Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: August 29, 2005, 06:38:29 PM
A War to Be Proud Of
From the September 5 / September 12, 2005 issue: The case for overthrowing Saddam was unimpeachable. Why, then, is the administration tongue-tied?
by Christopher Hitchens
09/05/2005, Volume 010, Issue 47
LET ME BEGIN WITH A simple sentence that, even as I write it, appears less than Swiftian in the modesty of its proposal: "Prison conditions at Abu Ghraib have improved markedly and dramatically since the arrival of Coalition troops in Baghdad."
I could undertake to defend that statement against any member of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, and I know in advance that none of them could challenge it, let alone negate it. Before March 2003, Abu Ghraib was an abattoir, a torture chamber, and a concentration camp. Now, and not without reason, it is an international byword for Yankee imperialism and sadism. Yet the improvement is still, unarguably, the difference between night and day. How is it possible that the advocates of a post-Saddam Iraq have been placed on the defensive in this manner? And where should one begin?
I once tried to calculate how long the post-Cold War liberal Utopia had actually lasted. Whether you chose to date its inception from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, or the death of Nicolae Ceausescu in late December of the same year, or the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, or the referendum defeat suffered by Augusto Pinochet (or indeed from the publication of Francis Fukuyama's book about the "end of history" and the unarguable triumph of market liberal pluralism), it was an epoch that in retrospect was over before it began. By the middle of 1990, Saddam Hussein had abolished Kuwait and Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to erase the identity and the existence of Bosnia. It turned out that we had not by any means escaped the reach of atavistic, aggressive, expansionist, and totalitarian ideology. Proving the same point in another way, and within approximately the same period, the theocratic dictator of Iran had publicly claimed the right to offer money in his own name for the suborning of the murder of a novelist living in London, and the g?nocidaire faction in Rwanda had decided that it could probably get away with putting its long-fantasized plan of mass murder into operation.
One is not mentioning these apparently discrepant crimes and nightmares as a random or unsorted list. Khomeini, for example, was attempting to compensate for the humiliation of the peace agreement he had been compelled to sign with Saddam Hussein. And Saddam Hussein needed to make up the loss, of prestige and income, that he had himself suffered in the very same war. Milosevic (anticipating Putin, as it now seems to me, and perhaps Beijing also) was riding a mutation of socialist nationalism into national socialism. It was to be noticed in all cases that the aggressors, whether they were killing Muslims, or exalting Islam, or just killing their neighbors, shared a deep and abiding hatred of the United States.
The balance sheet of the Iraq war, if it is to be seriously drawn up, must also involve a confrontation with at least this much of recent history. Was the Bush administration right to leave--actually to confirm--Saddam Hussein in power after his eviction from Kuwait in 1991? Was James Baker correct to say, in his delightfully folksy manner, that the United States did not "have a dog in the fight" that involved ethnic cleansing for the mad dream of a Greater Serbia? Was the Clinton administration prudent in its retreat from Somalia, or wise in its opposition to the U.N. resolution that called for a preemptive strengthening of the U.N. forces in Rwanda?
I know hardly anybody who comes out of this examination with complete credit. There were neoconservatives who jeered at Rushdie in 1989 and who couldn't see the point when Sarajevo faced obliteration in 1992. There were leftist humanitarians and radicals who rallied to Rushdie and called for solidarity with Bosnia, but who--perhaps because of a bad conscience about Palestine--couldn't face a confrontation with Saddam Hussein even when he annexed a neighbor state that was a full member of the Arab League and of the U.N. (I suppose I have to admit that I was for a time a member of that second group.) But there were consistencies, too. French statecraft, for example, was uniformly hostile to any resistance to any aggression, and Paris even sent troops to rescue its filthy clientele in Rwanda. And some on the hard left and the brute right were also opposed to any exercise, for any reason, of American military force.
The only speech by any statesman that can bear reprinting from that low, dishonest decade came from Tony Blair when he spoke in Chicago in 1999. Welcoming the defeat and overthrow of Milosevic after the Kosovo intervention, he warned against any self-satisfaction and drew attention to an inescapable confrontation that was coming with Saddam Hussein. So far from being an American "poodle," as his taunting and ignorant foes like to sneer, Blair had in fact leaned on Clinton over Kosovo and was insisting on the importance of Iraq while George Bush was still an isolationist governor of Texas.
Notwithstanding this prescience and principle on his part, one still cannot read the journals of the 2000/2001 millennium without the feeling that one is revisiting a hopelessly somnambulist relative in a neglected home. I am one of those who believe, uncynically, that Osama bin Laden did us all a service (and holy war a great disservice) by his mad decision to assault the American homeland four years ago. Had he not made this world-historical mistake, we would have been able to add a Talibanized and nuclear-armed Pakistan to our list of the threats we failed to recognize in time. (This threat still exists, but it is no longer so casually overlooked.)
The subsequent liberation of Pakistan's theocratic colony in Afghanistan, and the so-far decisive eviction and defeat of its bin Ladenist guests, was only a reprisal. It took care of the last attack. But what about the next one? For anyone with eyes to see, there was only one other state that combined the latent and the blatant definitions of both "rogue" and "failed." This state--Saddam's ruined and tortured and collapsing Iraq--had also met all the conditions under which a country may be deemed to have sacrificed its own legal sovereignty. To recapitulate: It had invaded its neighbors, committed genocide on its own soil, harbored and nurtured international thugs and killers, and flouted every provision of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United Nations, in this crisis, faced with regular insult to its own resolutions and its own character, had managed to set up a system of sanctions-based mutual corruption. In May 2003, had things gone on as they had been going, Saddam Hussein would have been due to fill Iraq's slot as chair of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Meanwhile, every species of gangster from the hero of the Achille Lauro hijacking to Abu Musab al Zarqawi was finding hospitality under Saddam's crumbling roof.
One might have thought, therefore, that Bush and Blair's decision to put an end at last to this intolerable state of affairs would be hailed, not just as a belated vindication of long-ignored U.N. resolutions but as some corrective to the decade of shame and inaction that had just passed in Bosnia and Rwanda. But such is not the case. An apparent consensus exists, among millions of people in Europe and America, that the whole operation for the demilitarization of Iraq, and the salvage of its traumatized society, was at best a false pretense and at worst an unprovoked aggression. How can this possibly be?
THERE IS, first, the problem of humorless and pseudo-legalistic literalism. In Saki's short story The Lumber Room, the naughty but clever child Nicholas, who has actually placed a frog in his morning bread-and-milk, rejoices in his triumph over the adults who don't credit this excuse for not eating his healthful dish:
"You said there couldn't possibly be a frog in my bread-and-milk; there was a frog in my bread-and-milk," he repeated, with the insistence of a skilled tactician who does not intend to shift from favorable ground.
Childishness is one thing--those of us who grew up on this wonderful Edwardian author were always happy to see the grown-ups and governesses discomfited. But puerility in adults is quite another thing, and considerably less charming. "You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Qaeda. . . . Blah, blah, pants on fire." I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver. Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case, largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them or reason with them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem.
I have a ready answer to those who accuse me of being an agent and tool of the Bush-Cheney administration (which is the nicest thing that my enemies can find to say). Attempting a little levity, I respond that I could stay at home if the authorities could bother to make their own case, but that I meanwhile am a prisoner of what I actually do know about the permanent hell, and the permanent threat, of the Saddam regime. However, having debated almost all of the spokespeople for the antiwar faction, both the sane and the deranged, I was recently asked a question that I was temporarily unable to answer. "If what you claim is true," the honest citizen at this meeting politely asked me, "how come the White House hasn't told us?"
I do in fact know the answer to this question. So deep and bitter is the split within official Washington, most especially between the Defense Department and the CIA, that any claim made by the former has been undermined by leaks from the latter. (The latter being those who maintained, with a combination of dogmatism and cowardice not seen since Lincoln had to fire General McClellan, that Saddam Hussein was both a "secular" actor and--this is the really rich bit--a rational and calculating one.)
There's no cure for that illusion, but the resulting bureaucratic chaos and unease has cornered the president into his current fallback upon platitude and hollowness. It has also induced him to give hostages to fortune. The claim that if we fight fundamentalism "over there" we won't have to confront it "over here" is not just a standing invitation for disproof by the next suicide-maniac in London or Chicago, but a coded appeal to provincial and isolationist opinion in the United States. Surely the elementary lesson of the grim anniversary that will shortly be upon us is that American civilians are as near to the front line as American soldiers.
It is exactly this point that makes nonsense of the sob-sister tripe pumped out by the Cindy Sheehan circus and its surrogates. But in reply, why bother to call a struggle "global" if you then try to localize it? Just say plainly that we shall fight them everywhere they show themselves, and fight them on principle as well as in practice, and get ready to warn people that Nigeria is very probably the next target of the jihadists. The peaceniks love to ask: When and where will it all end? The answer is easy: It will end with the surrender or defeat of one of the contending parties. Should I add that I am certain which party that ought to be? Defeat is just about imaginable, though the mathematics and the algebra tell heavily against the holy warriors. Surrender to such a foe, after only four years of combat, is not even worthy of consideration.
Antaeus was able to draw strength from the earth every time an antagonist wrestled him to the ground. A reverse mythology has been permitted to take hold in the present case, where bad news is deemed to be bad news only for regime-change. Anyone with the smallest knowledge of Iraq knows that its society and infrastructure and institutions have been appallingly maimed and beggared by three decades of war and fascism (and the "divide-and-rule" tactics by which Saddam maintained his own tribal minority of the Sunni minority in power). In logic and morality, one must therefore compare the current state of the country with the likely or probable state of it had Saddam and his sons been allowed to go on ruling.
At once, one sees that all the alternatives would have been infinitely worse, and would most likely have led to an implosion--as well as opportunistic invasions from Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on behalf of their respective interests or confessional clienteles. This would in turn have necessitated a more costly and bloody intervention by some kind of coalition, much too late and on even worse terms and conditions. This is the lesson of Bosnia and Rwanda yesterday, and of Darfur today. When I have made this point in public, I have never had anyone offer an answer to it. A broken Iraq was in our future no matter what, and was a responsibility (somewhat conditioned by our past blunders) that no decent person could shirk. The only unthinkable policy was one of abstention.
Two pieces of good fortune still attend those of us who go out on the road for this urgent and worthy cause. The first is contingent: There are an astounding number of plain frauds and charlatans (to phrase it at its highest) in charge of the propaganda of the other side. Just to tell off the names is to frighten children more than Saki ever could: Michael Moore, George Galloway, Jacques Chirac, Tim Robbins, Richard Clarke, Joseph Wilson . . . a roster of gargoyles that would send Ripley himself into early retirement. Some of these characters are flippant, and make heavy jokes about Halliburton, and some disdain to conceal their sympathy for the opposite side. So that's easy enough.
The second bit of luck is a certain fiber displayed by a huge number of anonymous Americans. Faced with a constant drizzle of bad news and purposely demoralizing commentary, millions of people stick out their jaws and hang tight. I am no fan of populism, but I surmise that these citizens are clear on the main point: It is out of the question--plainly and absolutely out of the question--that we should surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to a rotten, murderous alliance between Baathists and bin Ladenists. When they hear the fatuous insinuation that this alliance has only been created by the resistance to it, voters know in their intestines that those who say so are soft on crime and soft on fascism. The more temperate anti-warriors, such as Mark Danner and Harold Meyerson, like to employ the term "a war of choice." One should have no problem in accepting this concept. As they cannot and do not deny, there was going to be another round with Saddam Hussein no matter what. To whom, then, should the "choice" of time and place have fallen? The clear implication of the antichoice faction--if I may so dub them--is that this decision should have been left up to Saddam Hussein. As so often before . . .
DOES THE PRESIDENT deserve the benefit of the reserve of fortitude that I just mentioned? Only just, if at all. We need not argue about the failures and the mistakes and even the crimes, because these in some ways argue themselves. But a positive accounting could be offered without braggartry, and would include:
(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi's Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction--a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.
(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.
(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schr?der, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)
(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.
(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region--the Kurds--and the spread of this example to other states.
The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.
(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.
(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.
It would be admirable if the president could manage to make such a presentation. It would also be welcome if he and his deputies adopted a clear attitude toward the war within the war: in other words, stated plainly, that the secular and pluralist forces within Afghan and Iraqi society, while they are not our clients, can in no circumstance be allowed to wonder which outcome we favor.
The great point about Blair's 1999 speech was that it asserted the obvious. Coexistence with aggressive regimes or expansionist, theocratic, and totalitarian ideologies is not in fact possible. One should welcome this conclusion for the additional reason that such coexistence is not desirable, either. If the great effort to remake Iraq as a demilitarized federal and secular democracy should fail or be defeated, I shall lose sleep for the rest of my life in reproaching myself for doing too little. But at least I shall have the comfort of not having offered, so far as I can recall, any word or deed that contributed to a defeat.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His most recent book is Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. A recent essay of his appears in the collection A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq, newly published by the University of California Press.
? Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New Staff DVD
on: August 29, 2005, 02:41:28 AM
The Master is DONE. I think Ron "Night Owl" Gabriel has done his usual stellar job on the editing. I am supposed to have a copy of the cover tomorrow-- then it is off to the dupe house and available for shipping
The Adventure continues , , ,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Shoulder Problems and Stick Fighting
on: August 27, 2005, 10:20:04 AM
"The 7 Minute Rotator Cuff Solution" from "Health for Life". Excellent book and recommended for any and all for both prevention/maintainence and self-help rehab.
I would add to the other comments the notion that many time shoulder problems develop because of imbalance/misalignment originating in the hips- often from tight hip flexors due to the excessive (as contrasted to our previous lives in nature) sitting common in modern life
This sitting also often is combined with slouching/reaching forward such that the chest tends to collapse.
All this tends to align the shoulder in a way that is asking for problems. Cleaning up posture can be key to cleaning up shoulder problems.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Help our troops/our cause:
on: August 26, 2005, 12:56:32 PM
Awesome fotos of this firefight at http://www.michaelyon.blogspot.com/
Combat comes unexpectedly, even in war.
On Monday, while conducting operations in west Mosul, a voice came over the radio saying troops from our brother unit, the 3-21, were fighting with the enemy in east Mosul on the opposite side of the Tigris River. Moments later, SSG Will Shockley relayed word to us that an American soldier was dead. We began searching for the shooters near one of the bridges on our side of the Tigris, but they got away. Jose L. Ruiz was killed in action.
Although the situation in Mosul is better, our troops still fight here every day. This may not be the war some folks had in mind a few years ago. But once the shooting starts, a plan is just a guess in a party dress.
The only mission I've seen unfold close to what was planned was a B Company raid a few months back. It actually went so close to perfect that we could hardly believe it. The sole glitch occurred when a Stryker hit an IED, but since nobody was hurt, we just continued the mission. In retrospect, it's hard to imagine why I didn't write about it. But times are busy, and, apart from it going nearly perfectly according to plan, it just seemed like any other old raid.
I had been talking with Captain Matt McGrew about the "The Battle for Mosul IV" dispatch, intending to spend the night with him and some Iraqi troops at one of their combat outposts, to glean additional insight, but the on-going battles in Mosul kept getting in the way. On the night before the planned ride-along, the obstacle was a big and sudden push of operations and tasks bundled in a "surge operation." Operation Lancer Fury was launched without notice even to the unit commanders here.
When I'd sat in on the "warning order" (notice of impending operations) for Lancer Fury last week, the plan was so cleverly contrived that the leadership at Deuce Four had to grudgingly acknowledge its excellence, even though the idea had originated from higher-up. In every military unit I have seen, there is a prevailing perception that good ideas trickle down from the top about as often as water flows uphill, so Lancer Fury apparently was a wunder-plan.
As a "surge" operation, Lancer Fury is sort of a crocodile hunt, where our people do things to make the crocodiles come out, trying to flush them into predictable directions, or make them take certain actions. And when they do, we nail them. The combat portion of the Surge amounted to a sophisticated "area ambush" that would unfold over the period of about one week.
This Surge is a complicated piece of work, with multidimensional variables and multifarious moving parts. Those parts range literally from boots on our feet to satellites zipping overhead. So, of course, glitches and snags started occurring the first day. Among other things, key gear failed; but overall, the Surge was going well. A few terrorists had already been caught in the first 24 hours.
Thursday night, a revised plan had me following some Deuce Four soldiers on a midnight raid. They had night vision gear, so they moved quickly. I had only moonlight, so I nearly broke my leg keeping up. Sleeking around Mosul under moonlight, we prowled through the pale glow until we came upon a pond near a farmhouse. Recon platoon had already raided one house and snagged some suspects, then crept away in the darkness to another target close by.
Five soldiers from Recon?Holt, Ferguson, Yates, Welch and Ross?were moving through moon-cast shadows when an Iraqi man came out from a farmhouse, his AK-47 rifle hanging by his side. Suddenly encircled by the rifles, lights and lasers of four soldiers, the man was quickly disarmed. A fifth soldier radioed for the interpreter and together they sorted out that he was a farmer who thought the soldiers were thieves skulking around his property. Recon returned the man his rifle, and started making their way back, umbral and silent across the ploughed fields.
During a halt in some trees at the edge of the field, I overheard the voice of LTC Kurilla, the commander of the Deuce Four battalion, quietly praising one of the soldiers for showing discipline in not shooting the farmer. After loading the other suspects onto Strykers, we returned to base, where I fell, exhausted, at about 3AM Friday morning.
The Surge continued while I slept.
Alpha Company had deployed during the early hours and was conducting operations around Yarmook Traffic Circle. SGT Daniel Lama, who is as much respected as he is liked, was pulling security in an air guard position of his Stryker, when a bullet flew straight at his neck, striking him. As he collapsed into the Stryker, his body clenched in seizure, fingers frozen, arms and legs rigid.
I seldom get letters in Iraq, but waiting for me in the mailroom while I slept was a card. The return address sticker, an American flag on it, was from Jefferson, Pennsylvania. The postage stamp had an American flag waving. The card inside had a picture of an American flag for its cover. The sweet and heartfelt message inside ended with--
Please tell our soldiers we care so much for them. --Dan and Connie Lama.
I was still asleep when medics brought their son Daniel to the Combat Support Hospital, or "Cash." It's a familiar place for Deuce Four soldiers, who've seen some of the most sustained and intense urban combat of this war, receiving over 150 Purple Hearts in the process.
Bap bap bap! on my door. I jumped up and there was CSM Robert Prosser, the top enlisted soldier at Deuce Four. Prosser is always professional, always direct: "Sergeant Lama's been shot. We're rolling in ten minutes," he said.
"I'll be there in ten," I answered, instantly awake.
Within minutes, I was running out my room, still pulling zips and fastening buttons, when I came sweating into the TOC. LTC Kurilla was there asking a soldier for the latest report on Sergeant Lama, now in surgery.
When a soldier is killed or wounded, the Department of Army calls the loved ones, and despite their attempts to be sympathetic, the nature of the calls has a way of shocking the families. There is just no easy way to say, "Your son got shot today." And so, according to men here, the calls sound something like this: "We are sorry to inform you that your son has been shot in Mosul. He's stable, but that's all we know at this time."
