Anyone who makes comments about Sanders that are anti-Semitic will be banned. pl
As former US Army intelligence officer Michael Pregent explained to Business Insider, taking back Ramadi is beyond the capabilities of a diminished Iraqi army and its partners, which include Iranian-backed Shia militia groups like Kataib Hezbollah and the Badr Group.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-campaign-to-retake-ramadi-from-isis-is-an-impending-disaster-2015-5#ixzz3boxY1DaJ
"... Ameri rose to become leader of the Badr Organisation, the leading militia in Hashed al-Sha’abi, after years in exile from Saddam Hussein-era Iraq, which he spent in Iran. He, along with the Badr, fought on the Iranian side in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and he remains close to Tehran and in particular Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite force the Al-Quds Brigade, whom he referred to as “Brother Qassem”.
General Soleimani is a bogeyman to America, for his creation of the militias that fought the American and British presence in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, at a cost of hundreds of lives.
But many Shia Iraqis have come to see him and Iran as a more reliable weapon against Isil than the western coalition." The Telegraph
"The Iraqi army, which the US has tried to build up into a viable fighting force, fled when faced with dozens of car bombs in the provincial capital of Ramadi.
Arming Sunni tribes to fight the Sunni extremists in the Islamic State terror group (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh) would likely be America's best option. But, as Aaron David Miller noted in The Wall Street Journal, this could undermine Iraq's central, Shia-dominated government and make Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi look weak to his Shia constituency.
Consequently, Baghdad has not agreed to arm Sunni tribes.
On the other hand, Shia militias backed by Iran have so far proven to be the most effective fighting force against ISIS, but many fear that they are pursuing a sectarian agenda and committing atrocities against Sunni civilians in the areas they liberate from ISIS.
Hadi al-Ameri is his name. He is the boss of the Hashed Sha'bi (popular mobilizations militias). This translates as Shi'a militias of an extreme variety. He is a Badr Brigade terrorist or ex-terrorist. He served with the Badr Brigade against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War. His only serious interest in life is the consolidation of Shia rule in what was Iraq. He is interviewed regularly on 24/7 news. He makes his contempt for the United States clear. He is now engaged in running the actual Iraqi war effort. He makes it clear that he does not take specific instructions from Abadi, the prime minister. He laughs at the idea that he is going to expend his available resources trying to re-take Sunni Arab population centers in Anbar. He makes it clear that the inhabitants of these places are not really his people. He is intent on consolidating the defenses of Baghdad and Karbala. He is particularly interested in what he calls the "Dajla (Tigris) Arm." I believe that he means the east-west highway and canal that extends from just north of Saqqlawiya to a junction with the north-south highway from Baghdad to Samarra and Mosul. This is an obvious high speed approach into the Baghdad area from IS controlled western Anbar. Evidently he understands a good bit about terrain analysis. I suppose his friends in the Quds force may have taught him that. "And which staff college did Cochise attend?" Lt Col Owen Thursday in "Fort Apache." pl
By Patrick Bahzad
Let's keep this short and sharp !
First of all, the good news is, we know now where about 3 billion US taxpayers' money has gone. In a TV interview he gave on Sunday to Iraqiya TV, Prime-Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that his security forces had lost 2 300 Humvees in the conquest of Mosul by the "Islamic State" in June 2014.
And while the PM has been rather elusive about the other equipment, weaponry and ammunition that was lost in the assault on the Northern Iraqi city, it doesn't take lots of imagination to figure out that ISIS' arsenals must have been replenished in the same way as their vehicles fleet.
Since the fall of Mosul, the US had agreed to a new sales contract for an additional batch of around 1 000 Humvees, part of which has been destroyed, or captured again, by ISIS in the fall of Ramadi, in mid-May. Not surprisingly, it is the Shia Militias (the so-called " Popular Mobilisation Units") that seem to be more and more in the driving seat, as has been forecast time and again on SST.
The current leader of the main Shia militia, Hadi al-Amiri, who's also Transportation Minister, seems to be the man in charge. In an interview he gave on the very same day Prime-Minister Abadi talked to the Iraqiya TV network, Amiri derisively qualified any statement about a soon to start counter-offensive in Ramadi as "laughable".
In the internal power-struggle between the pro-Western Abadi and the Iranian backed Amiri, it looks like the one calling the shots is not the Prime-Minister of Iraq. What seems to be at stake here is not just the strategy that is going to prevail in the fight against ISIS, but also the influence the two not so shadowy players behind their Iraqi proxies are going to have. The US had relied so far on the official Iraqi Army, supported by coalition air-power, and had advocated for tuning down the role of the Shia sectarian groups, in an effort to prevent any further antagonizing the Sunnis North and West of Baghdad.
However, according to Amiri - a long time personal friend of Iranian al-Quds leader, Qassem Soleimani - the military strategy against ISIS is now going to be based on a more gradual approach, aimed it isolating pockets of ISIS territory from each other, in order to disrupt their operational and territorial continuity, and prevent any risk of major ISIS' action against Baghdad. Only when these two priority goals are reached, could there be any discussion about retaking Ramadi and Anbar.
Not mincing his words, Amiri went as far as saying that the prime minister had already agreed to his alternate strategy “We send the key points of the operation to the prime minister, and he approved them”, Amiri said. “The prime minister is a civilian. It is not his job to lay our plans”.
Couldn't be any clearer, could it ?
The legal authority for U.S. spy agencies' collection of Americans' phone records and other data was set to expire at midnight on Sunday after the U.S. Senate failed to pass legislation extending the controversial powers.
After debate pitting Americans' distrust of intrusive government against fears of terrorist attacks, the Senate voted to move ahead with reform legislation that would replace the bulk phone records program revealed two years ago by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
But final Senate passage of the bill was delayed until at least Tuesday morning by objections from Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian Republican presidential hopeful who has fulminated against the NSA program as illegal and unconstitutional. As a result, the government's collection and search of phone records was set to terminate at midnight (0400 GMT on Monday) when provisions of a post-Sept. 11, 2001, law known as the USA Patriot Act expire. (Reuters)
Well, Rand Paul did all he could short of whipping out a roscoe and lighting up the joint. Section 215 will expire tonight and will probably be replaced by the USA Freedom Act later this week. Rand realizes both this and the probability of getting some amendments passed to tighten up the Act is slim to none. He made some good speeches (and some political points). I’m hoping he further galvanized the political and public opposition to unwarranted government surveillance. Maybe it will become more of an issue between now and November 2016.
The Administration, including Obama in his weekly address, and every surveillance hawk in the country have been stirring up the fear all week. According to them we can expect the 3rd Osama Bin Laden Shock Army to roll across our amber waving plains in a few hours and, because the NSA and FBI can’t collect bulk metadata , we are defenseless to stop them. They all disgust me.
This ain’t over. I can hear the strains of “The Rising of the Moon” in the distance.
Death to every foe and traitor, forward strike the marching tune
And hurrah, me boys, for freedom, 'tis the rising of the moon
Bernie Sanders - what's not to like about this guy? Here is a New York Jew who moved to Vermont, ran for office among the real Yankees, hippie transplants like Ben and Jerry, various tree huggers, searchers for Champ (I could do that), won a lot of elections. lost a lot of elections and is in favor of:
-Screwing the big banks
- Getting rid of "Citizens-United"
- Treating Natanyahu like the creep that he is
- Expanding Social Security
- A $15 national minimum wage
- NOT approving trade deals that export American blue collar jobs
- A single payer health system rather than the giveaway Obama care benefit to insurance companies
- Letting people pretend to be married in whatever manner they favor
- Publicly funded college for the qualified
- He is opposed to developing nuclear electric power generation
- He is a socialist? So what. What does that even mean these days?
No one has yet come forward claiming to have been buggered by him in junior high school. He appears to be happily married to the main squeeze of his preference. He is not afraid to tell the voters what his program would be while in office.
IMO Bernie Sanders is a threat to all the triangulating, hedging weasels now running for president in both parties.
Why not Bernie Sanders? pl
"And that leaves the ISF and the PMUs. Both are already overextended. Baghdad's units are currently fighting at Bayji, Hamrin, Ramadi, and dozens of other places. They will be tied up protecting Baghdad and the Shia pilgrimage routes during religious periods including Ramadan (approximately June 16-July 16), Ashura (October 22), and Arbaeen (December 2). ISF simply lacks enough operational combat brigades to handle so many operations at once, especially as ISIS opens up new fronts to deliberately drain away reinforcements and as attrition grinds down Iraqi forces yet more." WINEP
Timing is everything in war, timing, psychology and logistics.
The author of this essay correctly states that it is the ISF and Shia PMUs that are over-extended and not IS. It is the ISF and Shia PMUs that have the need to defend numerous places and activities over the next months while IS has the luxury that is provided by a lack of threat of attack on its major centers. Because of this IS can choose the time and place of attack. We are told by Patrick Bahzad that Baghdadi (Caliph Ibrahim) massed forces at Ramadi by issuing a more or less public appeal for his Amirs and brethren to go there. Remarkable. No "five paragraph field order?" Somehow I think that there were planning documents somewhere in this process.
In any event, the ISF and Shia PMUs are playing the IO game well with the few cards they have. Uncle Joe Biden professes to love them still and the foreign press is being courted in the hope that they can be persuaded (along with their masters in the West) that the Iraqi government is still master of the game.
I have the luxury with which to watch endless 24/7 and other news. Luxury? Well, perhaps that is not a luxury. What I have seen is a succession of escorted trips by Nick Paton-Walsh, Arwa Damon, etc. to Habbaniya and Beiji. There they are told how brave the ISF and PMUs truly are. They are shown fighters shooting bravely from embrasures and roofs at what is said to be IS in the distance. After a suitable interval, the ISers reply with some fire, usually said to be mortar rounds and the thirty or so Shia fighters shuffle out of the place, get into their trucks and motor off to the south, Baghdad and the comforts of home.
Once there, the foreign devil reporters (well, maybe not you, Arwa.), are questioned on air about all this and repeat the lessons they have been taught on the class trip. One increasingly detects (or imagines) doubt on their part as to what they have been shown, but indifference in the audiences has thus far shielded the IS effort from disdain.
Well, pilgrims, soldiers involved in serious fighting against serious enemies do not un-ass the position and run away because the opposition shoots at them. This is not how things are done. This behavior reinforces my belief that the ISF/PMU capture of Tikrit may have been a standard maneuver by IS to fix enemy forces and attention in one place so that one's own forces can be moved to another point (i.e., Ramadi).
And then is the matter of the method of use of armored (not armed) bulldozers at Ramadi. If I remember correctly the bulldozers were used to push obstacles to the shahiid trucks aside so that the suiciders could be on their way to paradise, rather than the bulldozers having been blown up themselves. After all, there are only so many armored bulldozers available while shuhada abound.
The media seem intent on not understanding what happens in Iraq.
The US-Iranian nuclear deal has many enemies, most notably Israel (and their volunteer/hiree US proxies) and the Saudis, who are getting bonkers about the prospect of a shifting regional balance of power in which Iran emerges as a regional power again. Both are lashing out angrily, on several fronts:
Israel has mobilised its surrogates and its more deep pocketed partisans have shifted campaign contributions to Republicans in order to punish the Democrats and disincentivise them from supporting Obama's rapprochement with Iran, while at the same time making it a partisan issue, leveraging the US partisan divide in Israel's favour.
Former IAEA nuclear inspector Robert Kelly has lined out in an interview with the Deutsche Welle how the deal with Iran contains a poison pill that can be used to delay a clean bill of health for Iran by perpetuating inspections forever:
Since dispelling any doubt about a possible military use of Irans nuclear program is a precondition for lifting the sanctions, perpetuating doubt is a way to perpetuate the sanctions.
"Robert Kelley: The IAEA is receiving external information, primarily from intelligence agencies in Israel and the United States. And they have written up ... a whole series of allegations that Iran had a nuclear weapons program prior to 2004 and it may have continued past that point. ... All those things are thrown out as accusations with very little proof or information where the allegations came from.
