The controversial troop deployment to Helmand will draw directly on the "lessons from Iraq" when there was inadequate coalition planning for reconstruction, according to the officer commanding British forces in the region.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Col Gordon Messenger, who led 40 Commando of the Royal Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said that the failures of three years ago would not be repeated.
He made clear that the British approach, which will entail up to 50 civilians including diplomats and aid specialists working with the troops in Helmand, will differ from American strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Pentagon drives reconstruction policy.
"We have been very much part of a cross-governmental team here from the outset," said Col Messenger, who commands the 260-strong element preparing for the full force of 3,300 force due to be fully in place in Helmand by July.
"There will be representatives from the Foreign Office and Department for International Development alongside us. A new Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit has been set up in the wake of lessons from Iraq."
The colonel acknowledged the high threat of suicide bombs, rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices and the likelihood of casualties.
A "myriad of ne'er do wells" in Helmand, including Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives, he said, would "have a go and test us out early" once patrolling begins in earnest in May.
Afghanistan has given Pakistan detailed information about members of the Taliban who Afghanistan says are orchestrating a stubborn insurgency from Pakistani soil, President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday. Karzai said he was now waiting for action. "We gave our brothers a lot of information, very detailed information about individuals, locations and other issues," Karzai told a news conference in Kabul, referring to the intelligence handed over to the Pakistani authorities. Karzai refused to give details of the information handed over to Pakistan.
Yemen still holds 172 al-Qaeda suspects in its prisons including 34 who were planning to go to Iraq, the country's interior minister said, according to report by Gulf News.
"We still have 172 al-Qaeda suspects in custody and security forces have been collecting information about them in joint coordination and cooperation with the states of the region. Thirty-four of them were planning to go to Iraq," said Dr Rashad Al Alimi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, in his speech at the 9th conference of European Police in Berlin on Wednesday.
"The security authorities foiled nine terror operations during the period from 2002 to 2005," the minister said. "And 130 al-Qaeda suspects have already been put on trial," he added in his speech, carried by the Yemeni media yesterday.
A group of 69 men, most of whom are al-Qaeda suspects, were arrested while infiltrating from the neighboring Saudi Arabia to Yemen during 2005.
The official confirmed that his country had handed over the 69 men to Saudi Arabia, according to security agreements between the two countries. "Some of those 69 men were planning to go to Iraq," he said.
The minister however did not make it clear whether the 172 al Qaeda suspects still being held include the 23 al Qaeda fugitives who escaped earlier this month from a Sana'a prison.
Al Alimi said security authorities in his country had made progress in the war on terror despite limited resources of security, and "poverty and unemployment form a good environment for breeding terrorism and extremism."
The official called on all states to adopt a comprehensive strategy for fighting terror and the reasons behind it. "Adopting a strategy to combat terrorism must have a comprehensive look which takes into consideration combating poverty, political reforms, drying sources of extremism, smuggling, illegal immigration in all countries," the official said.
Underscoring Yemen's bid to combat terrorism, Alimi said security forces stopped at least nine terrorist operations between 2002 and 2005, the UPI news agency reported.
The Yemeni official stressed the need to adopt a comprehensive anti-terror strategy that would focus on development issues, combating poverty, introducing political economic reforms and tackling the sources of extremism.
He said Yemen took pre-emptive measures in combating terrorism before 9-11, including tightening official control over religious schools and their curricula, noting that uncontrolled teaching at religious institutes can help incite extremism and mobilize the youth through misleading ideas.
Al Alimi also pointed out that Yemen introduced laws to increase supervision over money transfers and the sources of financing of civilian associations and institutions.
He said dialogue with Muslim extremists who were not involved in any violence was fruitful in bringing them back to the moderate path of Islam.
the following is from the link I posted in my earlier comment. But the emirate's banking system was used by 9-11 hijackers, and the UAE was one of three nations that had recognized the brutal Taliban government in Afghanistan.
From the Dept. of Are You Sure You Thought This Thing Through?
A day after Space Adventures announced it was in a venture to develop rocket ships for suborbital flights, the company said Friday it plans to build a $265 million spaceport in the United Arab Emirates.
And surely the Emiris would NEVER nationalize anything as trivial as a spaceport, yes?
The commercial spaceport would be based in Mos Eisely Ras Al-Khaimah near the southern end of the Persian Gulf, and the UAE government has made an initial investment of $30 million, the Arlington, Va.-based company said in a statement.
Arlington, VA, where less than five years ago a civilian aircraft was commandeered and deliberately driven into the Pentagon. How soon we forget.
The spaceport announcement comes on the heels of Space Adventures' new partnership with an investment firm founded by major sponsors of the Ansari X Prize to develop rocket ships for suborbital flights. The agreement between Space Adventures and the Texas-based venture capital firm Prodea would help finance suborbital vehicles being designed and built by the Russian aerospace firm Myasishchev Design Bureau.
And here's Russia in the mix. I'm feeling better and better about this. Not.
Would the UAE be able to run a thing as complicated as a spaceport without American expertise? And wouldn't the construction company have the plans on file in case it were necessary to take care of things.... later?
A UAE spaceport and UAE port security in the US. Have we lost our minds? We are going transfer a little space technology to the UAE and allow an UAE company to run our port security? What, pray tell, would happen if someone shows a cartoon of Muhammad to one of the port security officials or at the spaceport?
A Sunday Herald investigation has undermined claims by a UK Lord that suspects arrested on terrorism charges in Scotland, but later freed, had been planning mass murder.
Lord Carlile, the independent assessor of UK terrorism laws, claimed last week that he had been shown secret information which convinced him the suspects posed a real threat and could have been prosecuted if the police had had more time to hold them.
His comments were made on the eve of a crucial vote, which the government won, favouring new legislation outlawing the act of glorifying terrorism.
The men were arrested in Edinburgh in December 2002 under anti-terror laws. The charges against them were dropped in December 2003.
Their lawyer has already hit out at Lord Carliles comments and at a whispering campaign by the security services who insist in private briefings that the men were guilty.
A document passed to the Sunday Herald shows that the Home Office knows that at least one of the men Fouad Lasnami is innocent.
The revelation is contained in a copy of an immigration hearing adjudication for Lasnami. The hearing, in Glasgow, was held almost a year after the charges were dropped. At the hearing, Lasnami fought for the right to remain in the UK, claiming he would be persecuted and possibly tortured and killed if sent back to Algeria.
A written report of the entire hearing, compiled by the immigration adjudicator, Donald Corke, revealed that the Home Offices own representative at the hearing admitted that the British government does not consider Lasnami to be a terrorist and says explicitly that he has no links to al-Qaeda.
The official said: It would be right to assume that there was an exchange of information between the Algerian and British security services [regarding Lasnami]. There had been a very thorough investigation in the United Kingdom. Because of the exchange of information, the United Kingdom would have supplied evidence of his clean bill of health. As far as the United Kingdom was concerned, he was not a terrorist or a member of al-Qaeda, otherwise he would still be in custody.
However, last night British intelligence was sticking to the line that they believed that at least some of the suspects were terrorists. One very senior intelligence official, who has seen the same documents as Lord Carlile, said he believed that these men are 100% terrorists of the al-Qaeda affiliated kind.
He said that it was possible Lasnami had been innocent while others were guilty, or that the Home Office had held back information from the immigration hearing in the hope he would be thrown out of the UK anyway.
He insisted that the information shown to Lord Carlile had not been cherry-picked or exaggerated. He added: The Scottish justice system was clearly not working in the public interest.
The official added: We need to look at the relationship between the police and the Crown Office. If you talk to any chief constable in Scotland, they complain about the Procurator Fiscal service.
Aamer Anwar, of Beltrami Anwar solicitors, who represented the men, said: What is being said about these men is utter rubbish based on misinformation and lies. To say there was no time or resources is nonsense. The point is that there was no evidence against them.
Lord Carlile has been briefed wrongly by the security services. Its a deliberate attempt to hoodwink someone who the public sees as independent, in order to push through unpleasant terror laws and create bogeymen that dont exist.
The lives of my clients have been destroyed. After Lord Carliles comments, one was in my office in tears.
Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today. The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.
Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society, even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.
What they say and what they do is different.
Last night, Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP involved with the official task force set up after the July attacks, said the findings were "alarming". He added: "Vast numbers of Muslims feel disengaged and alienated from mainstream British society." Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "This poll confirms the widespread opposition among British Muslims to the so-called war on terror."
The most startling finding is the high level of support for applying sharia law in "predom-inantly Muslim" areas of Britain. Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it. Twenty per cent felt sympathy with the July 7 bombers' motives, and 75 per cent did not. One per cent felt the attacks were "right".
