WASHINGTON: The Taliban are stronger now than before US President Barack Obama ordered a surge of US troops to Afghanistan, two senior US lawmakers said on Sunday, contradicting the administrations assessment of the insurgency.
I think we both say that what we found is the Taliban is stronger, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein told Fox News Sunday in an interview that included US House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who agreed with her statement. The two lawmakers returned last week from a trip to Afghanistan.
The US Defence Department said last week in a report to Congress that its surge of 33,000 extra troops in Afghanistan ordered in late 2009 had weakened the Taliban but that the insurgency remained resilient.
The report said overall insurgent attacks declined in 2011 for the first time in five years, even though violence increased in areas surrounding the Talibans southern stronghold of Kandahar, a region where US efforts have been focused since 2009.
Feinstein, a Democrat, said radical madrasas in Pakistan were providing new recruits to the Afghan insurgency. So an insurgency which one can expect will burn itself out after a period of time will not necessarily burn out, she said.
Unless we do something about Pakistain which no one will do...
Obama travelled to Kabul last week to sign a strategic partnership agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The deal sets out a long-term US role in Afghanistan, including aid and advisers, after most American and NATO combat soldiers withdraw by the end of 2014.
Rogers said there was a danger that Obamas announcement of a date of withdrawal of US combat forces in Afghanistan and Washingtons decision to hold talks with the Taliban could undermine the US objective of denying a safe haven to terrorists. The first priority is to deny safe haven and that means a strategic defeat of the Taliban and we have to also defeat the safe havens in the tribal areas of Pakistan, said Rogers, a Republican.
The Obama administration is due to pull the last of its 33,000 surge troops from Afghanistan by this fall, leaving around 68,000 US soldiers there. Rogers and Feinstein both said the United States should designate the Haqqani network, an Afghan insurgent group believed to be based in Pakistan, as a terrorist organisation. Theyve killed nearly 500 US troops. They are based in Miranshah (in Pakistan) ... This is something we have to be very aggressive to put an end to, Rogers said.
Just a little hard to believe the Haggani network hasn't already been declared a 'terrorist organization'...
Just wait until Hollande meets Obama Mr Hollande will take the presidential Airbus to a meeting of the G8 at Camp David on May 18-19, followed on May 20-21 by a Nato summit in Chicago.
He can expect a chilly reception from President Barack Obama when he tells him France is going to withdraw its 3,400 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year ahead of schedule. "We will find the terms of language that will enable us not to break the china," said a Hollande aide.
Feinstein, a Democrat, said radical madrasas in Pakistan were providing new recruits to the Afghan insurgency.
Come now people! The entire conflict is being orchestrated under ISI tutulage and auspices from safehavens in Chaman and Quetta. It has been for YEARS! We are obviously unwilling to smite them, so we might as well declare it the miserable failure that it is, pack it up and leave.
CAIRO - Egypts Islamist-dominated parliament is banning the countrys next president from sending civilians for trial by military tribunals.
Hosni Mubarak, deposed as president in February 2011, used military courts to go after opponents, especially Islamists. Egypts military, which took over from Mubarak, has sent more than 10,000 civilians to their own courts, including for criticizing the military.
The measure approved Sunday refers to the president who would replace Mubarak. The first round of presidential elections is set for May 23-24. Even then, the military itself would still have the authority to refer civilians to military courts.
I'm sure then this is seen as progress. Somewhere...
The vote came a day after the ruling generals referred 300 civilians for military prosecution after violent demonstrations near the Defense Ministry in Cairo.
Egypt extended an overnight curfew around the Defence Ministry on Sunday to deter a repeat of Fridays deadly violence, less than three weeks before a presidential vote.
A soldier died and almost 400 people were wounded in Fridays clashes, the second time in a week that protests over the armys handling of Egypts troubled transition from army rule to civilian government have turned violent.
The military re-imposed the curfew in the Abbasiya district around the Defence Ministry for the third straight day, the state news agency quoted a military source as saying.
