Thursday, December 31, 2009

CIA Caught In Dirty And Secretive War Against Al-Qaeda On Afghan Border

Watch CBS News Videos Online

From Times Online:

The deaths of seven CIA agents in Khost province have brought into the limelight the secretive and dirty war being fought by America’s intelligence agencies — and the Taleban and al-Qaeda — in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Forward Operating Base Chapman, and others like it along the border, are the forward edge of American military and intelligence counter-terrorism operations, aimed principally at hunting down senior figures in al-Qaeda and their allies in the Taleban hiding in the lawless tribal belt.

Read more ....

More News On The CIA's Role In The Afghanistan War

C.I.A. Takes On Expanded Role on Front Lines -- New York Times
Afghan Attack Tremendous Setback for CIA -- CBS News
For CIA, Afghan attack a historic blow -- AFP
CIA agents killed in Afghanistan were in Taliban's backyard -- Christian Science Monitor
Controversial CIA Night Raids Raise Concerns -- Digital News report
CIA Says Afghan Attack Was Their Pearl Harbor -- ABC News
Obama rallies CIA after Afghanistan bomb attack -- BBC News

Obama Summons Intelligence Chiefs To White House Meeting

From Reuters:

KANEOHE, Hawaii (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has summoned the heads of U.S. intelligence agencies for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss ways of preventing a repeat of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on December 25.

Seeking to counter criticism of his administration over an intelligence breakdown, Obama on Thursday said he expected to receive assessments from several intelligence agencies Thursday evening and would review them during the weekend.

Read more ....

My Comment: The last thing that the Intelligence Chiefs want to find themselves in .... is to be called to the White House to discuss intelligence failures. I expect a number of people to be working non-stop for the next few days to assemble proposals on how to prevent future terror incidents .... but unfortunately this will not solve the problem. The problem resides in how the President wants to combat the war on terror .... a war that the President is skeptical to acknowledge is actually a war to begin with.

Blackwater Guards Have Their Iraq Murder Charges Dropped

Judge Drops Charges From Blackwater Deaths in Iraq -- New York Times

Claiming prosecutorial misconduct, a federal judge Thursday threw out all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in downtown Baghdad in 2007, a bloody event that had inflamed relations between the United States and Iraq and stoked international anger over the use of private security contractors in a war zone.

Read more ....

My Comment: This court case may end .... but the legacy of what had happened will last a lifetime.

World News Briefs -- December 31, 2009 (Eveining Edition)

Locals celebrate the new year early in front of a Christmas tree in Budapest. Revellers across the globe prepared Thursday to ring in the New Year with fireworks and festivities under tight security after a narrowly-averted Christmas Day airline bomb plot in the United States. (AFP/Attila Kisbenedek)

Revellers To Usher In 2010 With Fireworks And Parties -- Yahoo News/AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) – Revellers across the globe prepared Thursday to ring in the New Year with fireworks and festivities under tight security after a narrowly-averted Christmas Day airline bomb plot in the United States.

Partygoers from Tuvalu to Tijuana were set to raise a glass to bid farewell to 2009 and usher in a new decade, closing the door on 10 years scarred by wars, terror attacks, natural disasters and financial turmoil.

Read more ....


Abbas: Israel sabotages Palestinian achievements by killing us.

Barack Obama considers sanctions against Iran's leaders.

Iran prosecutor threatens opposition with trials.

Ayatollah Khamenei's jet put on standby.

UK plays down report Iran directed hostage-taking. Petraeus '90% certain' Peter Moore was held in Iran.

Iraq suicide bombing kills 25.

Activists in Gaza and Israel protest Gaza blockade.


8 Americans, 5 Canadians dead in Afghan attacks. CIA officers are killed in Afghan attack.

Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children.

Taliban claim blasts that kill 13 in Afghanistan.

U.N. pulls part of staff from Pakistan on safety concerns.


Nigeria, Netherlands announce security plans; Somalia reports foiled bombing attempt.

Somali man 'tried to take bomb onto plane'.

Armed group in Niger planned to sell Saudis to Al-Qaeda - sources.

Zimbabwe mulls mortgaging minerals to offset debt.

Southern Sudan official welcomes new referendum law.


Economy, scandals, politics mar Sarkozy's year.

With Greece teetering, the worst may not be over for Europe.

Finland gunman found dead after killing five.

Lithuania to shut its only nuclear power station.

Ten years at the top for Vladimir Putin.


PM Harper suspends Canada's Parliament.

Extra security in Times Square for New Year’s Eve.

Murder victims found hanging from Mexico overpass.


Al-Qaeda and Yemen - Washington Post fact sheet / major incident / event listing.

Spy agencies failed to collate clues on terror.

Source: CIA failed to circulate report about bombing suspect. FBI, CIA interrogate father of Nigerian suspect.