Half of the 500 people surveyed said relations between white Britons and Muslims were getting worse. Only just over half thought the conviction of the cleric Abu Hamza for incitement to murder and race hatred was fair.
Mr Khan, the MP for Tooting, said: "We must redouble our efforts to bring Muslims on board with the mainstream community. For all the efforts made since last July, things do not have appear to have got better." He agreed with Sir Iqbal that the poll showed Muslims still had a "big gripe" about foreign policy, particularly over the war on terror and Iraq.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: "It shows we have a long way to go to win the battle of ideas within some parts of the Muslim community and why it is absolutely vital that we reinforce the voice of moderate Islam wherever possible."
Whatever that is.
A spokesman for Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said: "It is critically important to ensure that Muslims, and all faiths, feel part of modern British society. Today's survey indicates we still have a long way to go [but] we are committed to working with all faiths to ensure we achieve that end."
It's also important that Muslims, and all faiths, have loyalty to Britain. It's a two-way street: you can't be part of modern British society if you don't wish to be.
In the 'Foundation' series by Asimov, there was a cool machine which would take long winded input by politicians or others and boil it down to concise logical statements. If this poll was used as input, that machine would explode.
I wonder if logic itself is incompatible with Islam.
The British House of Commons voted earlier this week to strengthen the anti-terrorism laws by criminalizing the glorification of terrorist operations. British Prime Minister Tony Blair achieved victory through the House of Commons in his anti-terrorism efforts as the House agreed, with a majority of 83 votes in favor of the new law. Despite criticism by a number of sympathizers members of the ruling Labor Party, Prime Minister Tony Blair obtained a clear majority as 315 MPs voted for the bill whereas 277 MPs who voted against it.
See, I'm not smart enough to understand why, on the one hand, Islamists are howling for the world's press to be muzzled to protect their tender sensibilities, and on the other hand they're demanding that their speech remain unrestricted, to the point of calling for murder, mayhem, and the overthrow of civilization.
Blair has lost three ballots since November 2005, which is partly due to a rebellion within his Labor Party. The British prime minister said that the vote would send a "signal of power" and help the authorities in confronting those who support violence.
But last year's attacks are all in the past now, and we were all so much younger then. And the victims aren't dead anymore, and the maimed have healed up, mostly. So maybe we should just let things go along like they've been going...
Last month, the House of Lords voted to remove this article from the anti-terrorism bill; however, the House of Commons voted in the past few days to restore it, despite the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats voting against this reinstallation. The bill will be sent back to the House of Lords over the next few days for another ballot.
There's no hurry, no urgency, all the time in the world...
According to the statements made by a Hizb ul-Tahrir representative to Asharq al-Awsat, "The bill is not final, and will be sent back to the House of Lords." The source pointed out that what was strange was that the bill, with all the articles that were rejected by the House of Lords, would be sent back to the same Upper House.
Maybe they'll get the idea this time...
He explained that Hizb ul-Tahrir would go to the High Court if it were banned by the British Government. He added that Hizb ul-Tahrir has bases in a number of Arab, Islamic, and European countries.
And is banned in many of them, for the same reasons the Brits talked briefly about cracking down on them.
The British Government, following the final approval of the bill after it passes through the House of Lords, hopes to ban fundamentalist organizations and parties, such as Hizb ul-Tahrir, and Al-Ghuraba, which was led by the Syrian, Omar Bakri, before he escaped to Beirut.
Y'mean before he ran away with his tail between his legs?
The anti-terrorism bill was presented after the July 2005 terrorist attacks, which led to the death of 50 people in London. Those in opposition to the new anti-terrorism law argued, "The term glorification is too ambiguous, and could endanger freedom of expression." Blair said that it was necessary to increase the powers of the security forces in order to launch campaigns against those believed to encourage violent attacks.
Those campaigns are going to come any day now, we're sure...
The dispute over the glorification term has become more urgent this month, after demonstrators in Britain protesting against the Danish cartoons of Prophet Mohammad, raised banners inciting violence against non-Muslims.
I'd have thought it would have cleared things right up, what with people parading around with the glorification of violence on signs and banners and such.
Fundamentalists told Asharq al-Awsat that the anti-terrorism law in its new form would push the Islamists to work covertly.
Kind of boggles the mind, doesn't it, that they're describing a situation where they can't subvert the state in broad daylight as a bad thing.
Egyptian Islamist Dr Hani al-Sibai, director of the Al-Maqrizi Center for Studies in London said, "A law banning the glorification of terrorism means muzzling the Islamists, because the term is broad; even the Friday sermons will be subjected to the new law."
Al-Sibai pointed out that the interpretation of the two Quranic chapters, al-Anfal and al-Towba, could be taken as glorification of terrorism as they refer to fighting.
So you're admitting that the problem comes down to Islam itself, rather than a small sect within it?
Once, not so long ago, Europe saw itself as the Middle East's honest broker, poised between a hard-line United States and an equally intransigent Muslim world. At the same time Russia, once a regional superpower, was... nowhere. While the European Union played mediator in conflicts from Palestine to Iran, Russia contented itself with hawking a few weapons systems and tending its own post-Soviet backyard.
What a difference a couple of years can make. In the wake of Hamas's Palestinian election win and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadine-jad's defiance over his country's uranium-enrichment program, Europe is edging ever closer to the tougher stance taken by the United States. Meanwhile, a newly confident Russia has stepped into Europe's shoes as middleman between East and West, reaching out to the region's untouchablesand making it clear that Moscow won't be taking orders from anyone.
Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin outraged the United States and Israel by inviting the leaders of Hamas to Moscow for talks. "Hamas is in powerthis is a fact" was Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov's blunt message. "It came to power as a result of free democratic elections." Moscow has broken ranks with the West in Iran, too. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia won'tfor the time being, at leastback U.N. sanctions against Tehran, even as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice complained that Iran is now "in open defiance of the international community." Russia insists instead that the way forward is to persuade Tehran to accept a scheme to enrich its uranium on Russian territory. "No one has the right to deny another country the right to safe atomic power," Russia's atomic-energy chief, Sergei Kiriyenko, recently told NEWSWEEK.
The new assertiveness, analysts say, is part and parcel of Russia's recent muscle-flexing in Eastern Europe. After a winter spent wielding energy as a political weapon against wayward former Soviet states such as Ukraine and Georgia, the Kremlin has now turned its sights to a broader forum. "First Russia went on a counterattack in the former Soviet Union," says analyst Dmitri Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center. "Now it is doing the same in the Middle East." Putin gave an important clue to Russia's thinking earlier this month when he described the Hamas victory as "an important setback for American efforts in the Middle East." The implication: America has no infallible monopoly on power and influence, and certainly not at Russia's expense.
For all the United States' and Israel's indignation at Russia's meddling, there's actually a chance that Moscow may succeed where the others have failed. "Unlike America, Russia is not bound up by legal objections to talking [with Hamas]," says Alexander Kalugin, Russia's special envoy to the Middle East, who met with senior Hamas representatives last week in Ramallah. And what Russia has to say to Hamas doesn't differ much in substance from the message propounded by the other members of the "quartet" of interested partiesthe United States, the EU and the United Nations. "Their message will be consistent: that Israel has a right to exist, that previous Palestinian Authority agreements should be honored and that they should renounce violence," says one Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The main problem is that Russia didn't see fit to discuss its initiative with the others. "There was not a lot of advance consultation about the talks," admits the diplomat. For the Kremlin, it seems, the important point is to distance itself from the United Statesand to emphasize that Russia is no longer a junior partner in Washington's foreign policy.
The risk is, of course, that Russia's strategy of talking to Hamas could backfire. After all, Russia dubs its own Chechen separatists "terrorists" and complains vociferously when the U.K. and United States offer political asylum to rebel leaders such as Ilyas Akhmadov, a self-styled "ambassador" of independent Chechnya. "If today Moscow talks to Hamas," warns Russia's Chief Rabbi Beryl Lazar, "tomorrow we'll hear demands for talks with [Chechen rebel Shamil] Basayev, the day after tomorrow for talks with Al Qaeda."
And Russia's self-appointed role as honest broker doesn't sit terribly well with its place as a major arms supplier, especially to Iran. Last month Rosvooruzheniye, Russia's giant state-owned arms-export company, announced that Tehran had agreed to spend $1 billion on 30 Tor-M1 air-defense missile systems, capable of protecting a target from up to 48 incoming planes or projectiles to a range of six kilometers. Iran also has a longstanding accord with Moscow for up to $7 billion in conventional arms, including MiG-29 fighters, assistance with Iran's small submarine fleet, BMP-3 armored personnel carriers and landing craft.
