Thursday, July 31, 2008

Final Post For Tonight -- Tribute To Our Canadian Soldiers

White House Unveils Intelligence Powers Overhaul

Director of National Intelligence retired Navy Adm. Mike McConnell delivers remarks after his ceremonial swearing-in at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, February 20, 2007. (Jim Young/Reuters)

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Thursday unveiled an overhaul of intelligence powers that concentrates power in the national intelligence director and drew immediate criticism from Congress for failing to consult on the changes.

U.S. President George W. Bush approved revising a 1981 executive order to better define the various intelligence agencies' roles and responsibilities as well as take into account a 2004 law that created the director of national intelligence job.

The efforts to shore up U.S. intelligence activities follow numerous lapses, including failing to detect the September 11 attacks ahead of time as well as erroneous conclusions about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. Intelligence Overhaul

Bush orders overhaul of US intelligence -- AFP
Bush approves revision of order governing U.S. spy agencies -- International Herald Tribune
White House unveils intelligence powers overhaul -- Reuters
Bush Issues Order Overhauling US Intelligence Agencies -- Voice Of America
Bush Expands Intel Chief's Role -- NPR
McConnell on New Intelligence Executive Order -- Washington Independent
Bush Administration Announces Restructuring of Intelligence Agencies -- Washington Post
Fact Sheet: A Lasting Framework for United States Intelligence Activities -- Market Watch

My Comment: You would think such a major overhaul will be left to the new administration after November's election. There is obviously a considerable need to get this done now .... not later. I can only speculate on what those reason are .... but when changes are done in haste .... and this being done in haste .... this is usually indicative that there is information out there that demands changes be done ASAP. Congress has a right to be peeved on the day that they are about to go out for summer recess and getting ready for the November elections. The timing is just too perfect.

Gag Order -- How Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar Muscled Tony Blair Into Silence

Royal Saudi Air Force -- Panavia Tornado

From Newsweek:

The United Kingdom's highest court today provided new details of how the Saudis pressured British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to shut down a politically embarrassing bribery investigation two years ago that implicated the Saudi ambassador to Washington. The ruling, by a House of Lords judicial panel, offers an unusually revealing window into how international power politics is played in the post-9/11 era.

The five-member panel recounts how Blair, faced with Saudi threats to cut off cooperation on counterterrorism operations, personally intervened to scuttle a criminal investigation into billions of dollars in allegedly improper payments made by British Aerospace Systems (BAE) to obtain Saudi contracts.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a fascinating story on how Saudi Arabia threatened to withhold counter terrorism information to the U.K. on possible terrorist attacks. While the courts ruled that the U.K. Government acted in good faith, I found their reasoning to be flawed. The Government may have acted in good faith .... but the fact is that this case has blown the cover of Saudi Arabia's insistence that the terrorist threat coming from its country is exaggerated or not true.

This case also provides a small glimpse into how money and business is done in Saudi Arabia. Reading these stories always make me appreciate what Osama Bin Laden has been saying when it comes to the corruption of the House Of Saud. You realize that he is right.

Journey Inside The Taliban: Briton's Dangerous Secret Meeting With The Warlords Who Will Never Surrender

Militants who claim they are Talibans in Zabul province, Afghanistan

From The Daily Mail:

They slipped into the remote mountaintop farmhouse in ones and twos, climbing up the earthen staircase to a room at the top and dropping their Kalashnikovs, rocket-propelled grenades and light machine-guns in a heap by the door.

Metal clanked on metal until there were a dozen men sitting around the edge of the little room and staring at me. I was face to face with the Taliban.

Their leader, introduced as 'Commander Abdullah,' a burly man of about 40 with a glossy black beard, looked me up and down with his head to one side, sizing me up like a bird from a branch. Silently, he ushered me to the cushions next to the stove, pride of place.

Read more ...

My Comment: This story was written a few weeks ago, but it gives testament to the resilience and fortitude of the Taliban of today. I especially enjoyed reading the reporters comments on the philosophy and ideological bent of the Taliban fighters. These men are from another age, following a philosophy that is completely alien to western thinking .... just as our culture and philosophy is alien to theirs.

While the Taliban are pictured as being good fighters, I now realize that they are no match to the war machine of the American Army. Key lines from the article ....

"An Apache helicopter finally dealt with the building nearest the compound, the gunfire that had streamed constantly from its windows replaced by the sound of screaming. The Gurkhas reported the smell of burning flesh - the 'smell of war', as one of them put it later."

"The bugbear of his life was American air power. 'If it wasn't for them we could take half the country in a single day,' he boasted. 'What we need are missiles to shoot them down."

I remembered watching two videos of British forces responding to an ambush, and American forces responding to an ambush. The British forces ran even though the enemy was spotted in the distance. The American forces stood their ground and pulverized the side of a mountain from where enemy fire came from. After the battle, 5 Taliban soldiers were dragged down.

The Taliban are like the Indians of North America 200 years ago, facing the white man with his superior technology and military support. The Indians behaved in a tradition that combat had to be fought in a certain way and were confident that they would win .... they never experienced professional soldiers who had the firepower to not only back up the fight, but were also determined to win.