Obama to receive prelim report on airline attack.

Yemeni forces raid al-Qaida hideout, clashes erupt.

Confusion over Bali terror warning.


Dow finishes 2009 with nearly 19% gain.

China ruling portends more trade action in 2010.

Iceland approves £3.4bn Icesave loss deal.

World stocks close out bumper 2009 with more gains.

Certain Secrets Are Not Going To Be Disclosed

Court Sides With Government In Surveillance Case -- Houston Chronicle/AP

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that law professors and attorneys who represent Guantanamo Bay detainees cannot force the government to reveal whether an anti-terrorism program eavesdropped on their conversations.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling supported the findings of a lower court judge in Manhattan who also rejected the attempt to uncloak the warrantless electronic surveillance system's targets.

Read more ....

My Comment: I suspect that the files and transcripts of these discussions must be explosive for the Federal Government to go through all this trouble to make sure that it remains secret.

Maybe in 50 years the truth will come out.

Al Qaeda's Affiliates Are Now Making Their Mark

A Qaeda video showing the branch’s leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, second from right, and his deputy, Said Ali al-Shihri, second from left. IntelCenter

Jet Plot Shows Growing Ability of Qaeda Affiliates -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — The plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight over American soil on Christmas Day represents an ominously new and lethal ability by a branch of Al Qaeda to attack the United States directly, according to government and independent counterterrorism specialists.

Until now, American officials had expressed concern over the capability of Qaeda affiliates in North Africa, Yemen and Iraq, and a militant Islamist group in Somalia closely tied to Al Qaeda, to attack American and other Western targets in their regions. But they remained confident that these groups — unlike Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda in Pakistan — could not threaten the United States itself.

Read more ....

My Comment: Al Qaeda's base of operations has been obliterated in Afghanistan, and what is left in Pakistan is slowing being squeezed by Pakistan and by CIA/Special Ops. Places like Yemen and the empty expanse of Africa is all that they have left .... and that is where they are going .... and quite frankly .... that is where we should also be.

U.S. Marines Prove That Counter Insurgency Works In Afghanistan

SNOW SPRINT - U.S. soldiers run through the snow after exiting a UH-47 Chinook helicopter as another lands in Shaykh Ali district in Afghanistan's Parwan province, Dec. 19, 2009. The soldiers are assigned to Task Force Cyclone. U.S. Army photo by Spc. William Henry

Marine's Success In Afghanistan Has A History -- L.A. Times

A battalion commander in the southern province of Helmand takes it slow, and uses lessons learned in Iraq.

Reporting from Nawa, Afghanistan - It's not yet 10 a.m., and Lt. Col. William McCollough must confront a pair of problems that threaten to undercut Marine success in this onetime Taliban stronghold.

Two members of the community council, the group organized by Marines to instill confidence among villagers in their government, have been killed, probably by Taliban fighters. The Afghan police response has been sluggish.

Read more ....

My Comment: There is a lot of information in this report. Bottom line .... counter insurgency works if the proper amount of resources and dedication are committed to the fight.

CIA Officers Slaughtered In Afghanistan (Brief News Recap)

The CIA Takes a Big Hit in the Afghan War -- Time Magazine

The U.S. intelligence community is reeling from one of the worst days in the CIA's history: the death of seven employees in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan on Wednesday. In keeping with its practice, the Agency will not comment on the deaths until it has formally informed the families of those killed. But several former CIA officers tell TIME the deaths will cast a pall over the Agency. "People walking into [CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia] will look at that Memorial Wall in a different way today," one former operations hand. "On a day like this, you want to stop in front of those black stars and bow in silence." There are currently 90 stars on the CIA's Memorial Wall at the Agency's headquarters: each star represents an employee killed in the line of duty. Many of their names remain secret.

Read more ....

The words and stars carved in the marble facade of the north wall of the foyer of the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Va. honor those agency employees killed serving their country. The glass-encased Book of Honor displays the names of those who, in death, now can be revealed.(Christopher Morris/VII / AP Photo)

More News On The Killing Of CIA Officers In Afghanistan

Seven CIA agents killed in Afghan attack
-- Sydney Morning Herald
U.S. Revises Khost, Afghanistan Death Toll To Seven -- NPR
CIA Officers Are Killed in Afghan Attack -- Wall Street Journal
CIA probes how bomber penetrated Afghan base -- Reuters

My Comment: Our prayers are with their families tonight.

An On The Ground Action Report From Afghanistan

INSURGENT SAFEHOUSE - U.S. and Afghan forces demolish the so-called Taliban Hotel, a safehouse insurgents used to infiltrate Khost, Afghanistan, Dec. 18, 2009. An explosive ordnance disposal team assigned to the 707th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, and Afghan forces partnered to level the safehouse. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephen J. Otero

Perilous Patrol Through Heart Of Taliban Territory -- Washington Times

Troops try for rapport with locals.

