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    11 August 2006

    The coming fascist America?

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    So I took a casual look at the local blog buzz which gave us the usual mix of opinions. We had some bravery, logic, and outright bigotry; all to be expected. Passions run high when terrorism casts its evil shadow upon us. But this stood out as egregious and defeatist.
    I think that this proves that maybe, just maybe, unconventional methods of surveillance are not only necessary, but beneficial. Sure, we're plunging down the highway to fascism, but we'll be safe little fascists, won't we?

    Let's be clear here. US Intelligence had little if anything to do with this. Bush was informed by Blair this time. The Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, said, "...the British succeeded in disrupting the plot. And there’s no question the focal point of the operational activity was in Britain ... we really took a lot of our cue from them." Leave it to the right-wing to spin a close call, a potential disaster, into more misplaced adoration of President Bush. Compare these folks to the opposition in Britain and you will see why the Europeans seem so refined when compared to us.
    On the Tory and Liberal Democrat benches there was no attempt to make political capital. The shadow home secretary, David Davis, confined himself to praise for the security services. [Link]

    Next, Chip mentions "unconventional methods of surveillance". Unknowingly he confuses the illegal signal intelligence carried out by the Bush Administration with actual human intelligence. The British "...had an undercover operative deep inside the group of at least 30 terrorists." A human penetrated a cell of terrorists, a tip from a captured informer, and then some covert signal espionage; all carried out on another continent at that, not by the US with your illegal activities. That's what led the involved intelligence agencies - which, again, appears to be British and Pakistani - to begin to monitor the activities of the suspects; not indiscriminate eavesdropping, this wasn't luck. The obvious point here is that you can waste time looking for a needle in a haystack or you can go in head first directly at the enemy. The British did just that and it paid off in spades. Few liberals question the usefulness of "NSA wiretaps, SWIFT, and data-mining" provided they know what they are listening to and what to listen for.

    Finally, Those on the right get sick thrills translating liberal positions on the War on Terrorism, in Iraq, and on national security as weak an offering comfort to the enemy. They say we would welcome the creation of the Ummah. They say we think of terrorists as "wonderful people". They say we are defeatist. Well that logic can now be thrown right back at Chip and his fellow brown shirts, because now it is perfectly fine to let our civil liberties evaporate in the face of bunch of cowardly terrorists.

    Jesus Christ! Do these people just hate liberals or liberalism all together?

    Posted by Geoff

    Ghoulish Opportunistic Pandering

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    HA! That about sums up the GOPs attempt to hijack a horrible, and fortunately failed terrorist attack for political gain. Too bad for them that the American people are hip to their failures and aren't buying it. This of course begs the question; why did we quit searching for al Qaeda and bin Laden? For the complete story go read Lorelei Kelly.

    Posted by Geoff

    10 August 2006

    A new War on Terror

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    I agree 100% with Tammy, though I’d give credit to many others, including the good old US. Our military may be spinning its wheels in Iraq, but our intel community isn’t. They weren't involved this time but they are working hard.

    For an expert update on the alleged devices that were to down numerous airplanes we turn to Dick Destiny
    With GlobalSecurity.Org senior fellow hat on, it can be said there is no bomb sitting in your bathroom. It's exaggeration for the sake of story-telling. If your ingredients are a bottle of nail polish remover, and a bottle of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, you have two parts for a poor man's explosive called tri-acetone peroxide. If you can identify an inorganic acid in your household, you can, maybe, cobble a synthesis together if you know what you're doing. With the quantities available in most households, though, you don't have a jet-liner killer. And other factors involved in the synthesis, which Dick Destiny blog won't go into, make it an odd and awkward choice for synthesis on an airplane flight.

    Much more at the link as well as a good old media debunking.

    The bigger question we must discuss is what the War on Terror is and should be; how is it going; and what can we do to move beyond just waging war and disrupting plots; breeding new terrorists and relying on luck to stop them. The chaos at our airports today for a foiled plot that had not even been put into motion (the terrorists weren’t even headed to the terminals, the bombs weren’t even operational) is a testament to the fact that we can not sustain this level of chaos indefinitely and we must explore alternatives in order to wage the War on Terrorism on multiple fronts and with greater success. This does not mean starting over but expanding our current operations, and looking to the future. Rather than disrupting terrorist plots, we should also be starving terrorists of their recruiting tools and thus their plots. For this we will need the thoughts of experts; not politicians and pundits. We will start here. I was lucky enough to sit through a panel presentation (briefly mentioned here) with three of the experts that contributed to this poll and report; I found it incredibly enlightening. Look for my post late this weekend.

    Major neocon calls for a change in course in Iraq

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    The cabal of the neocon has seen better days. Prominent members have pulled out, as in the case of Francis Fukuyama. The American Enterprise Institute placed blame for Iraq at the door of the White House rather than their office, where it originated, indicating the last throes of failed policy.

