Sunday, September 30, 2012

Who Will Win This "Rock Fight"

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Rock Fight -- James Holmes, Foreign Policy

Japan could win a war for the Senkaku islands, but it wouldn't be easy. And certainly not without U.S. help.

In recent weeks, Japan and China have squared off over who owns a minor group of islands in the East China Sea. The unthinkable -- a perilous maritime war for seemingly trivial stakes -- no longer appears unthinkable. So how do you defend a group of uninhabited rocks and islets like the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands?

Mainly by positioning yourself to win the air and sea battle around the disputed archipelago. The obvious way to ward off attack -- stationing garrisons and artillery on the tiny, resource-poor islands -- should be a secondary measure. And it would likely prove a losing one, absent superiority in nearby seas and skies. Forces left ashore without external support would find themselves stranded and outgunned, not to mention hungry and thirsty.

Read more ....

My Comment: China will probably win a military confrontation (if the U.S. does not get involved), but the repercussions would be a disaster for not only China's economy, but for it's soon to be new leadership who are trying their best to signal to the rest of the world that China has "come of age" in international relations.

British Security Firm Facing Questions Over It's Failure To Protect Amb. Stevens

British Security Firm Facing Questions Over Role In Benghazi Attack -- The Telegraph

A British private security firm is facing questions over its role in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi after it emerged that it was responsible for hiring local guards to protect the diplomatic site.

Blue Mountain, a Wales-based firm staffed by former special forces operatives, was hired by the US government to provide security at the consulate before it was overrun in an assault that killed the ambassador and three other Americans.

The company was paid only $387,413 (£239,683) by the US State Department for the year-long contract, less than the cost of deploying a single American soldier.

In return, Blue Mountain assembled a force of local guards who were unable to protect Ambassador Chris Stevens or repel the coordinated attack on September 11.

Read more ....

My Comment: I guess some in the State Department (and elsewhere)  are looking for a fall guy to pin the blame for this disaster.

Unrest Growing In Jordan

Jordanian protesters calling themselves the Youth of March 24 Movement demonstrate for political reform and clash against government supporters in Amman. (March, 2011. Muhammad Hamed / Reuters)

Disquiet On The Jordanian Front -- Carnegie Endowment

September has witnessed a massive—and potentially irreversible—shift in strategy among segments of Jordan’s opposition movement: a number of political activists are now openly and repeatedly calling for a limitation of the monarchy's powers—with a small (though extremely vocal) minority even explicitly calling for the abdication of King Abdullah II. In a strikingly blunt statement by the organizers of the 8 September protest in East Amman's Haya al-Tafileh neighborhood—who gathered in response to arrest of a number of fellow activists a day prior and later reorganized on September 11 and 13 at Amman’s Interior Ministry Circle and Second Circle—accusations struck at the king's carefully curated international image as a modern, democracy-building reformer. Their Facebook statement reads, in part: "You are disguised in the costume of freedom and democracy, while hiding inside of you is absolute fascism and control over the destiny of this country and the livelihood of its people. We can no longer be patient with this repression of our arrested sons, with no guilt other than demanding freedom and social justice for all Jordanians, and fighting corruption that is royally sponsored." [Full Arabic original and English translation available here]

Read more ....

My Comment:
With a full blown civil war in it's neighbor Syria .... the Arab Spring will probably be taking a back seat in Jordan. But the civil war in Syria will end one day, and Jordan (along with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikdoms) are probably next for the Arab Spring to 'visit'..

Is North Korea Closing Camp 22?

North Korea's Most Notorious Secret Prison Reportedly Shut Down -- Business Insider

North Korea is thought to have as many as 200,000 prisoners in a secret political prison network, according to international experts, and the prisoners are said to be kept in brutal conditions.

However, there's some good news — NK News reports that one of the most largest and most notorious camps in that system has been shut down. A source told the website:

“Camp 22 in Hoiryeong was totally shut down in June. It was decided that it should be closed down after the warden who ran it and another officer ran away to China.”

Read more ....

My Comment: As long as the system remains there will be other Camp 22s .... albeit with a different name. For more info on North Korea's gulags, go here.

What Is The Real Drone 'Body Count'?

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft takes off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Photo: USAF

Not Even the White House Knows the Drones’ Body Count -- The Danger Room

Government officials claim they’re ultra-precise killing machines that never, ever miss their targets. Outside groups say they’re covered in children’s blood. The fact is no one has a clue exactly how many militants and how many innocents have been slain in the U.S. drone war that spans from Pakistan to Somalia. Remember that before you start your next Twitter feud about the drone war.

Neither the American government nor the independent agencies have the consistent presence on the ground needed to put together true assessments of the damage drone strikes do. Most of the evidence is third-hand, whispered from a local soldier to a far-off reporter. The death toll claims, which vary wildly, are all educated guesswork.

Read more

My Comment: We will never know the true number .... hence the reason why we call it "the fog of war".

Meeting The Syrian Army's Snipers As They Fight The Rebels

Syria Despatch: Meeting Assad's Snipers As They Fight Rebels In Homs -- The Telegraph

In an exclusive report, Bill Neely gains rare access to the Syrian government fighters waging war in the frontline city of Homs.

He sat in near darkness and total silence: a young man, with a hard face and a reputation to live up to.

In a city paralysed by fear, he is among the most feared. He is a Syrian army sniper and I'd come to meet him.