HUTAL, Afghanistan | Villagers stared at the Americans as they made their way into a small bazaar where goat meat hung from hooks amid stands of used clothing, pots, pans and various trinkets.

For the Afghans, the big Americans in full battle gear looked like beings from another planet. At each turn of the road, soldiers on the point knelt on the ground, automatic weapons ready. The men and women on the security walk were staggered in zigzag formation to keep casualties low in case Taliban sharpshooters were in the area and taking aim. Capt. Casey Thoreen, 30, the commander of the unit, monitored his radio for intelligence.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is an excellent report .... read it all.

A Guide to the Blame Game Following Failed Terror Attack

A Guide To The Blame Game Following Failed Terror Attack -- Wall Street Journal

Keeping track of who is blaming whom for the failures in U.S. intelligence that allowed Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to almost blow up a U.S. airliner last week can be confusing, so Washington Wire compiled a guide in an attempt to make some sense of the Washington blame game starting with President Barack Obama.

According to the president, it was the whole system that failed. “But what’s also clear is this: When our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been, so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred. And I consider that totally unacceptable,” Obama said Tuesday from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.

Read more

My Comment: We are now witnessing the worse in our political leaders, and we have no one to blame but ourselves .... the electorate who continues to re-elect all of these politicians.

On a side note .... the Wall Street Journal's guide on who is blaming who was a joy to read.

An Insight Into How Mexico's Drug Cartels Operate In The U.S.

Photo: Margarito Flores (U.S. Marshals Service - U.S. Marshals Service)

Flores Drug Indictment Gives Clues To Mexican Cartels' Networks In The U.S. -- Washington Post

The Flores brothers had never looked like much in the eyes of local narcotics agents. But by the time it all came crashing down this year, the drug-distribution network allegedly run by the 28-year-old twins from the Mexican American barrios of Chicago was one of the largest and most sophisticated ever seen in the U.S. heartland, according to interviews and federal indictments.

Pedro and Margarito Flores allegedly operated as an American annex to a major Mexican drug mafia, and their arrest and the dismantling of their purported network opened a window on how powerful Mexican cartels operate in the United States, distributing cocaine and heroin with the corporate efficiency of UPS, while back home competitors are tortured and beheaded.

Read more ....

My Comment: Reading news stories like this one makes me realize that it is only a matter of time before the drug war violence in Mexico completely spills into the U.S.

As bad as the drug violence is in the U.S. .... it can become far worse and more bloodier than what we have ever experienced .

Should President Obama Designate Abdulmutallab As An Enemy Combatant?

Is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the first of a wave of syringe bomb attackers? Photo: REUTERS

Obama Can Still Designate Abdulmutallab An Enemy Combatant -- Weekly Standard

Unable to defend themselves on the merits, the administration and Democratic leaders are trying to change the topic to blaming Bush and Republicans. This is pathetic.

First of all, Obama is president. He has been for almost a year. Whatever mistakes Bush did or didn’t make, Obama is in charge -- and the issue isn’t partisan score-settling, it’s whether the system he is in charge of is working. It isn’t.

Read more ....

My Comment: A source in the intelligence community explains everything to Kristol.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- December 31, 2009

Suicide Bomber Attacks CIA Base In Afghanistan, Killing At Least 8 Americans -- Washington Post

A suicide bomber infiltrated a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing at least eight Americans in what is believed to be the deadliest single attack on U.S. intelligence personnel in the eight-year-long war and one of the deadliest in the agency's history, U.S. officials said.

The attack represented an audacious blow to intelligence operatives at the vanguard of U.S. counterterrorism operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing officials whose job involves plotting strikes against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups that are active on the frontier between the two nations. The facility that was targeted -- Forward Operating Base Chapman -- is in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, which borders North Waziristan, the Pakistani tribal area that is believed to be al-Qaeda's home base.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