LTC Kurilla likes to call before the Army gets a chance, to tell parents and loved ones the true circumstances. Kurilla is direct, but at least people know they are getting an accurate account.
We loaded the Strykers and drove down to the Cash, and there was Chaplain Wilson, who might be the most popular man on base. Everybody loves him. Often when Chaplain Wilson sees me, he will say, "Good morning Michael. How are you today?" But sometimes he asks me, "Are you okay?" and I think, Do I look stressed?
"Of course I feel okay Chaplain Wilson! Don't I look okay?"
He just laughs, "Yes, Michael, you look fine. Just checking." But secretly, every time he asks, I feel a notch better.
Chaplain Wilson came out from the hospital smiling and explained that Daniel (Sergeant Lama) was fine. The seizure was just a natural reaction to getting shot in the neck. It was just a flesh wound. As if offering proof, Chaplain Wilson said: "When they rolled Daniel over, the doctor stuck his finger in Daniel's butt to check his prostate, and Daniel said, 'Hey! What are you doing?!'" Everybody laughed.
I changed the subject by snapping a photo of CSM Prosser while LTC Kurilla got Mrs. Lama on the Iridium satellite phone. I heard the commander telling this soldier's mother that her son was fine. Daniel just had some soft tissue damage, nothing major. Kurilla told her that he and some other soldiers were at the hospital now with Daniel, who was still too groggy to talk. "Really, Daniel's okay, and don't worry about it when the Army calls you."
We loaded the Strykers and headed downtown.
Some Strykers were scouting for the shooters, while others were working details at Yarmook Traffic Circle. Major Craig Triscari from the 1-17th Infantry from Alaska was with Major Mike Lawrence, "Q," and other soldiers, when he noticed a car with its hood up. The 1-17th will relieve the 1-24th soon, so Triscari has been conducting operations with Deuce Four. The vehicle struck Triscari as odd: it hadn't been there a few minutes earlier.
Automatic weapons fire started coming from at least two places. Bullets were kicking up the dust, and we got a radio call that troops were in contact at Yarmook Traffic Circle. Sitting inside the Stryker with LTC Kurilla and me were two new faces. A young 2nd lieutenant who had only been in Iraq three weeks, and hadn't seen any real combat; and a young specialist, who, per chance, is one of the few Deuce Four soldiers who is not a seasoned veteran, though he has seen some combat. Also in the Stryker was "AH," the interpreter, whose courage under fire I had seen before. But the more battle weathered fighters were not there.
Chris Espindola, the Commander's radio operator, a respected and very experienced fighter, was down in Baghdad at the Iraqi Criminal Court testifying against two terrorists caught by Deuce Four months earlier. Like the card in the mailroom, the circumstances behind their capture were more germane to the events about to unfold than anyone might have guessed at the time.
Kurilla's reluctance to allow anyone outside Deuce Four ride with his soldiers--including writers--is well known. Partly because of writers, people hearing about Deuce Four in the news might think of Mosul as some kind of thrill ride where everything will end okay after a few hairpin turns. This is not true.
Newcomers, even soldiers, unaccustomed to this level of hostility, can only burden the men with added danger. So Kurilla makes sure they can be trusted by mentoring new officers and having them spend three weeks with him before they are allowed to lead men in this unit.
Some months back, a new lieutenant named Brian Flynn was riding with the Kurilla for his first three weeks, when Kurilla spotted three men walking adjacent to where Major Mark Bieger and his Stryker had been hit with a car bomb a week prior. The three men looked suspicious to Kurilla. who's legendary sense about people is so keen that his soldiers call it the "Deuce Sixth-Sense." His read on people and situations is so uncanny it borders the bizarre.
That day, Kurilla sensed "wrong" and told his soldiers to check the three men. As the Stryker dropped its ramp, one of the terrorists pulled a pistol from under his shirt. Mark Bieger was overwatching from another Stryker and shot the man with the first two bullets, dropping him to his knees.
LT Flynn was first out of the Stryker, and both he and the airguard CPT Westphal, saw the pistol at the same time and also shot the man. The other suspects started running. But all Kurilla saw was LT Flynn stepping off the ramp, and then there was a lot of shooting. Kurilla yelled F L Y NNNNNNNNNNN!!!! and was nearly diving to stop Flynn from shooting, thinking the new lieutenant had lost his mind and was shooting a man just for running from Coalition forces. Soldiers can't just shoot anyone who runs.
Chris Espindola also shot the man. Amazingly, despite being hit by four M4's from multiple directions, the man still lived a few minutes. Soldiers out ran and tackled his two associates when they made a run.
During their interrogation on base, both admitted to being Jihadists. One was training to be a sniper, while the other was training for different combat missions. They also admitted that the terrorist who was shot down was their cell leader, who had been training them for three months. They were on a recon of American forces when Kurilla sensed their intent.
The cell leader had a blood stained ?death note? in his pocket stating he was a true Mujahadeen and wanted to die fighting the Americans. He got his wish; and now, Chris Espindola, Kurilla's radio man, was down in Baghdad testifying against the two surviving co-conspirators. Despite their sworn confessions, Kurilla was left with a young radio operator with little trigger-time.
Flynn had now been a platoon leader for six months, but today Kurilla had another 2nd lieutenant who being mentored before he became a platoon leader. Our Stryker did not contain the normal fighters that I saw with LTC Kurilla, but we also had a section (two squads) of infantrymen in Strykers from Alpha Company. This section was led by SSG Konkol.
We were searching the area for the source of that automatic weapons fire when Kurilla spotted three men in a black Opel and his sixth sense kicked. When Kurilla keyed in on them, he pointed his rifle at the car and signaled them to get out. The driver tucked his head and gunned the gas. The chase was on.
Strykers are fast, but Opels are faster. We were roaring through little streets and along roads, horn blaring, cars zipping off the sides, the steady chatter of multiple radio channels colliding inside the Stryker. A Kiowa helicopter pilot radioed that he spotted the car. As the chase continued, the Kiowa pilot said, "It's going about 105 mph."
How can the pilot know it's going 105 mph? I thought.
This Kiowa shot the Opel
As if in reply, the pilot radioed that the Opel was outrunning his helicopter. Captain Jeff VanAntwerp came on the radio net saying he was moving his section into position to intercept the Opel.
"Watch out for that kid!" yelled Kurilla over the intercom to our driver as we made a hard turn, managing to avoid hitting the child.
Opels may be faster than Kiowas on straight-a-ways, but when the car made turns, the helicopter quickly caught up. Kurilla ordered the Kiowa to fire a warning shot, then quickly authorized the Kiowa to disable the vehicle.
Kiowas are small, carrying just two people; they fly so low the two flying soldiers are practically infantrymen. The pilot swooped low and the "co-pilot" aimed his rifle at the Opel, firing three shots and blowing out the back window. The Kiowa swooped and banked hard in front of the car, firing three more shots through the front hood, the universal sign for "stop."
The car chase ended, but the men fled on foot up an alley. We approached in the Strykers and I heard Kurilla say on the radio, "Shots fired!" as he ducked for a moment then popped back up in the hatch. Kurilla continued, "Trail section clear the car and clear south to north! I'm going to block the back door on the north side!"
About fifteen seconds later our ramp dropped. We ran into combat.
Folks who haven't done much urban fighting might take issue with the wild chases, and they might say that people should always "stack up" and do things this or that way, but men in Delta Force, SEALs and the like, all know that when chasing wild men into the labyrinth, soldiers enter the land of confusion. If soldiers don't go fast, the bad guys simply get away. Just a few minutes ago, these three guys were going "105 miles per hour," and outrunning a helicopter.
There were shops, alleys, doorways, windows . . .
The soldiers with LTC Kurilla were searching fast, weapons at the ready, and they quickly flex-cuffed two men. But these were not the right guys. Meanwhile, SSG Konkol's men were clearing towards us, leaving the three bad-guys boxed, but free.
Shots were fired behind us but around a corner to the left.
Both the young 2nd lieutenant and the young specialist were inside a shop when a close-quarters firefight broke out, and they ran outside. Not knowing how many men they were fighting, they wanted backup. LTC Kurilla began running in the direction of the shooting. He passed by me and I chased, Kurilla leading the way.
There was a quick and heavy volume of fire. And then LTC Kurilla was shot.
LTC Erik Kurilla (front right), the moment the bullets strike.(2nd LT front-left; radioman near-left; "AH" the interpreter is near-right.)
Three bullets reach flesh: One snaps his thigh bone in half.
Both legs and an arm are shot.
The Commander rolls into a firing position, just as a bullet strikes the wall beside 2nd lieutenant's head (left).
Kurilla was running when he was shot, but he didn't seem to miss a stride; he did a crazy judo roll and came up shooting.
BamBamBamBam! Bullets were hitting all around Kurilla. The young 2nd lieutenant and specialist were the only two soldiers near. Neither had real combat experience. AH had no weapon. I had a camera.
Kurilla, though dowm and unable to move, was fighting and firing, yelling at the two young soldiers to get in there; but they hesitated. BamBamBamBam!
Kurilla was in the open, but his judo roll had left him slightly to the side of the shop. I screamed to the young soldiers, "Throw a grenade in there!" but they were not attacking.
"Throw a grenade in there!" They did not attack.
"Give me a grenade!" They didn't have grenades.
"Erik! Do you need me to come get you!" I shouted. But he said "No." (Thank God; running in front of the shop might have proved fatal.)
"What's wrong with you!?" I yelled above the shooting.
"I'm hit three times! I'm shot three times!"
Amazingly, he was right. One bullet smashed through his femur, snapping his leg. His other leg was hit and so was an arm.
With his leg mangled, Kurilla pointed and fired his rifle into the doorway, yelling instructions to the soldiers about how to get in there. But they were not attacking. This was not the Deuce Four I know. The other Deuce Four soldiers would have killed every man in that room in about five seconds. But these two soldiers didn't have the combat experience to grasp the power of momentum.
This was happening in seconds. Several times I nearly ran over to Kurilla, but hesitated every time. Kurilla was, after all, still fighting. And I was afraid to run in front of the shop, especially so unarmed.
The Commander fights...
...and fights, as more bullets kick up dust.
And then help arrived in the form of one man: CSM Prosser.
Prosser ran around the corner, passed the two young soldiers who were crouched low, then by me and right to the shop, where he started firing at men inside.
A man came forward, trying to shoot Kurilla with a pistol, apparently realizing his only escape was by fighting his way out, or dying in the process. Kurilla was aiming at the doorway waiting for him to come out. Had Prosser not come at that precise moment, who knows what the outcome might have been.
Prosser shot the man at least four times with his M4 rifle. But the American M4 rifles are weak--after Prosser landed three nearly point blank shots in the man's abdomen, splattering a testicle with a fourth, the man just staggered back, regrouped and tried to shoot Prosser.
CSM Robert Prosser goes "black."
Then Prosser's M4 went "black" (no more bullets). A shooter inside was also having problems with his pistol, but there was no time to reload. Prosser threw down his empty M4, ran into the shop and tackled the man.
Though I have the photo, I do not remember the moment that Prosser went "black" and ran into the shop. Apparently I turned my head, but kept my finger on the shutter button. When I looked back again, I saw the very bloody leg of CSM Prosser inside the shop. It was not moving. He appeared to be shot down and dead.
I looked back at the two soldiers who were with me outside, and screamed what amounted to "Attack Attack Attack!" I stood up and was yelling at them. Actually, what I shouted was an unprintable string of curses, while Kurilla was also yelling at them to get in there, his M4 trained on the entrance. But the guys were not attacking.
I saw Prosser's M4 on the ground, Where did that come from?
I picked up Prosser's M4. It was empty. I saw only Prosser's bloody leg lying still, just inside the darkened doorway, because most of his body was hidden behind a stack of sheet metal.
"Give me some ammo! Give me a magazine!" I yelled, and the young 2nd lieutenant handed over a full 30-round magazine. I jacked it in, released the bolt and hit the forward assist. I had only one magazine, so checked that the selector was on semi-automatic.
I ran back to the corner of the shop and looked at LTC Kurilla who was bleeding, and saw CSM Prosser's extremely bloody leg inside the shop, the rest of him was still obscured from view. I was going to run into the shop and shoot every man with a gun. And I was scared to death.
What I didn't realize was at that same moment four soldiers from Alpha Company 2nd Platoon were arriving on scene, just in time to see me about to go into the store. SSG Gregory Konkol, SGT Jim Lewis, and specialists Nicholas Devereaux and Christopher Muse where right there, behind me, but I didn't see them.
Reaching around the corner, I fired three shots into the shop. The third bullet pierced a propane canister, which jumped up in the air and began spinning violently. It came straight at my head but somehow missed, flying out of the shop as a high-pressure jet of propane hit me in the face. The goggles saved my eyes. I gulped in deeply.
In the tiniest fraction of a second, somehow my mind actually registered Propane . . . FIREBALL! as it bounced on the ground where it spun furiously, creating an explosive cloud of gas and dust, just waiting for someone to fire a weapon.
I scrambled back, got up and ran a few yards, afraid that Kurilla was going to burn up if there was a fire. The soldiers from Alpha Company were heading toward him when LTC Kurilla yelled out that he was okay, but that CSM Prosser was still in the shop. The Alpha Company soldiers ran through the propane and dust cloud and swarmed the shop.
When the bullet hit that canister, Prosser?who I thought might be dead because of all the blood on his leg?was actually fighting hand-to-hand on the ground. Wrapped in a ground fight, Prosser could not pull out his service pistol strapped on his right leg, or get to his knife on his left, because the terrorist?who turned out to be a serious terrorist?had grabbed Prosser's helmet and pulled it over his eyes and twisted it.
Prosser had beaten the terrorist in the head three times with his fist and was gripping his throat, choking him. But Prosser's gloves were slippery with blood so he couldn't hold on well. At the same time, the terrorist was trying to bite Prosser's wrist, but instead he bit onto the face of Prosser's watch. (Prosser wears his watch with the face turned inward.) The terrorist had a mouthful of watch but he somehow also managed to punch Prosser in the face. When I shot the propane canister, Prosser had nearly strangled the guy, but my shots made Prosser think bad guys were coming, so he released the terrorist's throat and snatched out the pistol from his holster, just as SSG Konkol, Lewis, Devereaux and Muse swarmed the shop. But the shots and the propane fiasco also had brought the terrorist back to life, so Prosser quickly reholstered his pistol and subdued him by smashing his face into the concrete.
The combat drama was ended, so I started snapping photos again.
CSM Prosser, his leg drenched in the terrorist's blood, as 2nd Platoon Alpha Company arrives
CSM Prosser drags the terrorist into the alley ...
...into the light.
The propane canister at rest (left), the terrorist in view of the Commander
CSM Prosser flex cuffs Khalid Jasim Nohe
Prosser stands above the crocodile who bit his watch.
SFC Bowman shields the eyes of his Commander.
When Recon platoon showed up about a minute later, SFC Bowman asked LTC Kurilla to lie down. But Kurilla was ordering people to put out security, and directing action this way and that. When the very experienced medic, Specialist Munoz, put morphine into Kurilla, the commander still kept giving orders, even telling Munoz how to do his job. So SFC Bowman told Munoz to give Kurilla another morphine, and finally Kurilla settled down, and stopped giving orders long enough for them to haul him and the terrorist away to the Combat Support Hospital. The same facility where Daniel Lama was recovering from the earlier gunshot wound to the neck.
Combat Support Hospital
The Surge operation continued as we returned to base. The Commander and the terrorist were both being prepped for surgery, when LTC Kurilla said, "Tell Major Bieger to call my wife so she doesn't get a call from the Army first." But someone gave the Commander a cell phone, and I heard Kurilla talking to his wife, Mary Paige, saying something like, "Honey, there has been a little shooting here. I got hit and there was some minor soft tissue damage." The X-ray on the board nearby showed his femur snapped in half. "I'll be fine. Just some minor stuff." That poor woman.
The doctors rolled LTC Kurilla and the terrorist into OR and our surgeons operated on both at the same time. The terrorist turned out to be one Khalid Jasim Nohe, who had first been captured by US forces (2-8 FA) on 21 December, the same day a large bomb exploded in the dining facility on this base and killed 22 people.
That December day, Khalid Jasim Nohe and two compatriots tried to evade US soldiers from 2-8 FA, but the soldiers managed to stop the fleeing car. Then one of the suspects tried to wrestle a weapon from a soldier before all three were detained. They were armed with a sniper rifle, an AK, pistols, a silencer, explosives and other weapons, and had in their possession photographs of US bases, including a map of this base.
That was in December.
About two weeks ago, word came that Nohe's case had been dismissed by a judge on 7 August. The Coalition was livid. According to American officers, solid cases are continually dismissed without apparent cause. Whatever the reason, the result was that less than two weeks after his release from Abu Ghraib, Nohe was back in Mosul shooting at American soldiers.
LTC Kurilla repeatedly told me of--and I repeatedly wrote about--terrorists who get released only to cause more trouble. Kurilla talked about it almost daily. Apparently, the vigor of his protests had made him an opponent of some in the Army's Detention Facilities chain of command, but had otherwise not changed the policy. And now Kurilla lay shot and in surgery in the same operating room with one of the catch-and-release-terrorists he and other soldiers had been warning everyone about.
When Kurilla woke in recovery a few hours after surgery, he called CSM Prosser and asked for a Bible and the book: Gates of Fire. Kurilla gives a copy of Gates of Fire to every new officer and orders them to read it. He had given me a copy and told me to read it. In my book, there is a marked passage, which I thought rather flowery. But I have it beside me on the table by the map of Iraq.
"I would be the one. The one to go back and speak. A pain beyond all previous now seized me. Sweet life itself, even the desperately sought chance to tell the tale, suddenly seemed unendurable alongside the pain of having to take leave of these whom I had come so to love."
A short time after he gave me the book, following the death of one of his soldiers,when Kurilla said to me, "I want you to write about my men. You are the only one who might understand," the passage finally registered in my mind.
I asked CSM Prosser if I could go with him to see the Commander. Carrying both books, we drove to the Cash. Major Mark Bieger arrived alongside Kurilla's hospital bed, paying respect. After spending some time with the Commander, CSM Prosser and I drove back to the unit.
The Deuce Four
The truest test of leadership happens when the Commander is no longer there. Kurilla's men were taking down and boxing up his photos of his wife and children, and his Minnesota Vikings flag, when they decided to keep the flag so everyone could autograph it. It wasn't long before there was no room left to sign, but I found a place to scratch. I wanted my name on that flag.
The place suddenly felt hollowed-out.
When I came back into the TOC, Major Michael Lawrence--who I often challenge to pull-up contests, and who so far has beat me (barely) every time--looked me square and professionally, in the direct way of a military leader and asked, "Mike, did you pick up a weapon today?"
"Did you fire that weapon?"
"If you pick up another weapon, you are out of here the next day. Understood?"
"We still have to discuss what happened today."