The soldier who'd taken me up the staircase and into the gloom of the house on the front line in Homs wouldn't give the sniper's name for fear that his family would be targeted and killed by rebels bent on revenge.

Read more ....

My Comment: Their names may not be known, but these videos have captured their faces. One day there will be justice, and hell will probably visit these snipers.

3 Of 4 US Adults Unqualified To Serve In The Military

Report Says 3 Of 4 US Adults Unqualified For Military -- Stars and Stripes/The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens' Voice/MCT

DALLAS - Retired Maj. Gens. Joseph Perugino and Daniel O'Neill, two former commanders of the Pennsylvania National Guard's 28th Infantry Division, are taking an active role promoting early learning programs for 3- and 4-year-olds.

They want to see more money invested in early childhood education, they said, because it is essential to the future of national security and workforce development. Not having enough money for early learning programs has the potential to be a threat to national security in the future, Perugino said.

Read more ....

My Comment: It is amazing that even with these stats .... the U.S. military is still a volunteer organization.

The Human Cost Of "Fast And Furious"

The Untold Story Behind The "Fast And Furious" Scandal -- ABC News

Who are the human faces of the U.S. government's botched "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation?

Often lost amid the rancor in Washington are the stories of dozens of people killed by guns that flowed south as part of the undercover operation, and later slipped out of view from U.S. officials. Univision's Investigative Unit (Univision Investiga) has identified massacres committed using guns from the ATF operation, including the killing of 16 young people attending a party in a residential area of Ciudad Juárez in January of 2010.

Read more ....

Univision: The untold story of what 'Fast and Furious' wrought in Mexico -- Christian Science Monitor

My Comment: This explains why Univison was hard hitting in its answer and question interview with President Obama. Makes you wonder why Eric Holder is still the Attorney General.

World Heritage Site In Aleppo Destroyed

In Syria Fighting, Aleppo World Heritage Site Burns -- Bloomberg Businessweek

Syrian troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad fought with rebels in the commercial hub of Aleppo in a deadly battle that set fire to an ancient marketplace that was once a tourist attraction.

Fighting in the country’s largest city continued for the third day in what insurgents said would be a “decisive battle” to control Aleppo. Rebels captured four neighborhoods, Al Jazeera reported, citing an interview with a local activist. Syrian government troops killed 126 people yesterday across the country, including 64 in or around the capital Damascus, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement.

Read more ....

More news On The Destruction Of Aleppo's Old Quarter

Historic souk burns in battle for Aleppo -- Financial Times
Ancient market burns as fighting rages in Syria's Aleppo -- Reuters
Aleppo Souq yet another victim of civil war -- Gulf News/AP
Syrian army, rebels fight for control of Aleppo; marketplace burns -- CNN
In Syria’s Largest City, Fire Ravages Ancient Market -- New York Times
Syrian conflict: Your pictures of Aleppo's souk
-- BBC

My Comment: This will be Assad's legacy centuries from now.

Change In Venezuela?

Venezuela's Marathon Man Looks To Run Down Chavez -- New York Times

Henrique Capriles, an opposition leader who runs marathons in his spare time, hopes to give Hugo Chavez a close race in elections next weekend, reports Philip Sherwell.

Soaked by rain and perspiration, Henrique Capriles retreated reluctantly inside his campaign bus as the horn-blowing, flag-waving convoy crept through the pot-holed streets of the slums of Maracaibo, Venezuela's second city.

A late evening tropical thunderstorm had finally forced him from his place atop a pick-up truck after a typical 12-hour day of rapturous rallies and rock-star receptions for the dashing 40-year-old opposition leader.

Read more ....

Profile: Henrique Capriles -- Al Jazeera

My Comment: Chavez controls the government, media, and most likely the tools that will run next weeks election. I will be surprised if Henrique Capriles will be able to garner enough votes to challenge the uncumbant.

Another Wave Of Bombings In Iraq

String Of Iraq Car Bomb Blasts Kill At Least 32 -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Bombings and shootings killed more than 32 people across Iraq on Sunday, underscoring the government's struggle with a stubborn insurgency more than nine months after the last U.S. troops withdrew.

In Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, bombs in three parked cars went off separately, killing 11 people and wounding 24, including several policemen.

Reuters footage of the scene of one of the explosions showed the remains of an exploded car surrounded by several completely and partially destroyed houses and cars.

Taji has one of Iraq's largest military airbases but the bombing hit a civilian neighborhood.

Read more ....

More News On Today's Wave Of Bombing Attacks In Iraq

Gun and bomb attacks kill more than 32 across Iraq -- Independent
Wave of Bomb Attacks Kills 26 in Iraq -- Voice of America
Iraq car bomb attacks target security forces and Shias -- BBC
Al Qaeda-style strikes on Shiites in Iraq kill at least 26 -- Christian Science Monitor/AP
At least 26 killed in Iraq in wave of car bomb attacks -- RT
Police targeted in deadly attacks across Iraq -- Deutsche Welle

Revealed: Why Did The Christmas Day Bomber's Exploding Underwear Failed To Detonate

Bomber shorts: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab wore this underwear outfitted with explosives for three weeks before the failed bomb attempt on Christmas Day 2009

Revealed: How Christmas Day Bomber's Exploding Underwear Failed To detonate... Because He Had Worn Them For THREE WEEKS -- Daily Mail

Agents who investigated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said he was forthcoming about his plans
Abdulmutallab sentenced to three life terms after pleading guilty earlier this year
Infamous al-Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is believed to have made the device

The notorious underwear bomber who tried to bring down a jumbo jet on Christmas Day had a dirty little secret - he'd been wearing the explosive skivvies for weeks.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab wore them for three weeks to be exact, and it may have been the reason why he was unsuccessful in his 2009 terrorist plans aboard a Detroit-bound airliner.

