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11301  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 10:07:03 PM
I had the opportunity to do some contracting work in Iraq in 2003/2004. It's a good thing that I didn't as the company I was looking at turned out to be scammers that did lots of stupid things and went out of business after burning lots of people. I believe the US DOJ is investigating them these days.

Depending on how things go, I am considering taking a police trainer position in Iraq/Afghanistan in 2009. Depending on if we are even in Iraq in 2009 and if the major attacks CONUS happen, as I anticipate.
11302  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 19, 2007, 10:00:54 PM
I had a conversation with a friend in the days after 9/11, we both agreed how we now understood how the internment of American citizens happened in WWII. Funny enough, J. Edgar Hoover was a strong opponent of the internment, but FDR overruled him.

The Clinton administration started the policy of "rendition".

I quote that right wing group, the ACLU:

Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing to this day, the Central Intelligence Agency, together with other U.S. government agencies, has utilized an intelligence-gathering program involving the transfer of foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorism to detention and interrogation in countries where -- in the CIA's view -- federal and international legal safeguards do not apply. Suspects are detained and interrogated either by U.S. personnel at U.S.-run detention facilities outside U.S. sovereign territory or, alternatively, are handed over to the custody of foreign agents for interrogation. In both instances, interrogation methods are employed that do not comport with federal and internationally recognized standards. This program is commonly known as "extraordinary rendition."

The current policy traces its roots to the administration of former President Bill Clinton. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, however, what had been a limited program expanded dramatically, with some experts estimating that 150 foreign nationals have been victims of rendition in the last few years alone. Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism have been transported to detention and interrogation facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and elsewhere. In the words of former CIA agent Robert Baer: "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear -- never to see them again -- you send them to Egypt."

Administration officials, backed by Department of Justice legal memoranda, have consistently advanced the position that foreign nationals held at such facilities, outside U.S. sovereign territory, are unprotected by federal or international laws. Thus, the rendition program has allowed agents of the United States to detain foreign nationals without any legal process and, primarily through counterparts in foreign intelligence agencies, to employ brutal interrogation methods that would be impermissible under federal or international law, as a means of obtaining information from suspects.

The Department of Justice's arguments notwithstanding, the extraordinary rendition program is illegal. It is clearly prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, ratified by the United States in 1992, and by congressionally enacted policy giving effect to CAT. As Congress made clear, it is the policy of the United States not to:

expel, extradite, or otherwise effect the involuntary return of any person to a country in which there are substantial grounds for believing the person would be in danger of being subjected to torture, regardless of whether the person is physically present in the United States.
Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, ("FARRA"), Pub. L. No. 105-277, § 2242, 112 Stat. 2681 (Oct. 21, 1998), reprinted in 8 U.S.C. § 1231, Historical and Statutory Notes (1999) (emphasis added).

Congress has recently reaffirmed this policy, providing in an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for the Iraq War and Tsunami Relief, 2005 (P.L. 109-13) that it will not authorize the funding of any program that "subject any person in the custody or under the physical control of the United States to torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment that is prohibited by the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." P.L. 109-13, § 1031 (2005). The President, too, has confirmed that it is the policy and practice of the United States neither to use torture nor to hand over detainees to countries that use torture. See
11303  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 09:23:07 PM

CIA Shut Down in Iraq
September 19, 2007 11:58 AM

A perfect storm set to roil Blackwater?
According to exclusive information obtained by Pajamas Media’s Washington editor Richard Miniter, the movement of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad has been all but shut down. Are we witnessing Iran’s counter-strike to the surge?
Support Pajamas Media; Visit Our Advertisers

By Richard Miniter, PJM Washington Editor
Movements of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad—along with most State department diplomats and teams building police stations and schools—have been frozen for the second day in a row, according to a State department source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Essentially, the CIA, State department and government contractors are stuck inside the International Zone, also known as “the Green Zone,” in Central Baghdad. Even travel inside that walled enclave is somewhat restricted.

Pajamas Media is the first to report that the CIA station is all but motionless—as meetings with informants and Iraqi government officials have been hastily cancelled.

What caused the shut down? Following a firefight between Iraqi insurgents and a Blackwater USA protection detail on Sunday (12:08 PM Baghdad time), Iraqi officials suspended the operating license of the North Carolina-based government contractor. While the Iraqi government is yet to hold a formal hearing on the matter, Blackwater and all it protects remain frozen.

“By jamming up Blackwater, they shut down the movements of the embassy and the [CIA] station,” a State department source told Pajamas Media. He is not cleared to talk to the press.

Blackwater provides Personnel Security Details—or PSDs—for most CIA, State department, and U.S. Agency of International Development officers. In addition, Blackwater’s special-forces veterans guard many of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams—or PRTs—that build schools, clinics, police and fire stations and other structures that house essential Iraqi government services. Work on these vital “hearts and minds” projects has all but stopped across Iraq.

The State department has long insisted on using Blackwater and other private security firms so that its convoys and legations would not be controlled by the Defense department.

There are now more private contractors working in Iraq than U.S. soldiers serving there. Many are not U.S. citizens. Triple Canopy, another private firm, usually hires Peruvians to man the checkpoints inside the International Zone and Ugandans to guard distant airbases. The Peruvians, known as “incas” among Americans there, usually do not speak English or Arabic—a persistent source of complaint by Iraqi politicians who speak one or both languages.

At least eight Iraqis are reported dead after the Sunday shoot out and some press reports refer to the local casualties as “civilians.”

“Initial press accounts were inaccurate,” said Blackwater USA spokeswoman Anne Tyrell. “The ‘civilians’ reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were in fact armed enemies and Blackwater personnel returned defensive fire. Blackwater regrets any loss of life but this convoy was violently attacked by armed insurgents, not civilians, and our people did their job to defend human life.”

“Blackwater professionals heroically defended American lives in a war zone on Sunday and Blackwater will cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”

It’s well known in Iraq that dead insurgents become “civilians” as soon as their comrades carry away their AK-47s and spare magazines. Captured al Qaeda manuals detail how militants should use deaths as a propaganda tool.

TIME magazine received a partial copy of the official incident report.
According to the incident report, the skirmish occurred at 12:08 p.m. on Sunday when, “the motorcade was engaged with small arms fire from several locations” as it moved through a neighborhood of west Baghdad. “The team returned fire to several identified targets” before leaving the area. One vehicle engine was hit and disabled by bullets and had to be towed away. A separate convoy arriving to help was “blocked/surrounded by several Iraqi police and Iraqi national guard vehicles and armed personnel,” the report says. Then an American helicopter hovered over the traffic circle, as the U.S. convoy departed without casualties. Some reports have said the helicopter also opened fire on Iraqis, but a Blackwater official told TIME that no shots were fired from the air.

By apparently lifting Blackwater’s license, the democratically elected Iraq government may stall the forward progress created by the Gen. Petraeus’ surge and change in counterinsurgency tactics.

Indeed, some contend that the actions of Iraq’s Ministry of Interior, which supervises police and some intelligence functions, may be influenced by insurgents or even by Iran.

The staffing and internal rules of the Interior ministry were set up by Biyat Jabr, an affable and charming Shia Muslim who once worked for Saddam Hussein. (He was never a member of the Ba’ath party and thus survived de-Ba’athification with ease.)

Jabr is widely believed to be in the pay of Iranian intelligence services, although U.S. officials caution that there is no firm evidence of this charge. Jabr left the ministry in August 2006 and is now Finance Minister, but before he exited he salted the ranks with people loyal to Iran and hostile to the U.S. “Innocents dying [in the Sunday gun battle with Blackwater] is just a pretext,” the same State department source said.

Enemies of the U.S. inside the Interior ministry have been looking to shut down Blackwater for some time.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has adopted the same hard line against the American company. “This company should be punished. We are not going to allow it to kill Iraqis in cold blood. We have frozen all its activities and a joint panel has been formed to investigate the incident,” the prime minister told wire-service reporters.

“For their own interests, the Americans should hire a new company to protect their people so they can move freely.”

Both the State department and the Congress have signaled that investigations in to Blackwater will begin soon.

The State department hopes to shift blame onto Blackwater’s low-level “trigger pullers,” says the State department source, while Rep. Henry Waxman’s committee is expected to target senior executives at Blackwater and top Bush Administration officials. A perfect storm is set to roil Blackwater.

If Blackwater and other private contractors are shut out of Iraq, Democrats in Congress and Iranian intelligence operatives may have stumbled on a way to end the Iraq War—less than a week after Gen. Petraeus testified that the U.S. is turning the corner.
11304  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 19, 2007, 08:44:44 PM
Bush has done less than he should have, not more. Militarizing the borders should have started 9/12/2001. Aviation security still essentially sucks, despite the billions of dollars spent, due to political correctness.

Liberal icon FDR had Americans of Japanese ancestry rounded up into camps for the duration of the war. Give me something done by this president that even begins to approach that.
11305  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 08:37:42 PM
Blackwater and other companies (Blackwater is the biggest, but far from the only) still fall under US legal jurisdiction. You can be prosecuted for acts far outside America's borders in federal court. Most American contractors would not consider themselves "mercenaries", as they aren't selling their skills to the highest bidder but would only work for the US State department or other USG entities in Iraq/Afghanistan.
11306  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 19, 2007, 05:47:06 PM
Nothing President Bush has done begins to compare with what Lincoln or FDR did to preserve the US at times of war.
11307  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 04:39:45 PM
I'm sure (I'm too lazy to look it up right now) that the Blackwater and other companies that are working for the state department are covered under diplomatic immunity. As an example, that would be why SFPD couldn't ticket a vehicle illegally parked that belonged to the PRC's consulate.
11308  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: September 19, 2007, 02:40:58 PM

Creeping sharia.
11309  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 19, 2007, 12:53:42 PM

The Blackwater affair: Licenses? Who needs licenses?
posted at 10:41 pm on September 18, 2007 by Bryan   

If you spend any amount of time at all in Iraq — and I mean that literally, any time at all — you’ll soon observe corruption. Iraq is a country that spent 35 years in survival mode, under the boot heel of a man who admired both Hitler and Stalin and who sought to combine the brutality of both on his way to becoming the next Nebuchadnezzar. The society was traumatized, and its people evidently learned to live by a police state version of the Wimpy rule: I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for what I’m swiping from you today, and mostly because by Tuesday the Mukhabarrat may have swiped me, myself and I, never to be seen again. I’ll be tortured and probably killed, but at least I won’t be out the couple of dinars I would have paid you.