CIA Officers Are Killed in Afghan Attack -- Wall Street Journal
Afghan suicide bomber 'kills four CIA agents' after attacking base -- Times Online
CIA workers killed by 'Afghan soldier' -- BBC
Taliban claims responsibility for bombing -- CNN
CIA's darkest day: Eight killed in Afghanistan -- The Telegraph
Eight CIA Officers Die In Afghanistan -- The Atlantic
Afghan violence -- UPI
Taliban claim blasts that kill 13 Westerners -- Yahoo News/AP
Taliban speeds up attacks against foreign troops on New Year's eve -- China View
Taliban claim blast that killed Canadians -- CTV
Canadians killed in Afghanistan attack -- BBC
Routine mission turns deadly for Canadians in Afghanistan -- Toronto Star
Afghanistan far deadlier than Iraq for U.S. troops in 2009 -- USA Today
US troop deaths soared in Afghanistan in 2009 -- Yahoo News/AP
Kabul demands foreign 'killers' handed over -- Yahoo News/AFP
U.S. rushing to build an Afghan army to battle insurgents -- Miami Herald/McClatchy News
Bulgaria sending more troops to Afghanistan -- Yahoo News/AP
Half of UK’s new armoured vehicles in Afghanistan out of service -- Times Online
Pak asks coalition not to leave Afghanistan in haste -- AFP
Afghan War Could Spill Over Into Central Asia -- NPR
Perilous Patrol Through Heart of Taliban Territory -- Washington Times
Marine's Success in Afghanistan Has a History -- Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times
Army History Finds Early Missteps in Afghanistan -- James Dao, New York Times

World News Briefs -- December 31, 2009

Fireworks explode near the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House during a pyrotechnic show as New Year approaches Photo: REUTERS

New Year 2010 Celebrations Take Place Around The World -- BBC

Countries around the world are beginning to hold celebratory events to welcome in 2010.

Fireworks displays will take place in many cities, with 5,000kg of explosives set to be used in the famous Sydney Harbour show in Australia.

New Year's Eve this year will also see a rare blue moon - a second full moon in a month. The next will be in 2028.

Read more ....


Iran prosecutor threatens opposition with trials.

Ayatollah Khamenei's jet put on standby.

UK plays down report Iran directed hostage-taking. Petraeus '90% certain' Peter Moore was held in Iran.

Iraq suicide bombing kills 25.

Activists in Gaza and Israel protest Gaza blockade.


8 Americans, 5 Canadians dead in Afghan attacks. CIA officers are killed in Afghan attack.

Taliban claim blasts that kill 13 in Afghanistan.

U.N. pulls part of staff from Pakistan on safety concerns.


Somali man 'tried to take bomb onto plane'.

Armed group in Niger planned to sell Saudis to Al-Qaeda - sources.

Zimbabwe mulls mortgaging minerals to offset debt.

Southern Sudan official welcomes new referendum law.


Manhunt as gunman Ibrahim Shkupolli kills five in Finland.

Lithuania to shut its only nuclear power station.

Ten years at the top for Vladimir Putin.


Extra security in Times Square for New Year’s Eve.

Murder victims found hanging from Mexico overpass.


Source: CIA failed to circulate report about bombing suspect. FBI, CIA interrogate father of Nigerian suspect.

Obama to receive prelim report on airline attack.

Yemeni forces raid al-Qaida hideout, clashes erupt.

Confusion over Bali terror warning.


China ruling portends more trade action in 2010.

Iceland approves £3.4bn Icesave loss deal.

World stocks close out bumper 2009 with more gains.

Iran And Nuclear Triggers

Won't Be Fooled Again -- Armchair Generalist

You might remember this breathless announcement by the MSM that a technical document had surfaced showing that Iran was secretly developing a nuclear trigger. This evidence clearly demonstrated that Iran was in fact operating a clandestine nuclear weapons program!

"It looks bad -- there is no doubt about it," said David Albright, a former inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, who reviewed the document and other papers for the London newspaper. He said work on a neutron initiator is a "very strong indicator of nuclear work."

Zoinks! OMG!! What shall we do? That evil mastermind, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, denied it all, but of course he would do that. He's just that kind of nasty movie-drama villain who we must oppose at all cost... unless he was, in fact, telling the truth.

Read more ....

My Comment: The problem with this story .... and all stories that deal with Iran's nuclear program .... is the difficulty of obtaining accurate information. Case in point .... I know many exiled Iranians who live in Montreal (my home town), and they are in constant communication with their contacts in Iran. Because of my Physics background (I have a Bsc. in Physiology-Physics and (more importantly) I have also written extensively on the history of America's Manhattan Project), I have become .... for better or worse .... a dumping ground by my Iranian friends on all things that pertain to Iran's nuclear program.

From all the information and stories that I have heard and gathered, I would hazard a guess that 90% of it is either disinformation and/or elaborate exaggerations and lies, and the other 10% interesting but with no collaboration and .... more importantly .... no additional proof.

So .... when I first read the Time's story about a document revealing Iran's interest in nuclear triggers .... all that I saw was one document .... written by someone .... and now publicly revealed to everyone. But what I did not see was additional proof .... additional collaboration .... and .... more importantly .... additional evidence that is rock solid to backup the original accusation.

Critics on the other side have also not distinguished themselves in this matter. IPSNews may not be sympathetic with the main stream media's portrayal that the Time's document is genuine, but IPS News must use not only better sources than Philip Giraldi (a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992), but multiple sources. Philip Giraldi is an official who has been out of the business for the past 17 years, and his information comes from contacts that may .... or may not .... indulge him with the truth. I should know .... because I sometimes feel that my own contacts treat me the same way.