The bottom line? Moscow may be broadly cooperative in international efforts to get Iran to cease its uranium- enrichment programbut at the same time, it's providing Iran with the means to defend itself against a possible air raid like the Israeli strike that destroyed Saddam Hussein's French-built Osirak reactor in 1981. In that, Russia's "new" role looks more like that played in the pastless middleman than a check on Washington and the West.
Remember that Russian diplomacy is very, very old, and taht they are big on learning from diplomatic history. However, there are some constants to their diplomatic efforts that need to be remembered.
First is that they are sticklers for the letter of treaties, but violate the heck out of the spirit of them. They see nothing wrong in this and often don't object when others do it.
Second, that when they are in the middle, they both seek to profit from that position, and they seek to remain in that position by not altering the balance of power. That is, they may provide an imbalance to seemingly favor one side, but it will not be effective. Such as the advanced radar they are now providing Iran.
Third, they have a deep understanding of the Asiatic concept of "face", so prefer a mutually less than satisfactory outcome to a clear win and loss.
Fourth, they can sometimes clear obstacles that neither side can remove themselves. For example, sneaking the WMDs out of Iraq solved many problems. It stopped intentional or accidental use; it stopped US WMD retaliation; and it avoided much embarassment to those countries that provided the WMD parts and chemicals in the first place.
Fifth, their dual European and Asiatic natures can sometimes work in breaking up diplomatic logjams. If one of their personalities doesn't work, they switch to the other.
Appeasing the radicals does not help. Here is another example.
The Danish-Swedish diary giant Arla is the worst hit victim of the Muslim boycott of Danish products. Arab countries constituted Arlas most important export markets. An article in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten today suggest that Arla itself has for many years been boycotting Israel because apparently companies doing business in Muslim countries are obliged to accept a clause that they will not trade with Israel.
[PS: Arla immediately denied this in a press statement]
Naturally, private companies and individuals are entitled to boycott whomever they want to. The present instance, however, shows that those who try to be a friend of extremists have no guarantee that the extremists will reciprocate the friendship...
I'm loving this whole thing. I hope it goes on and on, getting bigger and bigger. Many people who previous were unaware of the whole appeasing Muslims thing, can now see how far it's gone and how it just makes the problem worse.
I agree. This whole thing is a wake up call, a clarifying moment. Eventually it will die down and the usual appeasers will get back to trying to distract the world with our own petty quarrels and convince us that these nutters are really nothing to worry about...no threats exist, it's just a phantom menace conjured up by the NeoCons. But it will be harder to do and fewer people will be able to believe them.
No pun intended *snicker, snicker*
Libya has suspended its security minister and other officials, a day after at least 10 people were killed during a demonstration at the Italian consulate in the north eastern city of Benghazi.
In Rome, meanwhile, Roberto Calderoli, the Italian reform minister, has resigned, bowing to pressure from government colleagues after Libya blamed his anti-Islamic insults for igniting the demonstration, the most deadly yet of a continuing international orgy of destruction wave of protests against cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.
A statement from the general secretariat of Libya's parliament on Saturday read: "Security Minister Nasr Mabrouk has been suspended from his duties and taken before an investigating magistrate." The statement added that a national day of mourning would be observed on Sunday to honour "our martyrs".
Calderoli, of the so-called xenophobic Northern League party, had appeared on a prime time news programme on Thursday wearing a T-shirt printed with the provocative cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper last year and which have recently been widely re-published in Europe.
The Libyan deaths took place after about 1000 people gathered to protest outside the Roman consulate.
Calderoli, who has frequently attacked Islam in recent weeks and once called Muslim immigrants in Italy "Ali Babas" *chortle* , seemed defiant to the last, showing no signs of contrition in a series of newspaper interviews published on Saturday. "I can be sorry for the victims, but what happened in Libya has nothing to do with my T-shirt. The question is different. What's at stake is Western civilisation," the daily La Repubblica quoted him as saying. Yes, but logic and dhimmitude don't mix.
The al-Qadhafi foundation, headed by the reform-minded son of Muammar al-Qadhafi, the Libyan leader, issued a statement blaming the riot on Calderoli's "provocative and outrageous" actions. And who better to judge "provocative and outrageous" than the Al-Qadaffy foundation?
Meanwhile, in a telephone conversation Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, and the Libyan leader agreed that the anti-Italian violence should have no "negative repercussions" for bilateral relations inshallah, Berlusconi's office said. Calderoli's brazen stand embarrassed Italy's centre-right government, which is campaigning for April general elections. On Saturday, several ministers, as well as leaders of the centre-left opposition, urged Calderoli to step down.
The two leaders had a "long and amicable" discussion focusing on Friday's violence in Benghazi.
Minister grovels desperately visits mosque
Gianfranco Fini, the Italian foreign minister, quickly scheduled a visit to Rome's main mosque for later Saturday, saying he wanted "to reaffirm that we respect every religion, and we expect identical respect," according to the ANSA and Apcom news agencies. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the Italian president and a highly respected voice in the country, issued a statement saying that in Italy, "there is a clear, undisputed policy that reflects the dominant feeling of non-Muslim Italians: the respect of religious creeds and of the faiths of all peoples.
"Above all, those who have a responsibility in government have to show responsible behaviour," Ciampi said, adding that he was "deeply saddened" by the clashes at Benghazi.
Calderoli defies PM
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Calderoli said he had declined a previous plea to resign from Berlusconi last week, after he threatened to wear the T-shirt. "I'm certainly not changing my mind," he told the paper. Under the Italian constitution, the premier does not have the power to sack ministers. Lunch, on the other hand, can definitely be sacked.
In comments reported by another newspaper, Corriere della Sera, Calderoli said he would resign only if Umberto Bossi, the Northern League leader, asked him to do so, and "after receiving a signal from the Islamic world that such a gesture would be useful". Please, oh Islamic world, give us infidels a sign!
Calderoli travelled to Bossi's house in northern Italy on Saturday to meet him and Fini, another Northern League minister. Fini, who had earlier appealed to Calderoli to avoid provoking Muslims, blamed his fellow minister for the violence in Libya. "It was predictable that Calderoli's display would trigger reactions in the Arab world," Fini told La Repubblica.
Because as we all know, Allan helps those who can't help themselves.
The front pages of Italian papers were dominated by the story on Saturday.
ROME - An Italian Cabinet minister blamed for sparking riots in Libya by wearing a T-shirt showing blasphemous cartoons resigned on Saturday, the news agency ANSA reported. Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli had been under increasing pressure to step down after his decision to wear the shirt featuring caricatures was blamed for the protests on Friday at the Italian consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which at least 10 people were killed.
Since last spring, Elizabeth Frank has carried her anti-war crusade to the hallways of several northwest suburban high schools. Once a month she sets up a table in the commons stacked with pamphlets and decorated with a shocking pink sign that reads: "Do You Know Enough to Enlist?"
So far, Frank's effort to educate students on the perils of joining the military mostly has been met by a wall of teenage indifference--few students seem interested in having a serious conversation about the consequences of war.
"We haven't had many problems, but we've gotten a few snide comments from staff," said Frank, a longtime peace activist from Chicago. "Each time I come to Prospect [High School in Mt. Prospect], there is one kid who walks by and flips me off. He never says anything, just walks by and gives me the finger."
Despite an occasional chilly reception, Frank and other "counter-recruiters" opposed to the war in Iraq are trying to persuade one potential soldier at a time to pursue other career options. In recent months, activists say, they have visited 25 high schools in the Chicago area as they expand efforts to preach their message that life in the armed forces isn't what recruiters make it out to be.
Some counter-recruiters complain that the Chicago Public Schools system has been slow to implement a 1984 federal court ruling that gives opponents of the military equal access to students. One peace group, Code Pink, joined anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan outside Amundsen High School in Chicago on Friday to raise awareness about the equal-access provision and call on schools to allow counter-recruiters on campus.
Mike Vaughn, a Chicago schools spokesman, said that administrators were reminded about the equal access provision last spring and that counter-recruiters are allowed to visit schools when they request it. As recently as Tuesday, Senn High School let some activists talk to students in the cafeteria.
The local effort mirrors a national movement to stymie military recruitment in a period when American support for the war has plunged and as the U.S. military comes off a year when it failed to meet recruiting goals.
In San Francisco, voters in November approved a non-binding resolution that called on city officials to create scholarships and training programs that would reduce the military's appeal to young adults. And about 5,000 students in Massachusetts public schools "opted out," or had their names and phone numbers removed from lists that public schools are required to pass on to military recruiters.
In several cities throughout the country, including Chicago, activists have targeted young Hispanic men to educate them about the pitfalls of joining the military.