The new details were revealed by two FBI agents who played a role in securing a confession from Abdulmutallab, shortly after the bungled plot.

Read more ....

My Comment: 3 weeks!!!! Phew!

How Deep Has The Taliban Infiltrated Afghanistan's Security Forces

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Frank A. Grippe, command senior enlisted leader for U.S. Central Command, looks on as soldiers conduct atmospherics with Afghans while on a foot patrol in the Panjwai district of southern Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2012. The soldiers are assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matt Young

US Forces In The Dark About Taliban Infiltration In Afghanistan -- The Hill

U.S. and coalition commanders are no closer to knowing how deep the Taliban has penetrated Afghanistan’s security forces despite increased efforts to flush out infiltrators who are carrying out attacks against Americans.

"As for what percentage of the insider threat is related to infiltration or radicalization, I mean, it's really difficult to determine," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday.

Read more

My Comment: I suspect that the penetration is deep and wide ranging, and senior officers are acting as if this is the case.

2,000 U.S. Troops Death In Afghanistan

U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Frank A. Grippe, command senior enlisted leader for U.S. Central Command, speaks with soldiers on a foot patrol in the Panjwai district of southern Afghanistan, Sept. 22, 2012. Grippe visited the soldiers as part of his visit to Regional Command South. The soldiers are assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division's Company A, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matt Young

US Military Death Toll In Afghanistan Hits 2,000 -- The Guardian

Latest 'insider attack' at checkpoint kills two Americans and two Afghan soldiers, marking 2,000th US troop death of conflict.

An Afghan soldier has killed two Americans and two fellow members of Afghanistan's army at a checkpoint in the east of the country.

The shooting continues the trend of "insider attacks" and marks the 2,000th US troop death in the long-running war, officials said.

The series of insider attacks is one of the greatest threats to Nato's mission in Afghanistan, endangering a partnership key to training Afghan security forces and withdrawing international troops.

Saturday's shooting took place at an Afghan army checkpoint just outside a joint US-Afghan base in Wardak province, said Shahidullah Shahid, a provincial government spokesman. At least two Afghan soldiers also died, he said.

Read more ....

More News On The US Military Death Toll In Afghanistan Hitting 2,000

US military death toll in Afghanistan reaches 2,000 -- BBC
Afghan inside attack kills 2 Americans, 2 Afghans, marking 2,000 US troop deaths -- FOX News/AP
2,000 US troops dead in Afghanistan -- Press Association
Afghan Attack Brings U.S. Troop Death Toll To 2,000 -- Radio Free Europe

Afghanistan War: 2,000th U.S. Soldier Killed In Insider Attack
-- Huffington Post/AP
Afghan 'insider' attack marks grim milestone for US troop deaths -- NBC

Another Insider Attack In Afghanistan

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. James Bates pulls security as his team loads a tactical vehicle into the cargo bay of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in the Pur Chaman district in Afghanistan's Farah province, Sept. 26, 2012. The mission marks the first time coalition forces have been to that district in more than a year. Bates is assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah, a unit of soldiers, sailors and airmen working with government and non-government agencies to improve governance and stability in the U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lovelady

5 Dead After Suspected Insider Attack In Afghanistan -- New York Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two days after joint operations between American and Afghan forces were said to be returning to normal, a pitched battle broke out between the two allies, killing five people, two Americans and three Afghans, Afghan officials said Sunday.

Details of what happened in the incident Saturday were scarce and contradictory, but both the governor and police chief of Wardak Province, just west of the capital Kabul, described a misunderstanding or argument leading to the incident, which occurred at a checkpoint of the Afghan National Army in the Said Abad district.

Read more ....

More News On Another Green On Blue Attack In Afghanistan

NATO soldier, civilian, killed in Afghan "insider" attack -- Reuters
American among two dead in Afghan insider attack, official says
-- CNN
U.S. service member dead in Afghan insider attack -- CBS
Afghan soldier kills two Americans in new 'insider attack' - marking the 2,000th U.S. troop death in Afghanistan -- Daily Mail
Suspected insider attack kills U.S. soldier, contractor in Afghanistan -- L.A. Times
Another Blue-on-Green Attack Kills Four --
Suspected insider Afghan battle kills 5 -- UPI
Afghan insider attack kills two Americans -- The Australian
Apparent insider attack kills NATO soldier, civilian contractor in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Afghan police, soldiers dying alongside NATO partners in insider attacks -- Washington Post/AP
Insider Attacks Hinder Transition Out Of Afghanistan
-- NPR (audio)

FBI Investigation On The Benghazi Consulate Raid Still Delayed Two Weeks After The Attack

The caskets of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and security officers Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty are escorted through an honor cordon on Joint Base Andrews, Md., Sept. 14, 2012. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Mother Of Navy SEAL Killed In Libya While Trying To Protect Ambassador Slams Government For 'Unacceptable' Delay In Investigating Deaths -- Daily Mail

* Tyrone Woods died on September 11 while defending Benghazi consulate
* FBI agents have not been allowed into 'unsafe' city to investigate attack
* SEAL's mother says delay is 'absolutely unacceptable'

The mother of one of the Navy SEALs killed in the raid on a U.S. consulate in Libya has criticised the administration for its slow response to the massacre earlier this month.