Writers are not permitted to fight. I asked SFC Bowman to look at the photos and hear what happened. Erik Kurilla and CSM Prosser were witness, but I did not want the men of Deuce Four who were not there to think I had picked up a weapon without just cause. I approached SFC Bowman specifically, because he is fair, and is respected by the officers and men. Bowman would listen with an open mind. While looking at the photos, Bowman said, "Mike, it's simple. Were you in fear for your life or the lives of others?"
"Thank you Sergeant Bowman," I said.
I walked back to the TOC and on the way, Chaplain Wilson said, "Hello Michael. Are you feeling all right?"
"Yes Chaplain Wilson!" Why does he always ask that? Do I look stressed? But suddenly, I felt much better. Chaplain Wilson might be the only man in the universe with a chance of getting me into the chapel of my own free will, but I have resisted so far.
Only a few hours had passed since Daniel Lama and the Commander were shot. It was around 9PM when I heard Captain Matt McGrew was going to see Kurilla. I asked to come along. We entered the hospital, and saw that Erik Kurilla's bed was beside Daniel Lama's. Kurilla went from asleep to wide awake in about a quarter-second, said "hello" and asked us to sit down. After some conversation, the Commander looked over at the next bed and asked, "How are you doing SGT Lama?"
"Good," the Commander said, "You are my new PSD." [Personal Security Detachment: Body guard.]
Daniel Lama smiled, got out of bed and I shot a photo of him reporting for his "new duty."
Sgt Daniel Lama: less than one hour from flying out of Mosul
It was near 10 PM when the airplane that would start their journey back to America landed outside, its engines rumbling the hospital floor. The terrorist who shot Kurilla, and who was now a enuch in a nearby bed, might well have been the same terrorist who, after being released, shot Lama and Thompson and others. Kurilla could see Khalid Jasim Nohe, but made no comment.
As Captain McGrew and I drove through the dusty darkness back to the Deuce Four, the Commander and SGT Lama, along with other wounded and dead soldiers from around Iraq, began their journey home.
The next day, Iraqi Army and Police commanders were in a fury that LTC Kurilla had been shot. Some blamed his men, while others blamed the terrorists, although blame alone could not compete with disbelief. Kurilla had gone on missions every single day for almost a year. Talking with people downtown. Interfacing with shop owners. Conferencing with doctors. Drinking tea with Iraqi citizens in their homes. Meeting proud mothers with new babies. It's important to interact and take the pulse of a city in a war where there is no "behind the lines," no safe areas. It's even dangerous on the bases here.
In order for leaders of Kurilla's rank to know the pulse of the Iraqi people, they must make direct contact. There's a risk in that. But its men like Kurilla who can make this work. Even and especially in places like Mosul, where it takes a special penchant for fighting. A passion for the cause of freedom. A true and abiding understanding of both its value and its costs. An unwavering conviction that, in the end, we will win.
Make no mistake about Kurilla--he's a warrior, always at the front of the charge. But it's that battle-hardened bravery that makes him the kind of leader that Americans admire and Iraqis respect. Like the soldiers of Deuce Four, Iraqis have seen too much war to believe in fairy tales. They know true warriors bleed.
Iraqi Army and Police officers see many Americans as too soft, especially when it comes to dealing with terrorists. The Iraqis who seethe over the shooting of Kurilla know that the cunning fury of Jihadists is congenite. Three months of air-conditioned reflection will not transform terrorists into citizens.
Over lunch with Chaplain Wilson and our two battalion surgeons, Major Brown and Captain Warr, there was much discussion about the "ethics" of war, and contention about why we afford top-notch medical treatment to terrorists. The treatment terrorists get here is better and more expensive than what many Americans or Europeans can get.
"That's the difference between the terrorists and us," Chaplain Wilson kept saying. "Don't you understand? That's the difference."
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Thx Marc Denny cause of you I am getting married!
on: August 25, 2005, 04:34:47 PM
Here's some words of wisdom:
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHO TO MARRY?
(written by kids)
1) You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
* Alan, age 10
(2) No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
* Kristen, age 10
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
(1) Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
* Camille, age 10
(2) No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married.
* Freddie, age 6
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
(1) You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
* Derrick, age 8
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
(1) Both don't want any more kids.
* Lori, age 8
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
(1) Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
* Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure)
(2) On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that Usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
* Martin, age 10
WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?
(1) I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
* Craig, age 9
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
(9) When they're rich.
* Pam, age 7
(2) The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
* Curt, age 7
(3) The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
* Howard, age 8
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
(1) I don't know which is better, but I'll tell you one thing. I'm never going to have sex with my wife. I don't want to be all grossed out.
* Theodore, age 8
(2) It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
* Anita, age 9 (bless you child)
HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED?
(1) There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
* Kelvin, age 8
And the #1 Favorite is........
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
(1) Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
* Ricky, age 10
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: August 25, 2005, 08:30:33 AM
The Crisis in U.S.-Pakistani Relations
By George Friedman and Kamran Bokhari
Though the governments of the United States and Pakistan appear to be in sync with one another on the hunt for Osama bin Laden and militant Islamists, a crisis of relations is brewing just beneath the surface. Despite expressions of unity in the war against al Qaeda, cooperation at the operational and tactical levels is nearly nonexistent -- and calculated interference by Pakistani intelligence and security elements is hindering U.S. operations in the country.
This situation is further complicated by ongoing rivalries between government agencies, poor communications and general lack of cooperation by U.S. intelligence and security agencies. All of which leaves counterterrorism operations in Pakistan -- or, more precisely, U.S. efforts to capture or kill bin Laden and other top al Qaeda leaders -- stagnant.
At the broad political level, Washington and Islamabad are presenting a relatively unified front in the battle. Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who must balance his domestic political concerns against U.S. pressure, continues to walk a fine line -- between cooperation with Washington (or with opposition forces within Pakistan), and capitulation.
On the surface, Musharraf and U.S. President George W. Bush are in a state of cautious compromise -- with Washington continuing to express confidence in Musharraf's government and offering increased military assistance to Pakistan. For its part, Islamabad has been paying lip service to counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, while still professing its ability to carry out sweeps and all other anti-jihadist operations on its own. The Musharraf government's attitude has been that it is doing all it can to get rid of terrorist sanctuaries, but it will not allow foreign forces to conduct operations on Pakistani soil. As Musharraf told U.S. media earlier this year, "We are capable of" capturing bin Laden, and "if we get intelligence, we will do it ourselves."
Islamabad recognizes that U.S. forces will operate in Pakistani territory -- with or without government permission -- and thus has struck a compromise so that U.S. operations will be kept as low-key as possible by both sides. The Pakistanis have acknowledged the involvement of foreign forces in the counterterrorism offensive but claim joint efforts are limited to intelligence-sharing and logistics cooperation. In this way, Islamabad seeks to defuse both U.S. pressure to act -- and domestic pressure to avoid acting.
But despite the political niceties, two key issues continue to impede efforts to dismantle al Qaeda's structure in Pakistan. The first is the professional rivalry between the CIA, Department of Defense and FBI, as well as other security and intelligence agencies, which continues to dog the post-Sept. 11 efforts to streamline intelligence-sharing. The second is the dismal performance by the Pakistani security and intelligence organizations.
It is true that a number of key al Qaeda operatives and leaders have been arrested by Pakistani authorities since their exodus from Afghanistan in late 2001. In March 2002, Abu Zubaydah, a senior al Qaeda member, was captured in Faisalabad. Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a deputy leader of the task force that coordinated the Sept. 11 attacks, was captured in Karachi in September 2002. And in March 2003, another task force leader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was picked up in Rawalpindi. Other prominent captures include those of communications expert Naeem Noor Khan, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani (linked to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa), and Abu Farj al-Libi, believed to be the head of al Qaeda operations in Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the progress made against the core leadership of al Qaeda remains an open question. First, how is it that al Qaeda's mostly Arab leadership is able to evade detection in a country with very few Arabs? More important, how can a foreign non-state actor evade detection -- when he is known to be in a certain region, with massive global search-and-destroy operations hunting him -- unless he is granted succor or protection from some members of the local security and intelligence organizations closest to the front?
While those at the topmost levels of U.S. authority have been praising the Musharraf government as a crucial ally in the war against al Qaeda, certain U.S. officials lately have been making a public issue of Islamabad's non-cooperation. Among these is CIA Director Porter Goss, who insinuated a few months ago that bin Laden is known to be in Pakistan and said outright that in order for him to be captured, certain "weak links" -- i.e., Pakistan -- must be strengthened.
Goss's comments are clearly echoed by U.S. intelligence and defense officials now active in Pakistan and working with Islamabad. There is an ingrained distrust of U.S. and other foreign services within Pakistan's intelligence community -- stemming from nationalistic instincts, a desire to hide links between intelligence services and jihadists and their supporters, and sympathies on multiple levels with the jihadists.
One very senior Pakistani intelligence source engaged in a frank discussion about this atmosphere of distrust -- which is pervasive throughout the country's security organizations, even though most of Pakistan's law enforcement personnel are not personally Islamists. Some simply don't like the idea of U.S. pressure against their government, while others dislike being told how to do their jobs. Still others see the United States as arrogantly pursuing its own interests at Pakistan's expense. We are told there is a great deal of resentment -- from the highest echelons down through the rank-and-file -- over what the Pakistanis perceive as Washington's failure to recognize the efforts, sacrifices, and cooperation they are providing.
And, not insignificantly, there are some who perceive that the jihadists Washington is now pursuing were created by the United States' proxy war in 1980s Afghanistan -- and who believe that the U.S. government, having abandoned Afghanistan after meeting its objectives there, will abandon Pakistan in similar fashion.
Resistance to U.S. influence, therefore, has been both passive and active, with intelligence operatives telling local police and village chiefs directly not to cooperate with U.S. operations on the ground. Sources in Pakistan tell us that the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence agencies debrief all private Pakistani citizens who come into contact with U.S. government, media and think tanks -- both before and after the interface -- in attempts to restrict contact between the two countries to official channels. Additionally, certain high-level leaders of Pakistani militant Islamist movements have been declared off-limits as targets for security forces, thus leaving key segments of the international militant network unmolested. The United States is providing large amounts of supplies, money and training for Pakistani forces, but with few results.
Clearly, cooperation from the country's intelligence and security apparatus -- a major cog in the machine built to hunt down al Qaeda in Pakistan -- is not happening. There are four reasons for this:
1. The insistence by top leadership that U.S. forces cannot operate any more prominently on Pakistani soil than they already are. Though there are many reasons behind this, as mentioned earlier, they boil down for some key government officials to mere survival: Islamist militants have made several attempts on Musharraf's life and others within the regime, at al Qaeda's behest. Nationalist sentiments and political opposition to Musharraf's government are considerations as well.
2. Calculated moves by influential figures at the middle and lower levels of Pakistan's intelligence and security apparatus to thwart offensives against the militants. Some of this reflects countermoves by Islamabad against American attempts to push the limits of tacit security agreements with the Pakistanis. However, it is also a sign that the Musharraf regime does not have tight control over its own intelligence and security services -- and of this, Islamabad is keenly and nervously aware.
3. The Pakistani military's desire to hide its past links with the militants and its current ties to certain Islamist groups -- which it views as assets of the state to be used in pursuit of Islamabad's geopolitical goals. For Islamabad, the jihadists have long been both an internal threat to military/civilian rule and a useful form of leverage in its geopolitical maneuvers -- for example, gaining strategic depth with regard to Afghanistan and waging its proxy war against India in Kashmir. Pakistan is not willing to surrender this leverage lightly -- and, because the lines between those "useful" militant groups and al Qaeda members can be blurry, many on Islamabad's preservation list fall into both categories.
4. Recognition within Islamabad that Pakistan's importance as a U.S. ally likely will dissolve if bin Laden is captured or killed. Washington has been attempting to strengthen its ties with India and is even attempting tentative negotiations with Iran, with the eventual goal of warmer relations. Should these efforts bear fruit, the Musharraf regime's geopolitical importance to the United States will diminish -- leaving Islamabad as a potential member of the "outposts of tyranny" rather than a close anti-terrorism ally.
Given these factors -- coupled with the potential for ineptitude and rivalries among the Pakistani and U.S. security and intelligence agencies -- there is a crisis that has brought the search for al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan to a virtual halt. This situation cannot last indefinitely -- the breaking point will come either with a misstep by Musharraf that destroys the political balance he has tried to maintain within Pakistan, or a decision by Washington that delay, obfuscation and overt obstructionism will no longer be tolerated. If Islamabad doesn't act -- and it is questionable whether another pre-packaged capture of a mid-level al Qaeda operative by Pakistani forces will satisfy the Bush administration -- Washington will be left with little choice but to move on its own.
Islamabad's response to the pressure is predicated on one unanswered question: Is Musharraf lying to the United States, or is he being lied to by his own people? In other words, is he in control of the obstructionism, or is he a victim of it? We believe the reality is somewhere in the middle. Nevertheless, the outlook is troubling. www.stratfor.com
Signing up highly recommended!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: August 25, 2005, 07:54:53 AM
Terrorists may pose as homeless for surveillance, government says
By MARK SHERMAN
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON- Asking for increased vigilance in the wake of the London
bombings, the government is warning that terrorists may pose as vagrants to
conduct surveillance of buildings and mass transit stations to plot future
"In light of the recent bombings in London, it is crucial that police, fire
and emergency medical personnel take notice of their surroundings, and be
aware of 'vagrants' who seem out of place or unfamiliar," said the message,
distributed via e-mail to some federal employees in Washington by the U.S.
It is based on a State Department report that was issued last week. The
State Department had no immediate comment Monday.
The warning is similar to one issued by the FBI before July 4, 2004 that
said terrorists may attempt surveillance disguised as homeless people, shoe
shiners, street vendors or street sweepers.
The e-mail stresses that there is no threat of an attack and that it is
intended to be "informative, not alarming."
Homeless people easily blend into urban landscapes, the message said.
"This is particularly true of our mass transit systems, where homeless
people tend to loiter unnoticed," the e-mail said.
It referred to a recent incident in Somerville, Mass., in which a police
officer became suspicious about someone dressed as a street person. The
officer questioned the man, discovered he had a passport from a "country of
interest" _ typically a Middle Eastern or South Asian nation _ and a
checkbook with a questionable address, the e-mail said. The investigation is
continuing, it said.
Somerville police did not immediate provide comment.
Three British citizens were indicted in the United States earlier this year
on charges they conducted surveillance of the New York Stock Exchange and
other East Coast financial institutions in 2000 and 2001.
Discovery of the alleged terrorist plan last year prompted the Homeland
Security Department to raise the terror alert for the targeted buildings,
located in New York, Washington and Newark, N.J. Security in those cities
also was tightened.
Homeland Security also raised the terror alert for mass transit following
the July 7 bombings in London. The alert was lowered on Aug. 12.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: August 23, 2005, 06:32:40 AM
A friend writes:
Message: 1. Before 1991, we underestimated the extent of Iraq's nuclear program. At the time of its eviction from Kuwait, the SH regime was a couple of years away from a workable nuclear warhead.
2. After the truce, we failed to discover any evidence of Iraq's bio weapons program until after Saddam's soon to be ex-sons-in-law defected to Jordan in 1995.
3. Between 1991 and 1998, UNSCOM overestimated the amount of usable chemicals available for weaponized chemical warheads.
4. During the same time period, the same UN group overestimated the amount of unaccounted-for biological material and failed to realize that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) was in charge of the biological weapons program.
The anti-war advocates also have made their own intelligence blunders particularly on the issue of IIS-al Qaida liasons.
A. The Duelfer Report found that up to the time of the 2003 invasion, the IIS maintained a small biological weapons program.
B. Between 1991 and 9-11, the IIS had numerous meetings with al Qaida in the Sudan, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of these are detailed in the indictment of Usama bin Laden for the 1998 embassy bombings. (Indictment S(6), 98 Cr. 1023, (LBS), p.18)
C. Iraq likely assisted the al Qaida cell that carried out the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
1) The 1993 WTC bombed contained deliberately implanted cyanide gas that was designed to be dispersed by the explosion. New York Times, Jan 21, 1994. Statement of Judge Duffy at sentencing in US vs Salameh et al, May 24, 1994.
2) Ramzi Yousef escaped the US on an Iraqi passport under the name of Abdul Basit, a Pakistani allegedly living in Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation. See Government Exhibits 614 and 739A in the case of US vs Salameh.
3) Abdul Rahman Yasin, who was indicted in New York for mixing the cyanide gas into the 1993 WTC bomb, was given sanctuary in Iraq by the Saddam Hussein regime after fleeing to Jordan on March 5, 1993 while traveling on a US passport. (Ralph Blumenthal, "Missing bombing Case Figure Reported To Be Staying In Iraq", New York Times, June 10, 1993) He was given a job by the Iraqi government. (ABC News Broadcast, June 1994). In 1994, via Jordan, the US requested Yasin's return to face the indictment, but the request was denied by Iraq. (New York Times, August 1, 1994)
4) The gas used in the 1993 bomb was the same type that was discovered to have been smuggled into Iraq in the late 1980's by various Iraqi agents posing as businessmen in the US and Europe. (ABC News Nightline, July 2, 1991. Financial Times, July 3, 1991)
5) Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen acknowledged this poison gas evidence as a new threat. ("Preparing for a Grave New World", Washington Post, July 26, 1999.)
To summarize, although there is no evidence that Iraq directly assisted al Qaida's 9-11 plot, there is evidence that Iraq provided assistance before and after the 1993 WTC bombing to that al Qaida cell. Iraq maintained its communication with al Qaida after 9-11 directly through the IIS and indirectly through the IIS surrogate, Ansar al Islam, now known as al Qaida of Iraq. This is the terror cell managed by Zarqawi originally placed in northern Iraq by the IIS to disrupt Kurdish ambitions.
In conclusion, after 9-11 and after we recovered a lot of intelligence about al Qaida's ambitions to execute small WMD attacks, the Iraqi-al Qaida liason was no longer tolerable. We had reason to suspect direct Iraqi assistance in the 1993 WTC bombing. Our intelligence about Iraq's WMD capabilities still lacked precision and was complicated by the SH regime's post-Gulf War I deceptions. Under these circumstances, the SH regime no longer deserved the benefit of any doubt. It was never an overt threat to our nation; but it remained a real threat to provide covert assistance to al Qaida.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Blade work and Stick work
on: August 23, 2005, 05:55:10 AM
Tail wags for your kind words.
Sverre is a member of our DBMA Association and has posted on our Members' Website about his training with you. It sounds like he is enjoying it very much and we look forward to him fighting at our "DB Gatherings of the Pack".
Concerning your questions about blade/stick and about training children, please allow me to take the latter first.
It is a question I get from time to time and the answer is that I don't really have one. DBMA instructors so inclined certainly have my blessing to do so, but personally I do not find myself to be a good teacher for children.
Concerning the transferability of stick training to blade, it is a good question. There ARE important differences between the two. All other things being equal (and they so very rarely are
) I think if you put a bolo/pinuti/etc in the hand of someone trained by us with experience in our fighting that he will be someone to be reckoned with but there may well be openings in his movement that a sword trained man with adrenal training could exploit. (Of course, there would need to be one helluva good reason to be in such a fight!