Many protesters who gathered near the ministry were ultra-orthodox Salafi Muslims furious that a sheikh they backed for president has been disqualified from the race. Liberals and others were also there, accusing the army of seeking to manipulate or delay the vote. The military has dismissed those allegations, insisting it will stick to its timetable of handing over power to a new president by July 1, or even earlier in the unlikely event of an outright winner in the first round of voting this month.
President Hugo Chavez's repeated trips to Cuba for cancer treatment and the government's silence about his health are fueling rumors that he will name a successor to run in October presidential elections.
So far, the government has fiercely maintained that there is no alternative to Chavez, who still leads in the polls. But several names have begun to circulate among observers to take the helm should Chavez delegate his powers.
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, Vice President Elias Jaua and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello are considered potential candidates. They are already cited in polls, triggering speculation over the ramifications of a possible succession battle.
Any departure of Chavez from the national stage would have profound consequences in Venezuela, where he has governed since 1999. It would also have a huge impact across Latin America, especially in leftist ally nations which have been showered with his country's oil wealth.
Jaua will soon be named president of the Council of State, an advisory body whose creation this week is seen by some analysts as the first step toward a potential political transition since Chavez experienced a relapse of the cancer first detected in June 2011.
It's an 'advisory council' in the way such committees exist in socialist states...
"With the lack of information, all scenarios are possible, including Chavez's absence and the naming of a successor" for the October 7 vote, said Datanalisis polling firm president Luis Vicente Leon.
Chavez returned to Cuba on Tuesday for what he called the "home stretch" of his radiation treatment, without providing more details. His previous stay, which was supposed to have been his last, stretched out for 11 days. The exact nature of the cancer has never been disclosed. The 57-year-old underwent an operation in Havana on February 26 to remove a second cancerous tumor in his pelvic area, where a baseball-sized growth was extracted a year ago.
Usually all over the Venezuelan media, Chavez now rarely appears in public and has been reduced to sending out tweets during his long absences in Cuba.
Definitely swirling the drain then...
Chavez is running for reelection as a "revolutionary socialist" against Henrique Capriles, the youthful Miranda state governor and center-left candidate for the united opposition.
Capriles scoffed at the pervasive uncertainty surrounding Chavez's political future. "A country cannot be ruled via Twitter, the Internet or by telephone," he said Friday.
Even in the president's own ranks, tensions and divisions are growing. But so long as Chavez is alive, "these confrontations will be relegated to the back stage, because the president of the United Socialist Party can still destroy" his rivals, Leon said.
For now, the firebrand leftist leader's health is overshadowing the run-up to the presidential campaign. Yet "his absence is not yet having an effect on how most Venezuelans intend to vote," analyst John Magdaleno said.
But Leon warned that the government's silence on Chavez's wellbeing and ability to run the country could be hiding a political maneuver. "The president could be trying to prepare a triumphant return and then, the bigger the speculation about his health, the less he will need to make new proposals" upon his return, Leon added.
The electoral campaign officially gets under way on July 1, but the law allows for replacing a candidate unable to run at any time, constitutional lawyer Enrique Sanchez Falcon noted.
The green movement isnt just a subset of the progressive philosophy. Rather, its the religion thats taken over the left whose underlying principles are such that Weather Underground terrorists and Occupy activists fit right in at their family-friend festivals.
The defense attorney who wore a traditional Islamic outfit during the rowdy arraignment of the accused Sept. 11 terrorists is defending her courtroom appeal that other women in the room wear more "appropriate" clothing to the proceedings -- out of respect for her client's Muslim beliefs.
Appropriate attire for a woman attorney in a U.S. courtroom is a dark blue or gray business jacket and skirt (slacks okay, I'm told) with a white or pastel-colored blouse. Conservative cut, of course, and tailored. An American flag lapel pin is a nice touch.
Cheryl Bormann, counsel for defendant Walid bin Attash, attended the arraignment Saturday dressed in a hijab, apparently because her client insisted on making the proceedings a circus it. She further requested that the court order other women to follow that example so that the defendants can make the proceedings even more of a circus do not have to avert their eyes "for fear of committing a sin under their faith."
Imagine all this playing out in a New York federal courtroom...