DW: How credible are those accusations in your eyes?
Robert Kelley: Many of these accusations I find to be quite incredible. ...
DW: ... Could those allegations be part of an effort to derail the nuclear deal with Iran?
Robert Kelley: Absolutely yes! It is a poison pill that is included in the deal. People know that the IAEA is going to be unable to reach a decision on these issues because it is beyond their capability. So when the IAEA needs to be satisfied before the sanctions are lifted, history tells you: This will not happen."
That is the very point, the idea being having the IAEA inspect ad nauseam and keep it that way by periodically throwing in new accusations (perhaps a Laptop of Doom II), which then too, must to be investigated ad nauseam to dispel any lingering doubt etc. pp. and keep the dance going, with the added hope that Iran at some point, nauseated, quits.
All is quiet on the northern front, for now, with the exception of occasional Israeli attacks against against targets of opportunity in Lebanon and Syria.
The Israelis are itching for revenge for their embarassing defeat in 2006, to 'restore deterrence', which, miraculously, wasn't restored by bombing Gaza the last time, and the time before, and the time before that or by the sack of Southern Lebanon and Beirut from the air in 2006. Puzzling!
Suggestion: Maybe the whole idea of periodically 'restoring deterrence' is BS? After all, for that periodic restoration to be necessary, deterrence needs to get lost all the time. How come? Perhaps there is something fundamentally flawed in the approach.
In the Israeli view, the reason for the dysfunction is that Israel has not achieved a decisive victory. They seek a Siegfrieden (i.e. winner-take-all), not the status quo or, it's a bit naive, I know, peace.
Israel sees Hezbollah engaged in Syria fighting with Assad against the headchopping Jihadis and may conclude that Hezbollah is overstretched. They also probably estimate that that constitutes a weakness and that if they attack Hezbollah now, they'll have an easier time than in 2006, perhaps even be supported by Jihadis from Syria, catching Hezbollah in a two front war. Given that Saudi Arabia and Israel form a de-facto alliance against Iran, the Saudis would probably be delighted to see Jihadis join that fight. Already, there are Jihadi incursions into Lebanon.
Israel would, in an attack against Lebanon, massively attack civilian infrastructure in an act of deliberate collective punishment. Their capability to do so has only increased since 2006, and even then the effects were already devastating.
Beyond that, Israel would pursue several objectives in a war in Lebanon - harming Hezbollah and getting even for 2006, helping the Syrian Jihadis against Assad (Israel already treats wounded Jabat al-Nusra fighters from Syria [to wit: Al-Qaeda, swore allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, re-branded]) and perhaps achieve his fall, and aggravate Iran so much as to scuttle the deal.
To be able to aim at all that in one go is for Israel a strong incentive for war in Lebanon. For the Netanyahoo - what's not to like?
Trita Parsi and Paul Pillar have recently published an OpEd in which they line out how Israel in pursuit of a game changer might this summer attack Lebanon.
"There are signs Israel may be at war again this summer. This time, not with Hamas in Gaza but with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Such a war may be the result not only of spillover from the Syrian war or ongoing Israeli-Hezbollah tensions. The deciding factor may be an Israeli calculation that war will shift momentum in the U.S. Congress decisively against the pending nuclear deal with Iran -- a deal that critics say will increase Iran's maneuverability in the region, including its support for Hezbollah."
They are probably right. I think that Israel, led by the Netanyahoo, is absolutely capable of such a violent tantrum, which would likely plunge Lebanon into a second civil war (made worse with Jihadis joining the fray from Syria ... so many more apostates to behead). In doing so, Bibi would get a whole lot more killed than just the Iran deal.
One would suppose that what the region right now needs is stability, but the Israelis appear to not think so. Pat's suggestion that Israel's goal appears to be the pauperisation of its neighbours seems disturbingly accurate.
Indeed, with Syria ruled by Jihadis, the Israelis would probably in their inimical way claim that they now (finally) must annex the Golan, for security reasons - after all, in the Jihadis they 'don't have a partner for peace', and while at it, why not take the entire West-Bank too, for security reasons, as an indispensable buffer zone against the Jihadi threat (that they helped create, but why bother).
The Saudis are right now at Peak Paranoid about all things Shia and have convinced themselves that Shia are under every stone, and that they must roll back what in their fertile imagination amounts to a global Shia threat- the Shia Crescend.
There is the Shia minority in Saudi-Arabia proper (~15%, probably under-reported, and treated as second class citizens and potential 5th columnists), there is Iran (~89% of the population being at least nominally Shia), there is Iraq or what's left of it (Shia make up ~70% of the population), there is Yemen (Shia there are ~45% of the population, and never mind they are 5ers), Syria (allied with Iran, and worse, ruled by also apostate Alawites, so, all the same) and even Lebanon (where Shia make up ~27% of the population, also probably under-reported).
I'd like to point out that the Shia live there for a very long time, so their presence shouldn't come as a surprise. And yet, to the Saudis the Shia, once empowered, are a threat, and are all surrogates of Tehran, hear each other think, and have no will or interests of their own.
Apparently to Saudi thinking a Shia is what a Jew was/is to a Nazi, and is being treated with Nurembergish laws, the occasional pogrom and regarded in fear of a Shia World Conspiracy. Given that Saudi attitudes about Shia as apostates and not much better than dogs are obviously informed by religious bigotry, this now officially extends to their foreign policy.
In Yemen the Saudis appear to be content with strangling the Yemenis while bombing them at will with impunity ant try not to go there since a ground war is too costly (and that Pakistani Corps is staying home). The Houthis are apparently quite a handful to deal with Mano-a-Mano and merrily warlike, and the Saudis are not.
In the meanwhile, the UN is reporting that a large scale humanitarian crisis is imminent because of the blockade's effect on food supplies, meaning that widespread hunger is imminent since Yemen must import about 70% of the food it needs. The US aid the blockade and are silent.
Saudi and Turkish support for Jihadi groups appears to bear fruit and there have been gains against the Syrian government by the almost completely foreign sponsored opposition.
Under the Nicaragua precedent the support of insurgents in other nations is a violation of national sovereignty and the mandate of non-interference in internal matters of the targeted country. That is so even when one invokes R2P as an extraordinary justification (i.e. legalising conduct otherwise illegal) to intervene anyway (which, notably, the Turks and Saudis don't do).
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are for all practical purposes at war with Syria and support opponents of the Syrian government with supply, intelligence and training in violation of international law. Washington, having been supportive of regime change and the overthrow of Assad from the onset, is more or less silent even as it observes with increasing unease the rise of the Jihadi elements that Turkish and Saudi support is empowering. Not that that slowed the Turks or Saudis down.
I observe that these days we're back to the Cabinet Wars of old (pre-1914), in which countries, after more or less thorough deliberation, decide in national cabinets to go to war, just as if it still was the prerogative of monarchs.
Another curious parallel is that Washington ever since Clinton has increasingly pursued a 'Politik der freien Hand' - emphasising 'Freedom of Action', in which 'all options' are always 'on the table' - much like Wilhelm II abandoning the system of alliances and restraints forged by Bismarck to protect Germany from disastrous two-front wars. It didn't serve Germany well.
Today's Cabinet Wars are being waged in violation of the prohibition of war and in violation of national sovereignty, as if war was still, or is again, a normal tool of statecraft. No more, but - who cares? In my impression it was primarily unbound US conduct and precedent since the Clinton years, much exacerbated by Bush 43 and his troupe, that has legitimated such behaviour by states, which had the predictable destabilising effect.
In a sense, I miss the old days in which nations at least had the courtesy to formally declare war. That was in many ways more honest, if just as dumb. O tempora, o mores!
By Patrick Bahzad
Yesterday, the Iraqi government announced its coming offensive not just on Ramadi, but on the entire Anbar province. To be more precise, it was a Shia militias spokesman who made that announcement even prior to the government. One can only wonder at the ambition of such an enterprise and the disaster that would be a ground operation spearheaded by sectarian troops with a bad reputation and a number of alleged war crimes under their belt. Launching Shia militias into the heartland of Sunni Iraq, under a codename ("Labayka ya Hussein") that can only be resented by many Sunnis in Ramadi, Fallujah and elsewhere in Anbar, doesn't bear the hallmarks of a sound strategy. Is it a sign of desperation within the Iraqi government, an impulse reaction against harsh American criticism or the realization that of all government troops available, the Shia militias are the only ones with the will and the "guts" to take the fight to the enemy ? Time will tell, but if this is more than a PR-stunt and if there is indeed an actual military effort at taking back large areas under ISIS control, the most likely scenario is one of massive bloodshed, destruction and chaos.
The question that also needs to be asked is how the "Islamic State" is going to react to the government’s preparations. It can probably stomach a defensive fight in Ramadi, even a tactical retreat out of the city, but it can't let the Shia groups take away the initiative and drive back the Caliphate's armies into Iraq's Western desert. Basically, all bets are on as to what might happen next. First reports are already trickling in about a number of suicide attacks by ISIS "Martyrs" against the pro-government forces preparing for battle in the North and East of Ramadi. The writing is on the wall: ISIS won't probably give up Ramadi the way it did Tikrit and the Shia militias have to brace themselves for a tough fight in the days to come.
Be that as it may, the purpose of this piece is not to analyze tactical scenarios for possible developments on the ground, but rather to study a few cases of ISIS operations that are not strictly military, and focus instead on another of the organization’s tactics, as a follow-up to last week's piece about the Caliphate's ground troops. The aim is to give the reader an insight into one of ISIS most potent weapons, one that has a direct bearing on the outcome of a battle, but one that remains mostly in the shadows, only to be seen by its results and effects.
In fact, ISIS' strategy for winning over cities like Ramadi earlier this month, or Mosul last year, is based a lot on what happens in the weeks and months before the actual military attack. This "intelligence war" that ISIS has mastered much more than combined arms in the conventional sense is interesting as so far as it could give a few pointers regarding how the organization might try to react to the government’s offensive that is supposed to start soon.
The use of "sleeper cells" in Ramadi
Infiltration of potential target areas by ISIS members has proven a very powerful tool in the organization’s arsenal. In the conquest of Ramadi in particular, "sleeper cells" have been blamed by Iraqi officials for the chaos and confusion they created among government troops, through disseminating false information and spreading fear. While not entirely false, the role of so called "sleeper cells"doesn’t explain the rout of Iraqi troops by a force much smaller in numbers.
ISIS can't mobilize and built-up large ground forces prior to an offensive: any suspicious gathering of vehicles or troops outside of a major city would immediately be detected and endanger the whole operation, as the attacking force would likely be targeted by coalition airstrikes. The Caliphate doesn't have the manpower to sustain a campaign of that nature, even though the casualty rate suffered from air attacks doesn't seem to have harmed IS' overall capabilities so far.
What many describe as "sleeper cells" is actually a modular system, combining various types of agents who are being infiltrated into an area of interest. Whether these operatives start collecting information and intelligence in advance, or whether they are activated in the last days or hours before an attack, depends on the situation. They may remain "dormant" for longer periods, like in Baghdad for example, which could hold as many as 2 000 ISIS operatives already.
(Irony Alert) Psaki actually looks better this way. She was on the tube this AM reciting her talking points over and over. Her eyes appeared filled with fear at the prospect of being considered the "Baghdad Barbara" of the now and present debacle in Iraq. Well, she is right. A number of the "little people" like her will be sacrificed in a grand auto da fe, while the bigger wigs escape to re-infiltrate the policy/media Borg. Jeb Bush's campaign is full of such people, the detritus of earlier "waves" of Borgian thought and efforts, "mushroom shaped cloud," etc.