I give you that as a preamble to the latest story about the Blackwater affair because it’s important to understanding how things work in Iraq. You’ve probably heard by now, that the North Carolina-based Blackwater security company is in hot water with Iraq’s Interior Ministry over an incident in which “innocent Iraqis” were killed. I added the scare quotes because the term “innocent” means different things to different people, and it’s not at all clear yet that whoever was killed in that incident was innocent in any way that we would commonly use the term. It’s not clear yet that they weren’t innocent either, or that at least some of them weren’t. It’s all under investigation, but the Interior Ministry has pulled a Murtha and gone ahead and convicted Blackwater anyway. The consequences of said conviction include revoking Blackwater’s license. It’s at this point that someone needs to cue up the laugh track while someone else pops up on camera and says “Licenses? We don’t need no steenkin’ licenses!”

Private security contractors in Iraq say most expatriate companies in the country operate without licenses because corrupt government officials who issue them demand bribes of up to $1 million.

“A couple of companies tried to get licenses, but no one has licenses because the bribes they were asking were too big, up to $1 million,” said a member of the elite Blackwater USA security company which has been ordered by Iraqi authorities to halt its operations.

Yes, we’re talking about the same Ministry that’s accusing Blackwater of crimes. It’s a Ministry run by bribes, that answers in part to the very paragon of virtue himself, the so-called “Mullah Atari,” Moqtada al-Sadr.

Exploiting that anger, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded the government ban all 48,000 foreign security contractors, whom Iraqis have long viewed as mercenaries, the Associated Press reported.

If nothing else, that’s another reason that we should have taken Mookie out a long time ago.

So if just about every private contractor in Iraq operates without licenses, what’s really going on with Blackwater?

Well, internal politics seem to have a lot to do with it: We could be looking at a shakedown to make up for the bribes that Blackwater presumably didn’t pay. We could be looking at an attempt to weaken the US position in Iraq overall, since Blackwater and similar security companies have about 48,000 personnel on the scene engaged in various security duties. (Do ya think Mookie wouldn’t like to see 48,000 guns that ultimately answer to the US taken out of the game?) And like everything else in Iraq, putting a fixed number on it reduces its actual complexity by several orders of magnitude. A drive through the base complex around the Baghdad airport, for instance, will take you through private security guards from enough different continents and countries that you’d swear you were cruising through a muddy UN session: Nigerians man this gate, Brazilians man that post over there, and Peruvians are running that street from there to there, but beyond them, it’s the South Africans or someone else who will ask to see your papers, please.

I’ll hazard a guess that all the companies hiring and supporting all those nationalities probably aren’t licensed to the nth degree. They’re probably sufficiently paid up on their bribes, though.

Back to the incident that started the current row:

The incident, which left eight Iraqi civilians dead by most accounts, occurred Sunday when Blackwater was escorting a convoy through one of Baghdad’s Sunni neighborhoods.

According to the North Carolina-based company, the convoy was attacked by armed insurgents using small-arms fire. The U.S. contractors returned fire to get their clients out of the area safely.

“By doctrine, you return fire — that’s how you stay alive,” said the Blackwater contractor, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified. “They killed who they needed to kill to get out of there. The teams that try to be all nicey-nicey, guess what? Their guys get kidnapped,” he said.

Several expatriate security contractors who did not open fire have been taken hostage while protecting their clients in western Iraq near Ramadi and in Baghdad.

Along with the bewildering corruption, that’s another reality in Iraq: At times, it’s a kill or be killed kind of place. The fate of those Blackwater contractors killed in Fallujah in 2004 surely informs decisions made in real time today. Undoubtedly most would take condemnation from the Interior Ministry over having their corpses rhetorically spat upon by the likes of Kos after thugs have killed and mutilated them.

I’m loath to predict how the Blackwater affair will turn out, but it is hard to imagine the military or State Dept (especially the State Dept) getting much done without Blackwater’s guys and guns around doing the jobs they’ve been doing for four years now. It probably will blow over. But the corruption is probably there to stay.

Today, the Iraqi government appeared to back down from statements Monday that it had revoked Blackwater’s license and would order its 1,000 personnel to leave the country, Associated Press said. It is not clear whether Blackwater was operating under an active license.

The special operations contractor, who has been in Iraq for four years, said he had seen the Ministry of Interior (MOI) demand bribes of security companies in three different contracts.

“You would apply for a license and it would stall, then someone from the MOI would show up and say that the license application was sitting in a box and that for a certain fee it could be pushed through,” said the contractor, also asking that his name not be used.

The size of the bribe depended on the size of the company, he said, starting in the area of $100,000 and up.

That all sounds hopelessly corrupt, but honestly, quite a bit of Europe doesn’t operate much more clean than that. Of course, Europeans don’t have Sadrist death squads lurking in the background to enforce and collect on the bribes.
11310  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The 2008 Presidential Race on: September 19, 2007, 12:42:53 PM
Alan Keyes  rolleyes
11311  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "You go to war with the citizens you have, not the citizens you want." on: September 19, 2007, 12:41:04 PM
It's more of a press release touting the book, but Aaron  Klein is a sharp guy. I used to listen to him on the John Batchelor show. He did great reporting on the middle east based out of Israel.
11312  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: "You go to war with the citizens you have, not the citizens you want." on: September 19, 2007, 01:20:36 AM
Terrorists disclose: We LOVE liberals!
Jihadists respond to Rosie, Clinton, Penn, Pelosi, Fonda, Boxer, Murtha
Posted: September 19, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

Klein, left, with the senior West Bank leadership of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, including Ala Senakreh, second from left, the terror group's West Bank chief. The Brigades took responsibility together with the Islamic Jihad terror group for every suicide bombing in Israel the past three years. The Brigades, the most active West Bank terror group, also carried out hundreds of shootings and rocket attacks.
Many analysts and commentators have speculated what America's enemies might think about liberal politicians, celebrities and activists who protest the war in Iraq, call terrorists "freedom fighters," express solidarity with terror-supporting countries or even question who was behind the 9/11 attacks.

In a shocking new book, author and WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein actually petitions Muslim terrorists to respond to the statements and actions of American public figures such as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. John Murtha, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and entertainment personalities Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Penn and Jane Fonda. The jihadists overwhelmingly applauded the liberal leaders.

In "Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans – to a Jew!," Klein in one chapter assembles a panel of senior terrorist leaders and asks them to sound off about high-profile liberals. He also asks about conservative personalities from Ronald Reagan through Rush Limbaugh.

The terrorists were familiar with some of the names, while for others the jihadists were provided with a series of statements and speeches to which to respond.

Klein, for example, had a speech made earlier this year by Penn translated into Arabic. In the speech, Penn, who in 2005 paid a solidarity visit to Tehran, called Iran a "great country," slammed President Bush and Vice President Cheney as "villainous and criminally obscene people" and suggested Iran had the right to obtain a nuclear weapon since the U.S. has a nuclear arsenal.

In "Schmoozing" Klein also read to the terrorists statements from O'Donnell in which she argued terrorists are people, too.

"Don't fear the terrorists. They're mothers and fathers," said O’Donnell.

The former daytime talk host also has raised questions about whether al-Qaida was responsible for 9/11; implied the Iranian seizure of 15 British sailors in March was a hoax to provide Bush with an excuse to attack Tehran; and doubted whether confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed really planned the attacks.

Klein discussed with the terrorists demands for a quick U.S. withdrawal from Iraq by politicians such as Boxer and Murtha.

He asked jihadists what they thought of Pelosi's visit last April against the recommendations of the White House to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Klein with Eiman Abu Eita, chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Beit Sahour

During a photo opportunity, a smiling Pelosi stated, "We came in friendship, hope and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace."

Syria openly hosts Palestinian terrorist leaders, signed a military alliance with Iran and is accused of arming and funding the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group and aiding the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Klein also read to the terrorists speeches and statements by Sheehan, who has called terrorists "freedom fighters" and has accused Bush of waging war in Iraq for Israeli interests.

Why schmooze with the professed enemies of Western civilization?

States Klein: "In the midst of America's war on terror, in the midst of our grand showdown with Islamofascism, with our boys and girls deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world to defend liberty, it is crucial for all of us to understand the adversary we are up against and how some of our policies and personalities are emboldening the terrorists to think they are winning."

Klein explains he believes America is in trouble. While the U.S. has made enormous advances in the war on terror the past few years, it is encouraging terrorists to attack, and people don't even know it, he professes.

Klein with Muhammad Abu Tir, the No. 2 Hamas leader in the West Bank, suspected of attempting to poison Israel's water supply

"If the American approach to identifying, understanding, and dealing with terrorism is not re-examined in the very near future, if we don't immediately begin to understand how the terrorists think and respond to our policies, we face a devastating reality, with global jihad beating down our doorstep before we even realize what happened," states Klein.