At a press conference Sunday at Guantanamo Bay, Bormann said she dresses in a hijab at "all times" when she meets with her client "out of respect" for his beliefs. Asked why she requested other women do the same, Bormann said, "When you're on trial for your life, you need to be focused."
She's just begging to antagonize the court, and all this does is further her clients' goals of turning the proceedings into a travesty.
Bormann, who is not Muslim, claimed the issue came up several years ago, when a paralegal wore "very short skirts" and it became a distraction for the defendants.
They were rolling their eyes like mad, and they couldn't even have gun sex...
And their right hands weren't working?
She said that on Saturday, "somebody" was also dressed "in a way that was not in keeping with my client's religious beliefs."
Her clients need to get a thicker skin. And blinders...
I've sat on a couple of General Courts Martial and I guarantee you the mean old SOB Colonels that normally chaired those things would have told her to STFU in those exact words and to sit down and not say another word unless it was pertinent to the case.
Good Lord the tenacles of the lefts appropriation of law schools throughout the US has hit the Military.
Maybe we could have her flogged since she was not being appropriately respectful to the Presiding officer?
Posted by: Bill Clinton ||
Gitmo being a Navy base, keel-hauling would be the appropriate sanction. But let's get to the Islamo-point: what is this woman doing outside, unaccompanied by a male relative? Git in the kitchen and make us some falafal, woman!
Cheryl Bormann is an attorney from Chicago best known for defending Waleed bin Attash during his trial before the Guantanamo military commission in 2012. Bormann studied law at Loyola University Chicago. From 2008 through 2011 she headed the Capital Trial Assistant Unit at the Illinois State Appellate Defender, the state agency responsible for providing legal assistance to defendants in death penalty cases in Illinois. The abolition of the death penalty in Illinois in 2011 rendered Bormann's position redundant.
Posted by: Steve White ||
More from the Chicago-Kent Law School
Adjunct Faculty Biographies Cheryl T. Bormann
Joined the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender: 1989 Joined its leadership: 2003
Cheryl Bormann is an Attorney Supervisor at the Third Municipal District, Rolling Meadows Criminal Courthouse. As the only representative of Office leadership at Rolling Meadows, Cheryl supervises the work of 18 Assistant Public Defenders, who staff both felony and misdemeanor courtrooms. Cheryls duties include, in addition to administering day-to-day supervision, all the responsibilities that would normally adhere to being a work site Chief ensuring the proper staffing and handling of all courtrooms and cases, acting as a liaison between the Office and other agencies, and attending regular meetings with judges and other court personnel. Cheryl also maintains her own active caseload which primarily consists of capital and noncapital homicide cases.
Cheryl is certified by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve as lead counsel in death penalty trials as a member of the Capital Litigation Trial Bar. She is also an active speaker and teacher. At Loyola University School of Law, she was an adjunct professor where she has served as head coach of the Philip Corboy trial team. Cheryl teaches trial advocacy for the annual program sponsored by the Office of the State Appellate Defender. She is a frequent lecturer for many local bar associations on the subject of criminal law. Cheryl is actively involved with the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago, where she volunteers her time teaching public school students.
Cheryl became an Attorney Supervisor in 2003. Before serving in her current position, Cheryl was an Attorney Supervisor at the Sixth Municipal District, Markham Criminal Courthouse. This is Cheryls second time working for the Public Defender. When Cheryl first joined in the Office in 1989, she worked as an Assistant Public Defender at the Juvenile Justice Division. After four years, she transferred to the Felony Trial Division at 26th Street. She briefly left the Office in 1999, and maintained a private practice specializing in serious criminal defense litigation, but then returned to the Office in 2003. Cheryl has defended clients in excess of 50 jury trials and hundreds of bench trials, many of those facing murder and capital murder charges.
Cheryl received both her Bachelors degree and law degree from Loyola University.
Posted by: Steve White ||
It would appear that Ms. Bormann is a true progressive believer. Loyola Law and Chicago Kent are mid second-tier law schools (#67 and #61 respectively).
How she went from defending death penalty-eligible thugs in Chicago to Gitmo is an interesting question.