More than two weeks after the apparent terrorist attack in Benghazi which killed ambassador Chris Stevens along with three other officials, an FBI investigation team has yet to enter the city.

Cheryl Croft Bennett, whose son Tyrone Woods died alongside his comrade Glen Doherty while trying to protect consulate staff, took to Facebook to denounce the lack of progress in uncovering the circumstances behind the raid.

Read more

Murdered ex-SEAL’s mother frustrated by pace of Benghazi investigation -- The Cable/Foreign Policy

My Comment: As I had mentioned a week ago, if Benghazi is too dangerous for the FBI .... why was the Ambassador sent there in the first place? There are too many contradictions and questions that need to be answered .... and it looks like there will now be no investigation. The mother of one of the killed Navy SEALS has just cause to be frustrated.

Training For The Next Embassy/Conuslate Attack

Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Marines trained for close-quarters combat this week in Virginia. They are a rapid-reaction force capable of quickly protecting an embassy. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

Training For Consulate Attacks, in Case There’s A Next Time -- New York Times

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — The “riot” erupted suddenly on the Virginia-North Carolina border in a remote pocket of marshland and pine. “Go back to America!” the protesters shouted, hurling rubber rocks at a large plywood structure meant to be a United States consulate. “We don’t want you here! This is our country!”

Two dozen Marines in full riot gear marched out in formation, beat their batons against their shields and otherwise looked menacing. Within minutes they had pushed back the protesters — fellow Marines in jeans and hooded sweatshirts — in a display of crowd control skills. “It can be a long day if you’re a rioter,” said Staff Sgt. William M. Loushin, the instructor who staged the riot. “Once you actually start getting aggressive against a Marine, it never ends well.”

Read more

My Comment: After what happened at the U.S. consulate in Libya two weeks ago, I assume that there is now a review of all security procedures at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Editor's Note

Enjoying some R&R. Regular Blogging will return Sunday morning.

World News Briefs -- September 29, 2012

In Statement, U.S. Spy Chief’s Office Defends Evolving Accounts Of Benghazi Attack, Cites Shifting Intelligence -- Washington Post

The office of the nation’s spy chief issued a statement Friday defending the Obama administration’s accounts of the siege on a U.S. mission in Libya, saying it became clear only in the aftermath that it was “a deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

The statement appeared aimed at quieting criticism, mostly from Republicans, of the administration’s shifting characterizations of a Sept. 11 assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Officials initially described the attack as spontaneous but in recent days have said it was an act of terrorism with links to al-Qaeda.

Read more ....


Syria rebels struggle in fresh Aleppo assault.

U.S., France boost Syria support, less than rebels hoped.

Israel PM in 'full agreement' with US on Iran.

Netanyahu's bomb steals the show in his UN speech.

Iranian: 'Our money is becoming more and more worthless every day'.

Yemen’s leader praises U.S. drone strikes.


Pakistan is not co-operating with US over drones, ministry insists.

China's Wen urges citizens to back Communist Party.

Bo Xilai to lose Congress seat as China prepares charges.

China's lines around islands suggest more conflict. US will not mediate in China-Japan island dispute.

US issues security alert for Philippine capital.

US troops see terrorism threat diminish on Philippine island of Mindanao.

North Korea plans agriculture reforms - source.

New Zealand admits illegally spying on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom.


Somalia Islamists abandon Kismayo amid AU attack.

FBI agents keep out of Benghazi.

After decades in exile, Libyan president Magarief ready to die for democracy.

Tunisia 'police rape' condemned.

Christians 'flee Egypt town after death threats'. Egypt's Copts abandon Sinai homes after threats, attack.

U.S. plan for emergency Egypt aid hits roadblock.


Police on alert over Northern Ireland march. Belfast march draws 30,000.

Tymoshenko calls on Ukraine to rise up against "mafia-rule".

Putin rolls back protege's modest liberal legacy.
Russians face their space crisis.

Greek Premier sees hope, but only if Europe helps.

Spain, Portugal brace for more austerity protests.

Valencia: the ghost city that’s become a symbol of Spain’s spending woes.

Tornado hits fair in Spain, flood deaths reach 8.

Pope's ex-butler Paolo Gabriele on trial for theft.


Satellite launch stirs passions before big vote in Venezuela.

Mexico finds cartel radio network, 300-foot tower.

Mexican court: Military law is unconstitutional.

Google Brazil to take down controversial Brazil video.

Israel disappointed at Argentina talks with Iran.

Trudeau's son would lead Canada Liberals to win: poll.


Radical Islamists unite under fresh name.

Danes won't take Guantanamo prisoners.

Al-Qaida group al-Shabab withdraws from its last stronghold in Somalia.


As the UN opens its General Assembly session, it is already thinking up new global taxes.

US banks hit by more than a week of cyberattacks.

Coffee giant Starbucks to open first India store.

Bank of America pays $2.4bn to settle Merrill Lynch lawsuit.

Libor interest rate riggers 'should face prosecution'.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- September 29, 2012

The Next Wave In US Robotic War: Drones On Their Own -- Space Daily/AFP

The US military's current fleet of drones will soon be overtaken by a new wave of robots that will be faster, stealthier and smarter -- operating virtually without human intervention, experts say.