Among the highlights of "Schmoozing with Terrorists:"

Madonna and Britney Spears stoned to death? What life in the U.S. would be like if the terrorists win.
Jihadists list their U.S. election favorites, mouth off about politicians and even threaten to kill one 2008 presidential candidate.
Klein and friends confront well-armed senior terrorists about whether suicide bombers really get 72 virgins after their deadly operation.
A shocking expose on how YOUR tax dollars fund terrorism!
Bibles used as toilet paper, synagogues as rocket launching zones? Meet the leaders of the most notorious holy site desecrations in history.
The under-reported story of Christian persecution in the Middle East as told by the antagonists and victims.
Terrorists offer tips on how to win the war on terror!
Klein has been interviewing terrorists since age 19, when he spent a weekend with a group connected to al-Qaida. He reports daily from Israel, going where many of his media colleagues dare not tread.

Klein is known for his regular appearances and segments on top American radio programs, where he has many times interviewed terrorists live on air. He served as a co-host of the national "John Batchelor Show," currently on hiatus.

The oldest of 10 children, Klein attended Jewish schools from kindergarten through college at Yeshiva University in New York, where he served as editor-in-chief of the undergraduate student newspaper.

To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.
11313  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 19, 2007, 01:05:44 AM

I guess we've found Saddam's WMDs.
11314  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 10:11:56 PM
I'm cheating a bit by reading posts on a forum where lots of contractors post. They don't seem to give it much weight.
11315  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 09:16:47 PM
Contractors probably won't be going anywhere and much of the story is media hype.
11316  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 08:33:57 PM

I has posted on this story earlier. As far as the Blackwater story goes, it's a non-story in the big picture.
11317  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 18, 2007, 08:05:33 PM

CNN worth watching.
11318  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 18, 2007, 06:32:40 PM
 :-oWHOA! shocked
11319  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: September 18, 2007, 09:27:13 AM
The WSJ has it exactly right. The legal system isn't designed to fight this war.
11320  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 18, 2007, 09:19:37 AM
An old IDF joke: "Syria is willing to fight Israel down to the last Palestinian."

I'd love to see Israel stomp a mudhole in Syria right about now.
11321  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 18, 2007, 09:13:13 AM
Hopefully a soft revolution. I'd like to think that the returning Mexicans would have learned some good things about the US system and make much needed reforms in Mexico. There is no good reason for Mexico to be so poor.
11322  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Mexico-US matters on: September 17, 2007, 11:21:07 PM
We're well past the point of where we should have militarized the borders.
11323  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 17, 2007, 11:18:37 PM
Woof GM,

In the larger global strategic sense, protecting Saudia Arabia and the straits of Hormuz are about oil. A stable Iraq producing oil is in our best interest, but we aren't getting any revenue from Iraq today.

Above you list three major oil-producing countries.  One is the country of origin of 14-15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.  One we're at war with now.  One we're threatening to go to war with.  In all seriousness (not in a "no blood for oil!" sloganeering sense) would you agree that oil is the main reason why we even care about what happens in the Middle East?

***It's why everyone on the planet, unless you are a hunter-gatherer has to be concerned about the middle east. Better believe China, India and many other countries have military contingency plans to secure access to oil. Saudi Arabia is the evil jihadist twin stuck to our abdomen. Read up on their history and you'll see how they made themselves invaluable to us while at the same time funding the global jihad. In my opinion, Saudi Arabia is the center of gravity for the sunni side of the global jihad. I dream of the day when another source of energy can make oil obsolete and the Saudis can go back to gathering dates on camelback.***

If Iraq was just about access to Iraq's oil, we could have cut a backroom deal with Saddam in exchange for our dropping sanctions without a shot being fired.

Agreed.  At the same time I would argue that if it were just about terrorism, we'd be doing a whole bunch of other things differently.

***What things?***

Afghanistan has 1 location producing oil today, if I recall correctly. I don't see Afghanistan attracting many investors, even if some Saudi sized oil field were discovered.

Again, agreed.

I seem to remember a lot of discussion during the 1990s about readying the US military to fight wars on multiple fronts simultaneously.  You might know more details about this than me.  In any case, it seems like they've gotten the chance to try it out and are no doubt very concerned about the results.

***Yeah, historically under the Reagan administration up to Clinton, the US military was structured to be able to fight two major fronts and a regional conflict all that the same time (In WWII, most resources went to the war in europe, the war against Japan was deemed secondary in importance). Under Clinton, we enjoyed the "Peace dividend". The US military was downsized dramatically. It's a good excuse for the current administration if we were in 2003. Here we are in 2007 and we haven't built back up to pre-Clinton levels. A serious mistake in my book. The rebuilding should have started 9/12/2001.***
11324  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: September 17, 2007, 10:55:12 PM
I'd cut a deal with Putin to be our jr. partner in the GWOT. It's only our pressure that has kept him from burning Chechnya off the planet. I'd give him free reign to do as he wishes with the Chechen problem in exchange for cutting off support to Iran and Syria.

The Russians and Chinese have done much better in the past in dealing with jihadists. I'd use that to our advantage.
11325  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 17, 2007, 04:05:55 PM

11326  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 17, 2007, 03:39:40 PM
In the larger global strategic sense, protecting Saudia Arabia and the straits of Hormuz are about oil. A stable Iraq producing oil is in our best interest, but we aren't getting any revenue from Iraq today. If Iraq was just about access to Iraq's oil, we could have cut a backroom deal with Saddam in exchange for our dropping sanctions without a shot being fired.

Afghanistan has 1 location producing oil today, if I recall correctly. I don't see Afghanistan attracting many investors, even if some Saudi sized oil field were discovered.
11327  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 17, 2007, 03:29:48 PM
Like many stolen vehicles, they could be across the border now serving Mexican schoolchildren. I would prefer that scenario.

The much worse scenario involves child hostages in VBIEDs being detonated on live global television.
11328  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 17, 2007, 01:58:44 PM
I'd draw a clear line between what domestic LE can do and what can be done by the .mil or more importantly the "OGA".
11329  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 17, 2007, 01:49:21 PM

Counterterrorism Blog

Third 9/11 Jihadist Video Calls For Attacks on West

By Jeffrey Imm

Media reports state that a third 9/11 Jihadist video, reportedly by Al Qaeda, has been released via Islamist web sites today, calling for Jihadist terror acts on the West to be a daily occurrence and calling for "acts of mass extermination".
AKI and AFP have thus far provided the primary reporting on this new Al Qaeda video.

AKI reports that the new 26 minute video is entitled "The attacks in New York and Washington - reasons and motives".
AFP reports that the video "features a montage of images of the burning World Trade Center towers and scenes from Islamist training camps."

AFP reports that a voiceover on the video states:
"We must take Islamist terrorism to Western countries so that it becomes a normal part of life like natural disasters" and "n that way, we will have acts of mass extermination in which people will feel that their affluence also brings death... and we will have created a balance of deterrence between us and them".

AKI reports that the new video begins with a message from Abu Yahya al-Libi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. On the new video, Al-Libi is reported to praise the role of Al Qaeda in defending the principles of Islam

AKI reports that the new video includes a montage of audio and video footage of previous messages Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri on the rationale behind the 9/11 attacks. AFP reports that the video also includes a clip by Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, also known as Sheikh Said, the group's commander in Afghanistan.

AKI reports that:
"[a] voice on the video also gives an account of the war in Chechnya, blames the West for having committed a mass extermination and calls for revenge for this action. Also included is footage of interviews carried out by the Arab satellite TV network, Al Jazeera, with university professors, Arab commentators and editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper. The entire video describes various events that occured before the 9/11 attacks, in particular the conflict in Chechnya, and tries to explain the reasons behind the terror attacks."

AKI reports that the video ends with a speech by Abdullah Azzam. Abdullah Azzam, who died in 1989, was an inspiration to Osama Bin Laden and countless other Jihadists.

AKI reports that the new video does not the logo of al-Sahab, Al Qaeda's communications arm, but carries the new logo of "al-Tanzim". AFP reports: "A third release had been trailed by Al-Qaeda's media arm, As-Sahab. In the event the new video was issued in the name of Al-Tanzem, prompting suggestions the network has launched a new media arm."

This posting will be updated as new information is released.


September 17, 2007 -- AKI: Terrorism: Al-Qaeda releases third 9/11 video

September 17, 2007 -- AFP: Qaeda urges Islamic terror in West in third 9/11 video

September 17, 2007 -- Agenzia Giornalistica Italia -- Terror: Third Al Qaeda's video, attacks must be normal

April 16, 2002 - Slate: Abdullah Azzam - The godfather of jihad

By Jeffrey Imm on September 17, 2007 1:00 PM

****I really don't like the potential subtext here, as I see it as a potential call for "Beslan" attacks CONUS.****
11330  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Subscribe to Stratfor! on: September 17, 2007, 01:31:55 PM

Did you learn about Stratfor from me? I can't remember.
11331  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 17, 2007, 01:14:14 PM;_ylt=AqNgcBhifs_.o3qDT8SA1gmtOrgF

Qaeda urges Islamic terror in West in third 9/11 video
Mon Sep 17, 8:29 AM ET

Al-Qaeda called on Islamists to sow terror in the West to create a climate of fear, in a third video marking the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States which was posted on the Internet on Monday.

Called "reasons and motives for the attacks on New York and Washington," the video features a montage of images of the burning World Trade Centre towers and scenes from Islamist training camps.

"We must take Islamist terrorism to Western countries so that it becomes a normal part of life like natural disasters," a voiceover says.

"In that way, we will have acts of mass extermination in which people will feel that their affluence also brings death... and we will have created a balance of deterrence between us and them," the unidentified voice adds.

The new video also includes clips from old voice recordings of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as a short video clip of Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, also known as Sheikh Said, the group's commander in Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda already released a videotape and an audiotape featuring bin Laden earlier this month to mark the the sixth anniversary of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.

