to this asking: where are they?

More than 7,000 prisoners have been captured in America’s war on terror. [Agreeing with our original estimate, interestingly.] Just 700 ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Between extraordinary rendition to foreign jails and disappearance into the CIA’s “black sites”, what happened to the rest?

Let’s examine the arithmetic of this systematic disappearance. In the first years after the attacks of 11 September, thousands of Taliban or suspected terrorist suspects were captured. Just in Afghanistan, the US admitted processing more than 6,000 prisoners. Pakistan has said it handed over around 500 captives to the US; Iran said it sent 1,000 across the border to Afghanistan. Of all these, some were released and just over 700 ended up in Guantanamo, Cuba. But the simple act of subtraction shows that thousands are missing. More than five years after 9/11, where are they all? We know that many were rendered to foreign jails, both by the CIA and directly by the US military. But how many precisely? The answer is still classified. No audit of the fate of all these souls has ever been published.

Since the story in Le Monde, The European Council has documented 800 flights and the routes they've taken. This is not something you'll hear about in the main$tream.

It's hard to find much about the details of the flights, but from the size of the ice visible above water, this seems to be a pretty large iceberg.

As Chris Floyd pointed out in the comments,

Trumpeting his successes in the Terror War, Bush claimed that ‘more than 3,000 suspected terrorists’ had been arrested worldwide – ‘and many others have met a different fate.’ His face then took on the characteristic leer, the strange, sickly half-smile it acquires whenever he speaks of killing people: ‘Let’s put it this way. They are no longer a problem.’

What other construction can be put on these words? Many “suspected terrorists” have “met a different fate” from incarceration; they are “no longer a problem.” They have, in short, been killed. And note that Bush himself acknowledges that these are just “suspected” terrorists – people who have been arbitrarily declared “enemy combatants” by Bush, or by the many lower-level officials to whom he has delegated a literal license to kill.

Oh by the way, how did the representatives of the American people react to this open declaration that the President of the United States was operating a death squad? Why, they applauded, of course.

There are many potential ways the Company could be dealing with this problem . One of the simplest was popular in Argentina.

An Argentinian former naval officer who threw prisoners, drugged and naked, to their death from planes was convicted of crimes against humanity and jailed for a total of 640 years by a Spanish court yesterday for his part in the "dirty war" against dissidents conducted by the Argentinian military regime in the 1970s.

Captain Adolfo Scilingo killed 30 leftwing prisoners, who were thrown out at 4,000 metres (13,000ft) above the Atlantic, on two flights...

The number who were killed or disappeared between 1976 and 1983 is put at between 13,000 and 30,000.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

They Knew It

Via Avedon:

Diplomat: UK, US knew of coming chaos in Iraq

...Many people were skeptical over the Butler inquiry a few years ago which supposedly cleared Tony Blair of "sexing up" the dossier for war. However, one piece of evidence had remained supressed--until today--under Britain's Official Secrets Act, namely the testimony of Carne Ross, their key UN negotiator at the time. And all he has to say is a) everyone knew there were no WMDs, and b) the British explicitly warned the US that the invasion would lead to chaos...

Mr Ross revealed it was a commonly held view among British officials dealing with Iraq that any threat by Saddam Hussein had been "effectively contained".

He also reveals that British officials warned US diplomats that bringing down the Iraqi dictator would lead to the chaos the world has since witnessed. "I remember on several occasions the UK team stating this view [that Saddam was contained] in terms during our discussions with the US (who agreed)," he said.

"At the same time, we would frequently argue when the US raised the subject, that 'regime change' was inadvisable, primarily on the grounds that Iraq would collapse into chaos."

The Independent has published the transcript of his testimony...

Wrong Number

The Dominionist Christianists never learn.

You can’t reach a peaceful, loving shepherd god while waging war. If you pray to kill your enemies, there’s no telling who’s really answering your prayers.

Meat Grinder

Nothing like homegrown ground chuck.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 — Military planners and White House budget analysts have been asked to provide President Bush with options for increasing American forces in Iraq by 20,000 or more. The request indicates that the option of a major “surge” in troop strength is gaining ground as part of a White House strategy review, senior administration officials said Friday...

Officials said that the options being considered included the deployment of upwards of 50,000 additional troops, but that the political, training and recruiting obstacles to an increase larger than 20,000 to 30,000 troops would be prohibitive...

Of course, there are ways to get around that. You simply use the same troops over. And over.

...The details of the plan under study by the White House are not known, but in most scenarios the troop increase would be accomplished in large part by accelerating some scheduled deployments while delaying the departure of units in Iraq...

But pay no attention to the nattering nabobs of negativism.

We're continuing with our strategery for a lighter, more agile deployment, while saving money in the best Cheneyburton tradition.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Boy and His Dog

...The deal of the century, as it came to be known, took three years to complete. But when it was finally signed by Prince Sultan, the Saudi defence minister, on the Caribbean island of Bermuda in 1988 it provided British Aerospace with a stream of revenue worth around $2bn (£1.02bn) a year, with a current total that stands at more than $40bn.