The Pentagon is investing heavily in "autonomy" for robotic weapons, with researchers anticipating squadrons of drones in the air, land or sea that would work in tandem with manned machines -- often with a minimum of supervision.

Read more


Unmanned Aircraft Market Heading for New Heights -- Defpro

Germany Says EADS-BAE Merger Talks Need More Time -- Defense News

BAE-EADS Merger Lives Or Dies On French, Germans Learning To Let Go -- Aol Defense

Flying From Russian Mistrals
-- Strategy Page

NATO Official: Slow Progress on Missile Defense Cooperation with Russia
-- Defense News

U.S. Official Calls for Other Nations to Move Forward With Test Ban Treaty -- Global Security Newswire

US, Egypt to begin joint naval war games
-- The Hill

General Dynamics Awarded $395 Million to Begin Development for Abrams Modernization -- Defpro

Questions raised over Marine Personnel Carrier’s future
-- DoD Buzz

Marine Humvees get a second life -- DoD Buzz

AEGIS Combat Weapon System Test & Integration -- Defense industry Daily

Mini-shuttle X-37B talk stirs optimism on Space Coast -- Florida Today

Fueling the Fleet, Navy Looks to the Seas -- Defence Talk

Dempsey Calls for Faster, Flexible Force in ‘Joint Force 2020’ Capstone -- The E-Ring/Foreign Policy

Army Materiel Command Gears Up For Drawdown; Base Contracts In Play -- Aol Defense

Army Uniform Designed for Women Now for All -- and Stripes

Soldiers file sexual abuse lawsuit in San Francisco against Leon Panetta, other top military brass -- Mercury News/Salt Lake Tribune

Army suicides down in August -- Stars and Stripes

Rangers relive tragedy, annual trek to memorial reinforces lessons learned -- NWF Daily News

A country song about PTSD: 'All you've got left are these pieces' -- NBC

New Marine Corps bench in place at Veterans Memorial Park --

Military heroes’ Social Security numbers posted online
-- Washington Times

Mitt Romney: Military Action Against Iran May Not Be Needed

Mitt Romney told reporters aboard his campaign plane on Friday that he did not believe military action against Iran would be necessary. Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Romney Says Military Action Against Iran May Not Be Necessary -- ABC News

ABOARD THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN PLANE — Mitt Romney said today that he does not believe military action will be necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capability.

Romney added that he still leaves the option of military action “on the table” should it be needed.

Romney’s remarks came as he told reporters Friday afternoon about the phone conversation he had just finished with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

Read more

More News On Mitt Romney's Comments That Military Action Against Iran May Not Be Needed

Romney: U.S. can stop Iran without military action -- CBS/AP
Romney: Military action against Iran may not be needed -- Politico
Romney: Military action against Iran probably will not be required, but must remain an option -- Washington Post
Romney hopeful military action isn't needed in Iran -- NBC

No Chinese Wind-Farms Near U.S. Bases

Obama Blocks Chinese Wind Farms Purchase Near Navy Base -- NBC/AP

Unmanned drones and radar-jamming EA-18G 'Growler' jet among weapons tested there.

WASHINGTON — Citing national security risks, President Barack Obama on Friday blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northern Oregon near a Navy base where the U.S. military flies unmanned drones and electronic-warfare planes on training missions.

It was the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president has blocked such a foreign business deal.

Read more ....

My Comment: What do U.S. officials know that they are not telling us?

What It Will Take To Neutralize Syria's WMDs

Clearing Syrian WMDs Means 75K Troops And Massive Air Strikes -- USNI

In July, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Mullalem declared that Syria’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons would go unused in its civil war – unless a foreign power chose to intervene . The threat constituted a rare confirmation of the regime’s unconventional arsenal . The declaration raised serious concerns about U.S. policies in the event the regime did use its chemical or biological weapons. President Obama stated this would constitute a “red line” with “enormous consequences” that would alter calculations for military actions.

Read more ....

My Comment: There is zero political will in the West to send ground troops coupled with air support against Syria. But if such a military action does get sanctioned, it will be because Syria has decided to use WMDs against us or an ally .... a prospect that I doubt will happen. As to the figure of  75,000 soldiers needed to neutralize Syria's WMDs .... that number is pathetically small.

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A U.S. President?

President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., June 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Taxpayers Spent $1.4 Billion On Obama Family Last Year, Perks Questioned In New Book -- Daily Caller

Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.

In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.

Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in.

Read more ....

My Comment: I expected a higher amount.

IEDs Will Remain ‘Weapon Of Choice’ For Decades Against U.S. Soldiers

Congress Told IEDs Will Remain ‘Weapon Of Choice’ For Decades -- Defence Talk

Improvised explosive devices and the networks that use these asymmetric weapons, will remain an enduring threat to U.S. forces and the nation for decades to come, the Defense Department’s top counter-IED official told lawmakers, Sept. 20.

“The IED (improvised explosive device) is the weapon of choice for threat networks because they are cheap, made from readily available off-the-shelf components, easy to construct, lethal and accurate,” said Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero, Joint IED Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, director, during testimony to the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Defense Thursday.

This trend is apparent in Afghanistan, where IED events continue to rise, Barbero said.

Read more ....

My Comment: The stats outlined in this post makes for some sober reading.