Posted by: Steve White ||
Coupla possibilities here.
One is the clowns are convicted but there is an appeal based on the failure of other women to wear hijabs in court unfairly prejudiced, or demonstrated existing prejudice and islamophobia.
That's a win, even if the appeal is refused. It goes into the record books as persecution of Muslims by the rotten US.
Or, the women on the prosecution team start dressing "appropriately" and that's a win because the entire US military is buffaloed by the fear of being accused of islamophobia--again, see Hasan's greased slide to Ft. Hood--and the left laughs. Also ratchets the power of the threat of accusation of islamophobia.
The trial becomes so confused by Ms. Borman and her Stockholmed ilk that it ends up a mistrial.
Posted by: Richard Aubrey ||
Appropriate clothing would be that prescribed by the relevant uniform regulations of the applicable service per regulation [e.g. - AR 670-1], per law, per Constitution [Article I, Section 8 Congressional authority to make all laws governing land and naval forces].
I went and read Thisainthell's little liveblog. She actually was in the BACK of the courtroom rather than beside her client! That Judge has the Patience of a Saint to put up with that, among other things.
Posted by: Charles ||
When in Saudi Arabia, you follow the rules there. When in the USA, you follow the rules here. He's messing with us, softening us up, trying to figure out where the lines are so the next guy can take advantage of it. This is crap. Maybe we can accommodate him when it's not inconvenient, but there should be no bending the rules based on anything. When he attacked us he gave himself to our rules if he got caught. This stupid attorney of his needs to stop kissing his feet.
I wouldn't worry too much about her "client" sinning. He probably won't see a woman again after his trial is over. He'll face grey empy walls for the next 20 years before he'll meet his destiny in a certain chamber.
I mean, NEVER see a woman again.
as or "respecting" the "beliefs" of her client, this sounds like asking Holocaust surviors to respect zthe Nazi beliefs of Eichmann in that Jerusalem courtroom.
Posted by: European Conservative ||
I've sat on a couple of General Courts Martial and I guarantee you the mean old SOB Colonels that normally chaired those things would have told her to STFU in those exact words and to sit down and not say another word unless it was pertinent to the case.
LOL, totally! I never tried a case before Pohl, so I don't know how squishy he is. Probably a bit twitchy because it's so political and high-profile. I'm just sad it's not Barto. Kind of guy who didn't allow gum-chewing in his courtroom. If he caught you, he'd call a recess, announce what color it was, and require silence so everyone could watch you frantically search for someplace other than your hand or your notepad to dispose of it. There'd be nothing left of Ms. Bormann's ego but a smoking crater.
LAHORE: Throwing a challenge to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asked the opposition party to resign from assemblies if they had courage to do so.
I will announce by-polls same day the PML-N resigns from assemblies, the prime minister said in a meeting with office-bearers of the Lahore Press Club.
Gilani asked his political foes not to live in a fools paradise as general elections would be on time, in 2013. He said the Sharifs were expressing solidarity with courts only to save themselves from several cases against them such as Mehrangate.
If they want to express solidarity, they should go to courts and get themselves cleared of cases.
Gilani said he and President Asif Ali Zardari had faced dictators with courage while PML-N President Nawaz Sharif had flown away after signing an agreement with dictator Pervez Musharraf.
The PPP leadership will again face dictators, if need be, but Mian brothers will again escape from the country in such a situation, the prime minister said.
Gilani said he was a constitutionally and democratically elected prime minister, adding that a vote of no-confidence by assembly members was the only way to oust him. He said that filing an appeal against the Supreme Courts verdict was his right according to Article 10-A of the constitution. But qualifying or disqualifying a prime minister is not the job of courts because it is a parliamentary process, Gilani said.
He said lawyers had supported stance of the PPP not only on the issue of ad hoc judges but also on legality of office of the prime minister.
Nobody can remove me from the office of prime minister through any undemocratic or unconstitutional method. There is a constitutional procedure to remove a PM from his office, he said.
UNRWA staff started an open-ended strike on Sunday, shutting down basic services for Jordan's 1.5 million Palestinian refugees.