What is your thinking on this question?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: August 22, 2005, 04:59:32 PM
Two articles in this post:
Border Activist's Ranch Turned Over to Migrants; [HOME EDITION]
Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Aug 20, 2005. pg. A.25
Full Text (466 words)
(Copyright (c) 2005 Los Angeles Times)
An Arizona ranch once owned by a member of an armed group accused by civil rights organizations of terrorizing illegal immigrants has been turned over to two of the very people the owner had tried keep out of the country.
The land transfer was done to satisfy a judgment against Casey Nethercott, a member of a self-styled border-watch group who is serving a five-year prison term for firearms possession.
Morris Dees Jr., chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represented the immigrants, said this week he hoped the ruling would be a cautionary tale to anyone considering hostile measures against border crossers.
"When we got into this case, ranchers all along the border were allowing these types to come on their property," Dees said. "Now, they're very leery of it, especially when they see someone losing their ranch because of it."
Nethercott was a member of the group Ranch Rescue, which works to protect private property along the southern U.S. border. He was accused of pistol-whipping Edwin Alfredo Mancia Gonzales, 26, in March 2003 at a Hebbronville, Texas, ranch near the Mexico border.
A jury deadlocked on the assault charge but convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Mancia and another immigrant traveling with him from El Salvador, Fatima del Socorro Leiva Medina, filed a civil lawsuit last year saying they were harmed while being held by Ranch Rescue members.
Named in the suit were Nethercott; Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owners of the Hebbronville ranch, Joe and Betty Sutton. The Suttons settled for $100,000. Nethercott and Foote did not defend themselves, and a Texas judge issued default judgments in April of $850,000 against Nethercott and $500,000 against Foote.
Nethercott transferred ownership of his 70-acre Douglas ranch to his sister. But the sister gave up ownership to settle the judgment when challenged by the immigrants' lawyers.
The transfer of the ranch outraged border-watch groups.
"If the federal government was doing its job, ranchers would not be living in fear," said Chris Simcox, president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that watches for illegal immigrant crossings and reports them to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Simcox said his group had a policy against touching immigrants and used video to document its patrols.
Messages left for Nethercott's family and his attorney were not returned Friday.
Dees said his clients planned to eventually sell the property, which Nethercott bought for $120,000, but might allow humanitarian border groups offering aid to immigrants to use it for now.
Mancia and Leiva declined through Dees to speak to the media.
Mara Salvatrucha Gangs and U.S. Security
In a sweep known as Operation Community Shield, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies have arrested and deported about 500 foreign gang members in recent months, most of the deportees allegedly affiliated with the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gangs. The operation is a response to a nationwide rise in incidents of organized, often brutal, MS-13 violence in U.S. cities from Boston to Los Angeles -- and concern that MS-13's growing smuggling network for guns, drugs and people could constitute a U.S. security threat. On a broader scale, authorities fear that MS-13 is spreading instability across Central America.
Though its members can be found across the United States -- the U.S. Justice Department estimates there are 8,000 to 10,000 MS-13 members in 31 states -- the gang itself is decentralized, with members of various MS-13 "cliques" operating regionally via fraternal and communal ties.
U.S. law enforcement is concerned, however, that MS-13's evolution from decentralized cliques to a more formal command-and-control structure could hasten the shift from its focus on marginally profitable small-scale crime -- such as neighborhood drug dealing and armed robbery -- to high-profit criminal enterprises such as overseeing major drug-smuggling or arms-trafficking networks. Shifts of this nature traditionally lead to a rise in high-profile violence such as assassinations, kidnappings and large-scale gang warfare as competing gangs battle for control of the businesses.
To date, law enforcement efforts to infiltrate the MS-13 organization have met with little success, mainly because MS-13 members are strongly tied through personal connections and shared experiences -- reflected in the complex, highly symbolic tattoos that cover members' bodies. As with other criminal organizations with a substantial immigrant composition, infiltrating the gangs requires successful operations abroad, a process that is always time-consuming and rarely completely effective. MS-13 prides itself on its particularly brutal punishments meted out to police informants.
The U.S. government, then, is relying on deportations to combat MS-13, because many suspected MS-13 members are in the United States illegally -- having taken advantage of the United States' porous southern border. Deportations, however, can be effective only when applied in conjunction with efforts to improve border security and increase coordination between U.S. and Central American security and intelligence services. Otherwise, nothing prevents the deportee from re-entering the United States. Furthermore, securing the border will not guarantee the decline of MS-13 in the United States because many MS-13 members are U.S.-born.
Although it is true that many of MS-13's current members are from abroad, to say that the problem was born in Central America is inaccurate. In fact, Mara Salvatrucha traces its roots to 1980s Los Angeles, and the gang-dominated Pico Union neighborhood. Hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans -- totaling one-fifth of El Salvador's population -- sought refuge in the United States during their country's civil war of the 1980s. Of the one million Salvadorans estimated to be living in the United States today, some 90 percent arrived after 1979. Those who settled in Los Angeles often found themselves hustled, extorted and abused by the city's myriad ethnic groups and their related gangs.
Some responded to this abuse by forming gangs of their own -- most notably MS-13 and the 18th Street gang (Calle 18). MS-13 then spread from the United States back to El Salvador -- and to other countries in Central America.
The U.S. deportations are damaging Central American stability -- as understaffed, under-funded and ultimately ineffective security and intelligence services attempt to battle the gangs. For example, simultaneous prison riots broke out across Guatemala on Aug. 15, pitting MS-13 members against their rival 18th Street gang. During the fighting, police lost control of several prisons as MS-13 members -- some of whom were armed with assault rifles and grenades -- attacked their 18th Street enemies. Security forces later regained control of the prison, but not until after 35 people had died. The level of coordination and the type of weapons used by the prisoners illustrate MS-13's disturbing capability in Central America. In El Salvador, meanwhile, the government has instituted la mano dura (the strong-hand) policy to deal with the gangs, but has been unable to render MS-13 inert.
Central American governments, facing the influx of deportees, have asked for U.S. support in creating a regional task force to counter the gangs' influence and ability to operate. Although the United States has been reluctant to heed the request, something along those lines will be needed if the United States is to effectively combat an increasingly centralized criminal network.
Combined with these problems are concerns that links could be forming between MS-13 and Islamist militants, particularly al Qaeda. Although these concerns have largely been raised by Central American leaders who need increased U.S. funding for security, a report surfaced in September 2004 that suspected al Qaeda member Adnan G. El Shukrijumah was spotted in Honduras meeting with MS-13 leaders.
In December 2004, alleged MS-13 member Frankie Sanchez-Solorzano was arrested along with Bangladeshi Fakhrul Islam and 11 other people after they were caught trying to enter the United States near Brownsville, Texas. Cases such as this increase calls for tighter border restrictions with Mexico, but provide little support for allegations that al Qaeda, as some have speculated, is attempting to infiltrate the United States using MS-13 smuggling networks. Although too many of these allegations are based on rumor and hearsay, the border merits close vigilance. Trafficking networks, like all black-market activities, are viciously capitalistic -- meaning anyone, al Qaeda member or otherwise, could make use of the service.
It remains to be seen whether U.S. law enforcement can bring MS-13 under control before the gangs become a national security concern. Should history repeat itself, and MS-13 go the way of criminal enterprises such as La Cosa Nostra, the Hell's Angels or the Colombian cartels, then Mara Salvatrucha will become a household name in the not-too-distant future.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / New to Weapons/Stick training...quick questions?
on: August 22, 2005, 04:54:32 PM
1) Absolutely! I will go further and say that this training will help your MT both physically and mentally.
2) Yes. Do note that the drills are, in one sense, quite simple-- which means that creating competent training partners may be easier than you realize. What I am saying is that uneven skill levels can work together.
3) My personal approach is that I don't tape until the sticks begin to fray-- then I use duct tape. It produces less drag than most other tapes and has a high durability factor.
Anyway, delighted to have you aboard.
The Adventure continues!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WW3
on: August 22, 2005, 09:11:31 AM
MORNING INTELLIGENCE BRIEF08.22.2005www.stratfor.com
Geopolitical Diary: Monday, Aug. 22, 2005
Monday, Aug. 22, is the current deadline for the Iraqis to reach agreement on a new constitution. As one would expect with the deadline looming, it appears that the likelihood of any agreement is declining. And as in any good negotiation, the final gut-check is under way: Each side is trying to determine whether it has miscalculated and left something on the table that it could have taken. The problem with this final phase is, of course, that everyone starts reading the other side the wrong way and the entire negotiation runs the risk of collapsing -- or, in this case, getting extended yet again.
The latest issue involves the Kurds and the Shia. The formal issue was the extent to which Sharia, or Islamic law, would serve as the fundamental law of Iraq -- the basis from which all other law would derive. The Sunnis and Shia are in agreement here, but the Sharia issue intersects with one of the Kurds' core interests: federalism. If Iraq were to have a central, transcendent principle of any kind, federal autonomy would be undermined. The Kurds have one interest in this negotiation -- maximizing the amount of autonomy they will have. If Baghdad determines the basis of law, then it follows that there must be legal authorities in Baghdad to define, at least at some level, what the law is. The Shia have another interest: maximizing Shiite control over the state apparatus. They want Islamic law but also wiggle room on how much and how to apply it.
The signs at the moment are that the Kurds and Shia will work out their problems. The Kurds will accept the primacy of Sharia in principle -- and in practice, the Shia will limit the scope of its application to certain areas, such as family law, and will not create a central, Shiite bureaucracy for administering it. There will be, if you will, a federally administered Sharia. This has been the focus of negotiations for the past few days.
It is not, however, the final phase of the negotiations. Now the Sunnis have to buy into this. In a purely technical sense, the Shia and Kurds have the ability to jam through the new constitution without Sunni support, at least at this stage. However, ultimately, the Sunnis can block the constitution under the current rules -- and, more important, excluding the Sunnis will solve nothing. There has always been Shiite-Kurdish cooperation. The entire problem is finding a mode for including the Sunnis.
The United States is particularly urgent on this score and has, in effect, become the advocate for the Sunnis. The U.S. hope is that a commitment by the Sunni leadership to the constitution will rein in the nationalist Sunni guerrillas and undermine the jihadists. If the Sunnis are left out in the cold, the entire exercise becomes pointless. That is why the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said this weekend that the United States accepts the idea of an Islamic state in Iraq. Washington urgently wants to give the Shia what they want on this issue -- or as much as the Kurds will permit -- so that the Shia will move on to a final deal with the Sunnis.
In effect, the United States punted one of the ideological aims of the war in favor of U.S. national interest -- keeping U.S. troops in a relatively peaceful Iraq. Hence the recent announcement by the U.S. Army that it was prepared to stay in Iraq for up to nine years.
And now we come down to the moment of truth: Do the Shia want a united Iraq, or do they prefer to have control over the Shiite regions and the United States bogged down in a guerrilla war in the Sunni regions? Are the Sunnis really prepared to endure attacks by jihadists -- targeting negotiators personally -- in exchange for a role in an Iraqi government?
We think the answer to both of these questions is "yes." We think there may be one more extension on the deadline to achieve it -- but the entire process is really out of time, and we are at the point where it really doesn't matter what anyone thinks. The Shia and Sunnis must now make their decisions, and the United States must now decide how to live -- or not -- with those decisions. It's down to the short hairs. served.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Knife fight (Acctual/ Real Experiences) Please post!
on: August 18, 2005, 08:04:46 AM
MS-13 Member Found Guilty in Fairfax Machete Attack
Rival Lost 3 Fingers in Incident At Movie Theater in January
By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 18, 2005; B01
A Fairfax County jury convicted a 19-year-old member of the Salvadoran gang Mara Salvatrucha yesterday in a January machete attack on a rival gang member that severed three fingers on the rival's left hand.
The jury then sentenced Wilber A. Rivera of Falls Church to 23 years in prison for aggravated malicious wounding and five years for participating in a gang. On Dec. 9, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Thacher will decide whether the two terms should run consecutively or concurrently. Under state law, Thacher has the option of reducing the jury's sentence, but he cannot increase it.
The machete attack outside a Merrifield movie theater was the second involving the gang, also known as MS-13, in an eight-month span in Fairfax and heightened fears of escalating gang violence in the region. In the first attack, in May 2004, a member of the South Side Locos gang lost four fingers. Two MS-13 members were sentenced to 15 years in prison, and a third received a 12-year term.
The victim in the January case, Shawn D. Schroeder, 25, has acknowledged that he is a longtime member of the Rollin' 60s, a clique of the Los Angeles-based Crips gang, and prosecutors acknowledged that he was not the most sympathetic victim. "You don't have to condone Mr. Schroeder's lifestyle," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney John R. Murphy told the jury in his closing argument. "But we don't let people hack each other to pieces on street corners. And we don't say it's okay because it's another gang member getting hacked."
Schroeder testified that he and his girlfriend were leaving the Lee Highway Multiplex Cinemas with their baby the night of Jan. 3 and were heading toward Gallows Road when a Nissan Maxima pulled up. According to Schroeder, a man stuck his head out the window and said, "Don't you remember me from Tysons Corner mall?" Schroeder said he recognized the man from encounters at the mall.
The four men inside the car jumped out and chased Schroeder, who ran back toward the theaters while his girlfriend took their child to safety. Another man, Moris A. Villalobos, testified that he was part of the group that pursued and attacked Schroeder and that Rivera was the first one out of the car.
Schroeder said that one person stabbed him and that Rivera was wielding a machete and hit him in the head. Schroeder stood in front of the jury box to show jurors the long scars across his head and his mutilated left hand.
He said he eventually lay down in front of the theaters and tried to play dead with his left hand over his forehead. He said it was then that Rivera brought the machete down and slashed three fingers off.
Villalobos, who pleaded guilty to the attack last week, testified that Rivera did not have the machete but a much smaller knife. He said another MS-13 member, whom he knew only as "Little Scorpion," wielded the machete. That person has not been arrested.
Murphy told the jurors they did not have to determine who swung which weapon, only whether Rivera participated in the attack.
Rivera did not take the stand in his defense. His attorney, David Bernhard, said Rivera moved to the United States three years ago from El Salvador to escape gang violence there. It was in El Salvador that Rivera had "MS" tattooed on his chest, and he said Rivera had become a law-abiding resident who worked as a busboy at Rainforest Cafe at Tysons Corner Center. Bernhard said he believed Rivera was in the country legally.
Rivera's girlfriend and mother provided his alibi: Both testified that Rivera was doing his laundry at his girlfriend's house on the night of the incident. The girlfriend, Sandra Reyes, said it was not unusual for her to do laundry about 10 or 11 p.m. She said she recently gave birth to a child fathered by Rivera.
Rivera's mother, Maria Rivera, testified that she called her son at Reyes's apartment in Woodbridge at 10:45 p.m. on Jan. 3. The attack happened shortly before midnight.
Murphy noted that Reyes had changed her story -- and Rivera's alibi. When she was interviewed by Detective Chris Flanagan in February, she told him that she and Rivera spent that night at his mother's house watching videos between 7 and 9 p.m., but she would not discuss his whereabouts late that night, Flanagan said.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before convicting Rivera and then spent about 90 minutes devising the sentence. The penalty range was 20 years to life on the aggravated malicious wounding charge and up to 10 years on the gang participation charge.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: August 17, 2005, 05:02:13 PM
Interesting Buz-- here's this:
The Gaza Withdrawal and Israel's Permanent Dilemma
By George Friedman
Israel has begun its withdrawal from Gaza. As with all other territorial withdrawals by Israel, such as that from the Sinai or from Lebanon, the decision is controversial within the Jewish state. It represents the second withdrawal from land occupied in the 1967 war, and the second from land that houses significant numbers of anti-Israeli fighters. Since these fighters will not be placated by the Israeli withdrawal -- given that there is no obvious agreement of land for an enforceable peace -- the decision by the Israelis to withdraw from Gaza would appear odd.
In order to understand what is driving Israeli policy, it is necessary to consider Israeli geopolitical reality in some detail.
Israel's founders, taken together, had four motives for founding the state.
1. To protect the Jews from a hostile world by creating a Jewish homeland.
2. To create a socialist (not communist) Jewish state.
3. To resurrect the Jewish nation in order to re-assert Jewish identity in history.
4. To create a nation based on Jewish religiosity and law rather than Jewish nationality alone.
The idea of safety, socialism, identity and religiosity overlapped to some extent and were mutually exclusive in other ways. But each of these tendencies became a fault line in Israeli life. Did Israel exist simply so that Jews would be safe -- was Israel simply another nation among many? Was Israel to be a socialist nation, as the Labor Party once envisioned? Was it to be a vehicle for resurrecting Jewish identity, as the Revisionists wanted? Was it to be a land governed by the Rabbinate? It could not be all of these things. Thus, these were ultimately contradictory visions tied together by a single certainty: none of these visions were possible without a Jewish state. All arguments in Israel devolve to these principles, but all share a common reality -- the need for the physical protection of Israel.
In order for there to be a Jewish state, it must be governed by Jews. If it is also to be a democratic state, as was envisioned by all but a few of the fourth (religiosity) strand of logic, then it must be a state that is demographically Jewish.
This poses the first geopolitical dilemma for Israel: Whatever the historical, moral or religious arguments, the fact was that at the beginning of the 20th century, the land identified as the Jewish homeland -- Palestine -- was inhabited overwhelmingly by Arabs. A Jewish and democratic state could be achieved only by a demographic transformation. Either more Jews would have to come to Palestine, or Arabs would have to leave, or a combination of the two would have to occur. The Holocaust caused Jews who otherwise would have stayed in Europe to come to Palestine. The subsequent creation of the state of Israel caused Arabs to leave, and Jews living in Arab countries to come to Israel.
However, this demographic shift was incomplete, leaving Israel with two strategic problems. First, a large number of Arabs, albeit a minority, continued to live in Israel. Second, the Arab states surrounding Israel -- which perceived the state as an alien entity thrust into their midst -- viewed themselves as being in a state of war with Israel. Ultimately, Israel's problem was that dealing with the external threat inevitably compounded the internal threat.
Israel's Strategic Disadvantage
Israel was at a tremendous strategic disadvantage. First, it was vastly outnumbered in the simplest sense: There were many more Arabs who regarded themselves as being in a state of war with Israel than there were Jews in Israel. Second, Israel had extremely long borders that were difficult to protect. Third, the Israelis lacked strategic depth. If all of their neighbors -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon -- were joined by the forces of more distant Arab and Islamic states, Israel would find it difficult to resist. And if all of these forces attacked simultaneously in a coordinated strike, Israel would find it impossible to resist.
Even if the Arabs did not carry out a brilliant stroke, cutting Israel in half on a Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line (a distance of perhaps 20 miles), Israel would still lose an extended war with the Arabs. If the Arabs could force a war of attrition on Israel, in which they could impose an attrition rate of perhaps 1 percent per day of forces on the forward edge of the battle area, Israel would not be able to hold for more than a few months at best. In the 20th century, an attrition rate of that level, in a battle space the size of Israel, would be modest. Israel's effective forces rarely numbered more than 250,000 men -- the other 250,000 were older reserves with inferior equipment. Extended attritional warfare was not an option for Israel.