Is China On A Tinderbox Ready To Explode From Labor Unrest?

China's Dorm Room Discontent Emerges As New Labor Flashpoint -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Twenty-three-year old factory worker Wang spends up to 12 hours a day making iPhone components in China, but his major complaint is not about the monotony of the production line - it is about his degrading worker-bee life inside the dormitory.

Wang, who did not want his full name published, is among thousands of workers housed in a vast complex where tensions aggravated by regimented and cramped living conditions boiled over on Sunday into a violent mass riot.

"The bathrooms are simply disgusting and people are constantly stealing things," Wang said as he stood outside of the factory in the northern city of Taiyuan, owned by Apple Inc's largest contract manufacturer, Taiwan firm Foxconn.

Read more

My Comment: This story is important to me because it confirms to me that unrest in China is growing .... and the reason why this Reuters story caught my eye was because I saw the same thing happened in the dormitories of Fujian Province when I was living there in 1988. While all of my travels and contacts were restricted (and watched) when I was in China in the 1980s, I did have the opportunity to see and understand China through my interpreters. One such occasion occurred when we visited a university, and a student told me what life was like in these places .... specifically the dormitories. In short .... his only belongings were a few t-shirts, shorts and pants, underwear and socks, and a simple jacket. No electronics. No money. No hope. He was living in a small and dirty room with three other men .... and all of them were frustrated with their lives, no longer caring about China and their role in it but yearning for change .... and there were tens of thousands of these men who felt this way. This was the first sign (for me) that there was growing unrest and frustration in China at the time .... an unrest that grew and grew until it culminated a year later in the Tienanmen massacre.

Is history repeating itself? Will a Chinese Spring burst out in the next year or two? I do not know the answer .... but I do know that when I was in China a few weeks ago .... I sensed growing unrest, and the same issues and grievances that were voiced in 1988 are being voiced today.

Update: The New York Times is also picking up on this growing unrest in China.

Picture Of The Day

An F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter from the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and an F-22A Raptor from the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., soar over the Emerald Coast Sept. 19, 2012. The flight marked the first time the two fifth-generation fighters have flown together for the Air Force. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock

The Red Team's 2005 Report On Iraq

U.S. Army Spc. Deonty Eastmon secures his sector during a patrol through Al Betra, Iraq, Nov. 26, 2007, as the rest of his squad asks local residents about recent insurgent activity. Eastmon is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

About That Red Team Report… -- George W. Casey, Foreign Policy

Michael R. Gordon's story overstates the importance of a review I ordered on Iraq.

Michael Gordon's attempt to represent the August 2005 Red Team report as a missed opportunity to shorten the war is wishful thinking and not supported by the realities we were wrestling with in Iraq at that time.

The report was one of many Red Team reports chartered by me, and by the U.S. ambassadors and me, to provide us alternative views and to cause the U.S. civilian and military leadership in Iraq to come to grips with the difficult issues confronting the mission. These reports were one of many inputs the ambassador and I used to build our understanding of the environment and to shape our guidance to the U.S. Mission and Multinational Force. We used this particular report to help us shape a December 2005 joint statement of our mission for 2006, and to prepare a joint campaign plan that we issued in April 2006. We also used it as the impetus to implement a joint planning and assessment process that significantly improved our ability to integrate our efforts in 2006 and beyond. The idea that it was "ignored by generals" is not true. I didn't agree with all of it, but I did not ignore it.

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My Comment: As I said in my own post on this story a few days ago .... Coulda ... woulda .... shoulda ....

We are all geniuses with hindsight .... but in real time we must always second guess with the information that we have .... and sometimes we get it right .... and sometimes no. In Iraq .... by the time that we had figured it out .... it was too late.

After Afghanistan, Colombia Is Second In The World For Land Mine Victims

Colombia Is Second In World For Land Mine Victims, Behind Afghanistan -- FOX News

Six children are the latest victims of Colombia’s ongoing land mine crisis, as a 3-year old was killed and five others wounded following an explosion in the central-western department of Tolima.

This recent incident has helped the Andean nation reach what Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón called the "dishonorable figure" of 10,001 landmine victims, making it the second most affected country in the world in terms of land mine incidents after war-torn Afghanistan.

"Girls, boys, teens, women, indigenous, farmers, workers, soldiers, police and heroes of the country have sacrificed their lives for the freedom and security of the Colombians. We want a Colombia without more victims of anti-personnel mines and free of these artifacts," Garzón said, according to Colombia’s Radio Caracol.

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My Comment: This is a tragedy that will continue for the next few decades .... claiming the lives of victims that have not even been born yet.

Homeland Security Secretary And Person Responsible For Cybersecurity Does Not Use E-Mail


Napolitano: I Don't Use E-mail. At All. -- National Journal

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is a key player in national cybersecurity efforts, said on Friday she doesn't use e-mail. "Don't laugh, but I just don't use e-mail at all," she said during a discussion at a Cybersecurity Summit hosted by National Journal and Government Executive. She didn't explain what communications tools she does use.

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My Comment: So the person who is responsible for the nation's cybersecurity does not use e-mail .... CNN sums it up best.

U.S. Missile Defense To Expand Into The Persian Gulf

Image: Member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council

U.S., Gulf Countries Seek To Advance Missile Defense Plan -- Reuters

(Reuters) - The United States and its Gulf partners are looking to deepen cooperation on missile defense as tensions rise with Iran, and announcements could come soon on new purchases, U.S. officials said on Friday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) officials in New York as Washington seeks to boost regional defenses against perceived Iranian threats.