Nearly all of the agency's 7,500 employees responded to a call by their representative councils to hold a work stoppage commencing May 6 in protest against UNRWA's "reluctance" to meet their demands, which include a JD100 pay raise retroactively from the beginning of this year without any cut in their incentives.
The employees are also demanding promotions for teachers, directors and supervisors; filling of vacancies in all the agencys sectors; and the improvement of work conditions.
The strike has "knock-on effects" on all of the Kingdoms Palestinian refugees, who depend on UNRWA for their livelihood, according to the agency.
"Shaker Risheq, head of UNRWA's employees union in the five fields of operations, tried to mediate between the administration in Jordan and heads of workers councils during the first day of the strike, but his attempts have failed to resolve the issue," said a head of one of the employees' councils, who preferred not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the record.
Oh goody. Just in time for the collapse of Europe and the second term of Champ...
ISTANBUL - At a meeting of Syria's opposition, Muslim Brotherhood officials gather round Marxists colleagues, nudging them to produce policy statements for the Syrian National Council, the main political group challenging President Bashar al-Assad.
With many living in the West, and some ditching their trademark beards, it is hard to differentiate Brotherhood from leftists. But there is little dispute about who calls the shots.
You can always re-grow a beard...
From annihilation at home 30 years ago when they challenged the iron-fisted rule of Hafez al-Assad, the Brotherhood has recovered to become the dominant force of the exile opposition in the 14-month-old revolt against his son Bashar. Careful not to undermine the council's disparate supporters, the Brotherhood has played down its growing influence within the Syrian National Council (SNC), whose public face is the secular Paris-based professor Bourhan Ghalioun.
"We chose this face, accepted by the West and by the inside. We don't want the regime to take advantage if an Islamist becomes the Syrian National Council's head," former Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni told supporters in a video.
The footage is now being circulated by Brotherhood opponents, seeking to highlight its undeclared power.
"We nominated Ghalioun as a front for national action. We are not moving now as Muslim Brotherhood but as part of a front that includes all currents," said Bayanouni.
They can seize power once Bashir is gone and the SNC is wobbly...
The Syrian Brotherhood is a branch of the Sunni Muslim movement founded in Egypt in the 1920s. It was a minor political player before a 1963 Baath Party coup but its support grew under the authoritarian 30-year rule of Hafez al-Assad, as his minority Alawite community dominated the majority Sunni country.
Mindful of international fears of Islamists taking power, and of the worries of Syria's ethnic and religious minorities, the Syrian Brotherhood portrays itself as espousing a moderate, Turkish-style Islamist agenda. It unveiled a manifesto last month that did not mention the word Islam and contained pledges to respect individual rights.
With backing from Ankara, and following the political ascendancy of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya since Arab Spring revolts broke out two years ago, the group is poised to be at the top of any new governing system in Syria.
The Turks no doubt think that the Syrian MB is their cats paw...
Extending the loose Brotherhood umbrella to Syria will raise pressure on the U.S.-backed Hashemite monarchy in Jordan, where the local Brotherhood has been sidelined by laws that favor tribal politicians allied with the security apparatus.
Iraq's Shi'ite rulers could also find they have a hardline Sunni government as their neighbor, and Lebanon's Shi'ite guerrilla group Hezbollah would lose its main Arab backer.
Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.
"We bicker while the Brotherhood works," said Fawaz al-Tello, a veteran opposition figure who is a pious Muslim while being on the liberal end of the Syrian political spectrum.
Isn't that the way it usually works? Stalin out-hustled his competitors, Bonaparte out-hustled his...
"They have gained control of the SNC's aid division and the military bureau, its only important components," said Tello, a former political prisoner who fled Syria four months ago. "But they still have to work more do to get support on the inside. Lots of clerics, activists and rebels do not want to be linked to them."
Wait a few months and they won't have much choice.
Tello, however, acknowledged that the Brotherhood has clawed back influence inside Syria, especially in the cities of Homs and Hama and the rural province of Idlib on the border with Turkey, hotbeds of the revolt against Assad.