Thus, in order for Israel to survive, three conditions were necessary:
1. The Arabs must never unite into a single, effective force.
2. Israel must choose the time, place and sequence of any war.
3. Israel must never face both a war and an internal uprising of Arabs simultaneously.
Israel's strategy was to use diplomacy to prevent the three main adversaries -- Egypt, Jordan and Syria -- from simultaneously choosing to launch a war. From its founding, Israel always maintained a policy of splitting the front-line states. This was not particularly difficult, given the deep animosities among the Arabs. For example, Israel always maintained a special relationship with Jordan, which had unsatisfactory relations with its own neighbors. Early on, Israel worked to serve as the guarantor of the Jordanian regime's survival. Later, after the Camp David Accords split Egypt off from the Arab coalition, Israel had neutralized two out of three of its potential adversaries. The dynamics of Arab geopolitics and the skill of Israeli diplomacy achieved an outcome that is rarely appreciated. From its founding, Israel managed to prevent simultaneous warfare with its neighbors except at a time and place of its own choosing. It had to maintain a military force capable of taking the initiative in order to have a diplomatic strategy.
But throughout most of its history, Israel had a fundamental challenge in achieving this preeminence.
Israel's Geopolitical Problem
The state's military preeminence had to be measured against the possibility of diplomatic failure. Israel had to assume that all front-line states would become hostile to it, and that it would have to launch a preemptive strike against them all. If this were the case, Israel had this dilemma: Its national industrial base was insufficient to provide it with the technological wherewithal to maintain its military superiority. It was not simply a question of money --all the money in the world could not change the demographics -- but also that Israel lacked the manpower to produce all of the weapons it needed to have and also to field an army. Therefore, Israel could survive only if it had a patron that possessed such an industrial base. Israel had to make itself useful to another country.
Israel's first patron was the Soviet Union, through its European satellites. Its second patron was France, which saw Israel as an ally during a time when Paris was trying to hold onto its interests in an increasingly hostile Arab world. Its third patron -- but not until 1967 -- was the United States, which saw Israel as a counterweight to pro-Soviet Egypt and Syria, as well as a useful base of operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
In 1967, Israel -- fearing a coordinated strike by the Arabs and also seeking to rationalize its defensive lines and create strategic depth -- launched an air and land attack against its neighbors. Rather than risk a coordinated attack, Israel launched a sequential attack -- first against Egypt, then Jordan, then Syria.
The success of the 1967 war gave rise to Israel's current geopolitical crisis.
Following the war, Israel had to balance three interests:
1. It now occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which contained large, hostile populations of Arabs. A full, peripheral war combined with an uprising in these regions would cut Israeli lines of supply and communication and risk Israel's defeat.
2. Israel was now dependent on the United States for its industrial base. But American interests and Israeli interests were not identical. The United States had interests in the Arab world, and had no interest in Israel crushing Palestinian opposition or expelling Palestinians from Israel. Retaining the industrial base and ruthlessly dealing with the Palestinians became incompatible needs.
3. Israel had to continue manipulating the balance of power among Arab states in order to prevent a full peripheral war. That, in turn, meant that it was further constrained in dealing with the Palestinian question by force.
Israeli geopolitics created the worst condition of all: Given the second and third considerations, Israel could not crush the Palestinians; but given its need for strategic depth and coherent borders, it could not abandon the occupied territories. It therefore had to continually constrain the Palestinians without any possibility of final victory. It had to be ruthless, which would enflame the Palestinians, but it could never be ruthless enough to effectively suppress them.
The Impermanence of Diplomacy
Israel has managed to maintain the diplomatic game it began in 1948: The Arabs remain deeply split. It has managed to retain its relationship with the United States, even with the end of the Cold War. Given the decline of the conventional threat, Israel's dependency on the United States has actually dwindled. For the moment, the situation is contained.
However -- and this is the key problem for Israel -- the diplomatic solution is inherently impermanent. It requires constant manipulation, and the possibility of failure is built in. For example, an Islamist rising in Egypt could rapidly generate shifts that Israel could not contain. Moreover, political changes in the United States could end American patronage, without the certainty of another patron emerging. These things are not likely to occur, but they are not inconceivable. Given enough time, anything is possible.
Israel's advantage is diplomatic and cultural. Its ability to split the Arabs, a diplomatic force, is coupled with its technological superiority, a cultural force. But both of these can change. The Arabs might unite, and they might accelerate their technological and military sophistication. Israel's superiority can change, but its inferiority is fixed: Geography and demography put it in an unchangeably vulnerable position relative to the Arabs.
The potential threats to Israel are:
1. A united and effective anti-Israeli coalition among the Arabs.
2. The loss of its technological superiority and, therefore, the loss of military initiative.
3. The need to fight a full peripheral war while dealing with an intifada within its borders.
4. The loss of the United States as patron and the failure to find an alternative.
5. A sudden, unexpected nuclear strike on its populated heartland.
Therefore, it follows that Israel has three options.
The first is to hope for the best. This has been Israel's position since 1967. The second is to move from conventional deterrence to nuclear deterrence. Israel already possesses this capability, but the value of nuclear weapons is in their deterrent capability, not in their employment. You can't deal with an intifada or with close-in conventional war with nuclear weapons -- not given the short distances involved in Israel. The third option is to reduce the possibility of disaster as far as possible by increasing the tensions in the Arab world, reducing the incentive for cultural change among the Arabs, eliminating the threat of intifada in time of war, and reducing the probability that the United States will find it in its interests to break with Israel
Hence, the withdrawal from Gaza. As a base for terrorism, Gaza poses a security threat to Israel. But the true threat from Gaza, and even more the West Bank, lies in the fact that they create a dynamic that decreases Israel's diplomatic effectiveness, risks creating Arab unity, increases the impetus for military modernization and places stress on Israel's relationship with the United States. The terrorist threat is painful. The alternative risks long-term catastrophe.
Some of the original reasons for Israel's founding, such as the desire for a socialist state, are now irrelevant to Israeli politics. And revisionism, like socialism, is a movement of the past. Modern Israel is divided into three camps:
1. Those who believe that the survival of Israel depends on disengaging from a process that enrages without crushing the Palestinians, even if it opens the door to terrorism.
2. Those who regard the threat of terrorism as real and immediate, and regard the longer-term strategic threats as theoretical and abstract.
3. Those who have a religious commitment to holding all territories.
The second and third factions are in alliance but, at the moment, it is the first faction that appears to be the majority. It is not surprising that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is leading this faction. As a military man, Sharon has a clear understanding of Israel's vulnerabilities. It is clearly his judgment that the long-term threat to Israel comes from the collapse of its strategic position, rather than from terrorism. He has clearly decided to accept the reality of terrorist attacks, within limits, in order to pursue a broader strategic initiative.
Israel has managed to balance the occupation of a hostile population with splitting Arab nation states since 1967. Sharon's judgment is that, given the current dynamics of the Muslim world, pursuing the same strategy for another generation would be both too costly and too risky. The position of his critics is that the immediate risks of disengagement increase the immediate danger to Israel without solving the long-term problem. If Sharon is right, then there is room for maneuver. But if his critics, including Benjamin Netanyahu, are right, Israel is locked down to an insoluble problem.
That is the real debate.
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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: August 17, 2005, 12:18:28 AM
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PUBLISHED ON AUGUST 11, 2005:
Images From the Battleground
Ranchers 75 miles from Tucson say bad border policies have resulted in a daily invasion of drugs, death, pollution and violence
By LEO W. BANKS
Leo W. Banks
An illegal alien dump site two miles northeast of Lyle Robinson's ranch house.
Leo W. Banks
Border patrol checks on an overturned smuggling vehicle on Tres Bellotas Road, July 28, 2005.
Leo W. Banks
An Arizona Department of Transportation official checks an abandoned smuggler vehicle on Jarillas Ranch.
Leo W. Banks
Lyle Robinson points out smuggling trails on his property.
Lyle Robinson's Tres Bellotas Ranch sits in a cradle of hills right on the Mexican border. It's a pretty place. Sprawling Mulberry trees shade the brick house and oak trees--bellotas in Spanish--decorate the surrounding landscape. This time of year, during the monsoon season, the oaks drop acorns that cowboys and others working this land, 13 miles southwest of Arivaca, have prized as summer snacks for centuries.
It hardly seems possible that such a peaceful-looking spot could be the scene of anything momentous. But it is.
Everyone in America has a stake in what's happening on the Tres Bellotas. Everyone in America should know about the events that play out daily on this remote ground, and on neighboring ranches, because they explain our present and foretell our future.
This is a place where all the rhetoric from the president and his government about homeland security crumbles to pieces on the hot ground. The Tres Bellotas is a battleground in the relentless, ugly, nonstop invasion of drugs and illegals across our southern border.
It will happen again tonight. Robinson knows this, because two invaders showed themselves earlier on this beautiful July morning, shortly after breakfast. Walking openly, without fear of harassment, the two men walked from Mexican soil into the United States through the wide-open international border gate 200 yards below Robinson's home.
They were rolling a tire that needed air, and reaching the house, they asked one of Robinson's cowboys for permission to use the ranch compressor.
These men, coyotes making final preparations for a night smuggling run of either drugs or people, displayed no menace. They were polite. So was Robinson's cowboy. He said by all means, muchachos, fill your tire.
But it was a Vito Corleone kind of request, one the cowboy couldn't refuse.
Robinson's ranch has no phone, no electricity and is, in his own words, a no man's land, where surviving means doing what's necessary, including maintaining cordial relations with the bad guys.
If they want air for their tire, you give it to them. If they want water, you're better off handing it over, because if you say no, they may break a water line to get it. If they want you to open the gate across the dirt road that runs between your home and your horse corrals, you open it. Why fight it? If you refuse, they'll just cut the lock.
Six months ago, Robinson looked out his window and saw something incredible--a traffic jam on the Tres Bellotas, with 15 pickup trucks backed up at this second gate, 150 feet from his house. The pickups sagged under the weight of the illegals they carried, probably 20 in each, 300 in all.
When Robinson walked out, the coyote asked him to open the gate to let them pass. Robinson did so, and off the group went, driving north.
So this long convoy of invaders entered the United States by driving through two open gates, encountering no law enforcement to check papers. Or screen them for infectious diseases. Or punch in computer codes to learn if they were criminals. Or search for chemical or biological agents. Or search for suitcase nukes. Or check the names against terror-watch lists.
Or even wave howdy. In other words, they encountered fewer obstacles than commuters in American cities face driving home from work in rush-hour traffic.
But they don't just enter through the wide-open gate below Robinson's house. His land abuts Mexico for six miles, and the invaders routinely cut holes in the four-strand barbed-wire fence separating the two nations.
They break into the country so often along this stretch that Robinson can't keep up with the fence repairs, an ongoing nightmare in which he is far from alone. It happens at many spots along our southern border.
Tom and Dena Kay, Robinson's nearest neighbors on the U.S. side, have five miles of border with Mexico, and smugglers cut holes in their fence about every three days.
A drug smuggler on horseback, pulling a pack mule, can make such a hole in 10 seconds with a wire cutter, usually without dismounting. He leans over, snips the first three strands, then coaxes his horse over the bottom wire. He's in. If he's driving a truck, he can enter even faster than that, simply by ramming down the fence and barreling on through, which Tom Kay says happens just as often.
This goes on almost daily, 75 miles southwest of Tucson--invaders from countries around the world coming across this international boundary in a time of war, a time when nuts would like nothing better than to sneak into this country and murder Americans on a grand scale.
The Border Patrol doesn't release a by-nation breakdown of those it arrests, and the agency is particularly tight-lipped about arrests of special interest aliens, known as SIAs. These are individuals from the list of about 35 countries the U.S. considers terror threats. But the Weekly has obtained SIA arrest figures from a federal law enforcement source who asked to remain anonymous.
From 2000 through 2003, plus the first nine months of fiscal 2004, agents in the Tucson sector, and the Arizona office of the Yuma sector, arrested 132 SIAs. The numbers include 10 from Afghanistan, seven from Iran, 12 from Yemen, 11 from Pakistan and three from Iraq.
Using the common estimate that the Border Patrol only catches one out of every three who cross, or as some believe, one of every five, we can calculate that upward of 660 individuals from terror-threat nations have crossed into our country through Arizona.
Those SIA arrest figures, by the way, include six individuals from Saudi Arabia, the country that produced 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 maniacs.
Along the border south of Arivaca, you'd best stand back when you utter those words, because the subject tends to make folks spitting mad. Even Robinson, a silver-haired, soft-spoken gentleman, gets a fire in his eyes when he talks about it.
"It's a joke," says the 67-year-old, semi-retired veterinarian. "Homeland security doesn't exist."
The contrabandistas have tainted life and corrupted hearts in Arivaca since before its founding as an American town in the 1870s. The trade is like a dirty fingerprint on the landscape, and a good bit of it runs along the Tres Bellotas Road, a dusty roller coaster that wends through canyons and rock washes from Arivaca down to the border.
It's rough country, all hills and horizon, and perfectly empty, unless you count soaring turkey buzzards, dust billows in your rearview, and the white-and-green Border Patrol trucks perched on intermittent hilltops.
Robinson and his wife, Mollie, knew the road running past their new home was a favorite of smugglers when they bought the place in 1969. But just in case they didn't, they received a dramatic reminder a few days after passing papers.
As they sat with the previous owner on the back porch, a proud young couple enjoying their first days on their new property, a station wagon roared up from Mexico. "Oh, there goes a marijuana load," said the previous owner in the most matter-of-fact voice possible.
Robinson admits to being a "little surprised" at the welcome, but not floored. The couple had seen the prevalence of drugs in their previous home, Gallup, N.M., and figured they couldn't escape it no matter where they went.
Even so, even sitting right on the border, they felt completely safe at the Tres Bellotas. "The first 30 years here, we had so few problems," says Mollie. "But the last six years, things have gotten really out of control with these illegals."
One day in 2003, Robinson and one of his cowboys rode their horses to a hilltop close to the house. To their shock, they saw an estimated 300 illegals congregated in the draw below. The riders watched as the mob divided into groups of 30 apiece, with one man, presumably a coyote, taking charge of each one as they prepared to walk north.
"I rode down and talked to them," says Robinson. "They weren't nervous or acting as if they were doing anything illegal at all. But seeing all those people on my land, and the way they acted, that's when I knew things had changed around here."
From then until now, the smugglers have all but taken charge, hijacking a way of life.
The hilly terrain offers abundant hiding places, says Border Patrol spokesman Gustavo Soto, and the Arivaca area's proximity to Altar and Sasabe, both right across the line in Mexico, make it a frequent crossing ground for drug and people smugglers. "The smugglers have built an infrastructure in those towns, which they use as staging areas to come across," says Soto. "They're trying to get to Highway 286 or I-19 up to Tucson, and the Arivaca road runs between those two highways."
On this hot summer day, as he rumbles across his land in a Jeep, Robinson talks about what it's like to live in the crosshairs of the invasion. The indignities include Mexican soldiers camping just south of the international gate below his house, a supposed show of force in the drug war. They come about every two months.
But these fellows make lousy neighbors. To kill time during the long days, they holler and fire off their weapons just for fun, filling the afternoon air with the rat-tat-tat of gunfire and scaring Robinson's horses.
Once-pristine canyons, narrow, shady oak and rock gorges, have become depressing dumping grounds for tons of feces, trash and personal items. "I don't really have anything against these illegals," says Robinson. "But it really gripes me how dirty they are, and they have no respect for private property."
The trash includes clothing--leather and denim jackets, Wrangler jeans and more--some of which is still usable after a good washing. Cowboys in the Arivaca area often add to their wardrobes by cruising these dump sites, and now, when Tres Bellotas cowboys go out riding, they joke, "See you later; we're going shopping."
In one of these dumps, Robinson found a hat with an Islamic crescent on it, and he rode up on a dead body, a young man, naked, a full water bottle right next to him. When dehydration sets in, people sometimes go mad and tear off their clothes before death. Two bodies have been found on his property this summer alone.
In his corral, Robinson has what he calls his "marijuana horse," an animal that smugglers turned loose. The pregnant mare has hideous open sores on her back from being forced to haul bails of marijuana without a saddle blanket. "There's not much I can do for her now," says Robinson. "Maybe her colt will be healthy."
It never ends.
One night two years ago, Lyle and Mollie were driving home on with a couple from Washington state in the car, the man a friend of Lyle's from his days at Colorado State University Veterinary School.
They encountered a high-speed chase on Black Mesa, 4 1/2 miles north of the ranch. A pickup filled with illegals was heading south, the Border Patrol in pursuit, when the smuggler suddenly wheeled off the Tres Bellotas Road into the desert. Robinson theorizes that coyotes about to be captured often become reckless, hoping to intentionally injure the illegals they're hauling, which they can then blame on the Border Patrol.
The smuggler truck sailed headlong through the darkness into a barbed wire fence. The top wire snapped up over the cab, then down, scalping a woman sitting in back. The wire literally removed her scalp from the middle of her forehead to halfway back on the top of her head. She was with her son, about 8 years old.
As Robinson tells this story, he's sitting at his kitchen table after a lunch of iced tea and enchiladas. Mollie is cleaning up at the sink. The sliding-glass door to the front porch is open, and an easy, warm wind blows in through the screen, bringing with it a faint whiff of the horse corrals and the chirping of birds.
It seems a scene of ultimate tranquility. But hanging over all of it is a sense of horror at what the invasion has brought to this land.
A visitor asks how his Washington guests reacted to stumbling upon the Wild West in modern-day Southern Arizona. "They'd never seen anything so exciting in their lives," Robinson says with a grim chuckle.
But it gets wilder still.
At 11:30 a.m. on April 22 this year, a Mexican helicopter landed in the Robinsons' backyard. Arivaca resident R.D. Ayers had driven to the ranch that morning to visit his injured dog, then under Dr. Robinson's care.
Ayers describes stepping outside the house to see what he describes as "a military Huey-type helicopter" circling, at the same time that a truck from the Tucson Fuel Co. was pulling into the yard. The Tres Bellotas gets its power from diesel generators, and that fuel has to be delivered.
As he approached the chopper, Ayers says six men in black, commando-type uniforms stepped out. Five had ski-type masks over their faces, and they wore body armor and carried automatic rifles. On their sleeves, Ayers saw the word, Mexico.
They stood in a defensive posture around a sixth man, their leader, who identified himself as a member of the Mexican police. He pointed aggressively to the fuel truck and asked what it was doing there. Ayers, in Spanish, told the man he was in the United States, not Mexico, and that he had no business in this country and needed to leave.
But the commander refused to listen and began walking toward the truck, at which point Ayers placed himself between the commander and the truck, again telling him to scram. After a few minutes, the tense confrontation ended when the commander ordered his troops into the chopper, and they split back across the border.
Ayers suspects that the Mexicans--one of Robinson's cowboys identified them as federales, Mexican federal police--were escorting a drug shipment to Tucson, and wanted to haul it in the fuel truck. Or they wanted to steal the fuel. The chopper had followed the truck much of the way down Tres Bellotas Road.