"Our aim is to help our Gulf partners with their defense needs ... there is a missile threat that they face, we want to help them face that threat as best they can," one senior U.S. official said, previewing the meeting for reporters.

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My Comment: Iran conducts missile tests .... the U.S. sells a missile defense system. Talk about working hand in hand.

Chinese Cyber Attacks Are Now Targeting Industrial Control Systems

Calgary-based Telvent, headquartered on Southport Road S.W., warned customers about the attack, which hit operations in the United States, Canada and Spain, the cyber security news site reported on Wednesday. Photograph by: Screen grab, Google Street View

China Cyberspies Suspected In New Caper: What Has Experts Worried -- Christian Science Monitor

A China-based cyberespionage gang is suspected in the hacking of a major industrial control system firm in Canada. Experts warn the theft could facilitate creation of a cyberweapon.

A China-based cyberespionage gang has been linked to the infiltration of networks belonging to Telvent Canada, a major industrial control system company, in a case that some experts warn could facilitate creation of a dangerous cyberweapon.

The cyberspies, thought to be from a gang that security researchers call the "Comment Group" or sometimes the "Shanghai group," slipped past a corporate firewall, installing malicious software on the network – then snatched project files related to one of Telvent's major software products, according to KrebsOnSecurity, a cybersecurity blog that first reported the breach Wednesday.

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Update #1: Report points finger at China as Calgary-based oilpatch software firm recovers from hacker attack -- Calgary Herald/Reuters
Update #2: National power-grid tech blueprints 'stolen by Chinese hackers' -- The Register

My Comment: Incidents like this one makes you wonder if this scenario can become reality one day.

Senior Al Qaeda Leader Living In Libya

Image of al-Libi from the FBI poster seeking information to help in his capture

EXCLUSIVE: Senior al Qaeda Figure 'Living In Libyan Capital' -- CNN

A veteran al Qaeda operative indicted in connection with the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa is alive and well in Libya, according to Western intelligence sources.

Abu Anas al Libi, 48, has been seen in the capital, Tripoli, the sources say, and there is concern that he may have been tasked with establishing an al Qaeda network in Libya. It's unclear whether Libya's government is aware of his presence, or whether it has been approached by Western governments seeking al Libi's arrest.

One Libyan official told CNN he didn't know whether al Libi was back in Tripoli but was aware that he had been in Afghanistan.

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My Comment: I suspect that he is not the only senior Al Qaeda leader living in Libya.

U.S. Intelligence Takes The Fall For Not Providing The Proper Intel To The White House On The Benghazi US Consulate Attack

Intelligence Office Says It Got Libya Attack Wrong, Not White House -- McClatchy News

WASHINGTON — Extremists from groups linked to al Qaida struck the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” the top U.S. intelligence agency said Friday, as it took responsibility for the Obama administration’s initial claims that the deadly assault grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video.

The unusual statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appeared to have two goals: updating the public on the latest findings of the investigation into the assault, and shielding the White House from a political backlash over its original accounts.

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More News On The Office Of The Director Of National Intelligence Trying To Explain Evolving Intelligence On Benghazi

In statement, spy chief’s office defends evolving accounts of Benghazi attack, cites shifting intelligence -- Washington Post
Office of the Director of National Intelligence Tries to Explain Evolving Intelligence on Benghazi -- ABC News
In revision, U.S. intelligence believes Libya attack a terror assault -- CNN
US intelligence now says Benghazi attack "deliberate and organized" -- Reuters
Top intelligence official backtracks on Libya story, says initial assessment premature -- FOX News
U.S. Intelligence Finds Organized Terrorist Attack in Libya -- Bloomberg Businessweek
Romney backtracks after criticizing Obama over Libya attack -- L.A. Times

My Comment: I call this "dumping bad news" in a late Friday public announcement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But here is an easy prediction .... this announcement will not even going to come close to satisfying the critics who believe that the administration knew that the US consulate attacks was a terrorist attack .... but choose to spin a different story. As to what is my take .... what a "screw-up" .... and we still do not know who knew what was happening, who was informed, who pushed the "spontaneous riot" story (and why), and why was this spin continued for almost two weeks when everyone knew that this was a terrorist attack.

This has now become (officially) a major national security and intelligence failure .... and I do expect to see the Director of National Intelligence hauled in front of a Senate Committee by next week.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Case For Cutting-Off Aid To Egypt

Give Egypt's Aid Money to Libya -- Michael Totten, Wall Street Journal

Consider how differently the governments in each country have behaved in the last couple of weeks.

The U.S. Senate voted down a bill this weekend that would have frozen aid money to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya. The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Rand Paul, was right that Egypt no longer deserves American aid. But Libya does. Libya needs help, and it needs help right now. Libya should not only continue receiving the aid it's already slated to get from Washington. Libya should also get Egypt's.

Consider how differently the governments in each country have behaved in the last couple of weeks.

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My Comment:
Michael Totten has also written a post on how a proper U.S. ally should act. That commentary is here.