It involved the sale of 72 Tornado fighters and 50 Hawk jet trainers, the construction of two airbases and a host of other equipment, training and spares, serviced by more than 3,000 UK experts stationed in Saudi Arabia. They called it Al-Yamamah: the dove...

In 1985 the Saudis were desperate to upgrade their defences. They were concerned even then about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism touching their Shia citizens in the oil-rich east, as well as the possibility of being drawn into the Iran-Iraq war, in which they took the side of Saddam Hussein. They approached France for its Mirage 2000s and the US for the F-15E, in the face of strenuous opposition from the Israeli lobby.

In the end Britain triumphed, due, in large part, to the intervention of Margaret Thatcher. She assiduously cultivated Sultan on his private visits to London and developed a close relationship with King Fahd, whose opinion of the British prime minister verged on infatuation...

Consenting adults, and I'm okay with that, but... Ewwww... ....

The deal was immediately controversial and perpetually shrouded in secrecy. It was paid for by the delivery of up 600,000 barrels oil a day, with the money going into a dedicated MoD account. But given the Saudi royal family's propensity for extravagance and corruption, the allegations of kickbacks soon surfaced and have never gone away.

It was not only princes and their officials who were said to have benefited but also, allegedly, Mrs Thatcher's son, Mark, through his friendship with one of the intermediaries, the Syrian/Saudi billionaire Wafic Said...

Such was the sensitivity of the arrangement that a National Audit Office report in the early 1990s was, unprecedentedly, suppressed. The official British line has always been that this was a government-to-government contract, and no agents were involved. But evidence that commissions or bribes were paid by BAE, as it now is, and some of its sub-contractors such as Rolls Royce, Thorn EMI and Royal Ordnance, have been seeping into the public domain for years. Rolls Royce was even sued in the high court by agents acting for one of the princes because it had reduced the level of its commissions.

The alleged principal method for concealing the bribes was to increase the price of the goods; so, it appears, the Saudi princes were stealing from their people.

But after Al-Yamamah 1, the deal just rolled on. It was renewed in 1993 when Saudis agreed to buy another batch of 48 Tornado war planes. In a third stage, signed last year, Britain is selling up to 72 more planes, this time Typhoons.

The Guardian disclosed that accidentally released Whitehall papers, including a telegram from Chandler, revealed how the price of the Tornados had been inflated by 32%. Another document in the archives quotes a dispatch from a British ambassador saying the family of Prince Sultan "had a corrupt interest in all contracts". Two years ago this newspaper also revealed something of the quantity of money that was allegedly being passed around when it published details of the lavish BAE Systems hospitality showered on Prince Turki bin Nasser, the deputy head of the air force, and his family.

By then, the Serious Fraud Office had launched an inquiry into allegations; laws that came into force in 2002 made paying bribes on overseas deals a criminal offence. SFO officers have been trawling seized documents and have arrested and interviewed some BAE officials.

They unravelled details of arrangements for commissions being paid through Swiss bank accounts, and appeared to be about to approach the Swiss authorities for access to them. The scale of the alleged slush fund, concealed in Swiss bank accounts of Panamanian companies, may be as much as £100m.

BAE and all individuals have always denied any wrongdoing.

All the allegations have infuriated the Saudi royal family, not least because they have fuelled the resentment against the regime by its own militants and fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world.

In the past few weeks there have mutterings - aired by BAE Systems itself - that the Saudis are upset, the new Typhoon deal is in peril, and thousands of jobs are at risk if the Serious Fraud Office continues its investigations...

But no problem, because, you know, as sure as Jim Baker is their Consigliere, the Poodle is on the job...

A major criminal investigation into alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and its executives was stopped in its tracks yesterday when the prime minister claimed it would endanger Britain's security if the inquiry was allowed to continue.

The remarkable intervention was announced by the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, who took the decision to end the Serious Fraud Office inquiry into alleged bribes paid by the company to Saudi officials, after consulting cabinet colleagues...

Really, is there any greater love?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

War Games for Jeebus

It's called Vigilant Shield ‘07.

The scenario is here.

Of course, the target of the Islamofascists is the Metropolitan Heartland known as Alabama.

A more official take on the Game is found here:

12/6/2006 - TYNDALL AFB, Fla. (AFPN) -- Warfighters assigned to Air Forces Northern and Continental U.S. NORAD Region are honing the skills needed to respond to such threats during Vigilant Shield 07 which began Dec. 4 and runs through Dec. 14 here.

The annual homeland defense Vigilant Shield exercise, sponsored by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Strategic Command, tests the synchronization of the three commands in responding to complex scenarios that challenge the homeland defense matrix in the U.S. and Canada.

Sor far in the exercise, those inolved have dealt with a major aircraft accident involving nuclear weapons, worked to intercept foreign aircraft penetrating U.S. airspace, dealt with a murder-suicide and monitored deteriorating world events that are teetering North America on the brink of nuclear war.

The two-week exercise challenges the joint team's ability to respond to asymmetric, around-the-clock attacks to better practice crucial warfighting skills, said Col. Mike Beale, Contingency Action Team director for Vigilent Shield...

Why is it that ever since 9-11 with its coincident military exercises for airliners flying into buildings that I get a little bit uneasy when the Pentacostalgon starts gaming like this?