"Men with fully automatic weapons and masks don't just show up to say hello," says a still-outraged Ayers, owner of a backhoe company and a former EMT in Arivaca. He added that if he'd had his gun, he might've fired on the invaders. "I wasn't going to back down. This is my country."
These drug incursions occur with some regularity along the border. The Kays and Robinson say they're personally aware of three such incursions this summer alone, and it's worth noting that the men who recently shot two Border Patrol agents near Nogales also wore black, commando-type gear.
But this episode, like the others, has disappeared into the vapor of national security. Tucson Fuel refuses comment. The Border Patrol won't talk about it, saying its agents got to the Tres Bellotas too late to learn much of anything. The FBI in Tucson took a report the same day and forwarded it to Washington, but they're not talking, either.
As for Robinson, he was gone from the ranch that day, holding a veterinary clinic on the Tohono O'Odham Reservation--ironically enough, under a contract from the Department of Homeland Security. "I really don't know what happened," he says. "But I know my cowboys were so scared, they hid in the barn."
The driver of the fuel truck arrived at Tom and Dena Kay's ranch, eight miles north of the Robinson place, between noon and 1 p.m. that day.
"He was still shaken up, really wild-eyed," says Dena, who put in the first call to the Border Patrol. Ayers had tried to call, but when he got atop Black Mesa, the only place in the immediate area where cell phones work, the call wouldn't go through. He suspects that smugglers had jammed the signal.
At the moment, the Kays' Jarillas Ranch is a bustle of activity. Tom Kay, 63, is working the controls of a forklift with-on-the-ground help from his two cowboys, Roberto Triana and son, Peter. They're preparing a huge stack of railroad ties for eventual transportation to job sites around the 13,000-acre spread.
The solar-powered ranch house, located back from the clearing where Tom and his hands are working, sits on a rise above Tres Bellotas Road, shielded from its wildness by distance, some apple trees and a strong security gate.
After moving here in January 2003, the Kays spent six months re-doing everything about the house, except for two fireplaces that remain untouched. They sandblasted paint off the ceilings, installed a saguaro-rib ceiling in a hallway, and out front, beneath a tall pine tree, they built a rock wall around the manicured front lawn.
But the most telling touch is the sign hanging on the porch. Instead of the traditional Mi Casa Es Su Casa, so common on ranch-country homes, this message perfectly reflects the Kays' stance toward the illegals and smugglers who threaten their Eden. It reads, Mi Tierra Es Mi Tierra--my land is my land.
It's a manifesto, a hope and a bit of a prayer in a place where the invasion never stops, and its perpetrators receive, in the Kays' view, encouragement and welcome from water-in-the-desert "do-gooders."
On Arivaca Road on July 9, the Border Patrol busted two members of the self-described border-help group No More Deaths, alleging that they violated the law by transporting three illegals. Standing beneath the big pine tree outside her house, her bull mastiff, Ruby, bustling at her feet, Dena can't contain her delight that the Border Patrol has finally taken a stand against the group, which she says "entices people into our country to die."
"They put these crossers at the mercy of the coyotes, who rob and abandon all of them, and rape and abuse women," says Dena. "On the Fourth of July weekend, they found several bodies near here, and I hold these do-gooders morally responsible for every one of those deaths. They're so damn self-righteous, and they don't want to hear about all the damage the illegals are doing. They don't know how we're forced to live and don't want to find out.
"I invite all these so-called Samaritans to publish their home addresses so the illegals can go to their homes and defecate on their property and pound on their doors in the middle of the night and see how they like it."
Dena, 61, grew up at the Tucson's Tanque Verde Guest Ranch--when it was still a working ranch--taught English at Rincon High School and worked for 15 years as executive director of a domestic abuse advocacy center in Cortez, Colo.
In the latter job, she dealt with several women whose battering husbands, illegal aliens, had been deported to Mexico. Within a few months, they were back doing it again, and from that, she knew how easy it was to sneak back and forth across the line.
Beyond that, she and Tom had little first-hand knowledge of how overwhelming illegal immigration had become, and how dangerous. But an episode early in their time at the Jarillas Ranch initiated the Kays into the nightmare.
Dena was driving home along the Tres Bellotas when she turned a corner and ran smack-dab into 15 pickup trucks stuffed with about 25 illegals each. They were heading toward Arivaca and Interstate 19. When the lead truck saw Dena's vehicle, the driver jammed the brakes, then all the trucks began making U-turns on the narrow road, blocking her in.
"Here I am trying to get home at night, and there are hundreds of illegals and smugglers blocking my path," says Dena, who was unable to move for five minutes. "I didn't have my gun, and I'm thinking, 'Oops, I hope you guys don't want to steal my car.'"
The episode ended peacefully when the trucks got turned around and headed south.
On other occasions, the Kays have watched in astonishment as smuggler vehicles have rolled past in broad daylight, packed with human cargo. In one case, they saw a parade of pickup trucks with invaders sitting all around the edge of the rear bed, their arms locked so they wouldn't fall off. More stood in the bed, and they were packed in so tightly, it seemed impossible to breathe. Still more were packed into the double cabs like a fraternity stunt.
The site provided a stunning visual lesson in the economics of people smuggling. The Kays figure that each cab-and-a-half truck carried at least 50 people. According to Border Patrol estimates, each illegal pays $1,500 for transportation north. That's a grand total of $75,000 per truck. For, say, 15 trucks, that's a stunning $1.1 million.
"When I see those trucks, I think of slave ships passing in a harbor 300 years ago," says Tom.
The trucks sometimes roar down the rocky, gouged-out Tres Bellotas Road at night, with their lights off, at 50 mph. Dena says the nighttime racket can be especially loud during the Border Patrol's shift change, a time the coyotes know well. She has even seen mothers cradling babies, six months to two years old, at the roadside, after apprehension by the Border Patrol, and the babies are vomiting violently.
"I'm sure they have shaken-baby syndrome from driving this road at such high speeds," she says. "But as soon as they're released into Mexico, those mothers will be back with their babies to try again. They have no clue about the brain damage they've just caused their children."
Dena praises the Border Patrol's efforts to try to control illegal vehicle traffic on the road. "But they're overwhelmed," she says. "The illegals come at them from every direction."
The problems they cause are constant. The Kays have repeatedly had their outside water spigot left on, leaving no water for them to use their bathroom or shower. Neighboring ranchers have found stock tanks fouled by shampoo, soap and toothpaste deposited by invaders who use them as their personal bathroom sinks.
As Dena sits in her spacious living room, the summer light pouring in through the arched windows, she rattles off these episodes with some emotion, but not much. She's a thin woman with a gravelly voice and a fierce determination, a trait she acquired while running the women's center.
There, she testified against spousal abusers in court, in spite of their vows to come after her if she did. "I've had my life threatened a number of times," Dena says, shrugging. "I guess I got used to it. When you've been a victim's advocate, you learn not to give up."
She needs that kind of mettle living outside Arivaca, an unincorporated town of about 2,000 people.
On a Sunday night in early July, the Kays were alerted to something going on outside the house by the frantic barking of their four dogs. When Dena opened the door, she saw three illegals, in aggressive postures, one of them bare-chested. They asked for water. In Spanish, Dena responded, "You don't want water. Get the hell out of here. I'm calling la migra."
Like most ranchers, the Kays have given water to polite illegals in need. But these fellows were bad news. When they didn't respond to Dena's demand to hit the road, she told Tom, in a voice loud enough for the invaders to hear, to get her gun. Those words did the trick. "Unless they hear la pistola, they won't leave," Dena says.
Shortly afterward, to make sure they were gone, Tom went down to the gate and saw two trucks, presumably carrying the same men, coming down the road toward Arivaca, their lights off. As they passed, Tom aimed his flashlight into one of the cabs, and the men waved at him. Tom thinks those trucks might've carried drugs, but he didn't get a good enough look to be sure, and the Kays can only guess what those three men had planned while approaching their home.
Right now, Tom has just come into the living room, taking a break from working the railroad ties. A lifelong team roper in rodeo competitions, he spent 15 years running a sign company and athletic clubs in Tucson, his hometown, before spending most of the '80s and '90s in Colorado. He operated a small ranch there and ran a manufacturing company. But he's never had to run a business under the conditions he confronts every day on the border.
About a year ago, Tom was out riding when he witnessed a running gunfight in which automatic weapons-toting gangsters blasted away at each other on National Forest land on the U.S. side of the border, and the fight continued onto the Mexican side.
And in June this year, Roberto and Peter saw a second gunfight, also with automatic weapons. This one ended with two bodies being dumped into the bed of a pickup truck, which then fled into Mexico.
Surprisingly, Tom doesn't consider the violence of the drug smugglers his biggest problem. It's how ridiculously easy it is for them, and people smugglers--the two often work together, sometimes within the same gang--to invade American territory. They simply cut the fence, or run it down, and they're in.
But that also lets his cows out into Mexico, and that explains the railroad ties.
In two places, Tom is replacing cuts in his border fence with cattle guards--the ties will line the pits below the steel guardrails--hoping the smugglers will drive or walk across the guards, rather than cut his fence.
It's a desperate measure, giving bad guys ready access through America's back door. But Tom and Lyle Robinson, who also plans to install border cattle guards, say it's the only way they can maintain control over their livestock. At up to $1,000 a head, every animal that drifts into Mexico threatens their ability to stay in business.
"I talked to the Border Patrol and the Forest Service about the fence cuts, and they said there's nothing they can do," says Tom. "They said do what you have to do."
Border Patrol spokesman Soto says the agency is aware of the repeated fence cuts, and has no objections to ranchers installing cattle guards.
But if the agency knows about these constant border break-ins--a clear and present threat to national security and American sovereignty--why can't it be stopped? "We have a heavy presence in that area, but it's extremely difficult to control," says Soto. "In cases like this, we rely on ranchers to tell us the crossing patterns on their property. We don't have agents holding hands along the border. They're responding to other calls."
When his cattle do drift into Mexico, Tom sometimes contacts the Mexican brand inspector in Sasabe, Sonora, for help. But that's time-consuming, and Tom knows that if he sees fresh tracks and doesn't follow them right away, his animals might next appear on somebody's dinner plate in Sonora. To get them back, he saddles up and rides into Mexico with Roberto and Peter to find them.
In addition to being a national security nightmare, the fence cuts represent another fundamental outrage--the invaders are severely restricting how American citizens can use their property. Tom has two pastures abutting the border, Lyle Robinson three, and both say they can only use this land if they have cowboys available to ride the border fence at least once a day to keep the fence up.
The cost? Taking into account all the fences on his property, including the border fence, Tom spends at least one-third of his time looking for and fixing breaks.
"Two or three times a week, I have to send my cowboys to the border to make sure my fence is up, and it's an all-day job," he says. "All of this is expensive. If I make $40,000 a year running this ranch, every bit of that profit goes to repairing the damage these people do."
Why stay on land that American law enforcement can't or won't secure? After all, some around Arivaca already have left. In August 2001, Don Honnas and his wife, Carolyn, sold out after almost 41 years, in part due to illegals and drug smugglers.
As they reached their late 60s, the Honnases tired of sleeping with pistols under their pillows, suffering through 25 break-ins at ranch buildings, listening to their dogs bark all night and seeing two of their dogs poisoned. One of their biggest worries, remarkably, was the liability they might incur if one of their dogs bit an illegal, and the illegal sued.
"But the hardest part was when you call law enforcement, and they tell you they have nobody to send," says Honnas, now living in Sahuarita. "It was a difficult decision to get out, but we had to make a move."
For Tom Kay, running a ranch as big as the Jarillas has always been a lifelong dream, and he'll suffer through the dangers to keep it. "I'm very watchful and alert when I'm out working, but I'm not afraid," he says. "How could you be afraid and go to work every day? I'm not going to be afraid."
Whenever he rides his land, Tom carries a .44-caliber Magnum pistol on his saddle for self-defense, and for predatory lions. And when Dena goes for walks, she brings Ruby, the bull mastiff, and her pistol.
As far as she's concerned, the gun isn't optional. This is especially so in light of Border Patrol statistics showing that the common assumption about who is sneaking across the line and why--the harmless illegal only looking for work--has shifted significantly in recent years.
From Oct. 1, 2004, through July 24 of this year, Tucson sector agents arrested 375,000 illegals--37,000 a month. Of that 10-month arrest total, more than 28,324 had criminal records, 283 for sexually related crimes. Given this, and the effort it takes to reach their isolated house from the road, the Kays consider anyone who shows up at their door at night a threat. But they also know that should a confrontation go bad, American law enforcement will probably come after them.
"We've all been warned to not even show a gun to an illegal," she says. "A woman here did that a while ago, just showed it, didn't point it, and the FBI came to her house and warned her not to do it again, because it's a federal crime to threaten an illegal. But if I'm alone, what am I supposed to do? I can't scream, because no one will hear me."
Robinson is also sadly aware of whose side his own government is on when it comes to defending himself.
"Any rights we might have to protect our property or make an arrest have been taken from us," says Robinson, who usually doesn't carry a gun and doesn't particularly like them. "As far as I'm concerned, the smugglers can run anything they want through my ranch, and I'm not going to get up at night and look at them, and I'm sure not going to confront them. It's not my job. Besides, if I tried, and somebody got shot, I'd be the one to get arrested. The ACLU would probably take the case, and we'd lose our life savings."
It's early afternoon at the Tres Bellotas, and the sun is blazing over the desert. Out here, the intense summer heat keeps everyone's eyes focused on the sky for buzzards, because buzzards might mean a dead body, or body parts. Lions and coyotes sometimes descend on the corpses of illegals, leaving the death site a scatter of arms, legs or even a head.
Robinson has something he wants to show a visitor and pilots the Jeep up a steep hill less than a mile from his house.
The view from the peak would qualify for a postcard, if it weren't for the mass of litter and glass shards gleaming in the sunlight, and the smuggling trails that spider-web across the landscape. Some are so pounded down, they look like roads.
On this wind-swept peak, Mexican land visible across the pathetic little fence below, Robinson stands silently, examining what can only be described as a heartbreaking scene. He doesn't react to the debris and the environmental damage, at least openly.
But friends say the daily insults, the trampling of American law and sovereignty, the trashing of his property and especially the unwillingness of his own government to stop it, eats at his gut. Now, there's the latest chapter in the invasion--the helicopter landing. Robinson says he thinks about it often.
"I've never felt personally threatened living here until that Mexican helicopter landed," he says. "I know these Mexican drug people have access to helicopters, and if they get mad at me, what's to stop them from flying over the house and dropping a bomb and getting rid of me in seconds flat? Who'd care? The American government sure doesn't care. It makes me think how vulnerable I am."
As Dena Kay says, "There's nothing Lyle can do. If he fights back, the smugglers might burn his house, or he'll get up in the morning and find all his horses poisoned."
In addition to ratcheting up the stakes, the chopper incident did something else--it cut off Robinson's fuel supply. Tucson Fuel informed him that it would no longer deliver diesel to the ranch. Another company made one delivery and quit, citing the lousy condition of the road. The Border Patrol has helped by delivering fuel, and they've offered to provide an armed escort if Robinson can find a company willing to deliver. But Robinson hasn't decided what he'll do. He's thinking of buying a tanker to deliver his own fuel, and installing solar power. But that still won't give him phone service, except with his cell from atop Black Mesa, a 20-minute drive away.
Two years ago, he and Mollie got an expensive satellite phone and used it for several weeks, until all of their calls began mysteriously routing through a Mexican operator in Hermosillo. Even Verizon's technical people couldn't explain it.
Then a Border Patrol agent told the Robinsons what they already suspected: It's the smugglers again. They'd probably jammed the signals. The Kays say the same thing. At times of heavy night traffic on the Tres Bellotas, their cell phone--they have no land line--sometimes stops working for no apparent reason.
But Robinson doesn't spend a lot of time calling the Border Patrol. Even when he's certain a group is coming through --such as tonight's tire rollers--he usually won't call it in.
"If I were to call the Border Patrol, they'd say thank you and probably do nothing," says Robinson, adding that he'd have to drive up to Black Mesas several times a day to report suspicious sightings. "I'd be on the phone all the time and be frustrated all the time. I can't let it control me and affect my health. It'd ruin me."
And by the time the Border Patrol arrived, the threat would likely have passed. When Dena Kay called to report the helicopter incident, it took the Border Patrol four hours to get to the Tres Bellotas.
As Robinson sees it, the Border Patrol leaves his ranch largely undefended.
Even though the agency has had a horse patrol unit living at the ranch at times this summer, Robinson says that's unusual. More normally, agents come to the ranch in the morning looking for tracks, then either depart altogether or retreat to peaks miles back from the ranch to sit in their trucks and watch.
This allows the invaders unfettered access through Robinson's property, and it burns him up.
"Even though I'm only 200 yards from the border, my position is these illegals should never get here," says Robinson. "If you had real homeland security, they'd never be able to reach my ranch. But they're pouring across the line while the Border Patrol sits back on the hills, waiting to arrest them father back. I'm left here on my own, and it's like a taking of my property."
No phone, no fuel, and usually no Border Patrol. No man's land. So why stay?
It's the easiest question of all: It's home. The Robinsons raised their four children at the ranch. Most of their memories are on this land, and so are their hearts. They even have a ranch graveyard, the final resting place for several family members.
But Mollie admits it hasn't been easy, even from those first days in 1969. She had difficulty adjusting to the isolation, and took comfort in the biblical passage from Luke, in which Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
Mollie did that then, and she and Lyle are doing the same thing now, keeping their hands on the plow and asking God, through their prayers, to keep them safe. It's what they have instead of homeland security.
Everyone in America has a stake in those prayers being answered.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / training in los angeles
on: August 16, 2005, 10:35:11 PM
DBMA Sr. Lakan Guro Pappy Dog has a weekly class and privates in North Hollywood. 818-618-0525
I teach at the Inosanto Academy on Saturdays at 1300. At 1200 Guro John Spezzaon has an excellent FMA class as well. For other classes call the Inosanto Academy
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Homeland Security
on: August 14, 2005, 08:35:24 AM
Moving a post by Buzzwardo from another thread to here-- Crafty
Airline Security Changes Planned
Threats Reassessed To Ease Clearance
By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 13, 2005; Page A01
The new head of the Transportation Security Administration has called for a broad review of the nation's air security system to update the agency's approach to threats and reduce checkpoint hassles for passengers.
Edmund S. "Kip" Hawley, an assistant secretary of homeland security, directed his staff to propose changes in how the agency screens 2 million passengers a day. The staff's first set of recommendations, detailed in an Aug. 5 document, includes proposals to lift the ban on various carry-on items such as scissors, razor blades and knives less than five inches long. It also proposes that passengers no longer routinely be required to remove their shoes at security checkpoints.
After Sept. 11, 2001, many personal items were banned from flights. (By Shawn Baldwin -- Associated Press)
Agency officials plan to meet this month to consider the proposals, which would require Hawley's approval to go into effect.