A third release had been trailed by Al-Qaeda's media arm, As-Sahab. In the event the new video was issued in the name of Al-Tanzem, prompting suggestions the network has launched a new media arm.
11332  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 17, 2007, 01:12:38 PM
That's not a good development. undecided
11333  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 17, 2007, 12:51:21 PM

This is a "ping", IMHO.
11334  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 17, 2007, 12:15:44 PM
Ah yes, the endless muslim victimhood..... rolleyes

If Denmark is so bad, pack up and move someplace where muslims rule the land, like France.
11335  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iraq on: September 17, 2007, 12:11:21 PM
It would be nice to see the Sunnis and Shias find some ability to co-exist in Iraq, but that would mean being able to move past a lot of ugly history.
11336  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: September 17, 2007, 12:04:56 PM
IMHO, we'll see China move against Taiwan sometime in late 2008-2009. Most likely this will happen while the US is facing issues elsewhere, like major terror attacks CONUS and/or a open shooting war with Iran.
11337  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why we fight on: September 17, 2007, 12:18:24 AM

There are two Americas.....
11338  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 16, 2007, 09:07:51 PM

Converts To Islam Move Up In Cells
Arrests in Europe Illuminate Shift
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, September 15, 2007; A10

BERLIN -- Religious converts are playing an increasingly influential role in Islamic militant networks, having transformed themselves in recent years from curiosities to key players in terrorist cells in Europe, according to counterterrorism officials and analysts.

The arrests this month of two German converts to Islam -- Fritz Gelowicz and Daniel Schneider -- on suspicions that they were plotting to bomb American targets are just one example of terrorism cases in Europe in which converts to Islam have figured prominently.

In Copenhagen, a convert is among four defendants who went on trial this month for plotting to blow up political targets. In Sweden, a webmaster who changed his name from Ralf Wadman to Abu Usama el-Swede was arrested last year on suspicion of recruiting fighters on the Internet. In Britain, three converts -- including the son of a British politician -- are awaiting trial on charges of participating in last year's transatlantic airline plot.

"The number of converts, it seems, is definitely on the rise," said Michael Taarnby, a terrorism researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. "We've reached a point where I think al-Qaeda and other groups recognize the value of converts, not just from an operational viewpoint but from a cultural one as well."

Religious converts are sometimes more prone to radicalization because of their zeal to prove their newfound faith, analysts said. They are also less likely to attract police scrutiny in Europe, where investigators often rely on outdated demographic profiles in terrorism cases.

Converts are a tiny subset of the Muslim population in Europe, but their numbers are growing in some countries. In Germany, government officials estimated that 4,000 people converted to Islam last year, compared with an annual average of 300 in the late 1990s. Less than 1 percent of Germany's 3.3 million Muslims are converts.

While religious leaders emphasize that most converts are law-abiding citizens who often promote interfaith understanding, the recent arrests in Germany prompted some lawmakers to suggest that police should keep converts under surveillance.

"Of course not all converts are problematic, but some are particularly dangerous because they want to demonstrate through extreme fanaticism that they are particularly good Muslims," Guenther Beckstein, interior minister for the state of Bavaria, said last week.

The trend is not limited to Europe. In Florida, U.S. citizen and convert Jose Padilla was convicted last month on conspiracy charges for participating in an al-Qaeda support cell. In March, David M. Hicks, an Australian convert, became the first prisoner at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be convicted on terrorism charges.

Converts have joined militant groups, including al-Qaeda, for years. Wadih el-Hage, a Lebanese Christian who converted to Islam and became a U.S. citizen, served as an aide to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and was convicted for his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa.

But counterterrorist analysts and officials said they have become much more common and are now playing leadership roles. They said there is also evidence that militant groups, which used to eye converts suspiciously as potential infiltrators, are now encouraging them to join.

In May, al-Qaeda deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri released a videotape in which he repeatedly praised Muslim leader Malcolm X and urged African American soldiers to stop fighting in Iraq and embrace Islam.

"I am hurt when I find a black American fighting the Muslims under the American flag," Zawahiri said, according to a translation of the speech by the SITE Institute, a terrorism research group. "Why is he fighting us when the racist Crusader regime in America is persecuting him like it persecutes us?"

This month, bin Laden released a rare videotape in which he called upon all Americans to convert to Islam. Analysts said bin Laden's remarks, though theological in nature, were probably not intended as a direct recruiting pitch for al-Qaeda. But they said his speech likely was influenced by Adam Gadahn, a U.S. citizen from California who converted to Islam as a teenager and is a media adviser for al-Qaeda. He was indicted in the United States on treason charges last year.

"This has the language and hallmarks of Adam Gadahn and is very reminiscent of his own messages in terms of style and content," said M.J. Gohel, chief executive of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London-based security studies organization. "Gadahn, whenever he has appeared in an al-Qaeda video, has always used the opportunity to encourage others to convert to Islam."

Analysts said European converts sometimes are drawn to mosques or organizations at home that have a radical bent but profess nonviolence. After spending time in those circles, however, some seek to deepen their involvement by attending religious schools, or madrassas, in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Egypt or Saudi Arabia.

Once there, it is easy for spotters from al-Qaeda and other militant groups to recruit potential followers, said Ashraf Ali, a researcher at the University of Peshawar in Pakistan. "That's the point where these new converts fall in the hands of jihadi organizations and they go for military training," he said.

One fundamentalist network that has attracted hundreds of converts in Europe is Tablighi Jamaat, a missionary sect based in Pakistan that characterizes itself as peaceful but is criticized by some authorities as a training ground for extremists. Another is al-Muhajiroun, a movement founded by a radical cleric in London that officially disbanded in 2004 but reorganized into an assortment of splinter groups.

Maulana Muhammad Qasim, a member of the Pakistani National Assembly from the Mardan district who is active in Tablighi Jamaat, said the organization has no links to terrorism or politics.

"It is not the policy of the Tablighi Jamaat to send people for military training or jihad," he said. "But if someone starts off with us and ends up as a militant, that's an individual's decision and has nothing to do with the manifesto of the group."

In Germany, investigators are still trying to determine how the three men arrested Sept. 4 became radicalized and how they came into contact with the Islamic Jihad Union, a South Asian network that has asserted responsibility for the plot to attack American targets in Germany.

Gelowicz, whom investigators have identified as the ringleader of the cell, struggled academically in high school and converted to Islam when he was 18. He was active in radical circles in the southern city of Ulm, home to an Islamic cultural center and other institutions that have long been under police surveillance.

In an interview with the German magazine Stern in July, two months before his arrest, Gelowicz described his introduction to Islam. "I had a good friend who was a Muslim," he said. "At some point, you start to ask questions like, 'Why do you fast?' 'Why don't you eat pork?' You keep asking. At some point you realize that God sent a prophet to fulfill all revelations."

Many Germans have been stunned by news of the alleged plot, and religious leaders said they were trying to counter what they described as a public backlash and heightened suspicion about converts.

Gerhard Isa Moldenhauer, a board member at the Central Institute of the Islam Archive, the oldest Muslim organization in Germany, blamed panicky lawmakers for stirring up distrust.

"The German politicians tell us almost daily that all converts are terrorists," said Moldenhauer, 58, himself a convert. "It is truly sad when politicians have no trust in their citizens."

Special correspondents Imtiaz Ali in Peshawar, Pakistan, and Shannon Smiley in Berlin contributed to this report.
11339  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Afghanistan-Pakistan on: September 16, 2007, 01:37:35 PM

Pakistan's newest threat: Army officer turns suicide bomber

B Raman | September 14, 2007 | 12:17 IST

According to reliable sources in the local police, a Pashtun army officer belonging to the elite Special Services Group, whose younger sister was reportedly among the 300 girls killed during the Pakistan Army's commando raid on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13, blew himself up during dinner at the SSG's headquarters mess at Tarbela Ghazi, 100 km south of Islamabad, on the night of September 13, killing 19 other officers.
The incident coincided with United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte's visit to Kabul and Islamabad for talks with leaders and officials of the two governments.

According to the same sources, the Pashtun army officer belonged to South Waziristan, but Tarbela Ghazi is not located in the tribal belt. The SSG, to which General Pervez Musharraf belonged, was specially trained by the US Special Forces for covert operations and for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency duties.

The usually well-informed News of Pakistan reported as follows on September 14: 'The area where the incident occurred is the headquarters of the Special Services Group also known as SSG and Special Operation Task Force of the Pakistan Army. Sources said the blast was so powerful that it destroyed the Officers Mess. There are also reports that a company known as Karar of the SSG based in the area had taken part in the operation on Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad where hundreds of religious students, including religious school administrator, Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi, were killed. ...There were rumours that CIA personnel were also present in the area where the blast occurred.'

According to the police sources, a training team of the Central Intelligence Agency and a team of technical intelligence personnel of the US National Security Agency were also stationed at Tarbela Ghazi. The NSA personnel were reportedly running a monitoring station to intercept communications of Al Qaeda and the neo-Taliban.

While there are no reports of any American casualties, there have been rumours that the NSA's monitoring station was badly damaged. It is not clear whether it was damaged by the impact of the explosion inside the officers' mess or by a separate explosion.

Pakistani army sources initially projected the incident as due to the explosion of a cooking gas cylinder. Subsequently, they said it was caused by a remote-controlled improvised explosive device and then that it was caused by an unidentified suicide bomber, who drove a vehicle filled with explosives into the mess at dinner time.

They have not so far admitted that it was actually caused by a Pashtun officer of the SSG itself and not an outsider. No other details are available so far.

The daring attack came two days after another attack of suicide terrorism in which at least 17 people, including three security forces personnel, were killed and 16 others injured when a 15-year-old Mehsud suicide bomber blew himself up in a passenger van at Bannu Adda in Dera Ismail Khan district of the North-West Frontier Province on September 11.