Bill Kelo, a spokesman for the U.S. Army recruiting efforts in Chicago, suggested that counter-recruiting activity has had no effect locally. In the first quarter of fiscal 2006, Kelo said the number of U.S. Army enlistees in the area has risen by 46 percent compared with the same period the previous year.
The Army has increased signing bonuses and other incentives as well as putting more recruiters on the street and allocating more money to advertising after a difficult recruiting year in 2005.
"We say our piece, and the [counter-recruiters] have a right to say theirs," Kelo said.
The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that promotes non-violence, prints literature for counter-recruiters to distribute to young people who may be thinking about enlisting.
The activists warn students to read any contract carefully and to be wary of promises from recruiters that they can join the armed services but avoid combat. Their literature also suggests alternative ways for young people to serve their country such as joining the Peace Corps or running for office.
Earlier this year, two other high schools in Township High School District 214--Wheeling and Buffalo Grove--agreed to allow Frank to talk to students in the commons once a month.
At Wheeling, the school picks the day she can visit, but at Buffalo Grove and Prospect, Frank says she tries to pick a day that comes on the heels of an appearance by a military recruiter, so the topic is still fresh in the minds of students.
A recent visit to Wheeling happened to fall on the same day that a Marines recruiter stopped by.
"I had a nice chat with the guy, but he was a bit defensive," said Frank, who lives in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood.
During a counter-recruiting session last week at Prospect, most of the students who stopped by Frank's table quickly passed over the literature and seemed more interested in the hard candy she had placed in a basket.
A few teachers and staff members stopped by to say hello to Frank, 57, whose two children graduated from Prospect.
In a different category were the two boys in khakis and button-down shirts who checked out the literature. One of the teens told her that his attitude on Iraq is that "we should kill them all."
A little later a young man with a lip ring told Frank that he hoped to join the Army and become a sniper. Frank suggested that he talk to Rick Davis, 58, a Vietnam War veteran who was manning the table with her that day, about what life at war is like.
With each young person he talks to, Davis suggests that they ask themselves a series of questions: Are you willing to give up all that is near and dear to you for an undetermined period of time? Is this a cause for which you are willing to die? Is it a cause for which you are willing to kill?
"It's the `Are you willing to kill' question that stops a lot of the kids in their tracks," said Davis, a former Marine sergeant. "If you are not able to answer yes to all three questions, I don't think the military is the place for you."
When Frank arrived for her first counter-recruiting session at Buffalo Grove High School last month, some students were surprised to see a peace activist given the chance to offer an opposing view to the military.
"It was good to hear from someone who wasn't sugar-coating everything," said Paul Thornton, 17, a senior.
Danielle Levin, a senior member of the school's JROTC program, said that initially she was wary of seeing a peace activist in the school. But Levin, 17, concluded that Frank was offering a "fact-based" presentation.
"The decision of whether to enlist is something you need to be well informed about," said Levin. "But I think they need to be careful about how they present their information. Anybody can interpret facts and statistics to make them say what they want. It's really simple for recruiters to put it one way and the [peace activists] to put it another." That's the trouble with kids today, they have no respect for their pinko hippie elders.
For those of you following the NSA affair, this article will bring you up to date on all the nattering.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, standing firmly with the White House on the administration's eavesdropping program, said Sunday he doesn't think new or updated legislation is needed to govern domestic surveillance to foil terrorists. "I don't think that it does need to be rewritten, but we are holding hearings in the Judiciary Committee right now," Frist said on CBS'"Face the Nation."
Frist also said he didn't think a court order is needed before eavesdropping, under the program, occurs. "Does it have to be thrown over to the courts? I don't think so. I personally don't think so," he said. Critics argue the program, run by the National Security Agency, sidesteps the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prohibits domestic eavesdropping without a warrant from a special intelligence court.
"This NSA program - it has to comply with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it has to comply with the Fourth Amendment," which guarantees protection against unreasonable searches, California Rep. Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Some lawmakers are drafting legislation to change FISA, and Sen. Pat Roberts, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says he has worked out an agreement with the White House to consider legislation and provide more information to Congress on the eavesdropping program.
While insisting the program is legal and setting the bar high on any possible legislative changes, White House officials recently signaled they are willing to work with Congress if it feels that further "codification" of the law is needed. A White House spokesman declined to comment further on the issue on Sunday. White House officials are discussing a proposal by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, that would more specifically OK warrantless domestic surveillance, but give lawmakers more oversight.
Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said there is bipartisan consensus on Congress to make FISA, which was written in the 1970s, more flexible, establish more congressional oversight into such surveillance and preserve judicial review, or the need for a warrant in certain cases. "I do believe we can provide oversight in a meaningful way without compromising the program, and I am adamant that the courts have some role when it comes to warrants," Graham said. "If you're going to follow an American citizen around for an extended period of time believing they're collaborating with the enemy, at some point in time, you need to get some judicial review, because mistakes can be made."
Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., told Fox that it's in the Bush administration's interest to make sure there is a neutral party overseeing the program. "Otherwise, you're going to have a number of Americans out there who incorrectly think that (former FBI Director) J. Edgar Hoover has been brought back to life and that there could be abuses taking place."
In the spring of 2001, long before Sept. 11 and the American focus on Iraq, the CIA asked its Paris station about rumors that 200 tons of nuclear material had vanished from two French-owned mines in the West African nation of Niger.
"We heard stories this stuff had gone to Iraq, or to Syria, or Libya, or China or North Korea. We heard all kinds of stories," said a now-retired CIA officer.
But the CIA soon concluded that a French-run consortium maintained strict control over stockpiles of uranium ore in Niger, a former French colony, and that none had been illegally diverted.
"Everything was accounted for," the former spy said. "Case closed."
This really boils down to whether we want to believe the French and the CIA over what the administration says. The press is, of course, in love with the French. Strangely enough, the same press that used to distrust the CIA is now inclined to believe its claims, now that it aggressively opposes American national interests.
A top Pentagon official who was responsible for tracking Saddam Hussein's weapons programs before and after the 2003 liberation of Iraq, has provided the first-ever account of how Saddam Hussein "cleaned up" his weapons of mass destruction stockpiles to prevent the United States from discovering them.
"The short answer to the question of where the WMDs Saddam bought from the Russians went was that they went to Syria and Lebanon," former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John. A. Shaw told an audience Saturday at a privately sponsored "Intelligence Summit" in Alexandria, Va. (www.intelligencesummit.org)
"They were moved by Russian Spetsnaz (special forces) units out of uniform, that were specifically sent to Iraq to move the weaponry and eradicate any evidence of its existence," he said.
Ion Pacepa told about the soviet/russian doctrine pre-arranged plan of WMD-removing/destroying for client states (in order to deny a propaganda opportunity and to obsfucate) quite some time ago, a couple of years IIRC.
This is sketchy in my dim memory, but wasn't this called "sarindar" (exit)?
Yaasss, Google sez so, and bring theses links : 1 2 3
Wasn't there some kind of Brazilian (???) link to these alleged (Read--most likely true) events? [Maybe my advanced tinnitus led me down the primrose path once again...but I could have sworn I'd heard that.] These lying, spinning, sold-to-the-highest-bidder traitors are despicable.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, breaking ranks with the president on domestic eavesdropping, says he wants a special court to oversee the program.
But less than a day later, a top aide to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., sought to clarify his position.
Roberts told The New York Times that he is concerned that the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could not issue warrants as quickly as the monitoring program requires. But he is optimistic that the problem could be worked out.
"You don't want to have a situation where you have capability that doesn't work well with the FISA court, in terms of speed and agility and hot pursuit," Roberts said Friday.
While he didn't know how such a process would work, Roberts also said the much-discussed National Security Agency program "should come before the FISA court."
Roberts was not available on Saturday. The Senate Intelligence Committee's majority staff director, Bill Duhnke, said the Times story didn't reflected "the tenor and status" of the negotiations between Congress and the White House, as well as within Congress.
Duhnke said Roberts is looking at changes within the federal law but not necessarily involving the approval of the court.
"The senator remains open to a number of legislative and oversight options," Duhnke said Saturday. "His preference is always that the entire (intelligence) committee be briefed and involved in oversight issues. He also realizes that, as you negotiate between the branches, that isn't always possible."
Duhnke said Roberts hopes that during this negotiation process that all sides can be accommodated.
Roberts told the Times that he does not believe much support exists among lawmakers for exempting the program from the control of the FISA court. That is the approach Bush has favored and one that would be established under a bill proposed by Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio.