Since his confirmation in June, Hawley has told his staff that he would reevaluate security measures put in place since the terrorist attacks in 2001 and ensure that they make sense, given today's threats. The TSA is struggling with new cuts in the screener workforce imposed by Congress while its new leaders hope to improve the agency's poor reputation among air travelers by introducing more customer-friendly measures. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff signaled the effort when he announced that the agency would eliminate a requirement that forced passengers to remain in their seats during the first and last 30 minutes of flights using Reagan National Airport.
"The process is designed to stimulate creative thinking and challenge conventional beliefs," said TSA spokesman Mark O. Hatfield Jr. "In the end, it will allow us to work smarter and better as we secure America's transportation system."
The TSA memo proposes to minimize the number of passengers who must be patted down at checkpoints. It also recommends that certain categories of passengers be exempt from airport security screening, such as members of Congress, airline pilots, Cabinet members, state governors, federal judges, high-ranking military officers and people with top-secret security clearances.
The proposal also would allow ice picks, throwing stars and bows and arrows on flights. Allowing those items was suggested after a risk evaluation was conducted about which items posed the most danger.
If approved, only passengers who set off walk-through metal detectors or are flagged by a computer screening system will have to remove their shoes at security checkpoints. The proposal also would give security screeners the discretion to ask certain passengers "presenting reasonably suspicious behavior or threat characteristics" to remove their shoes.
The proposal also would give screeners discretion in determining whether to pat down passengers. For example, screeners would not have to pat down "those persons whose outermost garments closely conform to the natural contour of the body."
The memo also calls for a new formula to replace the set of computer-screening rules that select passengers for more scrutiny. Currently, the system commonly flags passengers who book one-way tickets or modify travel plans at the last minute. The new TSA plan would give TSA managers assigned to each major airport the authority to de-select a passenger who has been picked out by a computer system.
Some security analysts praised the agency's proposal, saying that security screeners spend too much time trying to find nail scissors and not enough time focused on today's biggest threat: a suicide bomber boarding an airplane. The TSA has very limited capability to detect explosives under a person's clothing, for example, and is trying to roll out more high-tech machines that can protect against such threats.
K. Jack Riley, a homeland security expert at Rand Corp., said hardened cockpit doors, air marshals and stronger public vigilance will prevent another 9/11-style hijacking. "Frankly, the preeminent security challenge at this point is keeping explosives off the airplane," Riley said. The TSA's ideas, he said, "recognize the reality that we know that air transportation security has changed post-9/11. Most of these rules don't contribute to security."
Douglas R. Laird, former head of security for Northwest Airlines, said the proposal was a step backward. Laird said exempting certain categories of passengers from security screening would be dangerous because trusted groups have occasionally abused the privilege. "In an effort to be customer friendly, they're forgetting that their primary requirement is to keep airplanes safe," Laird said. "Either you screen everybody or why screen anybody?"
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Geo Political matters
on: August 10, 2005, 09:05:48 PM
Poland: Warsaw, Washington's Point Man
Azerbaijan accused Poland on Aug. 10 of training opposition youth groups to engage in "color revolution" activities aimed at unseating the government of President Ilham Aliyev, a charge Warsaw denies. Poland is now effectively the forward operating base for Washington's geopolitical offensive into the former Soviet Union, with Warsaw a very willing participant. The consequences of this for the region, however, could turn out to be more than Poland is bargaining for.
Azerbaijan accused Poland on Aug. 10 of training an Azerbaijani youth opposition group to engage in "color revolution" activities designed to bring an end to the rule of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his New Azerbaijan party.
Belarus has leveled similar charges against Warsaw of late, leading to a severe deterioration in already chilled bilateral relations that have seen a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions. Poland denies the Azerbaijani charges, but the latest accusations from Baku provide another indication that Warsaw has in fact volunteered to be Washington's forward base in its continuing political offensive into the former Soviet Union (FSU).
Government sources in multiple FSU countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, say opposition parties from their countries are receiving training in Poland, largely funded by U.S. and Western European nongovernmental organizations. The training is said to consist of the how-to of organizing protests and popular "revolutions," handling crowds and motivating them to be as aggressive as possible without provoking violent security-force responses, waging information campaigns, training young opposition leaders and fundraising. Though these strategies are not new, warehousing them in a third country on the border of the FSU is, and the eventual response to this from targeted FSU states could be more than both Warsaw and Brussels are prepared for.
From Washington's perspective, Poland represents the perfect candidate to fill this kind of role. It is a large European country that always constituted the Achilles' heel of Moscow's control over Central Europe during the Soviet period, and centuries of competition with -- not to mention occupation by -- Russia have left the country strongly anti-Russian. As Warsaw can today be fairly confident that it faces no threat from its other historical foe, Germany, Moscow is left as Poland's greatest source of geopolitical concern. Poland cannot feel secure as long as Russia has the potential to be a superpower.
Like Warsaw, Washington shares Russia as a geopolitical concern, though Washington sees Russia as a threat to its supremacy while Poland sees Russia as a threat to its survival. Warsaw and Washington therefore constitute ideal partners, with the superpower backing a regional power sharing the common goal of bringing Moscow to its knees both inside and beyond Russia's borders.
Poland's -- as well as and Europe's -- relative weakness compared to the United States, however, means the FSU countries can retaliate against the EU nations more cheaply than they think they could act against Washington, and the first evidence of this is now beginning to appear.
The Polish government does little to discourage anti-Russian sentiment in Poland, where it flourishes. It is no surprise, therefore, when attacks occur such as those on July 31, when the teenage children of three Russian diplomats were beaten in Warsaw by Polish youths. It also is no surprise that two Polish diplomats have been beaten in central Moscow in recent days -- both in broad daylight near the Polish Embassy -- these were retaliatory attacks. If such an attack were perpetrated against American officials, the Kremlin would go on a rampage. The Poles, however, command no such clout, and having dealt with Poland's anti-Russian sentiments for centuries, the Kremlin will not extend the same patience to Warsaw that it might to Washington.
Though in recent years Russia and its allies have more or less stood by while the United States and Europe whittled away Russian influence and increased their influence over governments in the FSU, this has begun to change. Moscow has begun to realize that it is now fighting Washington for its geopolitical survival, and it is rallying its resources in the FSU with other governments that face a similar fate at the hands of the U.S. geopolitical offensive in the region. In other words, Moscow cannot be expected to stand idly by while Poland tries to force it to its knees.
This highlights the risks of Poland's decision to play the part it has assumed in Washington's broader geopolitical game. Poland is making enemies across the FSU, yet its proximity to the region means its actions make a backlash inevitable. While the majority of Poland's trade has been reoriented westwards, it still has certain economic dependencies to its east.
These include a near-total dependence on Russian energy supplies, and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues from both transit fees on gas traveling from Russia westwards across Polish territory and the luggage trade involving FSU countries to the east that brings hard currency to the country. Both of these could be affected by a protracted dispute.
While Russia is not about to shoot its own foot by cutting off gas supplies not only to Poland, but to Western Europe as well, political concerns about Poland are creating strong support in Moscow for the underwater Northern European gas line that would connect Russia directly to Germany through the Baltic Sea, thus bypassing Poland. Russian state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom has little interest in paying for the pipeline, but if Warsaw were to cause enough trouble, Moscow could potentially decide to bite the bullet for the sake of cutting Poland out of the equation.
Poland's involvement could have repercussions beyond Poland as well. Warsaw is giving encouragement to the likes of Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Georgia -- all countries now with virulently anti-Russian governments -- to help it in the pursuit of Moscow's demise. This kind of coalition could lead to a drawing of lines in Central and Eastern Europe between the two sides that would considerably raise tensions in the region.
Going one step further, as Warsaw is now a full-fledged member of the European Union, Brussels is bound to get involved in the struggle if Poland maintains it current course of action. Moscow and its allies will demand that Brussels step in to restrain Warsaw, and though Brussels is not interested in being as proactive as Washington in weakening Russia, it is also perfectly happy to watch Washington go to work on Russia. This is particularly true now that the European Union includes most of the countries that were once part of the Warsaw Pact, none of which has feelings of goodwill toward Moscow.
A broader dispute between FSU countries and the European Union could have troubling ramifications for both sides. The FSU countries want economic ties with the EU to promote economic growth, and Brussels could easily restrict their access to EU markets. For its part, the European Union is dependent on FSU -- and particularly Russian -- energy supplies. Gazprom recently announced it would raise prices for the Baltic states, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine -- all FSU states with anti-Russian governments -- along with a one-third price hike for the European Union. The move will bruise all of these countries economically to varying degrees.
The sizeable price hike, a sudden jolt following years of increases of 5 percent or less, is an indication both of already rising political tensions between Russia and Europe and of the extent to which Russia can hold Europe hostage when it comes to energy supplies. These countries have no choice but to pay Russia's price.
Even with strong U.S. backing, Poland is playing a high-stakes game of considerable regional significance in taking on the FSU countries. With both sides playing for keeps, more trouble likely lies ahead.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / DB in the media
on: August 10, 2005, 08:59:23 PM
Those of us who are married may be aware of a "reality TV for women" phenomenon wherein someone's home is fixed up "while they were out"; "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and the like.
Well, Pappy Dog and Shaggy Dog's den of iniquity and pigpen is up for the fix up treatment on some minor cable show.
Developing , , ,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hello to the DBMA forum
on: August 09, 2005, 05:15:46 PM
I cracked up when I saw the Columbia Alum mag in Eric's truck the first day we met.
Julia Richman Public HS, NYC
U. of PA '77 B.A. Major: International Relations (specialization in Mexico/Latin America, Minor in Econ)
Columbia Law School '81 J.D.
But then I went for the big bucks of stickfighting,
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Kali - Means to Scrape
on: August 09, 2005, 05:09:33 PM
Pappy Dog premiered it in North Hollywood on Sunday night.
I enjoyed the film greatly-- a real pleasure seeing GT Gaje and others in action.
The party was fun too: An Angelina Joile lookalike with fire sticks and some stellar Mexican pro-wrestlers.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Staff from around the world
on: August 09, 2005, 05:03:57 PM
The footage in POWER of the first series was of the Surma of southwestern Ethiopia, so according to the description below, yes it is the same tribe.
Yes PT's "Malayu Sibat" is one of the systems upon which DBMA draws for its staff.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Weird and/or silly
on: August 09, 2005, 01:16:54 AM
Man forgets wife at gas station
Monday, August 8, 2005; Posted: 10:36 a.m. EDT (14:36 GMT)
Italy ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- A Macedonian man left his wife at an Italian service station and only realized he had driven off without her six hours later, news agency Ansa said.
The couple, who were travelling with their 4-year-old daughter, pulled over for petrol in the coastal city of Pesaro as they were heading back to their home to Germany.
After filling the tank, the husband drove away -- without noticing that his 30-year-old wife, originally from Georgia, had got out of the car to go to the toilet.
The woman, who had no money or documents with her, contacted the police who eventually traced her husband to Milan, some 340 km (210 miles) north of Pesaro, Ansa said.
The husband told police he had not missed his wife because she always sat in the back of the car with their daughter.
Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Guau
on: August 07, 2005, 08:47:43 PM
Regrese' de Peru el viernes en la manana despues de 18 dias alli.
Yo disfrutaba mucho el seminario en Ica, pero el tiempo con mi madre fue dificil. Unos dias antes de que yo llegue', ella fue robada en su casa por 8 hombres con pistolas y mi tiempo con ella estaba dedicaba a preparando un equipo para su seguridad.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We the Well-armed People
on: August 07, 2005, 08:41:02 PM
The real reason behind the push for gun control:
And yet Democrats do believe in gun control, even though playground gunshot injuries are a proven vote-getter. This is because Democrats believe that gun owners want to keep their guns mostly in case they need to shoot Democrats. It happened in 1861 and it could happen again.? PJ O?Rourke
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Mexico
on: August 02, 2005, 12:21:12 PM
Muchisimas gracias por los articulos con procedencia de Mexico compartidos aqui. Lamento que otra vez poner otro en ingles. Si alguien tiene programa de traduccion, se le agradeceria mucho su traduccion por los quienes no leen el ingles.
Tambien lamento no tener tiempo en este momento para ofrecer mis pensamientos sobre estos graves acontecimientos, pero cuando yo tenga el tiempo para hacerlo, si' lo hare.
Mexican mercenaries expand base into U.S.
By Jerry Seper
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
August 1, 2005
A renegade band of Mexican military deserters, offering $50,000 bounties for the assassination of U.S. law-enforcement officers, has expanded its base of operations into the United States to protect loads of cocaine and marijuana being brought into America by Mexican smugglers, authorities said.
The deserters, known as the "Zetas," trained in the United States as an elite force of anti-drug commandos, but have since signed on as mercenaries for Mexican narcotics traffickers and have recruited an army of followers, many of whom are believed to be operating in Texas, Arizona, California and Florida.
Working mainly for the Gulf Cartel, one of Mexico's most dangerous drug-trafficking organizations, as many as 200 Zeta members are thought to be involved, including former Mexican federal, state and local police. They are suspected in more than 90 deaths of rival gang members and others, including police officers, in the past two years in a violent drug war to control U.S. smuggling routes.
The organization's hub, law-enforcement authorities said, is Nuevo Laredo, a border city of 300,000 across from Laredo, Texas. It is the most active port-of-entry along the U.S.-Mexico border, with more than 6,000 trucks crossing daily into Texas, carrying about 40 percent of Mexico's total exports.
Authorities said the Zetas control the city despite efforts by Mexican President Vicente Fox to restore order. He sent hundreds of Mexican troops and federal agents to the city in March to set up highway checkpoints and conduct raids on suspected Zeta locations.
Despite the presence of law enforcement, more than 100 killings have occurred in the city since Jan. 1, including that of former Police Chief Alejandro Dominguez, 52, gunned down June 8, just seven hours after he was sworn in. The city's new chief, Omar Pimentel, 37, escaped death during a drive-by shooting on his first day, although one of his bodyguards was killed.
Authorities said the Zetas operate over a wide area of the U.S.-Mexico border and are suspected in at least three drug-related slayings in the Dallas area. They said as many as 10 Zeta members are operating inside Texas as Gulf Cartel assassins, seeking to protect nearly $10 million in daily drug transactions.
In March, the Justice Department said the Zetas were involved "in multiple assaults and are believed to have hired criminal gangs" in the Dallas area for contract killings. The department said the organization was spreading from Texas to California and Florida and was establishing drug-trafficking routes it was willing to protect "at any cost."
Just last month, the department issued a new warning to law-enforcement authorities in Arizona and California, urging them to be on the lookout for Zeta members. An intelligence bulletin said a search for new drug-smuggling routes in the two states by the organization could bring new violence to the areas.
The number of assaults on U.S. Border Patrol agents along the 260 miles of U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona known as the Tucson sector has increased dramatically this year, including a May 30 shooting near Nogales, Ariz., in which two agents were seriously wounded during an ambush a mile north of the border.
Their assailants were dressed in black commando-type clothing, used high-powered weapons and hand-held radios to point out the agents' location, and withdrew from the area using military-style cover and concealment tactics to escape back into Mexico.
Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada in Nogales said his investigators found commando clothing, food, water and other "sophisticated equipment" at the ambush site.
Since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, there have been 196 assaults on Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector, including 24 shootings. During the same period last year, 92 assaults were reported, with five shootings. The sector is the busiest alien- and drug-trafficking corridor in the country.
U.S. intelligence officials have described the Zetas as an expanding gang of mercenaries with intimate knowledge of Mexican drug-trafficking methods and routes. Strategic Forecasting Inc., a security consulting firm that often works with the State and Defense departments, said in a recent report the Zetas had maintained "connections to the Mexican law-enforcement establishment" to gain unfettered access throughout the southern border.
Many of the Zeta leaders belonged to an elite anti-drug paratroop and intelligence battalion known as the Special Air Mobile Force Group, who deserted in 1991 and aligned themselves with drug traffickers.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Tom 'The Whip' Meadows' new paladin press book...
on: August 02, 2005, 12:13:57 PM
My son Conrad & I stopped by Tom's place in Cambria (an incredibly beautiful place btw) a few weeks ago on a drive up to the bay area and I got to see the book. He only had one copy at that moment and so I was not able to walk away with my very own copy, but I was highly impressed with what I saw.
The book includes chapters on other approaches to the whip as well as Tom's and for these chapters alone the book is worth buying. That said,
Tom I think has used his experience fighting with Top Dog to very good effect. He has thought long and well about the length of the whip and greeting any "succeessful" closes with a knife.
I will be buying my very own copy.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Greetings to all members!
on: August 02, 2005, 10:02:12 AM
Stickgrappler is right.
The staff is one of the most widely used and studied weapons in martial arts around the world and it is no surprise that we see similarities.
SG please feel free to start a thread titled "Staff from around the world" and share with us these manuals.
The Adventure continues,
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Voy a Peru 18 de Julio.
on: July 25, 2005, 09:54:10 AM
Guau a todos:
Yo quisiera agradecer a todos que vinieron al seminario que tuvo lugar este fin de semana en Ica. Me siento humilde que tanta gente viajaron las cuatro horas desde Lima.
Gracias especiales a Carlos no solo por haber organizado el seminario pero tambien por haber encontrado un grupo de tanta gente de buena onda.
Todos los pasabamos muy bien. El primer dia se trataba principalmente de Krabi Krabong y Los Triques y por la ultima porcion dia dia yo di una pequena muestra de Kali Tudo. Por el segundo dia, despues de un sobrepaso del primer dia, entrabamos en materia de "stick clinch", Snaggletooth y Kali Tudo.
Despues del seminario yo hablaba a todos los nuevos miembros de la DBMA Associacion. Ahora contamos con un "DBMA Training Group" en Lima, y los "Lideres del Grupo" son Carlos y Christian. Cuando yo regrese a los EU, dare' los datos a mi esposa para que ella haga los tramites para inscribir los nuevos miembros y poner en nuestro website los datos de contacto para Carlos y Christian.
Voy a estar viajando mas a menudo a Humay a ayudar a mi madre-- por lo cual sera' muy facil ayudar ir para adelante a ese grupo.
La Adventura continua!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: July 24, 2005, 11:56:44 PM
Much like a victim of spousal abuse,
The Left always seems to have an excuse
For barbarous behavior by terrorist thugs,
Their violence dismissed with self-blaming shrugs.
Oh, they just can?t help it, they just get so mad,
When we get them upset by behaving so bad.
It?s not really their fault that we suffer their blows;
We provoked them ourselves as everyone knows.
Like a cowering wife with her bruised blackened eye,
The Liberal defeatists just keep asking why;
What is it in us our tormentors despise?
What will gain us some favor in those angry eyes?
It must be our doing that sets them aflame;
Our own bad behavior that must bear the blame.
If we just appease them, we grovel and simper,
Perhaps we?ll avoid the mad wrath of their temper.
Battered wives learn what the Left cannot see:
Excusing brutal behavior will not set you free.
Appeasing these madmen just maddens them more,
Till someday they?ll come and kill three thousand more.
Quit making excuses for these murderous men,
You Liberal appeasers, who?d let terrorists win.
The only sure way to be free of their ire:
Defeat and destroy them; fight fire with fire.