The Pakistan army has not been able to re-establish its writ over South and North Waziristan, where the Mehsuds and the Uzbeks supporting them have been holding in custody 240 members of the security forces captured by them and have been repeatedly attacking posts of the army and the Frontier Corps. Repeated use of helicopter gunships by the army has not had any impact on the various sub-tribes of Pashtuns, who have been attacking the security forces almost daily.

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11340  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security on: September 16, 2007, 09:13:31 AM

Germany warns of terror nuclear attack
Sep 16, 2007 3:08 PM

The risk of a terrorist attack in Germany, possibly even a nuclear strike, is high despite last week's arrest of suspected Islamist militants, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a newspaper.

"The terrorist threat has not diminished," Schaeuble told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, according to extracts published in advance.

"I am no less worried since the arrests. We know more precisely that we are in the crosshairs of Islamist terrorism...the terrorists want to carry out more attacks," he said.

Schaeuble even warned of the danger of a nuclear attack, although it was not clear if he was referring to Germany specifically.

"Many experts are convinced this kind of attack is a question of when, not if," he told the paper.

Last week, Germany said its security forces had foiled a plan by Islamist militants to carry out massive bomb attacks.

Police arrested three men suspected of belonging to an Islamist terrorist group and who, officials said, were planning strikes on Frankfurt international airport and a major US military base.

Schaeuble wants to introduce new measures to combat the threat from international terrorism, but opposition is high in Germany where curtailing civil liberties is very sensitive more than 60 years after the fall of Nazism.
11341  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 09:56:49 PM

Let's contrast waterboarding with the above.
11342  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 09:53:47 PM
Crafty, would you care to explain how you think Bush & Rumbo should have handled the torture issue?

I agree fully with Tom in that if we are going to torture people, the president should be honest in that we are doing it and make a case for why we should be doing it instead of

1) pretending we aren't doing it
2) admitting it happened but hanging a few low-level soldiers out to dry for it
3) arguing that what we're doing isn't really torture

Abu Ghraib wasn't any part of any official interrogation effort. It was unprofessional, poorly lead MPs acting out.
11343  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 09:39:50 PM
I'd like all the opponents of what I call "coercive interrogation" to read chapters 17 and 18 and give effective alternatives.
11344  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 08:42:48 PM
U.S.: Iraq sheltered suspect in '93 WTC attack
By John Diamond, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — U.S. authorities in Iraq say they have new evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime gave money and housing to Abdul Rahman Yasin, a suspect in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, according to U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials.
The Bush administration is using the evidence to strengthen its disputed prewar assertion that Iraq had ties to terrorists, including the al-Qaeda group responsible for the Sept. 11 attack. But President Bush, in contrast with comments Sunday by Vice President Cheney, said Wednesday, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved."

Cheney had said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday that "we don't know" if Iraq was involved but said some suggestive evidence had surfaced. He asserted that the campaign in Iraq is striking at terrorists involved in the attacks. Cheney also disclosed the new evidence about the 1993 suspect on the program, but he did not name Yasin.

Military, intelligence and law enforcement officials reported finding a large cache of Arabic-language documents in Tikrit, Saddam's political stronghold. A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said translators and analysts are busy "separating the gems from the junk." The official said some of the analysts have concluded that the documents show that Saddam's government provided monthly payments and a home for Yasin.

Yasin is on the FBI's list of 22 most-wanted terrorist fugitives; there is a $25 million reward for his capture. The bureau questioned and released him in New York shortly after the bombing in 1993. After Yasin had fled to Iraq, the FBI said it found evidence that he helped make the bomb, which killed six people and injured 1,000. Yasin is still at large.

Even if the new information holds up — and intelligence and law enforcement officials disagree on its conclusiveness — the links tying Yasin, Saddam and al-Qaeda are tentative.

The World Trade Center bombing was carried out by a group headed by Ramzi Yousef, who is serving a 240-year prison term. Federal authorities say Yousef's group received financial support from al-Qaeda via Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. But a direct al-Qaeda role in the 1993 attack hasn't been established.


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11345  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 08:36:18 PM

60 Minutes: The Man Who Got Away
May 31, 2002

(CBS) Abdul Rahman Yasin is the only participant in the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993 who was never caught. Yasin, who was indicted in the bombing but escaped, was interviewed by CBS News' Lesley Stahl in an Iraqi installation near Baghdad last Thursday, May 23. Stahl's report appeared on 60 Minutes, Sunday June 2nd.

Abdul Rahman Yasin fled to Iraq after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. He lived as a free man for a year, but the authorities in Iraq tell CBS News they put him in prison in 1994. After 9/11, President Bush put Yasin on a new most wanted list, with a $25 million reward.

Yasin tells Stahl that the twin towers were not the terrorists' first choice. Ramzi Yousef, the so-called mastermind of the '93 attack, had something else in mind.

"[Yousef] told me, 'I want to blow up Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn.'" But after scouting Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Yasin says, Yousef had a better idea.

"Ramzi Yousef told us to go to the World Trade Center… 'I have an idea we should do one big explosion rather than do small ones in Jewish neighborhoods,'" Yasin says.

They figured the World Trade Center would serve as a more efficient target. "The majority of people who work in the World Trade Center are Jews," Yasin says.

U.S. officials say they never knew that Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn were on the original hit list of Yousef and his lieutenant, Mohammed Salameh.

Yasin, 40, says he is sorry for what he did and that the bombers, whom he said he met for the first time while living in a Jersey City apartment building, talked him into it.

"[Yousef and Salameh] used to tell me how Arabs suffered a great deal and that we have to send a message that this is not right … to revenge for my Palestinian brothers and my brothers in Saudi Arabia," Yasin tells Stahl. He adds that they also prodded him about being an Iraqi who should avenge the defeat of Iraq in the Gulf War.

Yasin confirms that Yousef was the maker of the bomb used in the attack and that Yousef learned the process in a terrorist camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, before entering the United States.

"He said that in Peshawar there were schools that taught" bomb-making.

Asked if he knew that Yousef had been trained to come to the United States as a terrorist to make bombs and blow things up, Yasin says, "I knew that after I started working with them."

Yasin was picked up by the FBI a few days after the bombing in an apartment in Jersey City, N.J., that he was sharing with his mother. He was so helpful and cooperative, giving the FBI names and addresses, that they released him.

Yasin says he was even driven back home in an FBI car.

60 Minutes has independently confirmed that the man interviewed is, indeed, Yasin, whose picture is on the FBI Web site along with Osama bin Laden, one of President Bush’s 22 most-wanted terrorists.
11346  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 08:23:05 PM
June 17, 2004, 8:40 a.m.
Iraq & al Qaeda
The 9/11 Commission raises more questions than it answers.

The 9/11 Commission's staff has come down decidedly on the side of the naysayers about operational ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. This development is already being met with unbridled joy by opponents of the Iraq war, who have been carping for days about recent statements by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney that reaffirmed the deposed Iraqi regime's promotion of terror.

The celebration is premature. The commission's cursory treatment of so salient a national question as whether al Qaeda and Iraq confederated is puzzling. Given that the panel had three hours for Richard Clarke, one might have hoped for more than three minutes on Iraq. More to the point, though, the staff statements released Wednesday — which seemed to be contradicted by testimony at the public hearing within minutes of their publication — raise more questions than they answer, about both matters the staff chose to address and some it strangely opted to omit.

The staff's sweeping conclusion is found in its Statement No. 15 ("Overview of the Enemy"), which states:

Bin Laden also explored possible cooperation with Iraq during his time in Sudan, despite his opposition to Hussein's secular regime. Bin Laden had in fact at one time sponsored anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sudanese, to protect their own ties with Iraq, reportedly persuaded Bin Laden to cease this support and arranged for contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda. A senior Iraqi intelligence officer reportedly made three visits to Sudan, finally meeting Bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States.
Just taken on its own terms, this paragraph is both internally inconsistent and ambiguously worded. First, it cannot be true both that the Sudanese arranged contacts between Iraq and bin Laden and that no "ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq." If the first proposition is so, then the "[t]wo senior Bin Laden associates" who are the sources of the second are either lying or misinformed.

In light of the number of elementary things the commission staff tells us its investigation has been unable to clarify (for example, in the very next sentence after the Iraq paragraph, the staff explains that the question whether al Qaeda had any connection to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing or the 1995 plot to blow U.S. airliners out of the sky "remains a matter of substantial uncertainty"), it is fair to conclude that these two senior bin Laden associates may not be the most cooperative, reliable fellows in town regarding what bin Laden was actually up to. Moreover, we know from press reports and the administration's own statements about the many al Qaeda operatives it has captured since 9/11 that the government is talking to more than just two of bin Laden's top operatives. That begs the questions: Have we really only asked two of them about Iraq? If not, what did the other detainees say?

Inconvenient Facts
The staff's back-of-the-hand summary also strangely elides mention of another significant matter — but one that did not escape the attention of Commissioner Fred Fielding, who raised it with a panel of law-enforcement witnesses right after noting the staff's conclusion that there was "no credible evidence" of cooperation. It is the little-discussed original indictment of bin Laden, obtained by the Justice Department in spring 1998 — several weeks before the embassy bombings and at a time when the government thought it would be prudent to have charges filed in the event an opportunity arose overseas to apprehend bin Laden. Paragraph 4 of that very short indictment reads:
Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.
(Emphasis added.) This allegation has always been inconvenient for the "absolutely no connection between Iraq and al Qaeda" club. (Richard Clarke, a charter member, handles the problem in his book by limiting the 1998 indictment to a fleeting mention and assiduously avoiding any description of what the indictment actually says.)