White House officials have said their bar for agreeing to any legislative changes would be high. They have signaled they are open only to legislation that would "further codify" in law the authority the president insists he already has without Congress' approval, something officials believe would be accomplished with DeWine's proposal.
Bush also has been cool to expansive debate about the program, saying Friday that the discussion going on now is "too bad, because guess who listens to the discussion? The enemy."
Roberts has defended Bush's program, which was revealed by the Times in a story in December. Bush says the program to monitor electronic communication between the United States and international sites involving suspected al-Qaeda operatives is vital to anti-terrorism efforts.
On Thursday, Roberts said he and the White House had agreed to give lawmakers more information on the nature of the program and that the administration had committed to making changes to the FISA law. At the same time, he delayed a Democratic effort to call for an investigation of the program.
MR. RUSSERT: .... Since the September 11 attacks, the FBI has said that money for the September 11 strikes was transferred to the hijackers primarily through the United Arab Emirates banking system, and much of the operational planning for the attacks took place inside the United Arab Emirates.
Many of the hijackers traveled to the U.S. through the United Arab Emirates. Also, the hijacker who steered a United Airlines flight into the World Trade Centers south tower: born in the United Arab Emirates.
After the attacks, U.S. Treasury Department officials complained about a lack of cooperation by the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries trying to track Osama bin Ladens bank accounts. Why would we allow a company based in United Arab Emirates be in charge of security for our ports?
SECY CHERTOFF: Well, let me make it very clear, first of all. We have a very disciplined process, its a classified process, for reviewing any acquisition by a foreign company of assets that we consider relevant to national security. That process worked here. Without getting into classified information, what we typically do if there are concerns is we build in certain conditions, or requirements, that the company has to agree to to make sure we address the national security concerns. And here the Coast Guard and Customs and border protection really play the leading role for our department in terms of designing those conditions and making sure that theyre obeyed.
I do have to caution people, though. The fact that there were somebody born in United Arab Emirates or that some people went to the United Arab Emirates doesnt mean that every company there is automatically guilty, or automatically has to be excluded from owning something here any more than we...
MR. RUSSERT: But why take a risk?
SECY CHERTOFF: Well, I mean, you know, Richard Reid was British. He was going to blow up an airliner. We dont say the British cant buy companies here. We dont take a risk. What we do is we require a very careful reviewwe have the FBI involved, we have the Department of Defense involvedof what the challenges are. We have, in fact, dealt with this port before because we deal with it overseas as part of our comprehensive global security network. Weve built in, and we will build in safeguards to make sure that these kinds of things dont happen. And, you know, this is part of the balancing of security, which is our paramount concern, with the need to still maintain a real robust global trading environment.
Pakistan successfully test-fired a short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Sunday, a military statement said. It said the Hatf-II/Abdali ground-to-ground missile had a range of 200 km (125 miles) and could carry "nuclear and other types of warheads." "All planned technical parameters were validated," the statement said. It gave no more details nor the site of the test, which was announced as President Pervez Musharraf was due to leave for a five-day state visit to China. In a reference to neighbouring countries, the statement said advance notice of the test had been given to "all concerned."
As anger over European cartoons satirizing the prophet Muhammad continued to roil the Muslim world, Pakistani protesters last week destroyed the most visible symbols of western consumer culture--American icons McDonald's, KFC, and Pizza Hut--as well as attacking banks, movie theaters, and government buildings. In the Afghan-border city of Peshawar, some 70,000 people clashed with police in the largest of the demonstrations in four cities, which authorities said were encouraged and directed by militant Islamist groups opposing Pakistan's U.S.-allied president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
The turmoil elevates the already high security concerns surrounding President Bush's scheduled visit here next week, and it highlights the political pressures on Musharraf from Islamists and others critical of his support for American antiterrorism efforts. Last week's protests--in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi as well as Peshawar--come on the heels of public outrage here over American drone airstrikes on al Qaeda terrorist redoubts inside Pakistan.
Further, there is an increasingly bloody fight with insurgents in southern Baluchistan province
as well as growing antigovernment sentiment in other regions along the Afghan border where Pakistani troops are conducting antiterrorist operations. Islamists and other political foes are decrying the lack of progress toward removing the Army from politics. Talks with India over the explosive issue of Kashmir seem to be stuck. And Washington is pressing Musharraf to drop a natural gas pipeline deal with Iran.
And yet, to call on Musharraf in his element--which is to say, in his British colonial-era mansion on the grounds of a walled military compound near here--is to see a man who looks at ease, even in good humor. After more than six years in power after a bloodless coup, Musharraf, 62, last week was keen to tout progress. "We have stabilized Pakistan," he told a group of reporters from news organizations that included U.S. News.
In one sense, he is right. The economy is growing at a brisk 7 percent per year, and foreign reserves are up dramatically from 2001--when the general cast his lot with a Bush administration incensed at Pakistani support for the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan and determined to knock them off. No combination of political opponents looks ready to replace him. But Musharraf's partnership with Washington has made governing this strategically pivotal nation of 162 million people almost diabolically difficult.
Several attacks by U.S. drone aircraft--especially one on January 13 that killed some al Qaeda leaders but not the targeted No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri--have also killed civilians and inflamed anti-American emotions. Pakistani officials say they weren't consulted in advance--a violation of their understanding with the Bush administration; U.S. officials have suggested otherwise. To some, the American strike smelled like a warning to Musharraf to step up his own military campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban, who are said to be recruiting and training in Pakistan and launching attacks into Afghanistan from border sanctuaries. But to political foes, the attack made Musharraf look like a toady of the Americans. "It damages the president,"said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, a Pakistani senator who is allied with Musharraf. "So what's our status--friend, foe, or in between?"
Musharraf, in a meeting with a group of American journalists last week, said he had condemned the January 13 raid as a violation of Pakistani sovereignty. But he professed satisfaction with U.S. assurances that further strikes would take place only with prior consultation, and he praised current antiterrorism cooperation along the border. In what must be music to Bush administration ears, the Pakistani leader also acknowledged that some villagers were "harboring" terrorists. "They are guilty from all points of view," he said in last week's interview arranged by the East-West Center. Musharraf, who has said that five terrorists were among those killed on January 13, called al Qaeda's presence a more serious breach of Pakistani sovereignty than the U.S. missile strikes.
Unfortunately, the political fallout from the U.S. airstrikes appears to have undone most of the goodwill brought by American relief efforts after last October's devastating earthquake. And, for his part, Musharraf seemed to be walking a careful line when he criticized the cartoon-sparked violence but aligned himself with the sense of outrage over the depiction of the prophet Muhammad. "Even the most moderate Muslim will go into the street and talk against it," he said.
With parliamentary elections expected here next year, pressure is also building on Musharraf to remove his general's uniform--a promise that he made and then reneged on--if he intends to stay as president. The Bush administration has been pushing Musharraf to keep moving toward a restoration of full democracy--but not too hard. Says Stephen Cohen, a South Asia expert at the Brookings Institution, "Musharraf has persuaded them [the Bush administration] that he's the last bastion between them and Islamic chaos." Washington's jitters over a Pakistan without the general are barely concealed. Says a U.S. official, "The military, for good and bad, is a real force for stability in Pakistan." The general's civilian foes, added the official, are "feckless" and aspire to replace him "as a way to get money and power."
Critics insist that Washington is shortsighted in not backing democratic political parties and is alienating Pakistanis incensed at civilian deaths in the war on terrorism. "The military establishment in this country has never allowed political parties to grow and mature," argues Enver Beg, an opposition senator, who warns that if nothing changes, "this nation will go mad toward the West."
In a nation armed with nuclear weapons and constantly battling extremists, that is an outcome U.S. officials are hoping to avoid.
KARACHI: Sporadic violence spread throughout the city, starting Saturday evening and continuing past midnight after rumours spread that Sunni Tehreek (ST) leader Maulana Abbas Qadri had been killed by gunmen. While the rumours have proved wrong, a number of apparent ST activists came out on the streets, pelted passing vehicles with stones, forced shopkeepers to close their businesses and burnt tires.
The rumours started after people started receiving text messages on their mobile phones and also through phone calls, in which their friends wanted to inquire of the ST leader's whereabouts. They wanted to confirm whether the rumours of Maulana Qadri's death were true. According to Daily Times investigations, the rumours were baseless. A spokesperson for the ST ridiculed the rumours and said Maulana Qadri was all right.
Text someone in the region with the rumour that the vaccine against H5N1 has been developed so it can only be delivered in a bacon sandwich. Weve done this on purpose.
Next texted rumour: Bird flu has reached Pakistan -- we have to kill all our chickens! To be followed by full anti-West riots while the wives destroy the flocks... Kentucky Fried Chicken has already been destroyed anyway.