    Today, joining the ranks of pundits like Tom Friedman, politicians like Chuck Hagel, and US soldiers who have made calls for a strategy shift or withdrawal in Iraq. Prominent neocon Max Boot calls the situation in Iraq since the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra a "...civil war in which Shiite and Sunni militias are equally culpable" in yesterdays LA Times. Mr. Boot notes several instances where Generals requested reinforcements and experts advised reinforcements - beginning in 2004 - but were either ignored outright or only a fraction of what they requested was supplied. To this end Boot concludes: "If Bush thinks that a force this size can secure a city of more than 6 million people, he's not listening to the best professional military advice." Adding that moving troops around rather than more troops in is a faulty policy. He quotes a military official, "[y]ou can't do clear-and-hold with the force structure we have."

    Boot comes to two conclusion, one that may/should seem quite similar to another plan I've spoken of a lot on these pages.
    But there's another course short of withdrawal: reducing U.S. forces from today's level of 130,000 to under 50,000 and changing their focus from conducting combat operations to assisting Iraqi forces. The money saved from downsizing the U.S. presence could be used to better train and equip more Iraqi units. A smaller U.S. commitment also would be more sustainable over the long term. This is the option favored within the U.S. Special Forces community, in which the dominant view is that most American soldiers in Iraq, with their scant knowledge of the local language and customs, are more of a hindrance than a help to the counterinsurgency effort.

    This is quite similar to plans proposed by the Center for American Progress, and Democratic lawmakers.

    The other solution is to put the necessary forces into Iraq, as we should have done long ago. He suggests
    A couple of divisions in Baghdad, if skillfully led, might be able to replicate the success that Col. H.R. McMaster's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment had in pacifying the western city of Tall Afar, where the troops-to-civilians ratio was 10 times higher than in Baghdad today.

    Boot concludes that he is open to either, but favors the latter.
    But at this point, I am also open to a substantial reduction in troop numbers because the current strategy just isn't working.

    Bush needs to do something radical to shake up a deteriorating status quo if we are to have any hope of averting the worst American military defeat since Vietnam.

    Right wing bloggers and politicians alike have attacked this plan as cut 'n run. Will they attack one of their own? No. They are hypocrites.

    I went over to our local Palmetto Neocon to see what they had to say. Surprise, nothing. I don’t even think they know what a neocon is. Search the site and not one mention of the name 'Kristol'. I'm more of a neocon than them.

    Posted by Geoff

    Old News

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    in the Arab press, finally making it's way west
    ...Iraqis for the first time have begun openly discussing whether the only way to stop the violence is to remake the country they have just built.

    Leaders of Iraq's powerful Shiite Muslim political bloc have begun aggressively promoting a radical plan to partition the country as a way of separating the warring sects. Some Iraqis are even talking about dividing the capital, with the Tigris River as a kind of Berlin Wall. [link]

    Posted by Geoff

    09 August 2006

    Making war crimes, wait for it, ... legal

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    John makes a good point here.

    Posted by Geoff

    WaPo Poll: 90 Days and counting...

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    Most of us, well some, saw this latest poll in Tuesdays WaPo. What great news for our country and progressives, the population is finally opening up their eyes and finding the ability to recognize bad policy and the party that supports it. But it also shows how poor of a job the Democrats are doing to fill that void (although they are improving),still they will probably blow this. Here is a snip:
    Most Americans describe themselves as being in an anti-incumbent mood heading into this fall's midterm congressional elections... Among voters across the board, 38 percent say they are more likely to oppose candidates who support Bush on Iraq compared with 23 percent who are more likely to support them. ... The generic ballot question ... remained unchanged from the spring, with 52 percent favoring Democrats and 39 percent supporting Republicans. ... The Democrats' lead stems from a big advantage among independents.

    Now for what the poll captured but what wasn't reported.

    Iraq, the economy, gas prices, health care, and terrorism are the top five issues currently, to those polled.

    While Bush's approval jumped to 40%, 50% of those polled disapproved of his "campaign against terrorism" and the handling of "[t]he situation between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon." Almost half realize that both sides are partially responsible for the chaos in Palestine, while leaning on Hezbollah as the group most at fault. While they think the amount of force used by Israel is just, the amount of civilians killed is not (see next post). Those polled think the Democrats would do a better job dealing with Iraq (43% to 40%) and fighting the War on Terrorism (46% to 38%). 64% realize that Bush has no plan for Iraq.

    59% of those polled disapproved of his handling of the economy.

    It appears that the Democrats message is resonating well going from 44% of those polled who think the Democrats are "offering the country a clear direction that's different from the Republicans" to 48, while those who don't agree dropped from 52% to 47%. The Republican continue to appear to those polled as strong leaders, they recognize that the Democrats are more concerned with peoples needs.