But as to the question .... is Iran secretly developing a nuclear trigger? I honestly do not know the answer, and this is a story that I have been watching for years. The Iranians are behaving the same way that Saddam Hussein's Government behaved with their nuclear program .... a lot of talk, smoke and mirrors, denials and threats, and a complete obfuscation of the truth. But unlike the Iraqis before the 2003 war, I do know that Iran has invested heavily in nuclear technologies, and they are paranoid to the extreme on keeping their work secret. But before we accuse them of anything .... our evidence must still be rock solid.

In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War, I was adamant in my many comments that our evidence on the existanse of WMD programs in Iraq was lacking in proof that can be collaborated by multiple sources. Intelligence had failed in providing this collaborative proof ... and as a result we should have been more cautious in addressing Iraq and threatening them with war.

We did not .... and after tens of thousands dead, trillions in dollars lost (yes .... I am saying trillions) .... we are now leaving Iraq with very little (if anything) to show for it. Worse .... we have also not learned from our past mistakes .... because from where I am standing it seems that we are now repeating history but with Iran as our main protagonist .... a sick and dysfunctional country that is on the verge of breaking apart but only held together by religious fanatics and the thugs that they have hired to keep the lid on dissent.

Plus ca change .... plus c'est le mem chose. The more things change .... the more that they stay the same.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- December 31, 2009

Danger Room’s Top 10 Stories From A World Gone Nuts -- The Danger Room

The past year took Danger Room’s team of reporters from Afghanistan to Israel to Georgia, and from the Pentagon to a clandestine air base in Southwest Asia, in what has to be one the wildest years ever on the international stage. Here are our choices for the most important stories of 2009.

Read more ....


Predator Intercepts No Big Deal -- DoD Buzz

Classified Bomber Under Consideration -- Defense Tech

LCS Alternative Weekly -- New Wars

M-ATV: A Win, at Last, for Oshkosh -- Defense Industry Daily

Morale: Inconvenience Pay -- Strategy Page

Professionals Discuss Logistics -- Armchair Generalist

China Cuts into Russia's Arms Sales -- The Compass

Number of full-body scanners at US airports to triple in 2010 -- Christian Science Monitor

Is There A Nuclear Race In The Middle East?

While UN inspectors monitor the spent nuclear fuel at the Bushehr power plant, worries are that there are other sites the inspectors don't know about. From Radio Free Europe.

The Middle East's Interrupted Atomic Dreams -- Foreign Policy

As oil prices drop, nuclear power is becoming less attractive in the region. So why is Iran still hanging on to its program?

In light of Iran's rapidly accelerating nuclear program, more than a dozen states in the Middle East have also announced their intention to develop nuclear energy programs. The trend has caused much anxiety among members of the global community. It has sparked concerns about the spread of nuclear technology that could contribute to nuclear weapons proliferation in the Middle East, intensify arms races in the region among all classes of weapons, and become a target for terrorist activity. On this site, Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, wrote about the United Arab Emirates (UAE): "After they have developed nuclear technologies, trained nuclear scientists and engineers, and plugged into global nuclear markets, will they go one step further and build uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing plants that could be used to make fuel -- or bombs?"

Read more ....

My Comment: There is a lot to digest in this post. It's analysis on oil production trends in the Middle East (alone) makes this post worthwhile to bookmark.

China Floats The Idea of Establishing Its First Naval Base Outside Of China

China Floats Idea Of First Overseas Naval Base -- BBC

A senior Chinese naval officer has suggested that China establish a permanent base in the Gulf of Aden to support its anti-piracy operations.

Rear Admiral Yin Zhou's proposal was posted on the defence ministry website.

Mr Yin said supplying and maintaining the fleet off Somalia was challenging without such a base, and said other nations were unlikely to object.

China's navy currently has no overseas bases, but there are calls in the media and web forums for this to change.

The proposal comes after a Chinese cargo ship and its crew of 25 were rescued from Somali pirates on Monday, amid reports that a $4m (£2.5m) ransom had been paid to their kidnappers.

Read more ....

More News On China's Interest In Establishing An Overseas Base

China may build Middle East naval base -- The Telegraph
Chinese admiral floats idea of overseas naval bases -- Washington Post/Reuters
China mulling naval base in Gulf of Aden: admiral -- AFP
What China Wishes To Do With Its Navy -- Information Dissemination

My Comment: This is being reported and publicized now .... but the Chinese have been thinking about this for a very long time.

Are New TSA In-Flight Restrictions Pointless?

Spaceport security was tight in the sci-fi movie Total Recall. Unfortunately, modern-day airport security doesn't have this level of scanning technology (yet) (Columbia Pictures).