It remains inconvenient. As testimony at the commission's public hearing Wednesday revealed, the allegation in the 1998 indictment stems primarily from information provided by the key accomplice witness at the embassy bombing trial, Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl. Al-Fadl told agents that when al Qaeda was headquartered in the Sudan in the early-to-mid-1990s, he understood an agreement to have been struck under which the jihadists would put aside their antipathy for Saddam and explore ways of working together with Iraq, particularly regarding weapons production.

On al Qaeda's end, al-Fadl understood the liaison for Iraq relations to be an Iraqi named Mahmdouh Mahmud Salim (a.k.a. "Abu Hajer al Iraqi"), one of bin Laden's closest friends. (There will be a bit more to say later about Salim, who, it bears mention, was convicted in New York last year for maiming a prison guard in an escape attempt while awaiting trial for bombing the embassies.) After the embassies were destroyed, the government's case, naturally, was radically altered to focus on the attacks that killed over 250 people, and the Iraq allegation was not included in the superseding indictment. But, as the hearing testimony made clear, the government has never retracted the allegation.

Neither have other important assertions been retracted, including those by CIA Director George Tenet. As journalist Stephen Hayes reiterated earlier this month, Tenet, on October 7, 2002, wrote a letter to Congress, which asserted:

 Our understanding of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda is evolving and is based on sources of varying reliability. Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, including some of high rank.   We have solid reporting of senior level contacts between Iraq and Al Qaeda going back a decade.   Credible information indicates that Iraq and Al Qaeda have discussed safe haven and reciprocal nonaggression.   Since Operation Enduring Freedom, we have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of Al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad.   We have credible reporting that Al Qaeda leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire W.M.D. capabilities. The reporting also stated that Iraq has provided training to Al Qaeda members in the areas of poisons and gases and making conventional bombs.   Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians coupled with growing indications of relationship with Al Qaeda suggest that Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action.
Tenet, as Hayes elaborated, has never backed away from these assessments, reaffirming them in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee as recently as March 9, 2004.
Is the commission staff saying that the CIA director has provided faulty information to Congress? That doesn't appear to be what it is saying at all. This is clear — if anything in this regard can be said to be "clear" — from the staff's murky but carefully phrased summation sentence, which is worth parsing since it is already being gleefully misreported: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." (Italics mine.) That is, the staff is not saying al Qaeda and Iraq did not cooperate — far from it. The staff seems to be saying: "they appear to have cooperated but we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that they worked in tandem on a specific terrorist attack, such as 9/11, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, or the embassy bombings."

The same might, of course, be said about the deposed Taliban government in Afghanistan. Before anyone gets unhinged, I am not suggesting that bin Laden's ties to Iraq were as extensive as his connections to Afghanistan. But as is the case with Iraq, no one has yet tied the Taliban to a direct attack on the United States, although no one doubts for a moment that deposing the Taliban post-9/11 was absolutely the right thing to do.
I would point out, moreover, that al Qaeda is a full-time terrorist organization — it does not have the same pretensions as, say, Sinn Fein or Hamas, to be a part-time political party. Al Qaeda's time is fully devoted to conducting terrorist attacks and planning terrorist attacks. Thus, if a country cooperates with al Qaeda, it is cooperating in (or facilitating, abetting, promoting — you choose the euphemism) terrorism. What difference should it make that no one can find an actual bomb that was once in Saddam's closet and ended up at the Cole's hull? If al Qaeda and Iraq were cooperating, they had to be cooperating on terrorism, and as al Qaeda made no secret that it existed for the narrow purpose of inflicting terrorism on the United States, exactly what should we suppose Saddam was hoping to achieve by cooperating with bin Laden?

Of course, we may yet find that Saddam was a participant in the specific 9/11 plot. In that regard, the commission staff's report is perplexing, and, again, raises — or flat omits — many more questions than it resolves.

Don't Forget Shakir
For one thing, the staff has now addressed the crucial January 2000 Malaysia planning session in a few of its statements. As I have previously recounted, this was the three-day meeting at which Khalid al Midhar and Nawaf al Hazmi, eventual hijackers of Flight 77 (the one that hit the Pentagon), met with other key 9/11 planners. The staff's latest report, Statement Number 16 ("Outline of the 9/11 Plot"), even takes time to describe how the conspirators were hosted in Kuala Lampur by members of a Qaeda-affiliated terror group, Jemaah Islamiah. But the staff does not mention, let alone explain, let alone explain away, that al Midhar was escorted to the meeting by Ahmed Hikmat Shakir.
Shakir is the Iraqi who got his job as an airport greeter through the Iraqi embassy, which controlled his work schedule. He is the man who left that job right after the Malaysia meeting; who was found in Qatar six days after 9/11 with contact information for al Qaeda heavyweights — including bin Laden's aforementioned friend, Salim — and who was later detained in Jordan but released only after special pleading from Saddam's regime, and only after intelligence agents concluded that he seemed to have sophisticated counter-interrogation training. Shakir is also the Iraqi who now appears, based on records seized since the regime's fall, to have been all along an officer in Saddam's Fedayeen.

Does all this amount to proof of participation in the 9/11 plot? Well, in any prosecutor's office it would be a pretty good start. And if the commission staff was going to get into this area of Iraqi connections to al Qaeda at all, what conceivable good reason is there for avoiding any discussion whatsoever of Shakir? At least tell us why he is not worth mentioning.

Prague Problem
One thing the staff evidently thought it was laying to rest was the other niggling matter of whether 9/11 major domo Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmed al-Ani in Prague in April 2001. The staff's conclusion is that the meeting is a fiction. To say its reasoning is less than satisfying would be a gross understatement. Here's the pertinent conclusion, also found in Statement Number 16:
We have examined the allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 9 [2001]. Based on the evidence available — including investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting — we do not believe that such a meeting occurred. The FBI's investigation places him in Virginia as of April 4, as evidenced by this bank surveillance camera shot of Atta withdrawing $8,000 from his account. Atta was back in Florida by April 11, if not before. Indeed, investigation has established that, on April 6, 9, 10, and 11, Atta's cellular telephone was used numerous times to call Florida phone numbers from cell sites within Florida. We have seen no evidence that Atta ventured overseas again or re-entered the United States before July, when he traveled to Spain under his true name and back under his true name.
This is ground, again, that I've recently covered. To rehearse: Czech intelligence has alleged that Atta was seen in Prague on April 8 or 9, 2001. Atta had withdrawn $8,000 cash from a bank in Virginia on April 4 and was not eyeballed again by a witness until one week later, on April 11. The new detail added by the staff is that Atta's cell phone was used in Florida on three days (April 6, 9 and 10) during that time frame. Does this tend to show he was in Florida rather than Prague? It could, but not very convincingly. Telling us Atta's cell phone was used is not the same as telling us Atta used the cell phone.

Atta almost certainly would not have been able to use the cell phone overseas, so it would have been foolish to tote it along to the Czech Republic — especially if he was traveling clandestinely (as the large cash withdrawal suggests). He would have left it behind. Atta, moreover, had a roommate (and fellow hijacker), Marwan al-Shehhi. It is certainly possible that Shehhi — whom the staff places in Florida during April 2001 — could have used Atta's cell phone during that time.

Is it possible that Atta was in Florida rather than Prague? Of course it is. But the known evidence militates strongly against that conclusion: an eyewitness puts Atta in Prague, meeting with al-Ani; we know Atta was a "Hamburg student" and represented himself as such in a visa application; it has been reported that the Czechs have al-Ani's appointment calendar and it says he was scheduled to meet on the critical day with a "Hamburg student"; and we know for certain that Atta was in Prague under very suspicious circumstances twice in a matter of days (May 30 and June 2, 2000) during a time the Czechs and Western intelligence services feared that Saddam, through al-Ani, might be reviving a plot to use Islamic extremists to bomb Radio Free Europe (a plot the State Department acknowledged in its annual global terror report notwithstanding that the commission staff apparently did not think the incident merited mention).

I am perfectly prepared to accept the staff's conclusion about Atta not being in Prague — if the commission provides a convincing, thoughtful explanation, which is going to have to get a whole lot better than a cell-phone record.

What is the staff's reason for rejecting the eyewitness identification? Is the "Hamburg student" entry bogus? Since the staff is purporting to provide a comprehensive explanation of the 9/11 plot — the origins of which it traces back to 1999 — what is their explanation for what Atta was doing in Prague in 2000? Why, when the staff went into minute detail about the travels of other hijackers (even when it conceded it did not know the relevance of those trips), was Atta's trip to Prague not worthy of even a passing mention? Why was it so important for Atta to be in Prague on May 30, 2000 that he couldn't delay for one day, until May 31, when his visa would have been ready? Why was it so important for him to be in Prague on May 30 that he opted to go despite the fact that, without a visa, he could not leave the airport terminal? How did he happen to find the spot in the terminal where surveillance cameras would not capture him for nearly six hours? Why did he go back again on June 2? Was he meeting with al-Ani? If so, why would it be important for him to see al-Ani right before entering the United States in June 2000? And jumping ahead to 2001, if Atta wasn't using cash to travel anonymously, what did he do with the $8000 he suddenly withdrew before disappearing on April 4? If his cell phone was used in Florida between April 4 and April 11, what follow-up investigation has been done about that by the 9/11 Commission? By the FBI? By anybody? Whom was the cell phone used to call? Do any of those people remember speaking to Atta at that time? Perhaps someone would remember speaking with the ringleader of the most infamous attack in the history of the United States if he had called to chat, no?

Are these questions important to answer? You be the judge. According to the 9/11 Commission staff report, bin Laden originally pressed the operational supervisor of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM), "that the attacks occur as early as mid-2000," even though bin Laden "recognized that Atta and the other pilots had only just arrived in the United States to begin their flight training[.]" Well I'll be darned: mid-2000 is exactly when Atta made his two frenetic trips to Prague immediately before heading to the United States to begin that flight training.