Update: U.S. plan for emergency Egypt aid hits roadblock -- Reuters

President Obama And Israeli PM Netanyahu Discuss Iran By Telephone

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks on the phone with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Oval Office in this September 28, 2012 White House handout photograph. REUTERS/Pete Souza/The White House/Handout

White House: Obama, Netanyahu Agree On Iran -- Voice of America

WHITE HOUSE — The White House says President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in full agreement on wanting to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The two leaders discussed the issue by telephone Friday, and the Israeli leader also was scheduled to do so with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

A White House statement says the president and the prime minister spoke as part of their regular consultations, and that Obama reaffirmed his “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.”

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More News On Today's Discussion Between President Obama And Israeli PM Netanyahu

Obama, Netanyahu seek to get past Iran differences -- Reuters
Netanyahu Gets To Obama by Phone -- Wall Street Journal
White House: US, Israel in full agreement on stopping Iran -- Jerusalem Post

The Fight For The Syrian City Of Aleppo Intensifies

Fighting Rages Across Syrian City Of Aleppo -- L.A. Times

BEIRUT -- Some of the fiercest clashes in weeks in the Syrian city of Aleppo were reported Friday as rebels said they were pressing a “decisive” battle for the besieged northern metropolis.

As night fell, it was unclear if either side had made any substantial advances in the city, which has been divided between government and opposition forces for more than two months. The battle had evolved into a brutal war of attrition until Friday's spike in urban combat.

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More News For the Battle Of Aleppo

Syria crisis: fight for Aleppo - Friday 28 September 2012 -- The Guardian
Syrian rebels launch broadest push yet for Aleppo -- AP
Rebel Offensive Intensifies in Syria's Largest City -- Wall Street Journal
Aleppo Fight Intensifies, as U.N. Warns of Rising Flow of Refugees -- New York Times
Syrian Rebels Are In 'Decisive Battle For Aleppo' As The Regime Hits Back In Damascus -- Business Insider
Aleppo clashes as Syria rebels launch 'decisive' battle -- BBC
Syria rebels struggle to advance in new Aleppo offensive -- Reuters
Fierce fighting reported in Syria's Aleppo -- Al Jazeera
Inside Aleppo: a city where the people are dying in droves -- The Middle East Times
Unprecedented fighting in Syria's Aleppo: residents, NGO -- Ahram Online
Battles Rage in Aleppo, Damascus -- Voice of America

Pentagon: Syria Has Moved Some Chemical Weapons

Syrians Moved Some Chemical Weapons To Boost Security-U.S. -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Syrians have moved some of their chemical weapons capability to better secure it, but the country's main chemical weapons sites remain intact and secure under government control, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday, citing U.S. intelligence.

Responding to questions about the security of Syria's chemical weapons sites, Panetta said U.S. intelligence showed the major Syrian sites were secure in government hands, but some chemicals had been moved.

It was not clear when the movement took place, or even if it was recent, but Panetta told a Pentagon news conference it had occurred in more than one case.

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More News On Syria Moving Some Of It's Chemical Weapons

Panetta says Syria moved some chemical weapons
-- AP
US Intel Lost Track of Syrian Chemical Weapons --
Syria has ‘moved chemical weapons’ -- The National/AFP
Syrians moving chemical weapons for security -- CNN
Syria 'moving chemical weapons to safety' - Panetta -- BBC
Panetta: U.S. monitors Syria chem weapons -- UPI
Panetta: Syria has moved chemical weapons to increase security
-- Haaretz/Reuters and DPA
Panetta: Syria Has Moved Some Chemical Weapons -- Arutz Sheva

My Comment: What I find disturbing about these reports is that US intelligence has lost track of some of these chemical weapons .... and if this defector is to be believed .... Syria will use these chemical weapons if it starts to feel threatened.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- September 28, 2012

A damaged vehicle is seen at Suleiman al-Halabi neighborhood after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and regime forces in Aleppo, Thursday, Sept. 27. George Ourfalian/Reuters

Intervention Won't Save Syria -- Gary C. Gambill, National Journal

The death toll in Syria has reached a threshold where outside parties are entitled to use force to protect the civilian population. But those who would intervene in ostensible pursuit of this noble objective have an obligation to ensure that, on balance, the patient benefits from the procedure. Whereas former president Bill Clinton can claim with some justification that "the burning of villages and killing of innocents was history" after NATO's 1999 intervention in Kosovo, achieving a positive balance sheet in Syria will be extraordinarily difficult.

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Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials

Destroying Syria -- The Daily Star editorial

Prisoners of Bashar -- Michael Young, NOW Lebanon

Apocalyptic Talk Aside, Israel Has Dialed Down Its Threat to Bomb Iran — for Now -- Tony Karon

Providing a legal basis to attack Iran -- Jeffrey H. Smith and John B. Bellinger III, Washington Post

Japan and China’s 118-Year-Old Cage Fight -- James Gibney, Bloomberg

China's Comunist Party Congress: Q & A -- Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph

The U.S. And Morocco: What a Real Alliance Looks Like -- Michael J. Totten, World Affairs

Election in Georgia A Battle between Dictators and Dreamers -- Walter Mayr, Spiegel Online

The Troubles are over. So why is Northern Ireland still so unsettled? -- Jason Walsh, Christian Science Monitor

Latin America’s Tale of Two Crises -- Jorge G. Castañeda, Project Syndicate

The Hugo Chávez cult is over -- Francisco Toro, The Guardian

Kerry, Rice position themselves on Benghazi attack
-- Josh Rogin, the cable/Foreign Policy

The President’s Speech -- Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest