Gwot

Europe’s Child-Refugee Crisis

Europe’s Child-Refugee Crisis:

Among the 1.3 million people who sought asylum in Europe in 2015 were nearly a hundred thousand unaccompanied children. Most were from Afghanistan and Syria. Thirteen per cent were younger than fourteen years old. The data for 2016 are incomplete, but the situation is comparable. Experts estimate that for every child who claims asylum one enters Europe without seeking legal protection. (The number of unaccompanied minors attempting to enter the United States, most of them from Central America, has also increased dramatically in recent years. President Trump’s executive order on immigration, in addition to barring refugees, targets asylum seekers, many of whom are unaccompanied children.) At an age at which most kids need supervision to complete their homework, these children cross continents alone.

Worth a read.

Cannes bans burkinis over suspected link to radical Islamism - BBC News

Cannes bans burkinis over suspected link to radical Islamism - BBC News:

I keep hearing that France has totally surrendered to radical Islam. And yet I keep seeing articles about Muslims being treated like 2nd class citizens. Has there been a single attack involving a burka being used to conceal a terrorist or their weapons? What would this law do, other than make some women feel unwelcome?

Predatory Islamic State Wrings Money From Those It Rules

Predatory Islamic State Wrings Money From Those It Rules:

Across wide expanses of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State, with the goal of building a credible government, has set up a predatory and violent bureaucracy that wrings every last American dollar, Iraqi dinar and Syrian pound it can from those who live under its control or pass through its territory. Interviews with more than a dozen people living inside or recently escaped from the Islamic State-controlled territory, and Western and Middle Eastern officials who track the militants’ finances, describe the group as exacting tolls and traffic tickets; rent for government buildings; utility bills for water and electricity; taxes on income, crops and cattle; and fines for smoking or wearing the wrong clothes.

Extraction economy.

Want to help the Islamic State recruit? Treat all Muslims as potential terrorists.

Want to help the Islamic State recruit? Treat all Muslims as potential terrorists.:

The last time we fought a global battle of ideas, the cold war, we understood the idea of competing narratives and did everything we could to get the peoples living behind the iron curtain to identify with our values rather the values of their oppressors. We somehow lost sight of that in the war on terror.

To families of mass-shooting victims in U.S., Paris attacks sadly familiar

To families of mass-shooting victims in U.S., Paris attacks sadly familiar:

She has become painfully familiar with mass shootings since a gunman killed her daughter in a crowded suburban Denver movie theater, and she’s frustrated when pundits wonder if similar attacks on “soft targets” could happen in America.

“What ‘soft-target’ are you talking about? A school? Oh, gee, it’s already happened, several times. A movie theater? Oh, gee, it’s already happened,” Phillips said. “Who are we fooling? We’ve been living under terrorist attacks since Columbine. They’re just being done by our own people.”

the group may spend hundreds of hours trying to enlist a single individual, to learn how their...

“the group may spend hundreds of hours trying to enlist a single individual, to learn how their personal problems and grievances fit into a universal theme of persecution against all Muslims.”

-

Mindless terrorists? The truth about Isis is much worse | Scott Atran | Comment is free | The Guardian

ISIS is yet another in a long line of single villain ideologies.

Inside an undercover network trying to expose Islamic State’s atrocities

Inside an undercover network trying to expose Islamic State’s atrocities:

“We are nonviolent activists. We can’t fight Daesh with weapons. We can only fight them with words,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “To defeat us, they would have to shut down the Internet. And they can’t do that because all of them use the Internet.”

What does a ISIS held city look like? North Korea in the making.

The Bush administration's enormous national security failure, in one tweet

The Bush administration's enormous national security failure, in one tweet:

You see in Bush’s conduct and Cornyn’s tweet a persistent unwillingness to recognize the existence of disparate forces in the world. Al-Qaeda merges alternately with Saddam Hussein or the regime in Iran in a hazy muddle of “Muslims behaving badly.” It’s a deeply flawed analysis of the world and it’s one of the main reasons it took so long for bin Laden to be brought to justice.

What the jihadists who bought “Islam for Dummies” on Amazon tell us about radicalisation

“far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could … be regarded as religious novices.” The analysts concluded that “a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation”, the newspaper said.

“… what inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Quran or religious teachings as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends, and through friends, eternal respect and remembrance in the wider world”. He described wannabe jihadists as “bored, under­employed, overqualified and underwhelmed” young men for whom “jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer … thrilling, glorious and cool”.

Pretending that the danger comes only from the devout could cost lives.

(via What the jihadists who bought “Islam for Dummies” on Amazon tell us about radicalisation)

The profile for new jihadists and western right wing radicals is surprisingly similar

Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll in U.S. Since 9/11 - The New York Times

the breakdown of extremist ideologies behind those attacks may come as a surprise. Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims

(via Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll in U.S. Since 9/11 - The New York Times)

The lack of reporting of the problem of right wing extremism should be called out for what it is. Political correctness.

Middle East - French govt to use Arabic ‘Daesh’ for Islamic State group

Middle East - French govt to use Arabic ‘Daesh’ for Islamic State group:

“This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.”

Maybe can troll them by calling them the Apostate False Caliphate or AFC? Or the Arabic version of that?

Senator Rand Paul on Ferguson: We Must Demilitarize the Police

Senator Rand Paul on Ferguson: We Must Demilitarize the Police:

Does Mr. Paul think armed drones are not an example of militarized police?

From Forbes

“I’ve never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an active crime going on. If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash, I don’t care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him.

I think the use of an armed drone in the case of an robbery is an example of militarized policing.

From the article:

If I had been told to get out of the street as a teenager, there would have been a distinct possibility that I might have smarted off. But, I wouldn’t have expected to be shot.

That’s called being white. When I was a teen, I had zero fear that I would be arrested, let alone shot. I did not realize how different my experience was until I was much older. As an middle age white dude, the police are polite to me. Even deferential at times.

Lindsey Graham: Iraq And Syria ‘Coming Here’ To U.S. Mainland If Obama Doesn’t Go To War

Lindsey Graham: Iraq And Syria ‘Coming Here’ To U.S. Mainland If Obama Doesn’t Go To War:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned on Sunday that militants in Iraq and Syria would attack the U.S. mainland if President Barack Obama did not immediately take military action to stop them.

I guess we can assume that all those Republicans that called on Obama to attack ISIS will now rally around the president? Probably not.

For First Time, Anti-Terrorism Law Used to Have Americans Protesting Keystone XL Pipeline Arrested | The Dissenter

For First Time, Anti-Terrorism Law Used to Have Americans Protesting Keystone XL Pipeline Arrested | The Dissenter:

In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two individuals locked themselves with a bike lock inside one of the multiple revolving doors that lead into the atrium

Anti-terror laws will be abused to toss non-violent left of center activists in jail. It will never be used against right-of-center groups. 

James Clapper Clarifies Remarks Over NSA Snooping

James Clapper Clarifies Remarks Over NSA Snooping

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that he stood by what he told Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in March when he said that the National Security Agency does not “wittingly” collect data on millions of Americans.

Do you think the House GOP could take a break from votes on Acorn, ObamaCare and Benghazi to investigate this instead? How about a discussion on repealing the Patriot act?

We need a 5th Geneva Convention

The first step to ending the Global War on Terrorism should be a Geneva Convention that defines what a terrorist is, what states can and can not do to fight them and what rights they have when captured. Until there is an agreed upon standard definition of terrorist, states are free to declare almost anyone a terrorist to escape the obligations of law.

Drones don't target U.S. citizens. They kill them overseas as collateral damage.

Drones don't target U.S. citizens. They kill them overseas as collateral damage.

For months, members of Congress have asked to see memos from Obama's Office of Legal Counsel that outline the lawfulness of the administration's targeting policies. The White House has been stonewalling them. Why? One reason may be that some of the memos are defective early drafts. The Times says that after Obama's lawyers wrote their first memo, they discovered by reading a blog that they hadn't taken into account a federal law that seemed to prohibit drone strikes on American citizens abroad.

Worth a read.

U.N. Drone Investigator Might Be a Deadly Robot's Worst Nightmare

U.N. Drone Investigator Might Be a Deadly Robot's Worst Nightmare

That carries the possibility of a reckoning with the human damage left by drones, the first such witnessing by the international community. Accountability, Emmerson tells Danger Room in a Monday phone interview, "is the central purpose of the report."

So, will the administration agree to UN inspections?

Kill lists? Dems don't want to know

Kill lists? Dems don't want to know

When first asked about why her party's presidential nominee flip-flopped on indefinite detention provisions in his National Defense Authorization Act, she refuses to answer the question by saying, "I didn't hear that as a subject at the debate." When subsequently asked about President Obama's notorious "kill list," in which he unilaterally executes those (including U.S. citizens) he accuses of terrorism, she insists, "I have no idea what you are talking about," then smiles and says, "I'm happy to answer any serious questions you have." When asked, "Why isn't that serious?" she shuts down the interview by declaring, "Because I have no idea what you are talking about."

Note to the white house, you are pissing off your base. Again. This is a two fold insult to the base. First, doing something widely unpopular and second, refusing to discuss it as if this should be above discussion.

Let's Admit It: The US Is at War in Yemen, Too

Let's Admit It: The US Is at War in Yemen, Too

After years of sending drones and commandos into Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week finally admitted the obvious: The US is "fighting a war" there. But American robots and special forces aren't just targeting militants in Pakistan. They're doing the same - with increasing frequency and increasing lethality - in Yemen. The latest drone attack happened early Wednesday in the Yemeni town of Azzan, killing nine people. It's the 23rd strike in Yemen so far this year, according to the Long War Journal. In Pakistan, there have been only 22.

At least Libya was justified with public debate, a vote and Obama on TV explaining the end goal. Neither Yemen nor Pakistan have gotten a public acknowledgement until now.

U.S. Has No Idea Whether al-Qaida is Beat

U.S. Has No Idea Whether al-Qaida is Beat

The official continued, "I think it is a very useful exercise, for us and for you all, to think about how do you conceive of the defeat of an organization like al-Qaida? But I think, I've said in the past, determining whether or not we've achieved strategic defeat may be more a question for historians than for analysts."

So they are going to leave it to historians to decide when the country can get back to normal levels of security and military posture?

Iraq, The GOP and Obama

If Iraq is stable a year after the end of the troop withdrawal, the GOP will credit Bush. If it falls apart, the GOP will blame Obama.

the Bush administration took a very ideological view of "the war on terror." They viewed the United States as broadly in conflict with a vast-yet-hazily-defined array of Muslim Bad Guys such that Saddam Hussein and the government of Iran were somehow part of the same problem as Osama bin Laden. The conceptual alternative to this that Obama offered ... was to think of al-Qaeda as a specific, narrow thing that ought to be obsessively targeted and destroyed. ... You see in the rising body count that this all wasn't just talk. There's been some kind of meaningful reallocation of national resources away from Bush's geopolitical vision in favor of a much more literal global effort to identify, locate, and kill members of al-Qaeda.

the Bush administration took a very ideological view of "the war on terror." They viewed the United States as broadly in conflict with a vast-yet-hazily-defined array of Muslim Bad Guys such that Saddam Hussein and the government of Iran were somehow part of the same problem as Osama bin Laden. The conceptual alternative to this that Obama offered … was to think of al-Qaeda as a specific, narrow thing that ought to be obsessively targeted and destroyed. … You see in the rising body count that this all wasn't just talk. There's been some kind of meaningful reallocation of national resources away from Bush's geopolitical vision in favor of a much more literal global effort to identify, locate, and kill members of al-Qaeda.
The Obama Doctrine In Action | ThinkProgress

Obama Changed Virtually None of Bush 's Controversial Programs

With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.

From Top CIA Official: Obama Changed Virtually None of Bush's Controversial Programs


He should get a little credit for ending torture but this has been a major disappointment. Its been two years and very little has changed.

Wilkerson also calls for George W. Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes in office. "I'd be willing to testify, and I'd be willing to take any punishment I'm due," Wilkerson said. We also speak to Salon.com political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about his recent article on Cheney, "The Fruits of Elite Immunity." "Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies...are perfectly legitimate choices to make. And I think that's the really damaging legacy from all of this," says Greenwald.

Wilkerson also calls for George W. Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes in office. “I'd be willing to testify, and I'd be willing to take any punishment I'm due,” Wilkerson said. We also speak to Salon.com political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about his recent article on Cheney, “The Fruits of Elite Immunity.” “Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies...are perfectly legitimate choices to make. And I think that's the really damaging legacy from all of this,” says Greenwald.
Ex-Bush Official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: “I am Willing to Testify” If Dick Cheney is Put on Trial | AlterNet

The evangelical organizer who helped Michele Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa Saturday was previously charged with terrorism in Uganda after being arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition in February 2006, just days before Uganda's first multi-party elections in 20 years.

The evangelical organizer who helped Michele Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa Saturday was previously charged with terrorism in Uganda after being arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition in February 2006, just days before Uganda’s first multi-party elections in 20 years.
—Michele Bachmann pals around with terrorists
Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Al Qaeda spokesman urges terrorists to buy lots of guns at gun shows

America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?

From Al Qaeda spokesman urges terrorists to buy lots of guns at gun shows


While lots of people are going to attack the NRA about this story, I think that’s the wrong take away. If only the ACLU were as strong at defending the other parts of the bill or rights as the NRA is at defending the 2nd amendment. In such a world, any politician proposing invasive screening, gag orders or limiting access to courts would face the same resistance as politician wanting to make it slightly harder for our enemies to turn our guns against us.

Who's the Dog Hero of the Raid on Bin Laden?

"Dogs are very good at detecting people inside of a building," Major Roberts said.

Another use may have been to catch anyone escaping the compound in the first moments of the raid. A shepherd or a Malinois runs twice as fast as a human.

Tech Sgt. Kelly A. Mylott, the kennel master at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, called dogs ideal for getting someone who is running away without having to shoot them. "When the dogs go after a suspect, they're trained to bite and hold them," Sergeant Mylott said.

Some dogs are big enough that, when they leap on a suspect, the person tends to drop to the ground, Sergeant Mylott said. Others bite arms or legs. "Different dogs do different things," she said. "But whatever they do, it's very difficult for that person to go any further."


From Who's the Dog Hero of the Raid on Bin Laden?


Wonder if future terror suspects will try to dog proof their compounds now that this is publicly known.

DHS to switch from colors to non-sequiturs for terror alert warnings. Current warning is Artichoke, upgraded from Limited Slip Differential. With luck, we should reach Mint Dental Floss by years end.

New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right

That story begins during the final weeks of 2003, when everyone in the White House was suffering severe embarrassment over both the origins and the consequences of the invasion of Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. No evidence of significant connections between Saddam Hussein’s regime and the al-Qaida terrorist organization had been discovered there either. Nothing in this costly misadventure was turning out as advertised by the Bush administration.
According to Suskind, the administration’s highest officials — presumably meaning President Bush and Vice President Cheney — solved this problem by ordering the CIA to manufacture a document “proving” that Saddam had indeed been trying to build nuclear weapons and that he was also working with al-Qaida. The reported product of that order was a fake memorandum from Tahir Jalil Habbush, then chief of Saddam’s intelligence service, to the dictator himself, dated July 1, 2001. The memo not only explicitly confirmed that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had received training in Baghdad for “attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy” but also carefully noted the arrival of a “shipment” from Niger via Libya, presumably of uranium yellowcake, the sole export of that impoverished African country
From Salon.com | New evidence suggests Ron Suskind is right

What strikes me as really odd is the lumping together of two right-wing talking points in one memo. This is so unlikely that I wonder who came up with the bone headed idea. Why didn’t just lump in some anti-Clinton talking points and a call for a flat tax while they are at it.

Hired Gun Fetish

the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’ re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’ re private employees who don ’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’ t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.
From Hired Gun Fetish - New York Times

Krugman describes exactly what the root problem with Blackwater is. If you aren’t totally sick of Iraq news or the Blackwater story, this is a must read

Spain Opens the Books on Bush?

But it seems someone in the Spanish government has leaked to El Pais transcripts of conversations between President Bush and then Spanish Prime Minister Aznar just before the outbreak of the Iraq War. The gist seems to be that Bush was rather candid about the fact that the efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis were a sham and that the war was a done deal.
From Talking Points Memo | Spain Opens the Books on Bush?

Pants on fire.

U.S. Weapons, Given to Iraqis, Move to Turkey

Weapons that were originally given to Iraqi security forces by the American military have been recovered over the past year by the authorities in Turkey after being used in violent crimes in that country, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
From U.S. Weapons, Given to Iraqis, Move to Turkey - New York Times

Remember that story about the missing weapons in Iraq? I think the Turks found some. This is blow-back in action. And it drives a wedge between us and the one friendly Muslim democracy on the planet.

Armored Trucks' Delivery Delayed

The United States military said Wednesday that it would deliver less than half the number of blast-resistant trucks to Iraq by year's end than planned.
A Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said 1,500 vehicles, rather than 3,500, would be delivered because of the time it takes to equip them with radios and armaments and then deliver them by sea. He said the Pentagon was now trying to cut that time to 30 days from 50.
From NYT

Three years into the insurgency and there is still a lag in getting the proper equipment. Sadly, it isn’t even on Waxman’s List.

Gingrich calls War on Terror Phony

Newt Gingrich, former Republican House Speaker, called the war on terror “phony” in a speech to a group of young conservatives in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

Instead of the current strategy to fight terrorism, Gingrich said we should focus on energy independence. “We have to have a national energy strategy, which basically says to the Saudis, ‘We’ re not going to rely on you.’”
From Political Radar: Gingrich calls War on Terror “Phony”

Did Newt read Noam Chomsky on his time off? He is now on the same page as Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich on GWOT. I happen to think he is wrong that the war is Phony, but he is right that the we need to develop a plan for energy independence.

The Al Qaeda Reader

These are not real grievances for al-Qaida (it does not bear mentioning that Bin Laden is probably not very concerned with campaign finance reform). They are a means of weaving local and global resentments into a single anti-American narrative, the overarching aim of which is to form a collective identity across borders and nationalities, and to convince the world that it is locked in a cosmic contest between the forces of Truth and Falsehood, Belief and Unbelief, Good and Evil, Us and Them.
From The Al Qaeda Reader. - By Reza Aslan - Slate Magazine

This is a must read article on Al Qaeda. I will continue to follow Reza Aslan’s writing on the subject as it provides a well written counter weight to Slate’s bombastic Mr Hitchens.

Robots with guns in Iraq

Robots have been roaming the streets of Iraq, since shortly after the war began. Now, for the first time — the first time in any warzone — the machines are carrying guns.
From Danger Room - Wired Blogs

As much as I might appreciate the use of technology to help save the lives of our troops; I’ve always been concerned with the use of combat robots. My biggest concern is that it will further remove the soldiers from the populace. One has to wonder if it is really that much easier to kill by proxy than it is to stand there and see the flesh and blood person before firing. I think we need to start considering Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.

blowback

In the 1980s, the Reagan administration sold fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, sparking a considerable controversy about Israel and a regional arms build-up.
In 2007, just as we’re learning about the aid Saudi Arabia is giving to Sunni militias in Iraq, the Bush administration is planning a large arms deal with the president’s long-time allies.
From Talking Points Memo

The House o Saud is an unpopular regime surrounded by instability and growing anti-western and anti-american sentiment. So, what could possibly go wrong? Has everyone forgotten how the weapons we sold to the Afghan Mujahideen in the 80s were latter turned on us? Or how the arms we sold Iran in the 70s were turned on us? How short sighted can our foreign policy become?

Antiterrorism Bill Passes House by Wide Margin

A crucial provision in the bill will change the way antiterrorism grants from the Department of Homeland Security are distributed to the states. It will cut in half the guaranteed minimum grant to each state, which was $3.8 million this year, and allow department officials to distribute money in discretionary grants where the threat and consequences of a terrorist attack are judged to be highest.
From Antiterrorism Bill Passes House by Wide Margin - New York Times

Minor victory for those of us that wanted to see the recommendations of the 9/11 commission enacted. Having to wait for the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack before the majority of air and sea cargo is not what I hoped for. At least it puts it on the budget. Now lets see if W signs it.

Iraqi Says Turkey Is Massing 140,000 Troops

Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq, Iraq’s foreign minister said Monday, calling the neighboring country’s fears of Kurdish rebels based there ”legitimate” but better resolved through negotiation.
From Iraqi Says Turkey Is Massing 140,000 Troops - New York Times

I didn’t think things could go worse. And now I think I may be wrong. What if a Turkish Surge is followed by an Iranian one? Things could get really bad really quick. The Daily Show graphic of Mess-O-Potamia comes to mind.

Jihad Etiquette

This jihad etiquette is not written down, and for good reason. It varies as much in interpretation and practice as extremist groups vary in their goals. But the rules have some general themes that underlie actions ranging from the recent rash of suicide bombings in Algeria and Somalia, to the surge in beheadings and bombings by separatist Muslims in Thailand.
From Terrorism - Jihad Etiquette - Islam - Militants - Middle East - Iraq - Jordan - Lebanon - New York Times

Interesting yet disturbing story on the rules of Jihad. This is a wonderful example of how the letter of the law can be used to circumvent the spirit of the law as Jihadists turn prohibitions on violence against civilians into permission.

Lieberman Backs Limited U.S. Attacks on Iran

"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq," Mr. Lieberman said in an interview on the CBS News program "Face the Nation."
This could be achieved mostly with air attacks, Mr. Lieberman said, adding, "I'm not talking about a massive ground invasion of Iran."
Lieberman Backs Limited U.S. Attacks on Iran - New York Times

Lieberman’s plan to improve the situation in Iraq is to open another front. Great idea. What could go wrong? And I really hope that Iran respects our decision to keep this military act limited. I would hate to think that Iran would get the wrong idea and think our bombing them should lead to an escalating conflict where they mobilize a couple hundred thousand troops to attack our troops and bases in Iraq or Afghanistan. And yes, I’m being sarcastic.

Doubts Grow as G.I.'s in Iraq Find Allies in Enemy Ranks

But now on his third deployment in Iraq, he is no longer a believer in the mission. The pivotal moment came, he says, this past February when soldiers killed a man setting a roadside bomb. When they searched the bomber's body, they found identification showing him to be a sergeant in the Iraqi Army.
"I thought, 'What are we doing here? Why are we still here?' " said Sergeant Safstrom, a member of Delta Company of the First Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division. "We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us."
From New York Times

So what are we doing there? And why do we think it will be worse if we leave? And this is just the tip of the misery iceberg of what’s going on there.

sophisticated equipment

The militant group, Fatah al Islam, which is thought to have links to Al Qaeda, fired antiaircraft guns and mortars and had night vision goggles and other sophisticated equipment. The Lebanese Army does not have such gear.
From Lebanese Army and Islamists Battle for 2nd Day - New York Times

This is a really disturbing development. With insurgents using GPS to aid in targeting and terrorists using night vision goggles; the US Military is starting to lose its greatest advantage in the GWOT; high-tech weaponry and training.

Rudy on the Dems

Look, it’s real simple what happened. These people came here and killed us because of our freedom of religion, because of our freedom for women, because they hate us…If you’re confused about this, I think you put our country in much greater jeopardy.
From TPMCafe

Rudy is an idiot. Anyone who has read Bin Laden’s declaration of war can see that either Rudy thinks he knows more about bin Laden’s motivations than bin Laden himself; or hasn’t read the actual declaration or war. My money is the later.

Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq

Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraqa s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.
From New York Times

We are fighting a war where the American taxpayer finances both sides of the conflict. One directly via taxes and one indirectly via fuel purchases. Sad fact of the day.

General: Air fleet wearing down

The Air Force’s fleet of warplanes is older than ever and wearing out faster because of heavy use in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the service’s top combat commander.
Gen. Ronald Keys, who leads the Air Combat Command, points to cracked wings on A-10 attack planes and frayed electrical cables on U-2 spy planes.
From USATODAY.com

This is a really disturbing story about the real costs of the Iraq war. While the degradation of the National Guard’s readiness is being covered in the media, the toll on aircraft seems to have slipped by barely noticed. This concerns me because the last two attacks on the US came via aircraft. Right after 9/11; the skies of the US were patrolled by NATO aircraft.

Pelosi's Delegation Presses Syrian Leader on Militants

Delegation members said that they sought to persuade Mr. Assad to distance himself from Iran, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran has become Syria's ally in the growing confrontation with the so-called quartet of moderate Arab states, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
From NYT

This is one of those moments where I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that loyalty to principles and intellectual honesty must come before any other loyalty. And with that in mind, I think it is a really terrible idea to have congress involved in foreign policy. That has always been the job of the executive. Why? Article 2, Sec 2 says so.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;

Even if the executive is doing a bad job, it is still the job of the executive and not the job of the House. No matter how much I might dislike W’s handling of foreign policy, I respect the principles of separation of powers as described in the constitution far more.

So what they should the dems do? Bring Rice in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and ask her what she is doing about Syria. Appropriate money earmarked specially for diplomacy with Syria. Pass resolutions. And all the other things that congress is empowered by the constitution to do.

Qaeda Is Seen as Restoring Leadership

American, European and Pakistani authorities have for months been piecing together a picture of the new leadership, based in part on evidence-gathering during terrorism investigations in the past two years. Particularly important have been interrogations of suspects and material evidence connected to a plot British and American investigators said they averted last summer to destroy multiple commercial airliners after takeoff from London.
From NYT

This should be a much bigger story. While we have been pouring blood and treasure into the Iraqi sand, Al Qaeda has been rebuilding. And nothing, not even a miraculous victory in Iraq is going to change that fact.

proof that we are stuck in someone else's war

Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east….
The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.
From NYT

A must read article. What happened to Ms. Saadoun seems to be clear evidence that at least in some parts of the Iraq, our troops are stuck in between sides of a civil war. This is clearly not what their orders were. And this is clearly not a mission they should be charged with.

Democrats Seek Votes for Bill on Iraq

House Democrats were scrambling today to find the 218 votes needed to pass a war spending bill that would set a timetable to bring American troops home from Iraq, as the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans worked aggressively to foil their effort.
From Democrats Seek Votes for Bill on Iraq - New York Times

The inability to find the 218 votes is really disappointing. The war is unpopular. The president is unpopular. And Congress is unpopular because it hasn’t forced a change in Iraq strategy. The second complaint is over the volume of pork in that bill. Weren’t we promised a change in earmarking? What happened to that?

The successful Iraq

Interestingly, many of the same issues that have dogged the current American campaign in Iraq dogged American efforts in the Philippines. These include the inability to recognize that the war was not over simply because we thought it should be over, the difficulty in adjusting to a new kind of war, the constant interaction of domestic politics and military affairs, and the divided command structure in the Philippines. And yet, the United States in the Philippines won not only the conventional war but the insurgency. Why?
From The successful Iraq. - By David Silbey - Slate Magazine

An interesting discussion of the US experience in the Philippines and how it compares to Iraq. In short, Mr. Silbey argues that the Roosevelt administration understood the difference between political and military goals early on; in contrast to the debacle in Iraq.

Londo Mollari on Iran?

The recent saber rattling with Iran has reminded of a quote from Londo Mollari of Babylon 5:

“Only a fool fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the kingdom of fools fights a war on twelve fronts!”

There are three classic military blunders.

  • Getting into a land war in Asia.
  • Opening a second front when the first front hasn’t been secured.
  • Going to war with with Italian Army on your side.
Bush went three for three.

There's trouble brewing in Tunisia

If you wanted to support democracy in the Arab world, why did you begin with your enemies instead of your friends? Why Iraq and Iran? Why not us?
From Slate Magazine

A must read. As a progressive and a fan of Karl Popper, I’ve long felt that the right way to spread freedom is by binding US trade policy to economic and social reforms. Any and all free trade agreements with the US should include demands for government openness, human rights and labor rights. Sadly, this has not been the case. From Tunisia to Russia to China, we’ve favored cheap labor, tax dodges and easy access to oil above all foreign policy goals.

It is painful to think of what we could have done to promote democracy if we didn’t go to Iraq.

PATH Tunnels Seen as Fragile in Bomb Attack

An analysis done for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says that the PATH train tunnels under the Hudson River are more vulnerable to a bomb attack than previously thought, and that a relatively small amount of high explosives could cause significant flooding of the rail system within hours.
From New York Times

While Bush and his Neo-Con crew insist that we are fighting the their so we won’t have to fight them here; the facts seem to suggest that we aren’t fighting them here because we are fighting them over their. Five years after 9/11 and stories like this still come out.

Gingrich: Imams should have been arrested

“Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists,” Gingrich said. “And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens.”
From United Press International

First off, I genuinely respect Newt as being one of the most brilliant political strategists of our time. I disagree with him on almost everything, but the guy has an amazing intellect that is sadly lost in the age of sound-bites and flash-bulb attention spans.

With that said, I’d like to thank him (in the most sarcastic manner possible) for giving libertarians more and more reasons to vote Democratic in 2008. Newt just came out and declared that if you think that praying to someone other than Jesus in a language other than English should make you a criminal suspect; vote GOP in 2008. Those who respect religious freedom and wacky legal terms like probable cause should look elsewhere. And his logic is really well thought out. It isn’t like terrorists could try to blend in and refrain from praying. Thanks Newt.

Rep. Rangel's bill to reinstate the draft

WASHINGTON - Rep. Charles Rangel plans to resurrect a bill to reinstate the draft when Democrats take power in January, but the idea got a chilly reception yesterday in the heart of his Harlem district.
From New York Daily News - politics - Rangel feelin’ a draft

Last time he brought this up, Mr. Rangel joined 400 other congressmen to vote against it. And this will fail once more. Sorry, but this is just like Terri Schiavo. The absolute worst in partisan political grandstanding. If Mr. Rangel was really concerned with who is being sent off to war, there are better things to spend your time on. Start with looking at funding health care for reservists and their families. Or expanding money available funding educational benefits under the GI-Bill.

Robert D. Steele

If you’re like me, you don’t have enough time to read all the important new books on Economics, Political Science, Diplomacy, War and Culture. That’s why I make it a point to see what Robert D. Steele has to say. His one line capsule of Culture Warrior by Bill O’Reilly is both funny and brutal. Right Up There With Mein Kampf, But Less Sensible.

Mr Steele is a retired Intelligence professional and an Amazon TOP100 reviewer. While he comes off as an old-school conservative pragmatist of the Bush-41 school, He has given both Andrew Sullivan and Barack Obama five star reviews. Sometimes I feel smarter after just reading his reviews.

wing nut spin

I have two words for the wing-nuts that are claiming that America Rolls Over To Al-Qaeda or that Olberman and Bin Laden Are Celebrating: Please continue.

If the election shows us anything it is that linking a democratic victory to a victory for the terrorists isn’t working. Linking the fiasco in Iraq to Al-Qaeda isn’t working. So please continue wasting your breath on a failed tactic. At least until mid-November 2008.

Kissinger's back in the White House

Bob Woodward’s disclosure of the influence of Henry Kissinger on the Bush administration’s Iraq policy both is and is not a surprise. After all, we have known for a long time that the bungling old war criminal has his admirers within the White House.
From Slate Magazine

Hitchens called Kissinger a gargoyle. I couldn’t agree more. You know how some people have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other? As an Agnostic I have Henry gargoyle Kissinger on one shoulder and Albert Schweitzer on the other. Henry is the one convincing me of the importance of liberating office supplies from the company while Albert suggests that I should just take what I need.

Study of Iraq War and Terror Stirs Strong Political Response

Democratic lawmakers, responding to an intelligence report that found that the Iraq war has invigorated Islamic radicalism and worsened the global terrorist threat, said the assessment by American spy agencies demonstrated that the Bush administration needed to devise a new strategy for its handling of the war.
And then there is the kicker:
In public comments on Sunday, Republican Congressional leaders did not dispute the accuracy of the reports about the intelligence estimate, although they continued to defend the American presence in Iraq.
From Study of Iraq War and Terror Stirs Strong Political Response - New York Times

Now that its clear that the fight them there so we won’t have to fight them here is actually fighting them in Iraq will make it more likely we will have to fight them here I have to wonder what the next justification will be. This is a really tragic. This is the time for new ideas and a major course correction. Not a retreat, but a rethinking of what our goals are and what we need to do to get there. And this is exactly what the GOP leadership seems unwilling to consider or open to debate.

Amnesty International Says Hezbollah Committed War Crimes

Matching an earlier condemnation of Israel, Amnesty International on Thursday accused Hezbollah forces of war crimes and "serious violations of international humanitarian law" during the Lebanon war, including indiscriminate rocket attacks and "deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects."
From Amnesty International Says Hezbollah Committed War Crimes - New York Times

I wonder if the people on the right that criticize Amnesty International’s stand on Israel, Gitmo and Abu Garib will make note of this. I wonder if the will praise them for putting principals ahead of politics. But I doubt it. Amnesty International has been a right wing punching bag for too long for this to be noted.

A McCain-Lieberman ticket?

A Republican McCain-Lieberman ticket. Is that a fantasy? It strikes me as less improbable than the Kerry-McCain ticket MainStream Media reporters touted in 2004.
From USNews.com: Opinion: Michael Barone: Barone Blog: A McCain-Lieberman ticket?

Where to start. First, McCain was the favorite in the 1999 GOP nomination race. So much so that only one would dare to run against him. Remember how that turned out? So there is no guarentee that McCain would get the nod in the first place. The second problem with this idea can be summed by the this other quote:

a McCain-Lieberman ticket, however nonconservative on some issues, would be solidly committed to a vigorous prosecution of the war against terrorism. This issue unites the two of them as no other and so would help make that the central issue of the campaign. And an issue on which McCain-Lieberman would probably have a huge advantage over any possible Democratic ticket.

What unites McCain and Lieberman is not support for the War on Terrorism. It is support for the War in Iraq. A war of increasing costs in blood and treasure and decreasing support among voters. Running on support for the war in Iraq lost Lieberman the primary in 2006. Why on earth does anyone think that running on support for the war in Iraq will get anyone into the Whitehouse in 2008? As of now, a large and growing majority of Americans see the war in Iraq as a bungled occupation, not a front in the war on terror.

Tensions High in Somalia as Thousands Protest

Tensions were high in Somalia’s capital today as the Islamic militants who seized control of Mogadishu the day before vowed to set up a religious state, but thousands of people allied with the one of the country’s largest clans held a rally to protest that move.
From New York Times

Bad news in the Global War on Terror as Somalia falls to Islamic militants who want to set up an Theocracy. And yes, this is where Black Hawk Down happened.

Marines killed civilians "in cold blood"

“Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood,” said Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and is among the most influential Democratic voices on military matters. “This is going to be a very, very bad thing for the United States.”
From Salon.com News

Really sad story here. I have a lot of sympathy for troops in Iraq. They’re in a really tough fight made worse by failures of the civilian leadership. And this is yet another tragic incident that will serve as propaganda by the Islamists.

Saddam chose to deny inspectors

“I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the [United Nations] Security Council; that’s why it was important to pass [Resolution] 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences — and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose [emphasis added], then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.”
The official transcript notes “laughter” at that moment.
From Salon.com

Revisionist History unfolding before our eyes. I really want to hear the tortured logic by the usual GOPers defending this obvious lie. Saddam did not deny inspectors. They were in Iraq during the build up to war. This is clearly a lie.

the Neo-Con two step

The only thing better than watching Neo-Con Francis Fukuyama flip, is watching other Neo-Cons like Christopher Hitchens attack them for it.You can always count on Hitchens to be infuriatingly delightful. But this time he is way off. The Neo-Con failure is breaking them up into three camps.

  • Neo-Cons like Fukuyama that now think the war was a bad idea and that Neo-Conservationism is failing.
  • Neo-Cons that still think the was was a good idea, and blame the problems either on Bush, Rumsfeld or The Liberal Media. Case in point, William Kristol of the Weekly Standard
  • Neo-Cons that think everything is going well and the media is mis-reporting it

Right now it looks like the real conservatives like William F. Buckley agree with the reality that the War in Iraq is lost. A position they declared defeatism just a few months ago. Not to mention this Zogby pool U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006. So the only people left supporting the war are a dwindling number of GOPers with Fox News colored glasses.

Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?

In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States
From Newsweek Politics - MSNBC.com

I’m a bit wary about the slippery slope of this argument. If you can order torture, why not order a killing? Where are the limits drawn? Can anything be justified?

Eighty Percent Of Al-Qaeda No. 2s Now Dead

WASHINGTON, DC-The Pentagon announced Monday that 80 percent of Osama bin Laden’s seconds-in-command have been eliminated. “Nearly 1,600 al-Qaeda leaders ranked number two have been wiped out,” Lt. Col. Mark Allison said. “That leaves only 400 of Osama bin Laden’s right-hand men in the organization.” Following the apparent failure to kill bin Laden’s No. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahri in a missile strike on a Pakistani border town on Jan. 13, American forces intensified the search for al-Qaeda second-in-command Ahmed Al-Zahnami, or, failing that, No. 2 man Amman al-Zaharani, or No. 2 man Ahmed al-Zafarani.
From the onion

top ten mistakes

Usamah Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri murdered 3,000 Americans, and they both issued tapes in the past week, blustering and threatening us with more of the same. Most of us aren’t wild about paying for the Bush administration with our taxes, but one thing we have a right to expect is that our government would protect us from mass murderers and would chase them down and arrest them. It has not done that. When asked why he hasn’t caught Bin Laden, Bush replies, “Because he’s hidin’.” Is Bush laughing at us?
From Informed Comment

Well written and a must read. A good counter-weight to the right wing noise machine insisting that they are the post 9/11 party.

Al-Qaida Is Losing says Hitchens

The conditions for this latest truce are of course impossible as well. All one needs, in order to earn Bin Laden’s mercy, is to give up Afghanistan and Iraq. But this raises a more intriguing question. Why are formerly triumphalist jihadists using the language of “truce” at all? Not very long ago, God was claimed to be on their side and victory certain.
From Slate

While Mr. Hitchens makes a number of really good points, I have two retorts. First, just because things may be going bad for the jihadists; that doesn’t mean things are going well for us. Secondly, considering point one; there is no reason why things going poorly for either the US and/or the jihadists couldn’t translate into things going very well for Iran or Hammas. And that would be also be bad for us.

this time, someone really does have to be fired.

This time, someone really does have to be fired. The revelation that Defense Department money, not even authorized by Congress for the purpose, has been outsourced to private interests and then used to plant stories in the Iraqi press is much more of a disgrace and a scandal than anyone seems so far to have said.
Well said.
It is, anyway, not so much a matter of fooling people as of insulting them. The prostitute journalist is a familiar and well-understood figure in the Middle East, and Saddam Hussein’s regime made lavish use of the buyability of the regional press.
Today, Hitchens reminds me why I read his work. I still disagree with him on almost everything else about Iraq, but he is dead on about this.

Pat Tillman

War hero Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan last year, believed the US war on Iraq was “f***ing illegal” and counted Noam Chomsky among his favorite authors.

Must read story from The Nation. The right wing hasn’t come up with its spin yet, so they are just claiming to know Tillman more than his Mother and war buddies.

fool me once, shame on you

We bring you these coincidences, reminding you, and ourselves here, that perhaps the simplest piece of wisdom in the world is called "the logical fallacy." Just because Event "A" occurs, and then Event "B" occurs, that does not automatically mean that Event "A" caused Event "B."

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 13 times, my head just may explode.