Last evening PBS broadcast a special show designed to sell the idea that Obama's feckless behavior will be altogether responsible for Syria's eventual descent into amirates for IS and maybe Nusra if they don't all swear their allegiance to IS. According to this production, there was a magic moment at which the secular, blessed Syrian revolutionaries could easily have been sponsored with a modicum of US effort for an easily triumphant victory over the Syrian government, but, no, according to Frontline the best efforts of R2Pers like Ambassador Robert Ford to inspire resistance to Assad were brought to naught by Obama's foolish resistance to ideas of actual revolution. Ideas based based on outmoded notions of state sovereignty and international law. No UN resolution to go to war was available because of the dastardly Russians, Chinese and Ugh! Iranians. Who do they think they are, actual countries? The speakers in the program were stacked in favor of actual members of the Syrian resistance, like Jouehati and other fellow traveling Borgites. When we got to the great Sarin caper, the program never bothered to mention that the UN, Sy Hersh and many others believe that this attack was part of the larger Borg Information Operations plan. the only two people with any sense or objectivity on the show were Colonel Bacevich and Joshua Landis.
In Iraq, IS yesterday attacked an outpost of the Ya Hussein crowd near Fallujah. Three car bombs attacked simultaneously from three directions, crossing the rivers on their last journey and sending somewhere between 17 and 30 Ya Husseiners on theirs. I don't know how many Death Before Everything people took Ramadi from the fleeing. I hear anything from 123 to several thousand, but this latest attack should point to the simple fact that the north shore of the Euphrates is wide open and there are a number of bridges. Do you want me to draw you a diagram?
Someone has now pointed out that it took the USMC a long time to capture Ramadi and that the Ya Husseiners are not US Marines. It looks to me that Anbar is gone. pl
"Bloomberg reporter Josh Rogin breathlessly tells us that the reason the United States Government cannot prove its allegations of direct Russian involvement of its troops in Ukraine in the form of dead Russian soldiers is because the Russian Government has deployed mobile crematoriums in the Donbass region to get rid of the bodies. Rogins evidence are statements from Two American politicians:
“The Russians are trying to hide their casualties by taking mobile crematoriums with them,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry told me. “They are trying to hide not only from the world but from the Russian people their involvement.”
Thornberry said he had seen evidence of the crematoriums from both U.S. and Ukrainian sources. He said he could not disclose details of classified information, but insisted that he believed the reports. “What we have heard from the Ukrainians, they are largely supported by U.S. intelligence and others,” he said.
Representative Seth Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer and a Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, was with Thornberry on the Ukraine trip in late March. He tweeted about the mobile crematoriums at the time, but didn’t reveal his sources. He told me this week the information didn’t come just from Ukrainian officials, whose record of providing war intelligence to U.S. lawmakers isn’t stellar."
Personally, this makes me want to cry. Exactly how gullible does the American Government think its citizens are? Do I need to remind anyone of the ongoing consequences of believing Saddam Hussien had, among other things, "mobile weapons labs"?
Does anyone not yet understand the concept of negative evidence: " The Russians MUST be fighting in Ukraine and if we can't find their dead bodies then they are cremating them on site!".
I had a quick look on the web for evidence of such machinery and by coincidence I found a very badly photoshopped video of an alleged Russian mobile crematorium dating from September last year. The source appears to be a Belorussian website: by24.org.
Sunday evening, I was both moved and angered by the Lockheed-Martin Production of the National Memorial Day Concert. Prominently among the dignitaries sat Colin Powell as an honored guest and pontificator. The show was broadcast on Sunday evening prime time, not even on Memorial Day itself. Sadly, it had the tone of an infomercial. http://video.pbs.org/video/2365477756/
The musical interludes of the show were interspersed with segments showing the heroic actions of veterans who are striving to overcome the wounds exacted on them by the lies of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell and their sycophants. While it is quite important for all of us to recognize and be aware of the sacrifices given, the vignettes of the wounded and lost screamed to evoke pity and had the cheap tone of a picture of a thin, crying child in a feed-the-poor-starving children ad. The production included subtle and heavy advertising for its commercial sponsors glorifying the war machine. The whole production had a lack of seriousness of tone that substituted an understanding of the gravity and tragedy of war for rosy patriotic feel-good.
How the producers of the “celebration” could sit one of the authors of their injuries, Colin Powell, there on national television as a featured presenter is an act as cynical and corrupt as can be imagined. http://video.pbs.org/video/2365478624/
Powell did not apologize for his participation in the lies that killed so many.
After watching the show, I felt I had participated in a cheap, dishonorable experience. A requiem would have been more appropriate.
On Memorial Day, I always think about a military casualty in my family, my first cousin Larry, a year older than I. In 1967, instead of going on to college, Larry enlisted in the Navy. Larry served continuously until June 1995 when he died of mesothelioma on active duty sick leave with the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. Larry served his career in the asbestos filled bowels of numerous engine rooms. His last posting was at Guantanamo where he instructed new sailors on how to run a ship’s engines. He loved his time in the Navy. Larry gave his all to the country, including loss of his family and contact with his child in a divorce due to long separations on cruises and his life cut short.
Every Memorial Days, we should also remember those who did not die in battle or as a result of battle, but who died because of the industrial hazards of running a military. They served as assigned and did their jobs loyally, without any glory. We must honor them.
On this day, not only should we celebrate the gift from those who served, we should also seek repentance as a nation for the mistakes made that we, as a People, allowed and encouraged. We should repent for allowing asbestos and other carcinogenic substances, burn pits, and radioactive ammunition to imperil our service members because of budgetary restraints. We should repent for assigning terrible officers like the Lt. Colonel of the “B” 2/5 Cavalry at Ap Bu Nho described in Col. Lang's post yesterday.
Most of all, at this moment in our history, we as a nation should repent for the Iraq invasion, a war based in knowing deception and national hubris. We should not let the Lockheed-Martins of the world engulf us in a false patriotism that omits the moral culpability of our actions abroad.
The Iraq invasion was no intelligence failure. Instead, known fake intelligence was used to deceive the American People to believe that they were mortally threatened when they were not and to believe they were attacking a regime responsible for 9-11 when they were not.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/text-of-president-bushs-speech-07-10-2002/ http://web.archive.org/web/20060514140012/http://www.house.gov/reform/min/pdfs_108_2/pdfs_inves/pdf_admin_iraq_on_the_record_rep.pdf http://antiwar.com/blog/2013/03/18/911-and-iraq-the-wars-greatest-lie/ http://themoderatevoice.com/121921/ten-years-later-belief-in-iraq-connection-with-911-attack-persists/
The consequences flowing from these lies and our national failure to discern that our leaders were liars in time to stop their perfidy has had, and will continue to have, terrible consequences. Until We the People can come to grips with our failures in Iraq, we cannot begin to correct the errors of our belief in our exceptionalism. That belief will destroy US if we do not moderate it.
Instead of sitting as an honored guest last night, Colin Powel should be sitting in ashes and sackcloth before the alter of some church in repentance for the evil he has brought into the world by his knowing participation in the greatest lie ever perpetrated on the American People. Powell, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and the others should be shunned and dishonored until they acknowledge and repent of their crimes against the nation and the world. Yet, those and many others who acted in concert with them still are not brought to any accountability for their actions that have harmed so many. It is like the infomercial for US last night, we enjoy the pomp of the cynically choreographed ceremony on the Capitol steps and steadfastly ignore the circumstance of the disaster that is Iraq. Until we, here in the U.S., can stand as a nation knowing and admitting our moral failure, we cannot fix the problem. Repentance is central to redemption.
As a part of our Memorial Day celebrations, we should add a ceremony of national repentance for the damage we, the American People, have allowed to be inflicted upon millions in this New American Century so that we do not commit the same crimes again.
(The police fort at Latrun where the tiny Arab Legion stopped the Palmach in 1948)
"Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Iraqi forces "showed no will to fight" as the Islamic State militant group captured the city of Ramadi, and he rejected calls by Republican lawmakers to commit ground troops to the conflict.
"What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," Carter said in a CNN interview that aired Sunday. "They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves."" Washpost
It is unfortunate that one must mention the ongoing debacle in Syria and Iraq on this day in which we remember the brave.
Secretary Carter correctly rebuked the Iraqis for their lack of determination at Ramadi. As he says the Iraqi military and police forces outnumbered the attacking IS forces by 10 to 1 and were much more heavily armed and yet they still ran away as fast as their US provided ground vehicles and aircraft would carry them. How many Iraqi citizens have since been killed at Ramadi by IS as a consequence of this cowardice?
The excuse provided by apologists for this Iraqi behavior is that the US did not bring down a ring of fire from the air so that the IS nasties would not have to be fought on the ground.
This is the Great Arabian Dream Machine at its best. The GADM has been around a long time. I remember that in the Israeli War of Independence it was widely said that John Glubb had betrayed the Arab cause and that this is why Israel came into being. In fact, if it had not been for the small Jordanian Army of that time, the Arabs would have lost ALL of Palestine. I have been repeatedly told by Arabs that America supplies the Israelis with equipment that is invulnerable to hostile fire and that this is why Arab armies have repeatedly been defeated by the Izzies. I have been told that in 1967 it was American tank crews who defeated the Egyptian Army. The number and baleful effect of such self deceptions seems endless.
In this case, the Iraq forces did not have as much air support as they would have wanted. I think it is fair to point to the total lack of air support available to the much smaller IS force.
Carter is not "free lancing" in making critical statements about the Iraq forces. He is not, in Ollie North's memorable phrase, "a loose cannon on the gun deck of the ship of state." The Obama Administration is considering its options about Iraq.
Those who pay attention to such things in the US know that the plaintive appeals of the neocons (McCain, Graham, Pletka, Keane, AEI, the ISofW, etc.) for just a few thousand more advisers, etc., are really a ploy to seek full re-engagement in the anti-jihadi war, a re-engagement of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and trillions more of our money.
This will not happen. pl
“For 14 hours yesterday, I was at work-teaching Christ to lift his cross by the numbers, and how to adjust his crown; and not to imagine he thirst until after the last halt. I attended his Supper to see that there were no complaints; and inspected his feet that they should be worthy of the nails. I see to it that he is dumb, and stands mute before his accusers. With a piece of silver I buy him every day, and with maps I make him familiar with the topography of Golgotha."
Captain Wilfred Owen, The Manchesters
Killed in Action, 4 November, 1918
First published in "America" magazine in May, 2006.
Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, New York March 22, 2014
My wife’s father passed away after a long battle with dementia. His life was no picnic. Nor was it a tragedy. He worked hard his entire life only to be let go just before he was able to retire. It was a classic case of age discrimination. He kept working at other jobs until he was seventy. Both his wife and his only son died years ago. Like us all, he was a sinner and a child of God. His daughter cared for him from our home in Virginia. It was practically a full time job.
He enlisted in the Army at the tail end of WW II, serving in the Army of Occupation in Japan and in Korea prior to that little dust up. Returning home, he began a career in the New York Army National Guard. He served in a tank battalion in Troy and ended his career in a Special Forces unit in Schenectady as a sergeant first class. He was always proud of his service.
He had a simple funeral mass at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Halfmoon, New York. Before leaving the church, the religious vestment was removed from his casket and replaced by an American flag. We arranged for military honors to be rendered at his burial because we thought he would appreciate it. We expected this to be two American Legion members who would render the honors to the best of their abilities with a recording of taps. We placed his flag draped casket in the hearse and followed it across the still frozen Mohawk River and the already thawed Hudson. We made our way through the weathered streets of North Troy and to the ancient Oakwood Cemetery. The morning snow flurries had stopped with no accumulation. It was still overcast and the wind was bitterly cold. We were grateful the dreaded wintery mix did not materialize.
We turned off the paved road through the park like cemetery onto an icy, muddy gravel path to the family plot. As the hearse approached the burial site, we were shocked to see a full Army burial detail in their service blue uniforms and service caps. I heard some of my wife’s relatives wonder who were these soldiers. Were they cadets from the nearby La Salle Institute? My reply was, “No, these are regulars.” Two young sergeants and and an even younger PFC bugler stood at attention at the crest of a slight knoll to our right. The casket team removed the casket from the hearse and made their way to the grave site. The deacon from Saint Mary’s Church led the small gathering of relatives, neighbors and my wife’s friends in a short interment service and final prayer.