No it isn't funny, but it is their pattern. Can we make a rumour that loving livestock is the primary method of bird flu transmission?
Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani, adviser to prime minister, on Saturday urged the European Parliament, the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of Islamic Conference to introduce laws to ensure acts such as publication of the blasphemous cartoons are not repeated in the future.
He's requesting that Islamists take formal possession of the world.
The world should follow inter-faith dialogues because the publication of cartoons has posed a threat to world peace. It is a responsibility of the European countries to tackle the issue because these irresponsible acts of individuals can disrupt global peace, said Durrani in a press conference.
Without freedom of the press you have no freedom at all. Someone will always tell you what to think, and you'll do it. That's the whole idea behind the Holy Koran, isn't it?
He was accompanied by a Norwegian delegation comprising members of the inter-faith council including Imam Mahboobur Rehman, Imam Seniad Kobilica, reverends of the Church of Norway, Geir Valle and Knut Kittelsaa and Barrister Muhammad Ali Sai, adviser to the World Council of Religions. Durrani said the UN should legislate to safeguard religious sentiments of the Muslims, Christians and Jews under the UN Conventions on Human Rights.
The convention that "guarantees" freedom of religion and freedom of conscience? I understand all the churches in Arabia have copies of it posted in their stained glass windows.
He said the publication of cartoons in the European newspapers is a well thought-out conspiracy to jeopardise socio-economic ties between the European countries and the Muslim world.
"Yes, by Allen! A conspiracy! Hatched in the dead of night, in a smoke-filled room, by dark men of sinister aspect! I seen it! I seen it with my own eyes!"
REAMS of unpublished Iraqi documents from Saddam Hussein's official archives may be translated after the disclosure of video evidence that shows him discussing germ warfare and attacks on the United States.
Some 36,000 boxes of captured documents may be opened to investigate claims suggesting the "smoking gun" evidence may lie in Syria. The discovery was made by non-governmental agencies -- leading to calls for all the documents to be made public so similar groups can search them for clues which government auditors may have missed.
On Saturday, a meeting entitled The Intelligence Summit -- an American donor-funded group -- was convened in Virginia where it played video highlights of conversations they translated showing Saddam and his deputy talking about biological weapons.
One official asks to divert civilian electricity from Basra's generators to help enrich uranium. Tariq Aziz, Saddam's deputy, is on tape discussing biological weapons and what they would do if France and Russia would not help them.
Saddam also refers to terrorism. "This story is coming, but not from Iraq," he says. This was taken to rule out his involvement in organising a terrorist attack, but there is a dispute over the translation of his comments.
Separately, Ali Ibrahim al-Tikriti, a former Iraqi commander, gave an interview to an American website where he claims: "Saddam's weapons are in Syria due to certain military deals that were made going as far back as the late 1980s."
Peter Hoekstra, a Republican who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is leading calls for other documents to be made public. The Pentagon is expected to agree. The Iraq Survey Group originally found 40m documents.
In recent months, interviews with Iraqi officials and translated recordings have shown Saddam was considering chemical weapons and may have had links to al-Qaeda and a secret weapons of mass destruction programme in Syria.
When I recently spoke with Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson at his headquarters in Baghdad, it was impossible not to be overwhelmed by a feeling of what might have been. Peterson, a big, witty officer in charge of training the Iraqi police force, spent two hours laying out a plan to bring order to a fractious country, a plan that was everything the American enterprise had always failed to be: bold, coherent and imagined all the way down to the hinges on the office doors.
The general volunteered for this job, leaving his family in Washington, and he works every day and every night on an assignment that will probably keep him in Baghdad for a year. When we met, he was wearing a blue baseball cap that said "police" in English and in Arabic, and he keeps a woodcut of Hammurabi, the Babylonian king, on his office wall to make sure he doesn't get ahead of himself. "An eye for an eye" Peterson said. "This society has been living under that rule for 3,700 years. Are you going to change this overnight? Did we change it overnight in our country?" Peterson seemed utterly determined to succeed. And it was not terribly difficult to imagine that he could. And then you think: if only we had done this three years ago.
In nearly every military and diplomatic realm, the American effort in Iraq is finally beginning to show the careful planning and concentrated thinking that seemed to vanish the moment American troops entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003. We've heard progress reports in the past, of course, and they have often preceded a stunning setback. But what is new is the level of sophistication that Americans are bringing to their work, and the intensity of their engagement across so many fronts.
A more subtle response to the insurgency was a long time in the making. American generals were caught flat-footed by the resistance that bloomed in 2003; they didn't plan for it, and they had no playbook to fight it. The result in the field often amounted to a war of attrition, which was designed to kill and capture as many insurgents as possible but which ended up alienating Iraqi civilians. These days, however, the military is making new efforts to help local Iraqis feel safe and secure in their homes. The two top American commanders, Gen. George Casey and Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, are proponents of placing far less emphasis on killing guerrillas and much more on working with the locals. In Baghdad, General Casey has set up a local counterinsurgency school, through which American officers must pass before they can head into the field. Find an American officer these days, and he is likely to tell you about the police officers he is supervising or the local council he's helping to set up.
A new approach is equally evident at the American Embassy, where the current ambassador and erstwhile neoconservative, Zalmay Khalilzad, is employing a hands-on strategy that is positively Kissingerian in its realism. On some days, Khalilzad, a native of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, and a Sunni Muslim, sits with Iraqi leaders for hours, fingering his prayer beads and hearing their complaints. In that sense, Ambassador Khalilzad could hardly differ more from his two predecessors, L. Paul Bremer III, who dispatched orders with the curtness of a viceroy, and John Negroponte, who, on instructions from Washington, stood largely out of view.
According to Iraqis and Western diplomats, Ambassador Khalilzad is orchestrating an extraordinarily ambitious power play: coaxing Sunni political leaders into the government while splitting the more moderate Iraqi insurgents from the beheaders and suicide bombers of Al Qaeda. If he succeeds, Khalilzad could remake the political landscape, curtail the insurgency and give the Iraqi government a bit of solid ground to stand on. If he doesn't succeed, the possibilities are endless, few of them good. Still, the ambassador's strategy is bolder than anything yet attempted.
Meanwhile, General Peterson, along with his boss, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, is trying to construct nothing less than a new national army, a police force for every city and the logistical and educational apparatus to support them. In earlier American efforts, an Iraqi policeman was considered "trained" if he had passed through a few days of schooling. These days, the training is much more extensive. On most mornings, the streets in Baghdad echo not just with the sounds of car bombs but also with shots fired from the police shooting range.
So far, there are signs that the new strategy may be working. As the Iraqi Army has taken over substantial portions of Iraq, insurgent attacks have declined from their peak in October. Of course, it's not clear whether that trend will continue. In the past, such trends have not. And Peterson isn't operating under any illusions about how long it will take him to complete his work. The charts that he uses to brief traveling Congressional delegations offer no date for when Iraqi Interior Ministry forces will be able to take full control of internal security.
And there's the rub: the Americans have already had three years in Iraq. It seems reasonably clear, given the opinion polls at home and the elections ahead, that they will not get three more, at least not with troop deployments at their current levels. The prediction floated by senior Iraqi officials is that American, British and other foreign forces, now numbering 160,000, will fall below 100,000 by year's end.
Given the chaotic situation that prevails in much of Iraq, that might not be enough. And even if American troops were to stay, it's not clear that the new American approach could succeed anyway. It may be that there are too many Sunnis with too many memories of being the group in power. Even with the best of intentions, Americans are still foreigners in Iraq; every day they do things shoot up a car approaching a checkpoint, for instance that make the Iraqis resent their presence. And the sectarian violence, which is turning every mixed Iraqi neighborhood into a battleground, might be too far along to turn around. Some officers, in private conversations, concede that they could lose.
In the classic arc of Greek tragedy, the hero rises to great heights, only to be brought low by his own hubris. In Iraq, the Americans may yet salvage a bloody success; commanders like General Peterson seem to believe to their bones that they can. But it's also possible that something more crushing is in the works, with a slightly different trajectory than the Greeks had in mind: the mighty country invades a smaller one, commits countless errors and wastes thousands of lives. After a time, the mighty country gathers itself and does everything right. And it is too late.
This kind of crap really pisses me off. A journo, who has doubless never organized any thing more complex than a backyard barbeque. pontificates on re-engineering an entire country with all that has happened in its past.
How We Botched the German Occupation
By Demaree Bess
Everywhere Ive traveled recently in Germany Ive run into Americans, ranging from generals down to privates, who ask perplexedly, What are we Americans supposed to be doing here? Are we going to take over this place and stay here forever?