Russ Vaughn is the Poet Laureate of The American Thinker
DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Voy a Peru 18 de Julio.
on: July 21, 2005, 08:41:03 AM
Carlos me ha informado que el semario comenzara' el sabado a las 14:00 para dar tiempo a la gente que vienen de Lima para llegar a Ica. Dice que alguien viene de Chile (o fue Argentina?) y que posiblemente tambien alguien viene de Ecuador.
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / KALI TUDO (tm) Article
on: July 21, 2005, 12:25:02 AM
Your response leaves me wondering if we are thinking of the same thing.
For me hubud is used to develop skill in various tools and techniques: hammer fist, various guntings, arm drags, wrenches, tapi-tapi, disarms, trapping combos etc etc etc
What does it mean for you?
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants
on: July 15, 2005, 12:28:35 PM
What?s worse than crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundations rotten with decades of termite damage?
NOT crawling under your beloved house and seeing the foundations rotten with decades of termite damage.
I?ve been away for a while, doing a little thinking. Usually, my thoughts for these past few years have started at home and then taken me to Iraq, and the war. Lately, though, I have been thinking about Iraq, and my thoughts turn more and more to home.
I started thinking along these lines six months ago, after a young Marine shot and killed a wounded Iraqi in a mosque in Fallujah
The ideas behind this little adventure we are about to embark upon have changed enormously since then. I have, quite frankly, been at a loss to know how to put so many wide-ranging snapshots together into this montage, this image, this idea of Sanctuary that I think holds the key to many of the problems we face today.
Stay with me -- our first stop is not our destination, but it is a necessary one. So let me first take you on that original journey, and show you how events in Iraq can show us how to fight and win a much wider and deeper conflict, right here at home.
Now to hear some fellers tell it, the entire idea of ?Unlawful Combatants? came to Sith mastermind Darth Rover in a vision, and he instructed his familiars Chimpy McBushitler and Torture Master Rumsfeld to use it as an excuse to begin the unjustified savagery that is such an essential part of the American character.
Absent from this worldview is?well?just about everything.
During the actual Major Combat Operations of Iraqi Freedom, US generosity and grace toward defeated elements of the Iraqi regular army was in the highest tradition of the US Military, which is justifiably well-known for its benevolence toward a defeated adversary on the battlefield. Surrendering Iraqi regular units were given rations and medical care, and their officers were allowed to keep their sidearms as a show of respect and authority. I have not seen or heard of a single case of anything less than exemplary conduct regarding enemy regular-army soldiers.
So why were the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Fedayeen insurgents treated so differently? Why the hoods and shackles? Why the humiliation at Abu Graib?
It is not because these men shot at US soldiers. Regular Iraqi units, NVA units, North Korean Units, Germans, Japanese, Confederates and Redcoats have shot at American soldiers and upon their surrender their treatment has been, on the whole, exemplary. Why are these different?
It is not because they are opposing us. It is ? to put it as bluntly as possible ? because they are cheating ? cheating in a way that none of the above ever did.
They have willfully and repeatedly broken the covenant of Sanctuary.
What is the obvious difference between an enemy Prisoner of War, and an Unlawful Combatant? Suppose two of them were standing in a line-up. What one glaringly obvious thing sets them apart?
That?s right! One is wearing a uniform, and the other isn?t.
And why do soldiers wear uniforms?
It certainly is not to protect the soldier. As a matter of fact, a soldier?s uniform is actually a big flashing neon arrow pointing to some kid that says to the enemy, SHOOT ME!
And that?s exactly what a uniform is for. It makes the soldier into a target to be killed.
Now if that?s all there was to it, you might say that the whole uniform thing is not such a groovy idea. BUT! What a uniform also does -- the corollary to the whole idea of a uniformed person ? is to say that if the individual wearing a uniform is a legitimate target, then the person standing next to him in civilian clothes is not.
By wearing uniforms, soldiers differentiate themselves to the enemy. They assume additional risk in order to protect the civilian population. In other words, by identifying themselves as targets with their uniforms, the fighters provide a Sanctuary to the unarmed civilian population.
And this Sanctuary is as old as human history. The first civilized people on Earth, these very same Iraqis, who had cities and agriculture and arts and letters when my ancestors were living in caves, wore uniforms as soldiers of Babylon. This is an ancient covenant, and willfully breaking it is unspeakably dishonorable.
Now, imagine you are involved in street-to-street fighting?
We should actually stop right here. No one can imagine street-to-street fighting. It is a refined horror that you have lived through or you have not, and all I can do with the full power of my imagination does not get to the shadow of it. Nevertheless, there are men who have peered around corners in Fallujah, and Hue, and Carentan and a hundred unknown places; places where the enemy?s rifle may be leveled inches away from your nose, awaiting the last split-second of your young life.
Most of the time, you do not have time to think. A person jumps up from below a window three feet away. If he is wearing a grey tunic and a coal-scuttle helmet, it?s a Kraut and you let him have it before he kills you and your buddies. But what if he is wearing street clothes? What if he is smiling at you?
For brutal soldiers ? like the Nazi?s those of the far left accuse us of being precisely equal to ? this is a moot point. The SS killed everything that moved. They executed prisoners in uniforms, partisans, hostages and children. They were animals.
Our soldiers are civilized, compassionate and decent citizens doing a tough, horrible job. That means when they see someone who might be a civilian, they hesitate. That hesitation can and has killed them. And some people wonder why enemy soldiers without the honor and courage to wear a uniform are treated less than honorably after being captured by men full of courage and restraint.
Worse ? worse by far ? than the artificial safety given to enemies not wearing a uniform is the additional horror such behavior will inevitably inflict upon their own civilian population.
And it doesn?t hurt to point out ? repeatedly ? that the people they are putting at infinitely greater risk are supposedly the very people these so-called Muslim Warriors claim be trying to protect: their own women and children. Michael Moore has called these ruthless cowards the moral equivalent of our revolutionary Minutemen. I would point out to Mr. Moore that when confronted by an overwhelming enemy force, our Minutemen grabbed their guns, put their elderly, their women and their children behind them, and went out to face their adversary as far away from the weak and vulnerable as possible. These people do precisely the opposite. Our Minutemen fought for Freedom and Liberty; these fight for repression, state torture, and the right to force everyone to behave as they see fit. Am I surprised that Michael Moore cannot see this difference? I am not. The man has not seen his own toes for two decades, and they are a good deal closer to him than the streets of Fallujah.
Do those protesters ever wonder why prisoners of war in World War II movies ? soldiers -- trying to escape in civilian clothes would be shot as spies? A soldier out of uniform, a soldier trying to hide in the civilian population is gaining a one-time personal advantage, but that not the real sin. The real sin is that he is endangering the non-combatants. He is using civilians as cover. He is breaking down the barrier between the armed and the unarmed, the threat and the non-threat. He is trying to have it both ways.
Whenever there is war and invasion, there will be terrified civilians trying to get from one place to another. In the very early hours of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when we expected to be fighting the same Army that in the Gulf War fully honored the idea of uniformed troops, our soldiers discovered large numbers of unarmed, military-aged men in civilian clothes making for the rear. Many of these men were let through, and promptly took up arms and caused immeasurable damage before blending back into the population.
But they did much worse. Because after a few suicide bombers in civilian vehicles drove up to checkpoints and blew themselves and honor-abiding Coalition soldiers to bits, we have found ourselves having to treat all speeding civilian vehicles as hostile. We simply have no choice anymore. We did not simply decide to open fire on civilians; rather the enemy, in a cold and calculated decision repeated many, many times over, decided to violate the Sanctuary given to civilians to wage war on an American and British Army playing by the rules. They have made the line between civilian and soldier nonexistent. They did this, not us. They did it. They gained the benefits from it, and it has cost us dear. And so perhaps, in a world with less ignorance and more honesty, Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena ? who sped at a US roadblock, weaving, at more than 60 mph and in violation of warning shots -- would be pointing her finger at the people who violated this Covenant of Civilization, and not those being forced to make terrible decisions in order to preserve it.
War is hell, and soldiers have to live there. It is an unbearable burden; unbearable in the sense that not a single man and woman who has been fully exposed to war has ever come back home. Someone else comes back home. Sometimes, it is a better person. Sometimes a worse one. But they are different, all changed in the horror and crucible of war.
And so from the beginning of war, there exists between soldiers a bond that cannot be described. There is the obvious connection of a soldier to his comrades, but there is too a strong sense of respect and kinship with the soldier on the other side of No Man?s Land, shivering in cold wet places just the same, under orders and doing his job, too ? just wanting to get the thing over with and go home.
Surrender is a mercy in such a place. The idea that certain death may be avoided, that one might be willing to simply give up fighting and still survive, is mercy of the deepest blue. Surrendering enemy soldiers are often greeted with a warmth and understanding that friendly civilians do not receive, for they have shared in the misery and hardship of war in ways that we comfortable and safe civilians can never know.
Surrender, in war, is perhaps the ultimate of Sanctuaries. It is a way out when hope and rescue have fled the field. Honorable surrender has never been treated with shame by any American unit I have ever heard of.
And so, when groups of un-uniformed enemy soldiers waving white flags suddenly drop and open fire on unsuspecting, generous and honorable Americans, then the masters of these men have made a terrible bargain. They have destroyed the Sanctuary of Surrender, and eliminated for their own men a deep and abiding refuge in the nightmare of the battlefield.
They have done this to their own men. Not us. We have known of the brutality of the Iraqi army regarding prisoners from at least as far back as those taken and beaten during the first Gulf War, and as far as improvements over the intervening years, we might perhaps call Jessica Lynch to tell us of any newfound magnanimity on the part of the Ba?athists.
False surrender as a weapon of ambush is an abomination. When it is repeated, it is obvious that is not an aberration; it is policy. It is, like the abandonment of the uniform, a tactic to gain a short-term advantage that leads to long-term hardship and misery for their own troops. It is a Devil?s bargain, and they have had the Devil to pay for it ? as have we.
They violate the Sanctuary of the Uniform. They violate the Sanctuary of Surrender. And the most reprehensible of all is the violation of the Sanctuary of Mercy.
Throughout the insurgency, and especially in places like Fallujah, enemy fighters with real or feigned wounds have called for aid. Not often does a soldier who has been in combat look down upon the wounded of either side without horror and sympathy. In places like Fallujah and Iwo Jima and Antietam it is an easy thing to see one?s own reflection in that grimace and that agony.
So when a soldier out of uniform, who may have faked surrender to kill unsuspecting Americans, calls for aid and then willfully kills medics with a concealed grenade? where does that leave us? What unplumbed depths remain? When mercy is used as a weapon against the merciful, what horrors and abominations remain unplayed?
THAT, dear left-wing Citadels of Conscience, is what we are up against. That is what you support against the decency, honor and kindness you mock in your own countrymen as they build schools and hospitals and, indeed, an entire democracy. That is the definition of ?Unlawful Combatant.? It is not a legal nicety, and it is not a rhetorical flourish. It is a pattern of ruthlessness, deception and murder. And regardless of your motive, it is the side you find yourself taking.
These are the kind of men in Guantanamo. Who controls such men? And when busloads of men from Afghanistan and Syria and Jordan and Egypt and Iran, men without uniforms, men not under the control of any officer, men who follow no code of conduct other than an oath to kill any American, anywhere ? who among us with a gram of understanding and perspective can be surprised when such men are hooded and shackled on air transports? And being left to sleep in the open air is one thing in Northern Germany in the winter of ?44, and something else entirely in the middle of the goddam Caribbean! I mean, for the love of God, some of the people screaming themselves into a lather over such an outrage will pay tens of thousands of dollars for the same privilege a few miles away on a catamaran anchored off the coast of Jamaica.
And when people acting on the stage of their own moral outrage wonder when such men will be released, what do we say to them? When Osama bin Laden officially surrenders Al Qaeda on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan? They have no government, they have no command structure, they have no objective but death. That is their great strength, and by God, it is also their weakness, and we would be fools ? absolute drooling idiots ? to let them have it both ways.
These fanatics have been rigorously coached to lie about mistreatment and torture, and despite this transparent fact, every utterance they make is breathlessly quoted and trumpeted by the press as absolute truth. The naked human pyramids, intimidation with dogs, sexual humiliation and threat of electroshock torture that marked a day or two of mistreatment at Abu Graib were the tools used by immature and untrained individuals precisely because the methods previously employed at that location ? removal of fingers and tongues and genitalia, electrified wire brushes, and the rape and murder of relatives before the eyes of the prisoner ? are so far beyond the horizon of what American interrogators are able to imagine doing that any comparison between the two betrays the moral blindness of those making the comparison.
Is humiliation the same as torture? It is not -- that's why the words are spelled differently. To get to the heart of the difference, assume you were a prisoner at Abu Graib, and your interrogator started to remove your fingers one by one with bolt cutters. How long would it take you to beg to be posed with women?s panties on your head? Yeah, I thought so.
This is not to excuse in any way the shameful behavior committed there by a few individuals who clearly are not fit to wear the uniform of the United States. They have disgraced us all and done incalculable damage. But if producing humiliation and fear is now to be defined as ?torture,? what international human rights organization will be appointed to help the surviving readers of The New York Times?
No system built on human behavior is perfect; they can only be good. What's a reasonable guess as to the number of sadistic, brutal and infantile Americans who so dishonored their uniforms at Abu Graib? Shall we say, perhaps fifteen? Fifteen who knew about what was happening, and countenenced it? So those fifteen, out of a total force of 150,000, completely negate the hard work, restraint, courage and compassion of the rest of the American presence in Iraq?
That is not ten percent bad apples. That is not one percent. That is not one-tenth of a percent. It is, in round numbers one percent of one per cent. What is the percentage of of criminals in the general population? A hundred times that? A thousand? Can college professors boast that kind of quality control? Can reporters? And yet this is all the press can obsess about, for over a year...the behavior of .0001 of the U.S. forces employed to liberate Iraq?
But remember, there is no bias in the media.
And by the way, has it not occurred to anyone that during the years since 9/11 there has not been a single terrorist attack on the United States? Do you think they simply stopped trying? Or have we been winning a secret war of information in dark rooms in Langley, Virginia? How many failed attempts have there been to kill you and your family in the past four years? Two? Twenty? One Hundred?
If we cannot use torture to get that information -- and we most emphatically should not and have not -- then what can we use? Anything? No intimidation? No sleep deprivation? No threats? No coersion? No drugs? What are we left with to persuade these killers to talk? The comfy chair?
It is not only possible, but likely, that many of the press elites who consider bright lights and harsh language as a form of ?torture interrogation? are alive today in places like New York and San Francisco precisely because of information gleaned from inmates at Abu Graib and Guantanamo Bay. I have no doubt of this whatsoever. What would their response be, I wonder, if standing at the funeral of their friends and children they discovered that the information needed to save their lives could have been obtained not through torture, but through fear of torture, or through humiliation and intimidation?
As you sit here reading this, there are men and women working around the clock using information obtained ? not just without torture, but humanely ? to keep us safe at night. They do this without any recognition or fanfare. But there are no less than ten televised award shows each year honoring those who do the best job at playing make-believe, and more often than not, the heroes they pretend to be are the soldiers and intelligence agents and policemen they so spectacularly spit upon the second the camera stops rolling.
We worship the wrong people. More on that in a moment.
There is one final layer of atrocity, a violation of the very core idea of Sanctuary as a place of safe haven that the insurgents in Iraq practice with abandon.
These religious fanatics, who will form a mob and tear a person limb from limb if he (or especially she) so much as looks askance at a copy of the Quran, routinely and methodically have used mosques ? even their most sacred mosques ? as ammunition dumps, staging areas and firing positions, viewing our decency and restraint as foolishness and weakness.
These acts have been recorded so many times that it has become banal. It?s just a fact. It?s what they do.
If they had genuine respect for their own religions and holy places they would give them the widest berth available, not turn them into command bunkers, ambush sites and staging areas.
Here is a violation of Sanctuary written as plainly as the eye can see. They use safe havens -- hospitals, hotels and places of worship -- as military fortresses because they are counting on our decency and honor to spare them from retaliation.
Actually, it is deeper than that. I suspect what they are really counting on is that sooner or later, such provocations have to be answered. And then there will be armies of useful idiots with television cameras and microphones and Expensive Hair, who will rally the full weight of recrimination and guilt and defeatism and accomplish for a few bearded lunatics what entire armored divisions could not achieve for them on the battlefield: Victory over the Americans.
But what has shocked and dismayed me, way beyond the sadness and regret of our losses, has been the willingness, even the eagerness, among many on the left who want nothing more than to see our side lose.
Our soldiers are fighting and dying to install what any sane person can see is a widely-representative democracy, heroically elected at great personal risk. Opposing them are a shadow army of former secret policemen, state torturers, and foreign invaders of every stripe who kill Iraqi policemen, behead innocent Iraqi cabdrivers, and detonate car bombs at the opening of new schools and children?s centers. There may be an explanation for this support I am not seeing. I, for one, can not get past the idea that millions of Western Progressives would rather see a nation re-enslaved, or erupt in civil war, or have twenty thousand of their countrymen come home in boxes than admit that they were wrong.
And they have the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to claim the moral high ground?
I am trying my level best to understand how and why someone who professes to be for freedom for artists, homosexuals and women ? not to mention unlimited personal expression of every stripe -- can take the side of 8th Century religious fanatics who brag about murdering writers, stoning women, beheading homosexuals and instituting moral policemen at every street corner with unquestioned authority to beat, jail or execute anyone suspected of being insufficiently pious.
I used to wonder why civilizations fell. No longer. I see it now before my eyes, every day. Civilizations do not fall because the Barbarians storm the walls. The forces of civilization are far too powerful, and those of barbarism far too weak, for that to happen.
Civilizations fall because the people inside the Sanctuary throw open the gates.
Look around. Tell me what you see. Look at how the entire idea of civilization is under attack. Abandoning the ideas of civilization and savagery is tantamount to throwing open the gates. Maintaining a civilization takes work ? savagery, not so much. If both are equal then what?s the point?
Don?t think there?s any difference? Then here?s a little show-and-tell for you, Scooter:
When Newsweek runs an unsubstantiated rumor about flushing a Quran down the toilet, entire nations erupt into riots that leave many dead and more, likely, to follow. That is savagery.
Trained teams of Islamic murderers hijack four airliners, slit the throats of their crews, immolate their passengers as flying bombs and destroy the heart of a city and worse, and the most powerful people the world has ever known sit patiently trying to identify the perpetrators and then sacrifices its own children to reform a diseased and despotic region with overwhelming restraint and discretion ? that is civilization.
Really, all I?m trying to do here is prevent the fall of Civilization. Now far be it from me to be so arrogant as to think I can prevent the fall of Civilization with a single essay! It may take several essays; in fact, if things are worse than I feared it might take an entire book.
Here?s my thesis: Civilizations fall because they become so successful that their citizens become, over many generations of increasing security and prosperity, further and further away from the reality of the human condition. The quest for ?better? becomes so successful that after a few generations of hard work and ingenuity we have nothing left but the quest for ?perfect.? More and more effort produces fewer and smaller results, because the quest for perfection is asymptotic. Perfection is unattainable.