The commission staff next says, "n 2001, Bin Laden apparently pressured KSM twice more for an earlier date. According to KSM, Bin Laden first requested a date of May 12, 2001," and then proposed a date in June or July. Well, what do you know: all those dates are only weeks after Atta may have had some reason to drop everything and secretly run to Prague for a meeting with al-Ani.   
Or maybe it's just a coincidence.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a former chief assistant U.S. attorney who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others, is an NRO contributor.

11347  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 08:10:30 PM

06 November 1998

****Who was President at this time?****


4. Al Qaeda also forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in
the Sudan and with the government of Iran and its associated terrorist
group Hezballah for the purpose of working together against their
perceived common enemies in the West, particularly the United States.
In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of
Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on
particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al
Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.
11348  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: September 15, 2007, 08:04:47 PM

SERE in Transition

The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school at Camp Mackall, N.C., is undergoing some broad changes to make the SERE course an integral part of the Special Forces Qualification Course.

By Major Brian Hankinson

The Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school at Camp Mackall, N.C., is undergoing some broad changes to make the SERE course an integral part of the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC) to ensure that all Special Forces soldiers are SERE Level-C qualified; and to ensure that SERE remains relevant to the current operational environment. Under the direction of Major General James Parker, commanding general of the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, SERE has integrated training in peacetime government detention and hostage detention (PGD/HD) into its curriculum and has adopted a new core captivity curriculum (CCC) that will greatly enhance and update resistance training. SERE has also significantly increased its student output and has moved from being taught at the end of the SFQC to becoming part of Phase II of the pipeline.
SERE has always existed as training in support of the Military Code of Conduct. The relationship between SERE training and the Code of Conduct has been formalized in a number of studies and documents since the 1970s. Of importance to Army SERE training is Army Regulation 350-30, Code of Conduct, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Training, originally published in 1985 and updated in 2002. The current AR 350-30 supports Department of Defense level requirements as outlined in Department of Defense Directive 1300.7, Training and Education to Support the Code of Conduct, and Department of Defense Instruction 1300.21, Code of Conduct Training and Education. All of these documents establish three levels of Code of Conduct training.

Level-A is initial-entry-level training that all soldiers, enlisted and officers receive upon entering the service. It provides a minimum level of understanding of the Code of Conduct.

Level-B is designed for personnel whose “jobs, specialties or assignments entail moderate risk of capture and exploitation.” DoD 1300.21 lists as examples, “members of ground combat units, security forces for high threat targets and anyone in the immediate vicinity of the forward edge of the battle area or the forward line of troops.” Current operations in Iraq have shown that practically everyone deployed in theater falls under this category. Consequently, demand for Level-B training has proliferated exponentially, and it has become mandatory for most deploying forces. Level-B is conducted at the unit level, through the use of training-support packets containing a series of standardized lesson plans and videos.

Level-C is designed for personnel whose “jobs, specialties or assignments entail a significant or high risk of capture and exploitation.” AR 350-30 supports DoD 1300.21’s mandate: “As a minimum, the following categories of personnel shall receive formal Level-C training at least once in their careers: combat aircrews, special operations forces (e.g., Navy special warfare combat swimmers and special boat units, Army Special Forces and Rangers, Marine Corps force reconnaissance units, Air Force special tactics teams, and psychological operations units) and military attaché.” The SERE Level-C training facility at Camp Mackall is one of only four facilities within the DoD that is authorized to conduct Level-C training. The Air Force conducts training at Fairchild AFB, Wash., and the Navy has facilities in Brunswick, Maine, and at North Island, Calif. The Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., is in the process of building another Level-C facility.

With the exception of minor periodic adjustments in content and length, SERE instruction at Camp Mackall has changed little since Lieutenant Colonel Nick Rowe conducted the first Level-C course in 1986. The course spans three weeks with three phases of instruction, with the first phase consisting of approximately 10 days of academic instruction on the Code of Conduct and in SERE techniques that incorporate both classroom learning and hands-on field craft.

The second phase is a five-day field training exercise in which the students practice their survival and evasion skills by procuring food and water, constructing evasion fires and shelters and evading tracker dogs and aggressor forces for long distances. The final phase takes place in the resistance training laboratory, a mock prisoner-of-war camp, where students are tested on their individual and collective abilities to resist interrogation and exploitation and to properly apply the six articles of the Code of Conduct in a realistic captivity scenario. The course culminates with a day of debriefings in which the students receive individual and group feedback from the instructors. These constructive critiques help students process everything they have been through to solidify the skills they applied properly and to correct areas that need adjustment.

SERE Ramp-up

Over the past year, SERE has begun a transformation that will bring it on line with the transitioning SFQC, as well as make training more relevant to a broader spectrum of captivity environments. This transformation in SERE consists of three major changes: moving the course from its current position in the pipeline, increasing student output and incorporating new resistance-training techniques in PGD/HD.

Since its inception, SERE has been a stand-alone course, separate from, but working in conjunction with, the pipeline. Slots were primarily allocated to students in the SFQC but were also offered to other Army special operations forces, or ARSOF, such as Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment pilots and civil affairs and psychological operations personnel. The course also slotted students from other Army components, primarily aviators, airborne infantrymen and long-range-surveillance soldiers. Even though AR 350-30 mandates that all SF soldiers require SERE Level-C training, because the SFQC and SERE have been run separately, and because of limited space in the SERE course, not all SF soldiers have received SERE training in the past.

Beginning in 1998, with a directive from the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) SERE Level-C became mandatory for all SFQC graduates before their assignment to an SF group. Furthermore, with AR 350-30 and DoD 1300.21 mandating SERE Level-C for all ARSOF, the demand for SERE increased substantially to accommodate all pipeline students, the backlog of SF Soldiers without SERE, and other slots needed for ARSOF and Army-component students. Also contributing to the growing demand for SERE Level-C training is the substantial number of Special Forces recruits, the “18 X-Rays,” who are joining the ranks, succeeding in assessment and selection and entering the SFQC. By fiscal year 2004, the steady state for SERE was 20 classes per year, with an average of 48 students per class, or 960 graduates per year. Even with this substantial output of students, SERE’s placement at the end of the pipeline contributed to a bottleneck effect that the transformation aims to correct.

To eliminate the bottleneck effect and to contribute to a more efficient pipeline, SERE has moved into Phase II of the SFQC. As students finish the fifth and final module of small-unit tactics, or SUT, they will immediately begin a SERE course. Until recently, each module of Phase II SUT was designed for 75-man classes. Now each module is training 90 students. SERE has had to ramp-up its capacity substantially to accommodate Phase II students and to continue to address students at the end of the pipeline, the backlog of SF Soldiers without SERE, and other ARSOF slots.

In April 2005, SERE began training 78 students per class. In October 2005, SERE again increased its student load by in-processing 100 students, the largest class in SERE history. To further accommodate the demand, SERE also increased its number of classes per year from 20 to 22, beginning in fiscal year 2005. At the end of FY 2005, SERE had graduated 1,287 students, a 34-percent increase over the FY 2004 average of 960. At the current rate of 22 classes of 90 to 100 students per class, SERE will have produced between 1,968 and 2,178 graduates by the end of FY 2006, an increase of between 100 percent and 127 percent of that average. The future steady state for SERE is to have the backlog worked off and to conduct 20 classes per year with the number of seats per class sufficient to accommodate the 20 Phase II SUT classes and slots for other ARSOF soldiers.

Peacetime Government/Hostage Detention

In 2002, the commander of SWCS tasked the Directorate of Training and Doctrine to establish a PGD/HD course to offer another high-risk Level-C capability that would focus on a broad spectrum of current captivity environments. The DOTD created a five-day curriculum, modeled after an existing course offered by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, to teach current DoD policy for the application of the Code of Conduct in a much broader range of captivity scenarios than offered in the traditional, or wartime SERE course. PGD/HD provides students with the situational awareness needed to resist exploitation in a number of unpredictable environments common in the current operational arena, from friendly government detentions to highly volatile hostage and terrorist captivities. PGD/HD incorporates a unique learning tool, the academic role-play laboratory, in which students benefit from observing and critiquing each other in role-play scenarios with the instructors. The course was originally created to instruct 300 students per year in 20 classes of 15.

PGD/HD was short-lived as a stand-alone course. As part of the transformation, Parker also tasked SERE to combine its traditional wartime SERE course with the new PGD/HD (or peacetime) course to ensure that all SF soldiers received the benefits of both. The SERE company merged the PGD/HD cadre and the resistance-training detachment of the wartime course and combined the PGD/HD curriculum with the academic portion of the wartime course to create a 19-day combined SERE program that would fit into the Phase II calendar. August 1, 2005, marked the beginning of the first combined SERE course. Class 16-05 graduated on August 19 with more training in resistance skills than any class in SERE history.

Currently, SERE is successfully operating 90- to 100-man classes in the combined course that have a fairly even mix of Phase II students, end-of-pipeline students and SF backlog. By the end of December 2005, nine classes of the combined course will have graduated, and student and cadre feedback has been positive. A student from Class 16-05 who had just finished Phase II commented, “I hope the rest of the SF pipeline lives up to the experience I have had in SERE. Thank you.”