    This poll was weighted slightly towards Democrats and independents with most casting themselves as moderate, followed by conservative (at around 40% each). 20% see themselves as liberal.

    Posted by Geoff

    08 August 2006

    Science is amazing

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    The earthquake that caused the devastating tsunami in 2004 not only caused ripples in the Indian Ocean, it also shook the gravitational field that surrounds our planet. The shifting of mass at such a large scale was enough to alter the gravitational pull by, get this, 0.0000015 percent. That is some sensitive equipment.

    It is amazing what science can do, and it is even more amazing that climate change is denied by few on the grounds that we don't know enough to determine that global warming is a fact. Oh what a couple of million well-placed corporate dollars can do.

    Posted by Geoff

    Turkey unhappy with Iraqi PKK, shells N. Iraq

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    Background here, here, and here.

    Yesterday, Monday, blasted US and Iraqi efforts to control Kurdish terrorist organization PKK operating in N. Iraq. Coming off an agreement that seemed to temporarily pacify Turkey's threats of entering Kurdistan to deal with the PKK set up the new Iraqi government.

    In a press conference Monday, Turkey's Justice Minister stated "that the steps being taken by the United States and Iraqi authorities to deal with the presence in North Iraq of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq have not met Turkey's expectations." Later that night and into Tuesday morning Turkish artillery began "heavy" bombardment of PKK camps and nearby villages in N. Iraq. It is not clear whether or not this operation was approved by the Americans or the Iraqis (who should be the only one making decisions if they are sovereign and still a legitimate government), but the comments made be Turkish officials would indicate this is a unilateral action taken by the Turkish military.

    More background from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross at counterterrorismblog.org last week.

    Posted by Geoff

    07 August 2006

    Bush to cut 'n run if civil war becomes too much

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    The debate on whether or not Iraq is in a civil war is debatable, though now it is a debate over semantics only and a deflection from reality. Much like the debate last November on whether Iraq was an insurgent state - a debate lost by Rumsfeld.

    Well just to be safe, we now have word that the administration is planning to cut 'n run if they decide that Iraq is indeed in a state of civil war.
    President Bush will move U.S. troops out of Iraq if the country descends into civil war, according to one senior Bush aide who declined to be named while talking about internal strategy. "If there's a full-blown civil war, the president isn't going to allow our forces to be caught in the crossfire," the aide said. "But institutionally, the government of Iraq isn't breaking down.

    Like a civil war can only exist if a government isn't present...

    Back to the theme, will the right-wing stand for this outrageous revelation?

    Posted by Geoff

    06 August 2006

    US soldiers calls for withdrawal, Iraqis claim civil war has begun

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    What will the right-wing blogosphere do?
    The recent assertion by U.S. soldiers here that Iraq is in a civil war is a stunning indication that American efforts to bring peace and democracy to Iraq are failing, more than three years after the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein's regime.

    Some Iraqi troops, too, share that assessment.

    "This is a civil war," said a senior adviser to the commander of the Iraqi Army's 6th Division, which oversees much of Baghdad.

    "The problem between Sunnis and Shiites is a religious one, and it gets worse every time they attack each other's mosques," said the adviser, who gave only his rank and first name, Col. Ahmed, because of security concerns. "Iraq is now caught in hell."
    "There's no plan - we are constantly reacting," said a senior American military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "I have absolutely no idea what we're going to do."
    "I don't think there's any winning here. Victory for us is withdrawing," said Sgt. James Ellis, 25, of Chicago. "In this part of the world they have been fighting for 3,000 years, and we're not going to fix it in three." [link]

    Oh how the right-wingers must be fuming...

    Will local blogs like OldController and new wars as well as the entire right-wing blogosphere smear the soldiers like they smear Democrats and liberals that have been saying this for months?

    Posted by Geoff

    Anti-Murtha lawyer and Marine expand libel suit

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    What will the two-faced, right-wing blogosphere do in reaction?

    In response to comments made by many public officials, including Rep. Murtha, in reference to alleged murders by Marines in Haditha Iraq, a Marine and a team of lawyers plan to sue Democrat John Murtha for defamation, libel, and invasion of privacy. The only problem is the lawsuit was obviously politically driven and several other commenters were, and still are, absent from the suit. That lawsuit has now increased by one more member of Congress.

    Late Friday it was reported that Republican Rep. John Kline was contacted by the Marines lawyer and notified that he could also "...be sued for libel if he did not apologize." Klein's office has agreed to comply with the threat. One would hope that Murtha would comply as well given that he made these statements to highlight the pressure our military is under in their campaign to prop-up failed policy, or he could beat the baseless suit in court.

    Will the right-wingers end their outrage at Murtha over this, be willing to throw Klien into this, or conveniently look the other way?

    Posted by Geoff


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