The icy wind calmed into a cold breeze and the sun made a valiant effort to brighten the scene. From the crest of the knoll, three volleys of rifle fire rang out. The lone bugler played Taps. She performed admirably in spite of the cold air. The detail began folding the flag precisely and slowly. The reverence and devotion to duty were plainly visible in the young soldiers’ actions and faces. The slow, solemn salutes as the folded flag was passed to the young NCOIC of the honor detail caused me to think of all those who had fought and served under that flag. My wife took a few steps forward herself to spare the NCOIC those steps over the muddy, icy slope in his dress shoes. That’s the way she is… always thinking of others. The young sergeant approached my wife, bowed forward and began those familiar words.
“On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army and a grateful nation…”
All the emotions I was feeling welled up as I heard those words. A tear came to my eye. Bless those young soldiers giving their all on this Saturday afternoon. Bless my father-in-law. Bless all those who have served and died, as well as those still serving and living. What a brotherhood!
General George Henry Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga, is buried close by in the family plot of his Lansingburgh, New York born wife. General Thomas was born and raised a Virginian, but found it necessary, by personal conscience and honor, to remain in the Union Army. Sergeant Rice Cook Bull, a soldier of the 123rd New York Infantry, who served under General Thomas and wrote of his experiences in the book, Soldiering, also lies nearby. These two old soldiers would recognize the oh so very young soldiers of the burial detail dressed in blue as brothers. They certainly recognized the three volleys of rifle fire and the melancholy playing of Taps.
“And forever, brother, hail and farewell.” The words in the title of this post belong to Catullus, written in tribute to his brother, who was buried far from home near the ancient city of Troy. Catullus talks of the sad tribute of the burial rights in the ancient custom of ancestors.
Thank God for those ancient customs of our ancestors.
"The Twisted Genius" (TTG) is the pen name of another retired officer who writes on SST as a guest author. pl
"Garryowen in Glory, the 5th Cavalry Regiment at Ap Bu Nho
By a quirk of fate, “B” 2/5 Cavalry, was given the chance to demonstrate the plausibility of Spinoza’s despair several weeks later. A Montagnard agent reported that the 141st NVA Regiment was temporarily in position just to the west of the Montagnard resettlement village of Ap (village) Bu Nho about 20 kilometers southwest of Song Be. This village, like several others in Phuoc Long province, had been created in the course of earlier years of war and migration throughout Indochina. It was perfectly rectangular, three streets wide and five hundred feet long with the long axis running east-west, with a dirt road extending to the tar two lane road connecting Song Be with the south. The Song Be River passed north-south to the west of the village. There was a roughly circular patch of woods just northwest of the village. The wood was about one kilometer in diameter. The river ran along the west side of the wood. On the eastern side of the wood, there was a large open “field” covered with grass nearly hip high. The field extended along the whole northern side of the village out to the tar road and beyond. The inhabitants were three or four hundred in number, living in tribal style in long houses and other small flimsily built shacks. They had originally lived in the area of CampRoland in the northeastern corner of PhuocLongProvince, and had moved or been moved to this site during the First Indochina War. They were S’tiengan people. The agent was one of them and lived in Bu Nho.
I drove to Landing Zone “Buttons” with this information to visit the command post of the Second Battalion, Fifth Cavalry, then operating out of the landing zone. In the underground facility, I talked to the S-2 (Intelligence Staff Officer) of the battalion. I had been providing this officer with information for some time. An example had been the information that led to the BDA mission mentioned above. While we two intelligence officers were discussing the report, the lieutenant colonel commanding 2/5 Cav entered the command post. He was new, having arrived in country within the previous month, and having joined the battalion the week before. In his late thirties, blond, and in his new found dignity, he had a “lean and hungry look.” The S-2 introduced me to him, told him how valuable the detachment’s information had been in the past. The Bn. CO seemed to have a hard time understanding who I was. In talking to me he seemed to be more interested in “showing off” for his operations staff who had followed him into the bunker than in listening. The idea of an intelligence officer resident in the province who had brought him information seemed more than he could handle. After a few minutes, he tired of the whole thing, and asked to be shown on the map. After a glance, he asked the S-3, another superior being and soi-disant tactical virtuoso, what “B” Company was doing the next day. The major said that “B” was in LZ “Buttons” resting and refitting. The CO casually said “Well, put’em in there at first light.” His finger indicated the big, grassy clearing in the angle between Bu Nho and the round woods to the west. The S-2 looked at me, opened his mouth and then said nothing.
I thought What the hell! I don’t work for this man.. “Colonel,” I began, “there is at least a battalion of the 141st NVA Regiment in that wood. They are the best troops in the 7th NVA Division, which is the best in their army. They have been in that wood for at least two weeks. They will be ready.” The CO was irritated. “That’s all right, Captain,” he said. “You are really a captain, aren’t you? We’ll take it from here. Most of these reports are untrue. Why, when I was here as an adviser in the Delta, none of the stuff we got from you people was true.” So, the man didn’t believe the report and was just looking for something for “B” Company to do. This was a delicate situation. “I must protest, sir,” I began. “I would be negligent...” “That will be all!” the CO barked. “Good Day!” The sycophants on the staff bristled in the hope that their master would recognize them as the good dogs they were.
I drove back to Song Be and called my higher headquarters to tell them that a disaster was about to occur. The foreseeable reply from 525th MIG in Saigon was that they would not attempt to interfere with the exercise of command by a line officer in command of troops in the field. I then asked for a helicopter to come to Song Be to be at my disposal the next day. This was agreed. The “Huey” showed up early and I was sitting in the thing at 3,000 feet listening to the 1st Cavalry Division when the fire preparation of Ap Bu Nho commenced.
“They will not grow old, as we who are left grow old,
Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the mornings,
We shall remember them..”
A.E. Housman - inscribed in Washington Arch at VMI
First, there was a lot of fire from corps heavy artillery batteries, including the one at Victor 241 airfield. Then, there were Tacair fighter strikes with bombs and rockets, then there was a massive fire preparation by armed helicopters, of which the 1st Cavalry Division had many. The bombs, shells, and rockets searched the round wood and the big, grassy field. While the armed helicopters were still working on the patch of forest, the twenty odd “Huey Slicks”, (transports unarmed except for a machine gun on each side), swooped onto the scene from the east, having picked up “B” Company at LZ “Buttons.” Throughout the preparation, there had not been a shot fired from the area under bombardment. I could hear the Cavalry Division talking about it on the air. Their opinion was that this would be a “cold” LZ, and that the enemy were not present. With mixed feelings, I watched the assault unfold. The landing was in two columns of helicopters, which were perhaps fifty yards apart. There were about ten helicopters in each column. The cavalry troops scrambled out and headed for the round wood.
The 141st NVA Infantry Regiment had held its fire throughout the preparatory bombardment, a remarkable display of fire discipline. Now, as the helicopters lifted in unison, they opened fire in a roaring, ripping demonstration of just how much firepower a well trained and disciplined light infantry force can possess. Four “Slicks” were shot down on the LZ. All four exploded. It was not likely that anyone lived. The fire balls killed a number of “B” Company men nearby. Several more helicopters were badly damaged and departed smoking. The NVA had organized the defense of the wood in such a way that interlocking bands of machine gun fire from log and earth bunkers cris-crossed out in the field. The guns appeared to have been laid so that the fire was about two to three feet above the ground. The inevitable dips in the ground (dead space) were filled with the fires of mortars shooting from positions behind the bunker line. A general in the War Between the States remarked on a similar occasion that “not even a chicken could live under that fire.” It was thus. The NVA were all in the round wood. The bunkers themselves, as later inspected, were solid with two layers of hardwood logs separated by a foot of packed earth and with another layer of earth on top. They had firing embrasures six inches high, were sited for mutual support and were staggered in depth. “B” Company 2/5 Cavalry was “dead meat” out in that field in the bright sunlight. They could not move forward and to move back meant rising which was certain death.
The fighters and armed helicopters returned to repeatedly bomb and rocket the woods. Corps artillery joined in whenever the aircraft left off.. It did not help. 12.7 mm heavy machine guns and RPG-7 teams engaged the aircraft from within the NVA position. The iron grip of the 141st NVA held “B” Company fast. Everyone was pinned flat on the LZ, face to the dirt.
Additional Cavalry troops began to be inserted into the fight. The rest of 2/5 Cav landed to the east of “B” Company, 1/5 Cav landed north of the round wood, and 2/12 Cav landed to the west of the Song Be river, west of the round wood. All these insertions were by helicopter. What they discovered, as they closed on the wood, was that the 141st had organized the position for a 360 degree, all around defense. The fire and bunkers were just as solid on the other sides as on the east. The position was so large and so well put together that it may well have contained the whole 141st Regiment. The reinforcements got nowhere. The only difference between their situations and that of “B” Company was that they were not pinned down at close quarters. All of these units took substantial losses in this fight.
Wounded from “B” Company crawled toward the eastern side of the clearing, toward the earthen “dike” that carried the main north-south road. They could be seen with the naked eye from the air. As some got across the road, Med-evac helicopters (Dustoffs) began landing in the fire shadow of the road to pick them up. The warrant officer flying the 525th MIG “Huey” told me he intended to land to pick up wounded. Altogether, the strange helicopter with the blue boomerang insignia on the tail boom, made four trips from LZ “Buttons” to Ap Bu Nho carrying 2/5 Cav’s wounded. After a while, the floor of the bird was slippery, and everyone in back was busy trying to keep some of them alive long enough to deliver them to the medics. The helicopter took a number of hits.
About four in the afternoon, the CO of 2/5 Cav made a fatal error. He requested a napalm strike on the round wood. December was the height of the dry season, and the wind was blowing steadily from the west. This could be seen by the direction that smoke was drifting across the battlefield. The napalm strike went in, delivered by two F-4s. It may have done some damage to the NVA, but what it did for certain was to light a grass fire that swept toward the east, toward “B” Company. The Company now faced an ancient dilemma. My great-grandfather had spoken of having faced the same problem in the Wilderness in 1864. The choice was to lie prone and burn or stand and be shot. According to the medics, most preferred to be shot. In the course of this process, “B” Company’s commander, a young captain, who happened to be a Citadel man, decided he had had enough. With his pockets full of grenades, he crawled as close as possible to the nearest machine gun bunker, and with half a dozen of his men firing in support he rushed the bunker throwing grenades, jumped down into the position and killed all within with his pistol. With this crack in the enemy position, “B” Company moved forward behind him and by nightfall had broken the outer defense perimeter of the 141st. They held half a dozen bunkers. The sun went down. The fight ended. All night long the Cavalry Division moved forces into the area to finish the 141st the next morning.
“Good! Whenever you find a real bastard, especially a dumb bastard
make sure you stake’em down, through the heart, through the heart!”
LTC (Ret.) Walter P. Lang to his son, June, 1969
“It is not a mercy to tolerate incompetence in officers, think of the poor men..”
Robert E. Lee, thinking of Bristoe Station
In the morning, the enemy had gone, departed, taking their dead and wounded with them. They had slipped out through some gap in the surrounding lines and simply vanished. “B” Company was extracted and mustered at LZ “Buttons” that afternoon. There were 12 men in the ranks. 52 killed and over 70 wounded was the “Butcher’s Bill” at Ap Bu Nho. This may have been the worst single day’s bloodletting in the Fifth Cavalry since their suicidal charge at Gaines Mill in the Peninsula in 1862. There too, they had been commanded by a fool. At the muster, the company commander, who was unscathed, stood dry eyed before his remnant while strong men wept, among them, me. I asked the battalion commander and the S-3 how they spelled their names and left. I would have happily killed them both with my own hand, and they seemed to know that.
I sent a report of the action disguised as an intelligence report on the performance of the 141st. It went to every echelon of command above 2/5 Cavalry. Under investigation by division headquarters, the lieutenant colonel later claimed that the agent’s report had been a “provocation” intended to lure him into an ambush. The Division commander was not deceived. 525th MIG saw through my subterfuge and I was admonished for responding to the Operations side’s attempt to scapegoat Intelligence for its own failure. This was the first instance in which I saw this syndrome of the leadership of the intelligence community. I continued to see it for the rest of my government career. The battalion CO and the S-3 were relieved for cause a few days later. In later life, I treasured the belief that my report had contributed to their removal." from the memoir of W. Patrick Lang
Adam L. Silverman
The USA Freedom Act, the slightly less invasive alternative to the USA PATRIOT Act, quietly failed in a late night vote yesterday in the Senate. The vote was 57 for and 42 against. Wait, what????
WARNING, WARNING - the following explanation on Senate procedure is largely for the non-American readers of SST who are not familiar with the strange arcana of the World's Greatest Deliberative Country Club er, um Body. Or for those readers who get all their news on American politics from Cable news. Here's what really happened late last night. The USA Freedom Act was not actually up for a vote to see if it passed as a piece of legislation - that only requires 51 senators to vote in favor of the pending legislation. Rather the vote late last night was a vote for cloture, which is a vote to cut of debate and proceed to the actual vote on the legislation. As a result of the manipulation of the Senate's internal rules beginning in the late 1990s for partisan gain* all legislation is now subject to a formal vote**, unless otherwise waived (through pre agreement between the Majority and Minority leaders) or through unanimous verbal consent to end debate. This formal vote to end debate, known as cloture, requires 60 votes in favor to proceed to the question. The question is the actual vote on the legislation. So while everything the Senate votes on only requires a simple majority of 51 votes to pass, with the exception of treaties, veto overrides, and to convict the accused in a Federal impeachment, cloture votes require a 2/3 majority (these last three are all Constitutional requirements). So while the news reporting will indicate, as Wired's reporting does that "Senate lawmakers voted 57-42 against the USA Freedom Act", that is not actual true or accurate. What really happened is only 57 senators voted in favor of ending debate and moving to the question, which is actually voting on the bill. Based on the cloture vote numbers there would have been enough Senatorial support for achieving the simple majority to pass the USA Freedom Act if the Senate actually got to the actual vote on the legislation, which it didn't. What it did late last night was vote on whether or not to vote on the actual bill. So when you read that the Senate voted against something 55-45 or 53 to 47 or what have you, 99% of the time you're actually reading reporting about a cloture vote, not a vote on the actual legislation. Sometimes you'll see this reported as the failure to break a filibuster, which is also wrong. These aren't filibusters and, in fact, no on has mounted an actual, real, honest to goodness filibuster in a long time in the US Senate. The result of all this is that even when a piece of legislation has majority support in the Senate it often fails to come up for an actual vote because the internal Senate rules have been manipulated to make everything a 2/3 majority vote before proceeding to an actual vote. To quote Mr. Pierce at Esquire: "This is your democracy America, cherish it".
* The original manipulation in the 1990s was to use the 2/3 cloture votes to prevent President Clinton's Federal Judicial Appointments to come up for a floor vote on their nominations, especially for the Federal Courts of Appeal. This began shortly after his impeachment fell apart in the Senate. The GOP caucus in the Senate effectively held up significant number of nominations, which left large vacancies for the next President, who they hoped would be a Republican, to fill. Their tactics paid off when President Bush took office in JAN 2001 and began to quickly nominate individuals to fill those vacant positions. When the Senatorial Democrats then tried to use the same tactic, they were immediately castigated by the GOP and branded in the media as obstructionists that wouldn't move on from how the 2000 election turned out.
** This doesn't include other things that impede passage of legislation or the consideration of nominees. These include single member holds - both open (as in we know which Senator has placed the hold on pending legislation or nomination) or closed (the Senator has asked the leadership for anonymity) and the blue slip process for nominees - where the committee chair will not accept a nominee for committee consideration if both of the Senators from that nominees home state do not concur with the nomination.
"A month-long conference on the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ended in failure on Friday over disagreements on how to achieve a Middle East atomic weapons ban. Washington blamed the failure on Egypt, which in turn blamed the U.S., British and Canadian delegations.
Netanyahu conveyed his gratitude to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in a call to Kerry, said a senior Israeli official, requesting anonymity.
"The United States kept its commitment to Israel by preventing a Middle East resolution that would single out Israel and ignore its security interests and the threats posed to it by an increasingly turbulent Middle East," the official said."
Israel also thanked Britain and Canada for joining the United States in blocking consensus, the official said. Reuters
Of course they thank us. We (including you Canadians) are once again doing their bidding as we have in so much else. pl
Over the months when IS was first showing its oats in Mosul more than a year ago, this Committee of Correspondence had a lively discussion over the participation of the Anbar tribes as supporters of IS. Some focused on the leaders of the tribes, one of whom was Ali Hatem al-Suleiman, head of the Dulaim Tribe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Hatem_al-Suleiman
IBT reports that just before the takeover of Ramadi, the leaders of the Anbar tribes arranged for the arrival of a large supply of weapons for IS. The Anbar tribes are now voting for IS with their means and men. The evidence is that IS has a strong contingent of local tribal support who want to have control of their own domain, free of the Shia. http://www.ibtimes.com/sunni-tribesmen-helped-isis-take-control-ramadi-leaders-say-1934441
Observers can easily conclude the reality is that IS has been birthed as a new, nationalist country. If so, should it be treated as a state and not as a non-state actor terrorist group? IS apparently has substantial loyalty and support from the inhabitants of Anbar that are now forming an identity as a People and not as an imposition from the outside. Once a People form an identity, the whole game changes irrevocably.
To a large degree, the identity of the Sunni as a nationalist People clinches the success of IS as a state, but this success is not without consequences. No longer can the nationalist People be reformed back into Iraq, even by fair treatment or coercion. It seems that the a substantial portion of the inhabitants of Anbar and the IS controlled parts of Syria are now or beginning to be IS nationals.
This actual reality necessitates a complete change in the manner the IS is opposed. If the People of IS are IS, then, no longer are they victims who must be saved-they are culpable participants. IS nationalists will never accept reintegration into Iraq, not matter how constituted. To beat IS, its People must be conquered in the same way as the Germans or Japanese were. We have not yet acknowledged that reality has moved from a non-state actor paradigm to a contest of states versus states.
Similarly, if IS is an enemy nation state, then supporting it in arms is treasonous for nationals of the states at war with it instead of such support just being a crime. Iraq can treat IS as a secessionist enemy. Other nations may take sides. ISs boundaries will be set by struggles with it neighbors.
Acknowledging the “statehood” of IS greatly clarifies the scope of the conflict and its nature. Recognition may ultimately provide a context for a peace process. Declaring IS a nation-state will enable relations with it by treaty and negotiations. Recognition will force IS to expose its leaders and diplomats. We know how to deal with a state while we have not yet really figured out how to deal with a whatchamacallit like IS is now. Naming IS a state will give the world a language tool to use in dealing with it.
In newspeak, the evidence is that the "self-described Islamic State" is no longer "self-described" a state, it is a state, and we should treat it thus--as an enemy state. There is much to be gained by granting the monster state status.
Why not give IS the status of statehood it claims and see what happens?
The Independent is reporting that "ISIS claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan in Twelve months" the source is allegedly an article in its magazine written by a British hostage/journalist.
The operative words that got The Independent steamed up are:
"Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table,” the article continues. “The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region."
It admits that such a scenario is “far-fetched” but warns: “It’s the sum of all fears for Western intelligence agencies and it’s infinitely more possible today than it was just one year ago."
My first thought is a line from a great Australian movie: "Tell him he's dreaming!".
I would have thought there is not a snowballs chance of this happening.
By Patrick Bahzad
After the Islamic State’s recent and overwhelming victory in Ramadi, the Iraqi government as well as analysts in D.C. seemed to be in a state of shock and disarray. ISIS is officially losing ground since the start of the US led airstrikes in September 2014. With the rout of the Iraqi army in Ramadi however, this narrative becomes harder and harder to sell. Earlier this year, victory of Shia militias in Tikrit had been seen as the beginning of the end for Abubakr al-Baghdadi’s organization. That assessment has now been called seriously into doubt, as the armies of the Caliphate seem to march on. Even though it is difficult to give an accurate estimate of ISIS’ military capabilities, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and they can challenge anything the current Iraqi government can muster against them.
Why months of airstrikes and hundreds of “sorties” haven’t stopped the Jihadis has several reasons. On the one hand, there are undoubtedly unresolved issues between Washington and Baghdad that have a bearing on the proficiency of the counter-IS campaign. Recent reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), stating that “coalition” airstrikes killed 170 ISIS members in the past months in Syria, should be taken with utmost caution. An allegedly independent opposition NGO, the SOHR is run out of London by a few individuals with a dubious track-record. According to – hopefully – more reliable accounts, i.e. the daily briefings of US Central Command, the first three months of consistent airstrikes managed to hit about 300 vehicles, but only 25 ISIS fighters …
This sobering result is more in line with developments we're seeing on the ground, as the death of several mid- to high-ranking ISIS leaders has not been enough to halt the overall momentum of the Caliphate’s troops, at least for now. The fact of the matter is, the Islamic State is an organization that has survived years of attempts by the Americans to destroy it. They know how to survive against an enemy that rules the skies and can see about everything that moves on the ground. They’re also hard to penetrate or read, which is very much related to the experience brought forward by former Baathist army and intelligence officers who joined the organization. What recent events in Ramadi have shown to those who might have forgotten about it, is that the Caliphate actually has an army. It is not exactly built along the same rationale as Western armed forces, but it has structure, “command and control” and a genuine ability to maneuver and fight, unlike some of the Iraqi government troops.
Adam L. Silverman
In case anyone is interested the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's Investigative Report on the Terrorist Attacks on US Facilities in Benghazi, Libya September 11-12, 2012 is attached below as a pdf. Anyone interested should read it themselves and make up their own minds based on the investigation - including whether we need another investigation. The report is only thirty-six pages long, so its not going to be a tremendously long read. Of specific interest will be Finding 14 on pp 30 and 31, as well as Findings 12 and 13 on the preceding pages. Just remember that by reading this you will be making yourself better informed than the news media, most members of Congress, and most Americans who are getting their news on this from the news media and members of Congress...
"While there is reluctance to deploy Shia militias, the reality is that they remain the only effective fighting force at Baghdad’s disposal. The government and the US must accept that, while these militias will not defeat Isis, they can, in the interim, contain it. Containing Isis will be crucial to allow Iraq’s armed forces to reorganise, as well as allow for moderate and effective Sunni Arab actors to emerge.
The real battle will be the one to develop strong institutions and rebuild the Iraqi state. Isis and other militant groups, like social movements in general, can exploit weak institutions and ethno-sectarian conflict. Unless these are remedied, similar organisations are likely to emerge in future generations." The Guardian
We will see if the Shia militias can defeat IS at Ramadi. On that question hangs a great deal.
We will see if this or some other Iraqi government can unite the separate peoples of the British colonial creation called Iraq.
We will see if the surrounding countries will contribute to the defeat of IS.
We will see. pl
As the result of a Freedom of Information law suit by Judicial Watch, 100 pages of previously "Secret" Defense Intelligence Agency, State Department and Pentagon documents have been publicly released on the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack, which led to the murders of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American officials. One of the documents, a DIA report dated September 12, 2012, makes absolutely clear that the Obama Administration, at the highest levels, had detailed intelligence, showing that the attack on the mission and the CIA annex was a premeditated attack, by a known Al Qaeda-affiliated group, in revenge for the US drone killing of a leading Libyan Al Qaeda figure, and to "memorialize" the original 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The DIA document was circulated to the National Security Council, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon and other Obama Administration offices, and presented an unambiguous account of the events of the previous day. Despite these clear accounts, top Administration officials, including then-United Nations Ambassador and now National Security Advisor Dr. Susan Rice, and President Obama, himself, made false statements to the American people and to the US Congress, claiming that the attacks were part of a "spontaneous" protest over a video slandering the Prophet Mohammed.
The DIA report named the "Brigades of the Captive Omar Abdul Rahman" as the perpetrators of the attack. The heavily redacted memo read, in part: "The attack was planned ten or more days prior on approximately 01 September 2012. The intention was to attack the consulate and to kill as many Americans as possible to seek revenge for U.S. killing of Aboyahiye ALALIBY in Pakistan and in memorial of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings... The leader of BCOAR is Abdul Baset AZUZ, AZUZ was sent by ZAWARI to set up Al Qaeda (AQ) bases in Libya."
Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is the Chairman of House Select Committee on Benghazi, is carefully studying the DIA report, and other documents released to Judicial Watch, that confirm arms shipments from Benghazi were going to jihadist rebel groups in Syria.
While the DIA was not the only agency that had real-time accurate accounts of what had happened in Benghazi, the DIA established a clear track record of honest and blunt assessments of the unfolding crises throughout the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. An August 2012 DIA assessment of the Iraq and Syrian insurgencies, also released this week to Judical Watch, explicitly warned of the creation of an Islamic State in the Iraq-Syria border region.
It is widely believed that DIA's intelligence was critical in enabling Gen. Martin Dempsey and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to push back against plans for the bombing of Syrian government and military targets in August 2013, based on concerns that the ouster of Assad could lead to the takeover of large parts of Syria by Al Qaeda-linked jihadists.
In May 2014, the head of the DIA, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and his deputy David Shedd were fired. Was the DIA targeted for failing to keep up with the White House spin doctors? The newly released DIA documents would seem to raise such questions, and the DIA Benghazi account will surely be a major included feature in the ongoing House select committee probe. Stay tuned...
So began Senator Rand Paul early this afternoon as he began his filibuster against renewal of the Patriot Act. He has now been speaking on the Senate floor for over eight hours. The Senate has until this Friday to extend Section 215 of the Patriot Act, or pass the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk surveillance as it now stands, but leaves the door open for it to continue in some newly devised form. Without passing either of these options, Section 215 will expire at the end of the month and government mass surveillance programs must end. This last option is what Rand Paul is pushing. He is not alone tonight. Senator Wyden (D-Oregon) has already spoken as part of Paul’s filibuster. Senators Cris Coons (D-Delaware), Martin Heinrich (D-New Mexico) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) are on the Senate floor in support of Senator Paul. There are others. They are all patriots.
I strongly support Senator Paul in this effort. The unwarranted mass surveillance of the American people is unconstitutional, illegal, largely useless, a waste of scarce intelligence resources and a dangerous distraction from the performance of needed intelligence collection. End it now.
You can watch and listen to Senator Rand Paul as he speaks on the Senate floor at the first link below. You may be watching history as it is being made. I could well imagine our founding fathers would be proud of him. - TTG
I hear from competent reporters on the ground in Iraq that a great panic has set in within the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. Abadi, like his Shia co-religionist Maliki, has been engaged in a thorough effort to disadvantage all the Sunni populations of Iraq. This would include; the Kurds (90% Sunni), the Sunni Arabs, the Sunni Turkomans, etc. To accomplish this, Sunni majority areas have been systematically deprived of weaponry and funding for years. Alternatively, Shia manned army and police units were stationd in Sunni areas like Mosul for the purpose of keeping the Sunnis under control
Now, to quote that notable American of the '60s and 70s.. H. Rap Brown, "the chickens has come home to roost." Shia units have collapsed and fled wherever they have met IS on Sunni populated ground and under resourced Sunni units have been defeated in Sunni majority areas like Anbar Province. Is Tikrit an exception to that? No. The IS withdrawal from the city was, IMO, a calculated IS ploy successfully executed for the purpose of fixing government forces in place while IS mobile forces moved to Anbar.
The Shia government in Baghdad has run out of cards. Their "army" has lost so much US supplied equipment that the remaining units are an isolated remnant and the government is reduced to relying on former Shia murder squads in the militias. Not surprisingly the Shia bigwigs are thinking of exile.
At the same time, the US government is suffering the effects of a cognitive dissonance that has prevailed since the First Gulf War and which became all controlling with the accession to power of GW Bush and the Svengalis of the neocon cabal.
The snake oil sold by the neocons contains the basic ingredients of disrespect for local cultures and a belief that the Muslims have no culture worth living by or respecting. This attitude has permeated the US government leading to an unjustified expectation that in the end the natives would be "reasonable" and would accept US tutelage in becoming "modern" and will remain attached to their former beliefs only so far as they are decorative.
We now see the result of this attitude and its resulting policy all over the Middle East and North Africa. The only US responses have been; more BS hurled at the governments, US military trainers exposed to unreasonable risks and bombing, lots of bombing.
I wrote earlier this week of the US policy collective or "Borg." That Borg is so densely structured and inflexible that it is incapable of adapting to the rejection that reality has visited on its dreams.
As a result the Borg is falling to bits internally, incapable of dealing with unfolding disaster. Names like Bataan and the Chosin Reservoir come increasingly to mind. pl
"So what do I think is true? I believe that a walk-in Pakistani intelligence officer provided the information on bin Laden and that the Pakistanis were indeed holding him under house arrest, possibly with the connivance of the Saudis. I am not completely convinced that senior Pakistani generals colluded with the U.S. in the attack, though Hersh makes a carefully nuanced case and Obama’s indiscreet comment is suggestive. I do not believe any material of serious intelligence value was collected from the site and I think accounts of the shootout were exaggerated. The burial at sea does indeed appear to be a quickly contrived cover story. And yes, I do think Osama bin Laden is dead." Giraldi
Phil Geraldi is a friend and one of the most skilled intelligence people whom I have known. pl
" what will the Daesh do next? They will have to organise the defence of Ramadi, certainly, as they will likely face an onslaught of unrelenting proportions from the Shi’a militiamen that will be sent against them. However, they will continue to surprise with their maneuvering, as they have done since the feinted attacks across Iraq in the spring of 2014 culminated in the fall of Mosul in June.
They could, very easily, reopen their fronts against the Kurds in Syria – perhaps keen to exploit the still real fear in the Turkish government about the strengthening of what are seen to be PKK-linked Kurdish fighters and organisations in the three cantons of Jazeera, Kobane, and Afrin. Certainly, from the perspective of the Daesh, any attempt to join Qamishli, in Jazeera, with Kobane would need to be prevented, or else they lose their important border crossings with Turkey.
They could also move, with relative ease, in Syria; or they could continue to press the Kurds hard around Kirkuk and Mosul – pressure the Kurds would find hard to contend with. Or perhaps they may even move beyond their regular stomping ground of Iraq and Syria and attempt to destabilise Jordan or Lebanon further – with both countries being dangerously exposed to Daesh influences. Or, of course, they could push on Baghdad and stoke the sectarian conflict with their Shi’a arch-rivals as far as they can – with potential disastrous consequences.
It is difficult for an outsider to say, but the lessons we should take from Daesh are clear: that without an alternative for those who live in the realm of Daesh to support, that can actually protect them when they do stand up, then it should be expected that the legitimacy and therefore strength of the Caliphate will continue to grow.
The Iraqi government – politically and militarily – have no answer to Daesh that results in an end-game of Iraqi unity, unless that unity is achieved through the domination of the state and country by Shi’a militias." RUSI
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior Iranian official, said Tehran was ready to help confront Islamic State, and he was certain the city would be "liberated".
Islamic State, which emerged as an offshoot of al Qaeda, controls large parts of Iraq and Syria in a self-proclaimed caliphate where it has carried out mass killings of members of religious minorities and beheaded hostages." Reuters
"Resistance is futile," proclaimed the Borg in an endless, mindless repetition of the ultimate in group-think. Today we have the policy Borg speaking with one voice. John Kerry in South Korea and USMC BG Weidly in Baghdad have the same talking points, exactly the same talking points.
Thought control became a priority for the US military after US policy (not the military) was defeated in VN. After much soul searching and rummaging about in the farther reaches of pseudo spirituality and science, the armed forces leadership stopped looking at such things as; spoon bending, fire walking and psycho-kinesis as expressions of non-material power and an explanation for defeat in VN and decided that we had simply been defeated at home in the media and because of that among the people. Clausewitz would have appreciated that thought.
An infamous essay called "Mind War" was authored in that time by Paul Vallely (Fox News consultant) and a strange fellow named Michael Aquino. Aquino was later notorious as the High Priest of the Temple of Set, a Satanist cult in California (where else?). This paper, written by this pair of half baked psychological operations reservists, somehow insinuated itself into the thinking of the US Army, then into all of the Defense Department until it came to be an article of faith that "Information Operations," (propaganda- IO) and "Kinetic Operations" (shooting people as necessary) were equally effective ways to wage war. This belief led to an exaggerated faith in the IO side of COIN (hearts and minds) and repeated attempts to change through persuasion the basic beliefs of the many different peoples of the earth who simply do not want to be changed by foreigners. As a result of this kind of thinking we have done all kinds of foolish things. Among them; we attempted to persuade the hard core Dawa Shia activist al-Maliki that he should be politically "inclusive" with Sunnis whom he regarded as the enemies of God and of his blood. We also situated outposts in totally hostile parts of Afghanistan next to villages from which our men would never be able to defend themselves. We were trying to be persuasively nice.
Worst of all it came to be consensual thought in the US government and among their co-opted media "friends" that it was normal to propagandize the American electorate in order to block political action intended to prevent or stop a war. This was an odd development for a country in which the United States Information Agency (USIA) was forbidden by law to direct its propaganda at US audiences.
That kind of approach took us into war in Iraq. The Republican Party is now trying to deal with the truth of that crime and their tribe of midget candidates is having a hard time justifying what their party did. Good! At the moment 76% of registered Republicans are shown by polling to think that the war in Iraq was a mistake. Good! Unfortunately it took a very long time for the Koolaid and BS to lose its potency.
We are still captives of the IO internal propaganda mindset and dogma. In Iraq, Syria and Yemen the US government in all its many parts continues to lie to us in order to control us. The government narrative is that all goes well. Defeat at Ramadi is nothing, "a momentary setback" is the theme propagated by the government while a minor raid in Syria is trumpeted as a distraction from the catastrophe that is now so clear to see in Iraq.
The most hurtful thing of all is to see an officer of the US Marine Corps, sworn to protect The Republic, stoop to lie to us from Baghdad in the service of WH talking points. Ah, but perhaps he believes the BS. When you are part of the Borg you eventually come to believe that the talking points are the only reality and that defeat is evidence of impending victory.
Locutas said that resistance is futile. Perhaps it is. pl
Information about "Groupe Alpha" leaked on French radio-show
by Patrick Bahzad
The cat is out of the bag: last Saturday, a famous French radio-show aired a programme disclosing information about the existence of what is called the "Groupe Alpha". Although this is not the first time rumours have surface about the existence of this unit, the details that emerged now certainly make for an interesting read.
From "La Main rouge" to "Groupe Alpha"
The last time France's intelligence services used "targeted assassinations" on a large scale was during the Algerian War for Independence (1954-1962). French SDECE (the predecessor to today's DGSE) hit between 200 and 300 targets during that period, either Algerian activists, arms dealers or even lawyers who had made common cause with the Algerian insurgents. Those killings were handled internally or sub-contracted to an informal proxy of French intelligence called "La main rouge".
After the Algerian War and until the mid-1980s, "targeted assassinations" became an exceptional task for DGSE or other branches of French intel, like the "11e Régiment Parachutiste de Choc" or the "Service Action", with the notable exception of Lebanon, where French agents killed the mastermind and operatives behind the assassination of French ambassador Louis Delamare in Beirut in the early 1980s. It is also rumoured that a certain car bomb explosion on a market in Damascus was staged by French agents or proxies around the same period.
"We will see episodic successes," Weidly said. "But again, these typically don't materialize into long-term gains."
Weidly said that since fighting began in Anbar over a year and a half ago there have been similar attacks on Ramadi that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have been able to repel.
"And we see this one being similar to those, where the ISF will eventually take back terrain that's been lost at this point," he said." abcnews
I'll bet Weidly is not fun to be around. He looks to be a man on the make. One of the marines here will correct me if that is not true. That's a great command picture. I really think he ought to make a personal recon out to Anbar so that we can be sure that he has the right spin on this.
The Iraqis say they have lost the city but Weidly knows better. Hmmm...
Well, pilgrims, if he is right this will be worth another star or two. pl
There is a lot of interesting news this weekend:
- Former Egyptian president Mursi has been condemned to death on the inevitable charge of whatever it was that they charged him with this time. The Sisi government is determined to kill him and a lot of other MB/salafist people in the belief that "dead men don't bite." Egypt is one of the more sophisticated countries in the region and they can't manage a change of government without killing the losers? This is really quite indicative of the hopelessness of trying to meddle in the internal affairs of such places.
- Having failed to persuade the Zeidi Yemenis to do anything they wanted by bombing them on the American model, Saudi Arabia has now declared a cessation of air ops. One can only wonder if the Washington whiz kids played a large role in the "thinking" reflected in all this. The Zeidis say they await the Saudis next move,
- Obama met a lot of Gulfie second stringers at Camp David. The gripping and grinning and flesh pressing produced nothing, actually less than nothing since the Arabs must have gone away even more convinced that the US has no idea what it is doing in the ME. Whoever it was that persuaded Obama to do a sit down with these guys should be fired or never listened to again, but that won't happen.
- It is revealed that Jeb Bush (el-Jebe) is temperamentally unsuited to be US president in the 21st Century. He believes in such things as moderation, family loyalty, rational thought, etc. He might have been useful in the 19th Century but, surely not now. It is also revealed that his foreign policy advisers are the same lying bastards who got us into Iraq. Wow! BTW, who are HC's foreign policy advisers?
- On The FZ Global Public Square circus, Mr. 1% groupie (FZ) interviewed Gates (richest man in the world) from Seattle. There, they indulged themselves in an orgy of exultation and exaltation over the strength of the American economy as reflected in the prosperity of the Seattle region with all its new style high tech industry, high education levels and other wonderfulness. The underlying idea in this was the joy felt in the wonders of free trade based on international and regional comparative advantage. All the world is now a free trade zone, FZ exulted, and how foolish the people who oppose TPP really are. What was left out of this discussion were the large pockets of distressed and poverty stricken people (mostly colored) in the urban regions of the east and mid-west as well as the emergence of what looks like a permanent large underclass among those same people. Many of the former industrial cities of the east have at least partially emptied themselves of the White blue collar class. In mute acceptance of economic theory they have moved to follow jobs. People of color often do not want to do that. They do not accept the idea of disappearing into a larger population and want to live in their own ethnic communities. I don't think FZ visits them much or cares about the obstacle to his theories that they represent.
- As b has stated in a comment on another thread we will see the real and perhaps final test for the Iraqi government when the "Hashd Sha'bi" Shia militia are committed to the fight in Ramadi. IMO the US (and friends) in the government/military/media/academic world have no comprehension that IS is an alternative civilization seeking to emerge. Because of that willful ignorance they are headed for a massive shock.
- Oh, yes, there was the much promoted story of the SF raid on a little site in eastern Syria. Good job boys! This was not the Waterloo of IS but the IO campaign on 24/7 news was a good distraction from the disaster at Ramadi.
- The British TV Highland/Jacobite romance "Outlander" has reached a level of psycho-sexual descent in which I (shamefully) watched last evening as Captain Jack Randall of the Hanoverian dragoons nailed the hand of the noble Hieland laird Jamie Fraser to a table so that he would not be inconvenienced by resistance whilst buggering him. This was in Wentworth Prison (wherever that was). This occurred after Randall licked Fraser's scarred back and gave him a big smooch as Fraser's wife looked on. Now I'll grant you that life in the Highlands in 1740 was probably not without its inter-cultural problems but this seems a bit much. A question that occurs is whether this series was watched in Scotland before the recent election. BTW, I notice that some people in a number of northern English counties are engaged in a Twitter campaign to decide if they should join Scotland.
- I am told the DoD has placed me under interdict and that my e-mail can no longer pass through their servers and SST can not be accessed from DoD computers. That will solve things. pl
"The catastrophe at Ramadi began late Thursday when a wave of suicide car bombs – at least six, according to witnesses – began to strike key fortifications around the center of the government compound, which had been holding out under occasional siege since January 2014, when the Islamic State and a host of anti-government Sunni Muslim tribes took control of much of the surrounding countryside.
One police officer told McClatchy that the Islamic State used armored bulldozers to move blast walls and other fortifications to clear the way for the wave of suicide bombers in vehicles, who then decimated much of the city center’s defenses.
Security officials, while begging Baghdad commanders for immediate reinforcements, air support and help with evacuation, said they were moving as many of their routed troops and other civilians from pro-government tribes to a stadium on the outskirts of town in the hopes of evacuating them by air. The stadium, to the south of the city, was being protected by the Iraqi army’s elite Golden Brigade, one of the last combat-effective units available to the government in the area. But some residents from tribes not directly affiliated with the government said the soldiers were preventing many civilians from reaching the last safe haven because of fears that Islamic State militants were hiding among them." MClatchey
This sounds like the crack of doom, the beginning of a rout.
The thing with the armored bulldozers used to clear the way for suicide car bombers is quite clever. This is a thinking, adaptive enemy. They are more thinking, and more adaptive than we have shown ourselves to be thus far.
DC was slow to react? Of course they were. The US Government has been smoking self deceptive, self congratulatory victory talk "dope" and drinking its own collective koolaid for weeks. The generals, whiz kid types and media all told themselves for no apparent reason that they had defeated IS and that all was well.
What was really happening was that IS was preparing this offensive.
Today the media is obsessing over a raid involving 50 men and a few aircraft while the Iraqi government's slide into panic, route and disintegration is probably beginning.
The level of mutual admiration expressed by them for their skill, hard work, etc. was laughable in a case for which the verdict of "guilty" was obvious and inevitable.
The thought was expressed that "we" have sent a message to "them" that they cannot attack us without paying a high price. Was that not obvious?
There was also a good deal of whining about the fear experienced by Bostonians in the aftermath of the heinous attack at the finish line. Fear was said to be a justification for prosecution of this little creep. No, the charge of murder was the justification.
There is a lot to be said for just keeping your mouth shut in occasions like this conviction and sentencing.
That would be "Boston Strong." pl
"... a major foothold for the Islamic State less than 70 miles west of Baghdad in the crucial Anbar Province, which has been the scene of bloodshed and seesaw battles since the U.S.-led invasion more than 12 years ago.
Fighting gripped Ramadi throughout the day, but it appeared the Islamic State militiamen had the upper hand.
The militants seized the government compound in downtown Ramadi and hoisted the group’s black flag. Battles then moved to pockets of the city still held by Iraq forces, including a military base that serves as an operations hub for Anbar.
There was no immediate sign of major U.S.-led airstrikes, which have been waged against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since last year.
“It’s desperate now,” said Omar Shehan, tribal militiaman who fights alongside Ramadi police." Washpost
70 miles from Baghdad...
IS now holds the government center including the main police station and has fanned out to reduce other parts of the town still held by Iraqi forces.
As has become their tactical method in assault, the IS commanders used six suicide bombers as though they were artillery, following up their seriatim explosions with an assault by infantry and armor. This is an effective method and we can expect to see more of this so long as the seemingly never ending supply of willing crazies continues.
Mockingly, one can imagine the scene at the "orders group" that preceded the attack. The briefer might have said, "You may wonder why I have called you here tonight. We are going to take Ramadi next Friday. The six brothers sitting to the right here; ahmad al-ghabi (Ahmad the Stupid), bilal al-almani, (Bilal the German), etc. will be the leading shuhada in the attack. They will blow themselves up against the gates at one minute intervals penetrating as far as they can and making use of the blast areas of their preceding martyr brothers. Once a hole in the defense of the murtadoon (apostate) servants of the Zionists and crusaders is produced our infantry will pour through the gap. Any questions? Allahu Akbar! You six martyrs will now report next door for production of your valedictory videos. Dismissed!" pl
The full story behind the fake "yellow cake" deliveries to Iraq
by Patrick Bahzad
In the weeks and months preceding "Operation Iraqi Freedom", a number of stories made the headlines that seemed to prove the US administration's contention about Iraq. The case for Saddam's WMD programmes was widely publicized and backed by a wealth of information, only to be proven wrong later on and have a dubious light shed on the intelligence work done prior to the invasion. In the full-scale media offensive that was launched to bolster President Bush's claims, two scandals now stand out: the "Curveball" affair, named after the Iraqi informant who was the source for the "mobile bio-labs" lie that Secretary of State Colin Powell presented in his famous speech to the UN Security Council, and the "yellow cake" uranium deliveries from Niger To Iraq, which ultimately led to the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. The fact of the matter has been narrated since and the "Plamegate", as it has been called, has been analysed extensively by US media. However, the baseline that was told American audiences over the years only reveals one side of the story. Here's an account of the other one …
Why the full story was never disclosed to the American public is a bit of a mystery. Maybe people weren't interested in hearing a truth that showed how gullible they had been. Maybe the media didn't want to hear embarrassing questions about their own failing in the build-up to the Iraq war, or maybe journalists in the US simply lacked credible foreign sources that could have given them an insight into how it all started.
The Presidential briefing of September 2002
From a strictly US point of view, the chain of events began with CIA Director George Tenet briefing the President about some alarming news the Agency had received in September 2002. Aluminium rods on their way to Iraq had been intercepted and diagnosed as possible spare parts for centrifuges used in the enrichment of uranium. Additionally, it appeared that Saddam had attempted to obtain hundreds of tons of uranium ore (called "yellow cake") from the African country of Niger between 1999 and 2001. Both pieces of information taken together made for a worrying scenario: Iraq was trying to restart its nuclear weapons programme.
The information seemed so convincing that even Colin Powell mentioned its contents two days later during a hearing by the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations. Two weeks later still, Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to use the US armed forces against Iraq, in order to put a stop to the alleged WMD programmes. The collective hysteria that seemed to have taken hold of D.C. didn't stop there. In December of the same year, the State Department itself – up until then a stronghold of sceptics against the Neo-Con led charge – published a statement listing Niger as a provider of uranium to Iraq. And finally, the cherry on top of it all, in his "State of the Union address” of January 2003, George W. Bush again made reference to the aluminium rods and the "yellow cake" that had been mentioned in the CIA briefing by George Tenet.
The only word against the impeccable case the US administration had built came from the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed el-Baradei. What a claim it was ! It should have hit the Bush administration like a bomb, but instead it made less noise than a dud. Not many observers in the US paid attention to the IAEA director's statements. Anything even vaguely related to the UN had already been discredited in America at the time, with the implicit help of a press and media that were only too willing to pick-up the bread crumbs of fabricated intelligence that had been thrown at them. El-Baradei didn't mince his words: the evidence on which the CIA based its report of September 2002 had been forged.
"On Monday she quoted this on her Facebook page: “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
A week earlier, just before 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair was snatched and burned alive, Shaked wrote: “This is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. The reality is that this is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started it.”
So even before the boy died horribly she declared him to be the enemy, and afterwards, without any apparent hint of guilt or remorse, she was calling for the deaths of innocent women and their unborn babies." The Independent
So, this is what the Justice Ministry will be like in Natanyahu's continuing government of Israel? Well, she is honest. No sniveling about two state solutions for her, she makes it clear that the Palestinians taken as a whole are the enemy.