From Discovery News:

On Christmas Day, Nigerian wannabe terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab set fire to his pants on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it was on its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The fire was sparked when Abdulmutallab failed to detonate a homemade mix of explosives that were carried on board the aircraft concealed in the crotch of his underwear.

Read more ....

My Comment: A sober analysis on what needs to be done on improving airport security.

Iran Complicit In The Murder Of British Hostages

Iraq Hostage Peter Moore's Release Raises Questions -- BBC

As with most hostage dramas in the Middle East, the release of information technology specialist Peter Moore in Baghdad raises many questions, some of which may never be answered.

The release itself was unheralded until the last moment, when word went round that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband was about to make a statement on the Baghdad hostages.

Even then, there was nothing publicly known to suggest that it would be the happy news of the release of a live detainee, rather than grim tidings that another of the five had been handed over dead, as three already have been in June and September this year.

Read more ....

More News On The Release Of Peter Moore

Revealed: hand of Iran behind Britons' Baghdad kidnapping -- The Guardian
Bush threats and an $18bn secret: why Iran's kidnap squad decided to strike -- The Guardian
Peter Moore freed after US hands over Iraqi insurgent -- Times Online
Peter Moore went for a job — and ended up as a hostage for 946 days
The five British hostages kidnapped in Iraq -- The Guardian

My Comment: The Guardian has been on this story for months .... the reasons why these men were kidnapped (and some murdered) are detailed in the following must read expose.
Obama Orders Creation Of Declassification Center -- Washington Post

President Obama created by executive order Tuesday a National Declassification Center to oversee efforts to make once-secret government documents public.

The order comes as part of Obama's promise to push government to err on the side of disclosure as it tackles the need to keep certain information from the public.

In a post on the White House blog, William H. Leary, the senior director of records and access management at the National Security Council, writes that the effort is aimed at shifting the burden of defending secrecy to the government.

Read more ....

My Comment: It is still too early to comment on what will be the eventual shape of this "National Declassification Center", but the following sentence will ... I am sure .... give everyone pause.

The order comes as part of Obama's promise to push government to err on the side of disclosure as it tackles the need to keep certain information from the public.

To err on the side of disclosure ..... hmmmm .... I have to let that one sink in for a little while.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trials For Guantanamo Detainees In New York City Is Not Going To Be Cheap

U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.

Security Costs Will Top $75M In NYC Terror Trial -- Washington Post/AP

NEW YORK -- New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly says security for the upcoming trial of the Sept. 11 terror attack suspects will cost much more than the initial estimate of $75 million.

Kelly drafted a security plan Dec. 18 for the upcoming trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others in New York federal court. The men have been charged with war crimes. Kelly says the costs will considerably exceed $75 million, but he would not say how much more. The initial estimate was given Nov. 18.

Read more ....

My Comment: One thing that I have learned about Government when it comes to projecting costs .... if they give you a figure .... just triple it.

Would it have been cheaper if these trials were held in Guantanamo .... probably. But President Obama and U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder want a show in New York City .... and a show it will be.

Taliban Successfully Attack A CIA Facility In Eastern Afghanistan

9 Die In CIA Facility Blast In Afghanistan -- UPI

KHOST, Afghanistan, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber blew himself up Wednesday in an Afghan military base used by the CIA, killing at least eight U.S. civilians, U.S. officials said.

The bomber eluded security at the facility -- used by the CIA as an operations and surveillance center -- in the eastern province of Khost before detonating his explosives in what U.S. officials described as a fitness center, The Washington Post reported.

Read more ....

My Comment: Do not be surprise to see a few more stars put up at the mural in the lobby at the CIA Headquarters in Langley.

IED Explosion Kills 5 Canadians In Afghanistan

Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald was killed in an attack in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
(Photo from Facebook)

5 Canadians Killed In Afghanistan -- CBC

Five Canadians were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday — four soldiers and a Calgary reporter.

Brig.-Gen. Daniel Ménard said one Canadian civilian was also wounded in the attack.

The journalist was identified as Michelle Lang, who worked for the Calgary Herald.

Lang, who was 34, grew up in Vancouver and was a well-respected health reporter for the Herald, winning a National Newspaper Award in 2008 for best beat reporting. She had also worked in Regina and Moose Jaw.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Canadians Killed In Afghanistan

Canwest journalist, 4 soldiers die in Afghan blast -- National Post
Canadian journalist, four soldiers killed in insurgent bomb blast in Kandahar -- Canadian Press
Calgary-based journalist among 5 killed in Afghanistan -- CTV
4 Canadian soldiers, 1 reporter, killed in Afghanistan -- CTV
Calgary journalist, 4 soldiers killed in Kandahar -- Toronto Sun
Don Martin: Remembering Michelle Lang -- National Post

My Comment: As a Canadian, these stories always hit home. Our prayers are with the families tonight.

U.S. Military Strikes On Al Qaeda In Yemen Are Now Being Planned

Obama Considering Military Strikes After Christmas Day Aircraft Plot -- Times Online

The Pentagon is drawing up urgent plans for increased military co-operation with Yemen, including possible retaliatory strikes against al-Qaeda targets, according to US officials engaged in a high-stakes bid to neutralise Islamist militants without enraging the Arab world.

The Obama Administration, caught out by the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines aircraft, is reviewing every possible response and has not ruled out military strikes if targets linked directly to the failed attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab can be identified.

Read more ....

More News On U.S. Military Plans To Strike Al Qaeda in Yemen

US plots retaliatory strikes against al-Qaida in Yemen over plane bomber
-- The Guardian
Yemeni diplomat: Yemen can carry out airstrikes against al Qaeda -- CNN
Yemen seeks Western support against Al-Qaeda -- AFP
Report: US gears up for attack in Yemen after botched plane attack -- Ynet News
US, Yemen gear up for flight 253 retaliatory strike -- Press TV
US sharply steps up military, economic aid to Yemen -- AFP
U.S. Seeks to Boost Yemen For Expanded Al Qaeda Fight -- New York Times/Reuters

Somali Piracy News Updates -- December 30, 2009

The St James Park, a UK-flagged chemical tanker is seen on the River Thames at Northfleet in Essex, southern England in this October 4 file photo. Derek Lilley/Reuters/File

Somali Pirates Hijack Three More Vessels -- Nine9 News

Somali pirates captured a freighter, a bulk carrier and a chemical tanker in a few days, defying foreign warships in the Gulf of Aden and ending the year with a flurry after collecting millions in ransom.

The marauding sea bandits' latest catch was the St James Park, a UK-flagged chemical tanker with a crew of 26 from nine different countries, Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program said on Tuesday.

He said the vessel, which was seized on Monday en route from Spain to Thailand, had been commandeered near the northern Somali coast.

"It is expected to arrive there later this evening," Mwangura told AFP.

Read more ....

More News On Somali Piracy

Somali pirates seize India bound cargo ship -- Hindustan Times
Somali Pirates Attack Kuwaiti Oil Tanker -- New York Times/AP
No report of injuries or casualties on two kidnapped ships: IMB officer -- China View
Somali pirates hijack two ships -- BBC
Somali pirates nab two more ships, one in protected Gulf of Aden -- Christian Science Monitor
Somali Pirate Activity: Winds and Waves -- Eagle Speak
Somali Pirates: Greek Bulker Hijacked in Indian Ocean -- Eagle Speak
Somali Pirates: Brit Tanker Taken in Gulf of Aden -- Eagle Speak
Piracy-Related Events in the Past Year -- New York Times/AP

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Dick Cheney: Barack Obama 'Trying To Pretend' -- The Politico

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused President Barack Obama on Tuesday of “trying to pretend we are not at war” with terrorists, pointing to the White House response to the attempted sky bombing as reflecting a pattern that includes banishing the term “war on terror” and attempting to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Read more ....

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

U.S. Will 'Find And Fix' System's Vulnerabilities -- Janet Napolitano, USA Today

Why is Obama still in Hawaii? -- Why is Obama still in Hawaii?, Washington Post

A slowly dawning realization -- Thomas Lifson, American Thinker

Yemen's problems will not stay in Yemen -- Christopher Boucek, CNN

Cold War Lessons for Jihadism -- Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times

Build-a-BomberWhy do so many terrorists have engineering degrees? -- Benjamin Popper, Slate

North Korea Nuke Game Continues in 2010 -- Tong Kim, Korea Times

The Middle East just gets worse: a 2009 retrospective -- Rami G. Khouri, The Daily Star

China To Britain: Before preaching, remember the opium wars -- George Walden, Times Online

A decade of Western losses and Asian gains -- Gwynne Dyer, Japan Times

World News Briefs -- December 30, 2009 (Eveing Edition)

Detroit Terror Attack: Hesitation Over X-Ray Scanners Risking Lives -- The Telegraph

Ministers have been accused of putting lives at risk by failing to order X-ray style body scanners at British airports despite fears that al-Qaeda is planning a wave of syringe bomb attacks on planes.

The scanners, which could have thwarted the attack by the Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, are already in use in countries including America and Germany, and yesterday the Netherlands and Nigeria announced they would follow suit.

But the Government said it had “no immediate plans” to deploy them, leading to accusations that ministers had been “caught napping”.

Read more ....


Anbar bombings raise fears of renewed Iraqi violence.

Peter Moore freed after US deal to hand over Iraqi insurgent.

As standoff with Iran continues, U.S. prepares targeted sanctions.

Thousands of Iranians rally in support of government, call for Mousavi's death. Iran police vow to crush protesters with no mercy.

Iran denies secret deal to import Kazakh uranium.

Hamas still undecided on Schalit deal. The woman in the way of a Palestinian prisoner deal.


Laos says no need to fear for Hmong deportees.

Afghanistan suicide bombing kills 8 American civilians.

North Korea pilfering nuclear reactor site: report.

Britain blasted as 'powerless' over China execution row.

West Australia fires raze dozens of homes.


Bomb plot arrest highlight Nigeria's Islamist militancy.

Nigeria gets 'illegal' new chief justice.

Pirates hijack British tanker in sea ‘safety’ zone.

Sudan MPs pass key referendum law.

Pirates hijack British tanker in sea ‘safety’ zone.

Lockheed to sell 24 F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

Death toll from Nigeria clashes climbs to 70.


Dutch airport to use full-body scan for U.S. flights.

Putin trumpets first Russia population growth since 1995.

Putin seeks to slap curbs on inflow of 'hot money'.

Panel rejects French carbon tax. Sarkozy scrambles to salvage carbon tax.

Ukraine front-runner questions democratic reforms.


Colombia says coca crop eradication down in 2009.

Obama quietly changes U.S. immigration policy.

Lula on screen: Brazil's President as superhero.

Mexico drugs boss Beltran Leyva's death scene 'altered'.


Former Guantanamo detainees fuel growing al-Qaeda cell.

Obama blames "systemic failures" for plane attack. Obama: Iintelligence community' blew air bomber tip.

Likely casualty of air plot: Obama's Guantanamo plans.

Dutch to use full body scanners for US flights.


Japan unveils new plan for growth.

French public debt hits record.

Japan Airlines shares fall 24% to hit a new record low.

China's PetroChina invests in Canada oil sands.

What Is The FAA Thinking?

EDITORIAL: While Terrorists Plot, The FAA Parties -- Washington Times

The congressional pork barrel comes before public safety.

While a terrorist was plotting to kill Americans over the Christmas holidays, what was the Federal Aviation Administration doing? Why, spending $5 million on a three-week-long Christmas party, of course.

A series of seminars in Atlanta officially were aimed at training managers on a new air-traffic-controller contract but degenerated into one big bash. According to ABC News, the seminars didn't even cover half of the 100 new provisions in a contract that went into effect two months ago.

Read more ....

My Comment: I suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What Is Homeland Security Thinking?

U.S. Will 'Find And Fix' System's Vulnerabilities -- Janet Napolitano, USA Today

Friday's attempted terrorist attack against Northwest Flight 253 near Detroit is a powerful illustration that terrorists will go to great lengths to try to defeat the security measures that have been put in place since September 11, 2001.

While we took swift action immediately following last week's incident at airports around the country and throughout the world, our defenses should never have allowed this individual to board a plane bound for the United States. The administration is determined to find and fix the vulnerabilities in our systems that allowed this breach to happen.

Read more ....

More News On Homeland Security

Obama on Napolitano: Official: POTUS has full confidence -- Politico
US will 'find and fix' vital security gaps: Napolitano -- AFP
Homeland chief Napolitano says airline security system failed -- USA Today
Napolitano Reverses Course, Says Air Security Did NOT Work -- Wall Street Journal
Fingerpointing Begins in Aftermath of Failed Terror Attack -- FOX News
Who Should Be Held Responsible for Security Failures in the Christmas Day Bomb Attempt? -- ABC News
Burton calls for Napolitano's scalp -- The Politico
National Post editorial board: Napolitano must go -- National Post
You're Doing a Heck of a Job, Janet -- Richard Grenell, Huffington Post
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is not fit for position, recent events prove -- Michael Daly, New York Daily News
Protect us from Homeland Security? -- Ballard J. Powell, Chicago Tribune

Breaking: Suicide Attack In Afghanistan Kills 8 Americans. Unknown Number Are Wounded

8 Americans Dead After Suicide Bombing At U.S. Base In Afghanistan -- New York Daily News

A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest attacked a U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan late Wednesday, killing eight Americans, military officials said.

The attack happened at Forward Operating Base Chapman near the district of Khost in Khost province.

There were conflicting reports about whether the bomber walked into the dining facility or the gym. CNN said the casualty toll ranged from five to nine people.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Suicide Attack In Afghanistan

Suicide Bomb Attack at US Military Base in Afghanistan Killed at Least 9 -- Cleveland Leader
Eight Americans Are Killed in Afghan Blast -- Reuters
US citizens killed in Afghanistan -- BBC
Reports: Multiple Deaths After Attack At U.S. Compound In Afghanistan -- NPR
U.S. Civilians Killed By Suicide Blast In Afghanistan -- New York Times/Reuters