Judging by reports received here from the United States, this perplexity of Americans in Germany is matching by the perplexity of Americans at home. We have got into this German job without understanding what we were tackling or why. Imagine how incredulous we would have been if anybody had told us---even so recently as five years ago---that hundreds of thousands of Americans would be camped in the middle of Europe in 1946, completely responsible for the conduct and welfare of approximately 20,000,000 Germans?
How does it happened that even some of our topmost officials in Germany admit that they dont know what they are doing here? The answer can be expressed, I believe, in one word---secrecy. . . .
Mr. Stimson probably has had more experience in international affairs than any other American. Before being appointed to head the War Department for the second time, he had also served as Secretary of State and had been Governor General of the Philippines. Thus he was familiar with the military requirements, the political implications and the practical problems involved in administering an alien and distant territory under wartime conditions. Mr. Hull, appreciating the value of Mr. Stimsons experience in world affairs, was inclined to defer to his judgment in most of the matters under dispute. Mr. Morgenthau, on the other hand, gradually became the chief spokesman for the advocates of an American-imposed revolution in Germany.
His so-called Morgenthau plan, which has since been widely publicized, was not just the personal policy of the former Secretary of the Treasury. It combined the ideas of a sizable group of aggressive Americans which included some conservative big businessmen as well as left-wing theorists. The group supporting Mr. Morgenthaus ideas included Americans of all races, creeds and political beliefs. It is doubtful whether Mr. Morgenthau could recall today the source of some of the most explosive ideas which he gradually adopted.
However that may be, the Cabinet committee soon found itself in disagreement, with Secretaries Stimson and Hull on one side and Mr. Morgenthau on the other. Hints of this disagreement leaked out at the time and the issue was represented as a hard peace versus a soft peace, but actually that was not the issue at all. In fact, the major disagreement then was over the question of procedure, and did not directly concern long-term economic and financial policies. The three Cabinet members were equally anxious to make sure that Germany should be deprived of the means for waging another war, nut Secretaries Stimson and Hull were determined not to bite off more than we could chew at one time. They wanted to reduce the original occupation plans to the simplest possible form, with three primary objectives in mind: (1) agreement by all the Allies upon a joint occupation; (2) provision of some hope for the German people that they might develop a decent life for themselves once they became completely demilitarized; and (3) the obligation not to burden the American people with more commitments than they might later prove willing to accept.
While these discussions were proceeding, however, Mr. Morgenthau became convinced that we should go into Germany with a complete blueprint, worked out in exhaustive detail, providing for an economic and industrial revolution so drastic that it would affect not only Germany but almost every other country in Europe. He wanted us to adopt this blueprint for ourselves and to use every conceivable means to pressure upon our Allies to get them to accept it. Whenever he was outvoted in the Cabinet committee, he had the immense advantage---as an intimate friend of Franklin D. Roosevelt---of being able to go through the side door of the White House and sell his ideas directly to the President. . . .
The French, unconvinced that the atomic bomb has opened an entirely new era, are insisting upon establishing buffer states between themselves and Germany. To this end, theyre trying to make a friend of the Germans in their zone and to encourage them to organize separatist movements.
The British, conscious, of the broader aspects of Western Europes economic situation, are devising schemes to revive German economic life in their zones, particularly in the Ruhr. In order to provide immediately for some of the things which Western Europeans so urgently require, theyre trying to establish some kind of international combine to operate Ruhr industries and coal mines---a proposal which they compare to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The Russians, grappling with the enormous tasks of reconstructing their own war-wracked homeland, are carrying off from their zone all the machines and tools and animals which they can use in Russia. While the Russians reduce the labor surplus in their zone by sending skilled German workers to Russia, they also encourage the remaining Germans to revive political and economic life with due attention to Russian models.
It is only in the American zone that the pastoral economy is emerging, which some Americans had visioned for the whole of Germany. Although the Potsdam Declaration technically superseded the American directive JCS 1067, in practice this directive never has been superseded, so far as Americans are concerned. We still are committed to apply in our zone a blue print which was designed for the whole of Germany, but which was never accepted by any of our Allies. This directive is chiefly concerned with tearing things down rather than building things up, and in the absence of any common policy for the whole of Germany, our particular zone is threatened with planned chaos.
No wonder so many Americans are asking, What are we doing in Germany? They can see that the Russians and British and French are initiating projects which promise some direct benefits to them in their zones. But when they look at our zone they see only headaches. These peculiar problems of the American zone will be discussed in a subsequent article.
journalism is second to phys ed as the easiest degree to get in college. I had a journo fraternity roommate and he NEVER had homework, more worried about the braces so his teeth would be straight on graduation....looking for Tee Vee work
Posted by: Frank G ||
02/19/2006 12:11 Comments ||
Major General Hussein Ali Kamal, under secretary of the Iraqi Interior Ministry for intelligence affairs, said: "We learned about the existence of death squads from US newspaper reports. We had no information about these squads from our agencies or from US forces."
"Tell them, Hogan!"
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat by telephone from his office in Baghdad, Kamal added, "We have no details, except US newspaper reports indicating that US forces arrested 22 people wearing official police uniforms and holding an Iraqi official." He said, "The Iraqi Interior Ministry immediately opened an investigation yesterday. If we had any information on these squads, we would give it to the media. However, we will wait for the results of the investigation to obtain definite information."
Commenting on new torture pictures of Iraqi detainees in the Abu-Ghraib prison that were published recently, Kamal said, "These are the same pictures that were published a year ago and which caused huge media and political uproar. Our government denounced the incidents at the time."
"How the hell many times do you expect us to denounce them? Should we put it on our answering machine?"
Israel's cabinet is to impose sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, now led by militant group Hamas. Israel will withhold an estimated $50m (£28m) in monthly customs revenues due to the PA, and will tighten borders for people and food crossing into Gaza.
Ahead of a cabinet meeting, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the Hamas-led PA as a "terrorist authority" and ruled out direct talks.
Israel would allow humanitarian aid to reach the Palestinians, Mr Olmert said. "It is clear that given the Hamas majority in the Palestinian parliament and the fact that the role of forming a government has been given to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority is effectively becoming a terrorist authority," Mr Olmert said. "Israel will not hold contacts with a government that Hamas is part of."
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is expected to ask Ismail Haniya of Hamas to form a government, after his widely-expected nomination was confirmed on Sunday. Speaking on Saturday at the inauguration of the new Palestinian parliament, Mr Abbas stressed the need for a negotiated settlement with Israel.
Seventy-four Hamas members were among those sworn in to the Palestinian Legislative Council at ceremonies in Ramallah and Gaza City. Hamas officials rejected suggestions that they should recognise the state of Israel and enter talks, but did hint at holding a dialogue with Mr Abbas. Who says Hamas isn't flexible?
Also on Sunday, Israeli aircraft killed two Palestinians suspected of laying bombs near the border with Gaza. ^5!
The men, hit by a missile near the border fence at Kouza, were reported to be members of the Popular Resistance Committees, ... not the Committees of Popular Resistance, mind you
... which has carried out previous attacks against Israeli targets.
President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday asked Hamas to form the next Palestinian government and said he expected it to respect a commitment to talks with Israel. Abbas said in a speech at the inauguration of the newly-elected parliament that the government must follow all agreements signed with Israel, a state the militant Islamist group formally seeks to destroy. "The Hamas movement has become the majority in the Legislative Council and it will be tasked with the formation of the new government," Abbas said.
An attempt by Irans radical theocratic government to organise an international conference of Islamist parties in Tehran to adopt a unanimous position on the publication of cartoons depicting Islams Prophet Muhammad may have to be put off due to lack of interest from political parties across the Muslim world.
Iran invited a total of 149 various political parties in Muslim countries to take part in its Global Conference of Parties from Islamic States.
The event was billed by Irans state-run media as a major international response to the blasphemous, Islamophobic moves of Western governments. A draft resolution prepared by the organisers included references to Irans nuclear stand-off with the West and declared support for the Islamic Republic.
Contrary to their expectation, the organisers have not heard from the vast majority of the invitees. Up until now, only three parties from Algeria have signed up for the conference, despite the extensive advertisement that has been carried out and the huge cost that comes with it.
The event has had to been postponed several times due to lack of interest.
Twelve parties were invited to take part in the conference from Pakistan, eight from Bangladesh, seven from Turkey, five from Indonesia, five from Algeria, four from India, three from Albania, two from Tunisia, two from Kyrgyzstan, two from Sudan, one from Syria, one from Morocco, and 55 from Afghanistan.
Iran has many surrogates among the Islamist political parties in the Muslim world, Naji al-Tufaili, a Lebanese Shiite political commentator said in a telephone interview in Cairo. But this time, the Iranian leaders felt the worldwide row over the cartoons provided an opportunity for them to appeal to Islamist parties that have not been in their sphere of influence. They failed, because these parties could clearly see that Iran was trying to make political capital for itself out of religious sentiments of the Muslims.
Syrian and Turkish parties have said they would be willing to participate if the event was not called an Islamic conference. Remember how Iran is planning to defeat the US by riling up the Moslem world into an unconventional war?
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian group that claims its members are dedicated to becoming suicide bombers warned the United States and Britain on Saturday that they will strike coalition military bases in Iraq if Tehran's nuclear facilities are attacked.
Mohammad Ali Samadi, spokesman for Esteshadion, or Martyrdom Seekers, boasted of having hundreds of potential bombers in his talk at a seminar on suicide-bombings tactics at Tehran's Khajeh Nasir University. ``With more than 1,000 trained martyrdom-seekers, we are ready to attack the American and British sensitive points if they attack Iran's nuclear facilities,'' Samadi said. ``If they strike, we have a lot of volunteers. Their (U.S. and British) sensitive places are quiet close to Iranian borders,'' Samadi said.
And our security is quite good.
Hasan Abbasi, a university instructor and former member of the elite Revolutionary Guards, told the audience of about 200 that Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons as claimed by the United States and some of its allies. ``Our martyrdom-seekers are our nuclear weapons,'' said Abbasi, the event's main speaker.
Um, yeah, right, even for the Mad Mullahs that's pretty brazen.
After his speech, about 50 idiotsfoolsrubes students filled out membership applications. Esteshadion was formed in late 2004, calling for members on a sporadic basis at Friday prayer ceremonies, state-sponsored rallies and at the group's occasional meetings.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged reluctant Arab nations on Friday to threaten to isolate Iran unless it bows to international pressure to curb its suspected nuclear weapons programmes. Her appeal to Irans neighbours came before she visits Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week to lobby them to join a US campaign against Iran, which has won increasing support from Europe, Russia and China. I would hope that those states that are worried about this are prepared to really say to the Iranians: You are going to be isolated from us too if you continue down this road, Rice said in an interview with Arab-based media about her planned talks on the trip. There is really now an obligation to let the Iranians know in no uncertain terms that this isolation is going to be complete, she added.
As part of a strategy to woo Arab nations with a message she hopes resonates with them, Rice also highlighted US concerns Iran is destabilising the region by backing militant groups in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Arab governments have expressed concern about Irans nuclear ambitions. But they are generally wary of giving explicit support to any US policies when many in the region are angry at what they see as anti-Muslim American policies because of the Iraq war and perceived pro-Israel stances against Palestinians.
Shanghai: China and Iran are close to setting plans to develop Iran's Yadavaran oil field, a multibillion dollar deal that comes as Tehran faces the prospect of sanctions over its nuclear programme.
According to Caijing, a respected financial magazine, a Chinese government delegation is due to visit Iran as early as March to formally sign an agreement allowing China Petrochemical or Sinopec to develop Yadavaran. The deal would complete a memorandum of understanding signed in 2004. In exchange for developing Yadavaran, one of Iran's largest onshore oil fields, China would agree to buy 10 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year for 25 years beginning in 2009, the report said, citing Sinopec board member Mou Shuling.
The deal is thought to be potentially worth about $100 billion. Chinese and Iranian officials in Beijing said they could not confirm the report.
Staff at Iran's embassy in Beijing said they were aware of the report but had not heard Mou's remarks, which Caijing said were made at a recent embassy event. A written statement from the Iranian Embassy noted that the two countries have been working together in various energy fields.
The Caijing report said that Chinese and Iranian officials met in December for talks on the project. It cited Mou as saying that the two governments and companies involved were moving ahead with the deal despite the controversy over Iran's nuclear programme. Western nations fear it is using the technology to develop weapons, but Tehran claims it is to produce electricity.
According to the Caijing report, Sinopec would hold a 51 per cent stake in the Yadavaran project, with India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), taking 29 per cent. The remainder would go to Iranian companies and possibly to Royal Dutch Shell, which has also expressed interest, it said. The report said there was some disagreement over intended capacity, with Iran asking China to agree to daily output of 300,000 barrels of oil, while Sino-pec preferred to set a target of 180,000 to avoid excess production.
Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, has shares traded in New York, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Not sure how much of a security risk this deal is, but some think it is, so it may be of interest to the Burg.
WASHINGTON Feb 18, 2006 (AP) A company at the Port of Miami has sued to block the takeover of shipping operations there by a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. It is the first American courtroom effort to capsize a $6.8 billion sale already embroiled in a national debate over security risks at six major U.S. ports affected by the deal.
The Miami company, a subsidiary of Eller & Company Inc., presently is a business partner with London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co., which Dubai Ports World purchased last week. In a lawsuit in Florida circuit court, the Miami subsidiary said that under the sale it will become an "involuntary partner" with Dubai's government and it may seek more than $10 million in damages.
The Miami subsidiary, Continental Stevedoring & Terminals Inc., said the sale to Dubai was prohibited under its partnership agreement with the British firm and "may endanger the national security of the United States." It asked a judge to block the takeover and said it does not believe the company, Florida or the U.S. government can ensure Dubai Ports World's compliance with American security rules.
Sounds like a weak legal argument to me.
A spokesman for Peninsular and Oriental indicated the company had not yet seen the lawsuit and declined to comment immediately.
The lawsuit represents the earliest skirmish over lucrative contracts among the six major American ports where Peninsular and Oriental runs major commercial operations: New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. The lawsuit was filed moments before the court closed Friday and disclosed late Saturday by people working on the case.
The sale, already approved by the Bush administration, has drawn escalating criticism by lawmakers in Washington who maintain the United Arab Emirates is not consistent in its support of U.S. terrorism-fighting efforts. At least one Senate oversight hearing is planned for later this month.
The Port of Miami is among the nation's busiest. It is a hub for the nation's cruise ships, which carry more than 6 million passengers a year, and the seaport services more than 30 ocean carriers, which delivered more than 1 million cargo containers there last year.
A New Jersey lawmaker said Saturday he intends to require U.S. port security officials be American citizens, to prevent overseas companies operating domestic shipping facilities from hiring foreigners in such sensitive positions. Republican Frank A. LoBiondo, chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, cited "significant" security worries over the sale to Dubai Ports World.
Caught by surprise over the breadth of concerns expressed in the United States, Dubai is cautiously organizing its response. The company quietly dispatched advisers to reassure port officials along the East Coast, and its chief operating officer internationally respected American shipping executive Edward "Ted" H. Bilkey is expected to travel to Washington this week for meetings on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.
The Bush administration in recent days has defended its approval of the sale, and has resisted demands by Congress to reconsider. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the United Arab Emirates on Friday as a "long-standing friend and ally" and said the United States and UAE had a good relationship.
One of those mayors, Martin O'Malley of Baltimore, on Saturday harshly criticized the president's approval of the ports deal as an "outrageous, reckless and irresponsible decision" and urged the White House to reconsider the sale. Baltimore is one of the affected ports, and O'Malley is co-chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Task Force on Homeland Security. O'Malley also is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Maryland.
Just an impartial mayor looking out for his citizens.
In New York, families of some victims from the September 2001 terror attacks planned to criticize the deal during a press conference Sunday with Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, a leading critic of the sale. Schumer said he is dubious any assurances can justify involvement by the United Arab Emirates in American ports.
Schumer and other critics have cited the UAE's history as an operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against New York and Washington. "A lot of families are incensed by this, because you're talking about the safety of the country," said William Doyle, whose son Joseph died at the World Trade Center. ""We have a problem already in our ports because all of our containers aren't checked, but now they want to add this unknown? It's not right."
Any company that runs an American port has to comply with American laws, including all the security requirements that might come down from DHS. Whether that company is based in Dubai or in Kansas, the rules are the same.
LoBiondo's legislative proposal would amend federal maritime laws to require facility security officers, which operate at terminals in every U.S. port, to be American citizens. LoBiondo said there are presently no citizenship requirements, which he said permits foreign companies who are or become partners in domestic terminal operations to employ security officers who are not Americans. "We cannot be lax about our nation's security nor fail to recognize that our ports are realistic targets of terrorists," LoBiondo said.
Caught by surprise over the breadth of concerns expressed in the United States, Dubai is cautiously organizing its response I bet they are
Any company that runs an American port has to comply with American laws, including all the security requirements that might come down from DHS. Whether that company is based in Dubai or in Kansas, the rules are the same. Steve just wondering, wouldn't this make monitoring these guys more complicated?
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.