This is no small feat after three decades in the political wilderness. Unlike Arab rulers who tried to co-opt the movement by granting it limited operation, the Assads excluded it and all other opposition from the political system.
Bashar's father Hafez al-Assad's forces killed, tortured and imprisoned tens of thousands of people after leftists and Islamists began challenging his rule in the 1970s. The Brotherhood took the brunt of the repression, and a 1980 decree singled out membership as punishable by death.
Mulhem Droubi, educated in Canada and one of a younger generation of Brotherhood leaders, said the group is not primarily concerned with political prominence.
"We are a party that presents moderate solutions. We are not extremists, neither to the left nor to the right and our program is the most accepted by the Syrian street," he said.
"We are working for the downfall of Bashar al-Assad and not to find a popular base. We leave competition for the future in a free Syria," the softly spoken Droubi told Reuters.
Droubi, however, acknowledged that the road to democracy will be even more bloody, adding that the Brotherhood began supporting armed resistance in earnest a month ago.
The issue sharply divided the group in the 1980s, when it took up arms against the president. Assad's forces killed nearly 20,000 people when they overran the city of Hama in 1982, where the Brotherhood's armed division made it last stand.
Droubi said there is no dispute now about the need for armed resistance, alongside street protests against Assad.
"Too many of our people have been killed. Too many have been raped," Droubi said, adding that Brotherhood was committed to a setting up a multi-party democracy if Assad is toppled.
Droubi pointed to a political program unveiled by the Brotherhood last month in Istanbul, which committed to multi-party democracy in a future Syria. It said a new constitution would be reached through consensus and guarantee fair representation for diverse ethnicities and religious groups.
"Our proposals are more advanced than the Brotherhood in other countries," he said.
Bassam Ishaq, a Christian opposition figure who has worked with the Brotherhood within the SNC, said the manifesto bore the marks of the Brotherhood's pragmatism.
"If they get a chance to seize power by themselves they will do it, but they realize that it will be difficult in country where 30 percent of the population are ethnic or religious minorities," said Ishaq.
"The street has lost faith in leftist politicians. After the repression in the 1980s, the leftists dispersed. The Brotherhood kept together and rebuilt while in exile, aided by donations from wealthy Syrians in and support in the Gulf," he added.
In a demonstration of their financial muscle, Brotherhood operatives were dispatched last month with suitcases of cash to a dusty camp for Free Syrian Army defectors in a Turkish region bordering Syria near Antakya.
Sources in the camp said the Brotherhood was supporting Colonel Riad al-Asaad, one of the first prominent defectors last year, now at odds with more senior officers who deserted later. Colonel Asaad now sports a Brotherhood-style beard.
Street activists who have had little to do with the Brotherhood are also being lured by promises of instant support for the revolt.
"I approached them and they instantly gave me 2,000 euros when I asked for help...and I am not even Ikhwan (Brotherhood)," said veteran activist Othman al-Bidewi, who regularly travels between Syria and the border region in Turkey to drum up support for street demonstrations against Assad in Idlib province.
"The Brotherhood wants to restore its political base. It is their right," he added.
Any Hizbollah retaliation to an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would prompt Israel to launch a war in Lebanon so ferocious that it would take a decade to rebuild the villages it destroys, a senior Israeli military officer has warned.
Despite the inevitable international outcry, Israel would be left with no choice but to lay waste to swathes of southern Lebanon because Hizbollah has entrenched itself so deeply within the civilian population, he said.
The unusually stark warning comes after months of heightened speculation that the Israeli government is considering unilateral military action against Iran's nuclear installations despite opposition from the United States.
Although the prospect of an attack in the next few months is unlikely until after Israelis vote in a September general election, Ehud Barak, the country's defence minister, recently insisted that military strikes had not been ruled out.
Israel has always been aware of the heavy price it could incur from such an attack, with Iran able to retaliate through Hizbollah and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza. Both Islamist movements have long been funded and armed by Tehran and have built up vast stockpiles of rockets capable of reaching deep into Jewish territory.
But Israel has also sensed an unexpected opportunity as a result of the Arab Spring, which has significantly diminished Tehran's regional clout.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.