This fits in nicely with the evident Israeli national intention of creating chaos and disruption in the rest of the ME while they shelter behind The Great Wall. Now, it must be said that the rate of terrorist infiltration has dropped to next to nothing behind the shelter of The Great Wall.
Shaked was an "infantry instructor in the Golani Brigade." I don't know what kind of class that would have been but I will wager that it was a popular event for the troops. pl
"So how on earth will this big tough guy execute the delicate kabuki dance of policy in Washington, DC? “General Smith comes to Washington” might make a good movie, pitting Pattonesque guts and glory against slimy politicos and greasy bureaucrats. But straight-shooting soldiers haven’t always served the Army well as chief of staff. Eric Shinseki’s honesty on how many troops were needed to occupy Iraq only brought him grief under Donald Rumsfeld, as did his politically tone-deaf push for wheeled vehicles and black berets. Peter Schoomaker, his successor, was a special operations soldier — much like Milley — who struggled to adjust to the “Big Army.”" Breaking Defense
So, how on earth did this happen? This not one of the "perfumed princes." All reports are favorable but he will need a lot of luck and a lot of help in the snake pit that is Washington these days.
Perhaps a tiny pebble in the ocean of international troubles: The Vatican has announced a treaty to recognize a Palestinian State. Details are sparse. Vatican statement.
If Pope Francis accomplished nothing else this would be a feather in his wings.
It would be even better if the U.S. Catholic bishops got on the case and helped to shift the U.S. position. NYTimes Story
UPDATE: The view from Ramallah and Jerusalem: NYTimes
"A tricky problem is that the rebels have been fighting alongside a group called Jabhat al-Nusra, which is an affiliate of al-Qaeda. Sources said Tuesday that it’s likely that in coming days a Jabhat al-Nusra faction will split publicly from al-Qaeda and join the Army of Conquest. At that point, there could be a tipping point in the north, with a broad coalition allied against both the Assad regime and the Islamic State. Jordan and Israel have developed secret contacts with members of the Jabhat al-Nusra group along their borders.
Another potential game-changer is a new U.S. willingness to support a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. This haven, backed by U.S. air power, would allow some refugees to return home while providing a staging area for an expected assault by a U.S.-trained new Syrian army, whose first units have just been formed, against the Islamic State’s capital in Raqqa." Ignatius
IMO Ignatius is a mouthpiece for CIA and the Obama White House. In this column he has identified himself as a Koolaid distributor:
- It is a "tricky problem" that Nusra is an AQ affiliate? Nusra IS AQ. AQ is a sworn enemy of the US. Aligning ourselves with them is a lot like the brilliant scheme the Germans had for sending the Bolsheviks into Russia in 1917.
- At last! At last! "There could be a tipping point in the north..." This smacks of cloud cuckooland self delusion by CIA and the kiddies at the White House. The key phrase here is "there could be." Yes, and the moon may be made of green cheese. This is log rolling at its worst. The problem with this is that it will have to be made to happen in reality not in fantasyland. Hizbullah and the Syrian armed forces are moving right along in clearing the Qalamoun sector.
- "... a new U.S. willingness to support a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border." Really? Really? The US armed forces leaders, SECDEF and CJCS have made it publicly clear that a "no fly zone" is the first act in a new war, a war in which the US will have to destroy the Syrian Air Force and anti-air defenses and keep them destroyed and suppressed so that a victory of the - What? "Army of Conquest" will march triumphantly into Damascus so that the head chopping of all who oppose Wahhabi jihadism can begin in earnest. The term "Army of Conquest" is a reference to the sweeping early Muslim conquests in the Levant, Iraq, Iran and North Africa in the 8th Century AD. The name tells us all we need to know. The Israelis want this? They have gone mad. If such a scheme should succeed the Izzies would have a jihadi state facing them on the Golan Heights. Who will fly in support of this "no fly zone?" Will it be the CIA Air Force, a new Air America? General Welch, the USAF Cof S was on Morning Joe this morning. Was he there to pimp for the "no fly zone?" He looked uncomfortable and his hosts looked puzzled.
- "a U.S.-trained new Syrian army, whose first units have just been formed," Just been formed? Just been formed? After months and months of searching for Syrian recruits who would not quickly defect to the jihadis after graduation, there are now a handful of men in training to form the cadre of a force expected to reach 20,000. The WH and CIA are locked in a competition for the title of "Least Knowledgeable In Military Affairs." Well, pilgrims, It will take AT LEAST a couple of years to train such a force. First you train the individuals, then you train small units like squads (ten men maybe), then you train companies (150 men maybe), then you train battalions (500 men maybe) than you train brigades (1500 men maybe). At the same time command staffs must be educated to work together and a multiplicity of special training tasks in signals, weapons, etc. must be accomplished. While you are doing this you hope the whole political structure of external support. internal rivalries, etc. does not simply fall apart as things do so frequently in the ME.
"An expected assault against the Islamic State Capital of Raqqa..." This is not worth commenting on ...
IMO David Ignatius wins the title of most gullible, most sold out and "Least Knowledgeable In Military Affairs." pl
"The Nusra Front and its allies in Syria's Qalamoun region vowed Tuesday to "eradicate" ISIS after a series of provocations by the notorious Al-Qaeda splinter group sparked a round of inter-jihadi clashes.
The Twitter accounts of the Nusra Front and the Qalamoun branch of the Army of Conquest, a coalition of jihadi parties led by Nusra, announced that they had been fighting with ISIS in west Qalamoun, along the border with Lebanon.
The long statement highlighted that its fighters were against inter-jihadi conflict, especially since the area is surrounded by Hezbollah from the east and the Syrian army from the west.
The statement said that clashes between ISIS and other Syrian rebels in the past had been thwarted because of the existence of ISIS members who showed “loyalty to all Muslims.” But those member were either killed in clashes, exiled or executed by ISIS itself, the statement added." Daily Star
The Syrian Army is attacking in this stretch of the Lebanese border around Qalamoun even as its Hizbullah ally attacks the same jihadi forces from a different direction.
In the midst of this fight the Nusra and IS jihadis have chosen to go to war with each other in the very presence of their enemies.
I would expect to see them eradicated from the Qalamoun area shortly.
In the Yemen situation, former president Salih's political party has sent a delegation to talks in Riyadh. Hmmm.... Well, pilgrims, don't expect Salih to play anything straight with anyone. He would feel that he had failed himself if he did. He would feel that he had not been all that he could be. At least that is what I thought when I hunted with him along ago. That was when he was aligned with the USSR and before he became one of GW Bush's best friends.
I see that the Nusra led coalition against Assad is calling itself the "Army of Conquest." This is a direct "lift" from references in early Muslim historians to what they called jeish al-fath . This term is to be found in such works as futuh al-buldan (The Conquest of the Nations) by Al-Balathuri pl
"Amid widespread speculation that the government will declare war so it can cancel the upcoming legislative elections, Gursel Tekin, secretary-general of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on May 7, “Turkey will enter Syria with a military operation tonight or Friday.” Tekin claimed he had been tipped off by a reputable source and added, “I am calling on the prime minister. Please get up and say, ‘There is no such madness. That is a baseless claim. Deny what I said.’”
The government remained silent for hours, allowing Tekin's accusation to generate even more excitement and speculation. The war agenda naturally found its place in election campaigns. Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP), told a gathering in Tunceli that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will do everything possible to take Turkey to war with Syria.
Ultimately, it was not the president or the prime minister who denied Tekin’s assertions, but Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz, while being persistently questioned by reporters. “Let him disclose his sources,” Yildiz said. “We suggest he should review his source.” It wasn’t enough, however, to temper the fears that Erdogan might go to war if he thinks he won't get the 400 parliamentary seats he so covets. al-monitor
Ashton Carter told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on May 6 that a no-fly zone in Syria is “a difficult thing to contemplate” and described the establishment and enforcement of “safe zones” as “a major combat mission.”
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad acknowledged on May 6 “setbacks” against opposition forces and terrorist groups. In recent weeks, an alliance of Islamist groups, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa, defeated Syrian government troops in and around Idlib, as Reuters reported Al-monitor
1 - Erdogan will not take Turkey into war with Syria because he knows that to do so is to risk revolt or a mutiny.
2 - The US will not do SA's bidding in this matter. The cost in blood and treasure would simply be too high. Carter's statement makes that clear.
Without Turkish intervention the present rebel gains will soon be reversed. SA has no cards to play except money and bribery. Their ventures in Syria, Iraq and Yemen will fail with a possibility of instability to follow in SA. pl
I was not a source for Seymour Hersh's article cited below.
It is my opinion that bin Laden could not have lived at Abbottabad for six years without the knowledge of the Pakistan military and intelligence. pl
"... the old pillars of the liberal unionist establishment: Church, law, education, have long ceased to have the power and status they once had.
Way beyond the appeal of the SNP, Scotland has grown increasingly impatient at the foibles of Westminster, more confident as a nation and society, and more assertive and calm in wanting more self-government.
The SNP wave carries with it the weight of high expectations. A powerful nationwide alliance of west and east coast, Highland and Lowland, town, city and rural areas has emerged and swung behind the SNP. This cannot be characterised as entirely centre-left or social democratic, but as a cross-class national alliance.
Irrespective of how Scotland voted, the UK was always going to get a Tory or Labour government. No-one imagined a majority Conservative government under David Cameron. This is now the reality that Scotland and the rest of the UK face – one that will face questions about its legitimacy and whether it does or doesn’t have a mandate north of the border. Irish Times
IMO there is a special irony that this article is in a leading Irish newspaper. I wonder what Michael Collins or De Valera would say if they were around.
Can anyone doubt that the Bloc Quebecois is looking at this result and considering the odds? Immigrant, essentially un-French, voters were the margin of defeat last time there was a referendum on "sovereignty." The thought must be that surely something clever could be done about that next time. The Anglo power establishment in Canada used to say that my French-Canadian ancestors were racists. This was largely because the French did not want to be Anglophones and Protestants. Perhaps the barons in Montreal were right.
I listened to all the usual Sunday morning news drivel today. There was very little discussion of Scotland. It was almost as though the Scots had already left. There was a lot of talk of the EU membership referendum in 2017, but no discussion of what the reaction of the Scots' would be if England votes itself out of the EU. Actually, what IS the point of UK membership in the EU? Without participation in a common currency, what is the point?
The most amusing of these discussion was a chat between Fareed Z. (the Great) and the woman who is now editor of The Economist on the subject of the election. They spoke with considerable chumminess for ten minutes and never mentioned Scotland once. pl
"Thousands of people around Russia and abroad have joined Victory Day parades and celebrations to mark 70 years since victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. Many of them gathered to march with the so-called “Immortal Regiment” to honor the veterans of the war. Crowds of people carrying photographs of veterans who went through World War II have come to rally across Russia in a symbolic action known as the Immortal Regiment (Bessmertny Polk) march. “They must march on victoriously at all times,” says the statement on the event’s web page." (RT)
RT interviewed an Englishman participating in the march. John Laughland carried his uncle’s photo while marching with the Immortal Regiment in Moscow. His uncle, his father’s younger brother, died while serving with the Royal Navy on Arctic convoy duty. Also marching with the Immortal Regiment, was Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin carrying a large framed photo of his father. I’m sure he had security nearby, but they weren’t evident on the RT report. The image was of the President of Russia marching shoulder to shoulder with his fellow Russians honoring their fathers and mothers and keeping their memories alive. This image and the whole idea of the Immortal Regiment leave me in awe.
In stark contrast, our boycotting of the Victory Day celebration in Moscow was shameful and petty. To force others to join us in this boycott is beyond shameful. And all this to support Nuland's Nazi adoring, atrocity committing junta in Kiev. It fills me with disgust.