Core Captivity Curriculum

By instituting the combined wartime and peacetime SERE course, the SERE company created a “bridge plan” to posture itself for the assumption of the core captivity curriculum (CCC). The CCC is a joint effort among the sister-service SERE schools and the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency to create a curriculum that officially merges wartime and peacetime resistance training into an updated curriculum of resistance training that better replicates the ambiguities of the modern global environment. It will effectively eliminate the potential for confusion created by the current state of resistance training, which teaches three separate captivity environments (wartime, peacetime government/operations other than war and hostage). The CCC consolidates resistance techniques across the spectrum of captivity and focuses on producing smarter resisters who have very keen situational awareness. It is important to note that the CCC applies only to resistance training in SERE. It has no effect on the instruction of survival, evasion and escape skills, except for refocusing the field-training exercise scenarios to better replicate appropriate captivity environments.

Transitioning to the CCC was not an overnight process. It entailed a significant paradigm shift among instructors who have been immersed in a wartime scenario for a long time. The bridge plan gave the SERE company the opportunity to cross-train and familiarize the cadre with the coming changes. The SERE Company worked closely with the SERE training developer in the SWCS Directorate of Training and Doctrine to ensure a smooth transition to the new CCC program of instruction. As an integrated part of the pipeline, SERE is also working with the other phases to ensure that SERE scenarios flow logically with the rest of the SFQC training experience. The CCC offers the SERE company a great opportunity to rethink its old ways of doing business, with imagination being the only limitation in creating realistic training scenarios to prepare soldiers for the ambiguous and volatile world in which they will operate.


In his book, In the Company of Heroes, retired 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment pilot CW4 Mike Durant reflected on the SERE training he received at Camp Mackall in the winter of 1988 and the strength it gave him during his 11-day captivity in Somalia in October 1993: “I came away [from SERE] with tools that I never believed I would ever really need, but even in those first seconds of capture at the crash site in Mogadishu, those lessons would come rushing back at me. Throughout my captivity, I would summon them nearly every hour … I thanked [Nick Rowe] silently every day in Mogadishu, and I asked that God bless him, as I tried to plan my next move.” Durant’s words are a resounding testimony to the enduring reputation and efficacy of the SERE course.

SERE remains rooted in the past and takes great pride in recognizing and using the sacrifices of heroes like Rowe and Durant as learning points for future generations of SERE students. The SERE cadre turned out en-masse last November to honor the memory of America’s longest held POW, Colonel Floyd J. Thompson, held in Vietnam for nine years, at the dedication of a street bearing his name on Fort Bragg. In the crowd were the Son Tay raiders who risked their lives in a POW-rescue mission into North Vietnam in 1970. SERE maintains a brotherhood with the Fayetteville Chapter of Ex-POWs, and it invites members of the group of former POWs to speak to every graduating class. The students absorb the tales told by these heroes, and the POWs thrive on sharing the hard-learned lessons of their experiences. Through these efforts, the SERE company draws on the lessons of the past that can truly mean the difference between life and death in the future.

While nourishing its connections to the past, SERE is future-oriented and is successfully transforming to meet the needs of the global war on terrorism by staying relevant in the unstable post-Cold War world of the 21st century. In an operational arena characterized by nationalistic movements, radical religious fundamentalism, rampant terrorism and anti-Western sentiment fueled by globalization and economic disfranchisement, our soldiers will face a broad spectrum of isolation and captivity that has produced unimaginable episodes of horrific violence. SERE remains dedicated to training our soldiers to face this world with every skill they will need to survive and return with honor.

Major Brian D. Hankinson is the commander of Company D (SERE), 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group. He was previously the chief of the Personnel Recovery Branch, Special Forces Doctrine Division, Directorate of Training and Doctrine, JFK Special Warfare Center and School. His previous assignments include: artillery officer, 82nd Airborne Division; detachment commander of ODA 584, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group; and assistant professor of American history at the United States Military Academy. Hankinson holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.
11349  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Rants on: September 15, 2007, 07:45:45 PM
So all of a sudden every war we get into is another WW2?  They're all pretty much the same as you see it?

****No, much like WWII, we are in a fight for the survival of our nation and western civilization. Iraq is one front in that war. Why can't you see that?****

Sorry, but I don't buy this "one front" business.  Either Iraq was an actual, immediate threat or it wasn't.

*****Bill Clinton believed Saddam was a threat. Lots of dems agreed. *****

Statement on U.S. Led Military Strike Against Iraq

December 16, 1998

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.

The responsibility of the United States in this conflict is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, to minimize the danger to our troops and to diminish the suffering of the Iraqi people. The citizens of Iraq have suffered the most for Saddam Hussein's activities; sadly, those same citizens now stand to suffer more. I have supported efforts to ease the humanitarian situation in Iraq and my thoughts and prayers are with the innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as with the families of U.S. troops participating in the current action.

I believe in negotiated solutions to international conflict. This is, unfortunately, not going to be the case in this situation where Saddam Hussein has been a repeat offender, ignoring the international community's requirement that he come clean with his weapons program. While I support the President, I hope and pray that this conflict can be resolved quickly and that the international community can find a lasting solution through diplomatic means.

******So, was Nancy supporting an illegal war when she supported Clinton's military strikes?*****

Has the US ever been in a war that wasn't justified?  Or do our leaders just decide we need to go to war and that's all that matters as far as GM is concerned?

****No, unlike you I research and read source documents rather just tossing out slogans like "illegal war".****

Clearly you have no meaningful response, hence you resort to insults.  Clearly this is SOP for GM.

******Pointing out your painful lack of knowledge isn't an insult, though if you wish to take it as one there is nothing I can do about it.*****

I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand it, international law is very clear about "aggressive war" (attacking a sovereign nation that hasn't attacked you) being a big no-no.  We either accept the authority of international law or we don't, but I don't see it as even debatable that we violated it.

****Again, what part of "violated the cease fire agreement" don't you understand?****

I don't recall Bush saying we had to go to war because Saddam violated a cease-fire.  I do recall him saying Iraq definitely had working WMD and was months away from having the capability to nuke us, both of which turned out to be complete BS.  Clearly this doesn't matter to you.

******Again, if you'll read you'll see the official reasons we went into Iraq, not media soundbites.*****

Spare me.  Nobody in this forum bases their opinions on any kind of real political expertise, so we're all pretty much "bumper sticker politicians" here.  You being a cop (what kind of cop, exactly?) makes you no more of an expert than does me being a software engineer.

****I was dealing with right wing militia groups back in the early/mid 90's, my first training on terrorism was from an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force years before 9/11. After 9/11 I gave up a dream job as a District Attorney's Investigator to go to work for the USG, where I developed material used in anti-terrorism training today. I received training in Open Source Intelligence gathering, OPSEC and Improvised Explosive Devices among other things. I've written threat assessments/risk analyses for various entities and have consulted as a terrorism SME for a join federal/local task force investigating a cold case related to terrorism.****

That does sound like an interesting record.  I'm kind of surprised that somebody with your background seems so willing to take so many of our government's claims regarding Iraq, terrorism, etc. at face value.

******I don't take anything at face value. I research. I can say that it's my opinion that the USG has a policy of downplaying/diminishing terror related incidents CONUS, which flies in the face of "Bush hypes terror for political gain" as he's often accused of. Again read the source documents. Read the indictment of OBL issued by the US DOJ in 1998 for interesting information concerning al Qaeda and Saddam.*****

I agree that some of the stuff coming out of academia is pretty ridiculous (like some college in Southern California offering a class on YouTube as a social phenomenon?), but I would still argue that most of "the left" is regular working people who simply want to have a better life and some semblance of social justice.

****I'd cite California as exhibit A for the damage leftist ideas can do. "Social Justice" sounds nice, but is in fact just a marxist codeword for all sorts of bad policies that run counter to core American concepts.****

Depends what you consider "core American concepts" I suppose.  Clearly you and I don't agree on what those are.  For a state as horrible as you seem to think California is, an awful lot of people pay a lot of money to live here.

*****Funny, I live in one of those western states that was serious impacted by Californians fleeing California. My opinion is that bad policies have California heading into a socioeconomic crisis of epic scale. I guess we'll see if i'm proven correct in time.*****

Excuse me, but I recall that it was Reagan, Rumsfeld, Bush Sr, etc. and not "the left" that supported Saddam all throughout the 80s, most notably during the time when he was gassing Kurds and committing all the atrocities now cited as justification for our invasion.  That's a simple fact.

****Lost in your simplicity is that at that time the Cold War was center stage and Saddam was a useful foil to contain Iran's expansionist shiite jihad. Still, Saddam was much more of a client state of the Soviets than he ever was of ours.****

BS.  You guys love to cite "cold war expediency" as a catch-all excuse for all kinds of unsavory, un-American things we did back then.  I don't dispute that Saddam was a monster and thug, but where you and I disagree is that I think Rumsfeld, Bush Sr, etc. should also be made to answer for their crimes in supporting him.  Otherwise, all we've done is impose victor's justice.  But clearly that's not a problem for you.  After all, you never know when another Saddam will come along somewhere else who might be useful to us for a while, right?

*****The real world requires choices between bad and worse more often than not. FDR allied himself with Stalin to beat Hitler, and Stalin was a monster. "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons." -Winston Churchill*****

Clear majorities of Iraqis (with the exception of the Kurds) want an immediate withdrawal of US forces.  Apparently (although I don't have a reference right now) smaller, but still pretty clear, majorities of Iraqis consider violent attacks on US forces to be justified.  Maybe there are "other Iraqis" who are doing better, but I think you're exaggerating their numbers.

****Wanting the US out is very different than wanting Saddam back.

To my knowledge, nobody on "the left" has ever called for reinstating Saddam in power.  Can you cite an instance of this?  Regardless, I think you'll agree that the probability of this happening now is exactly 0%.

******Michael Moore's portrayal of a wonderful, peaceful Iraq prior to the war is common with the left. As if there was no problem and then we attacked so Haliburton could get rich. Again, it's an illegal war then so were Clinton's military strikes.*****
11350  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: September 15, 2007, 04:43:45 PM

WMD in Syria?
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