The war in Afghanistan will be a war of attrition. Like Iraq, there will be concerns that the war will never stop, or that we cannot win .... but I have a different opinion. Because of 9/11 Nato and U.S. forces will be in Afghanistan for a very long time. Half of the country are not Pashtun, and are not sympathetic to the Taliban. The Afghan Army is growing and becoming more professional, I would not be surprise that in five years they will be an effective force ... if not sooner.

I would not be surprise that in a year or two the Taliban that James fergusson met will be dead or wounded. The first tier taliban as he calls them .... like the Bathists in Iraq .... once these men are dead .... and they will be dead .... the dynamics of this battle will change.

Commander Abdullah boasts to the reporter that when he dies his children will take up the cause. That may be true but I doubt it .... if anything I have a strong feeling that his grandchildren will be playing video games and hoping to have an education in a University when they grow up. And the Taliban/Afghan war .... that will just be a memory.

Missile Defense News -- July 31, 2008

Missile Defense Supporters Credit Bush's National Security Vision (w/video)-- CNSNews

( – Effective anti-missile defense systems that operate on land, sea, and air will be added to existing systems at home and overseas over the next few years thanks to President Bush’s long-term national security vision, according to some strategic defense experts.

A mix of ground and sea-based systems are now in place that can protect all 50 states from a limited missile strike launched from North Korea, Iran or other rogue state.

Read more ....

More News On Missile Defense

US considers deploying missile defense radar to Israel -- AFP
US considers deploying missile defense radar to Israel -- Space War
Barak: US Will Provide Missile Defense; Obama: I'll Kill It -- IRIS
Japan holds missile shield drill in Tokyo's center -- Yahoo News/AP
Decision on Missile Defense in Europe Likely Passed to Next Administration -- Center For Arms Control
Department of State: U.S. Missile Defense Plans in Europe
Navy May Need Bigger Aegis BMD Fleet -- Aviation Week
Russia man on missile talks named ambassador to US -- Yahoo News/AP
Russia names new ambassador to USA amid missile dispute -- Pravda
Opinion: Relaunching the Missile Debate -- St. Petersburg Times
NLOS-LS Team Completes First Phase of Precision Attack Missile Testing -- Yahoo Finance
Congress Should Fund Development of Air-to-Air Missile Defense Technology -- Hawaii Reporter
New Russian & Chinese Treaty Revisions Hamper US in Outer Space -- Family Security Matters

My Comment: Two things caught my eye while researching for this post. (1) Israel clearly wants American technology to nullify the missile threat that is against them from Hamas, hezbollah, and Iran. Presidential candidate Barack Obama has clearly made it known that he will kill the program. (2) The new Russian ambassador to the U.S. is their main negotiator on missile defense issues. Is his appointment to the U.S. a coincidence? I doubt it.

Al Qaeda Leaving Iraq For Afghanistan

An Iraqi youth sits on the ground close to US soldiers holding a defensive position during a neighborhood search in Baquba earlier this week. Iraq forces supported by US troops have arrested 35 suspects as a major crackdown on fighters in the Al-Qaeda bastion of Diyala province enters its second day.(AFP/File/Ali Yussef)

From Yahoo News/AFP:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Several Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq have left the country for Afghanistan in a sign of weakness in the insurgent group, The Washington Post reported Thursday quoting Iraqi intelligence.

US officials also say Al-Qaeda may be sending new recruits to Afghanistan, where they have made gains, and away from Iraq, where they have been hit by US and Iraqi forces, the newspaper reported.

"We do believe Al-Qaeda is doing some measure of re-assessment regarding the continued viability of its fight in Iraq and whether Iraq should remain the focus of its efforts," Brigadier General Brian Keller, senior intelligence officer for General David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, told the paper in an e-mail.

Read more ....

More News On Al Qaeda Leaving Iraq For Afghanistan

Al-Qaeda leaving Iraq for Afghanistan: report -- AFP
More foreign fighters join Taliban in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Al-Qaeda in Iraq Leader May Be in Afghanistan -- Washington Post
Iraq militant group head said to be in Afghanistan -- Reuters
Exodus of al-Qaeda leaders from Iraq -- Sydney Morning Herald
Report: Al-Qaeda leaving Iraq for Afghanistan -- Middle East Online
Al-Qaeda hails 'revival' in Afghanistan -- Asia Times
Study: New Strategy Needed vs. Al Qaeda -- FOX News

My Comment: The rats are escaping a sinking ship.

US Monthly Toll In Iraq At Lowest Since Invasion

Members of an honor guard carry the casket of Army SSG Christopher M. Hake to his grave during his burial service at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, April 2008. Hake, 26, of Enid, Oklahoma was among four soldiers who died of injuries suffered when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in south Baghdad in March 2008.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Win McNamee)

From Yahoo News/AP:

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Eleven US soldiers were killed in Iraq in July, the lowest monthly toll since the 2003 invasion, according to Pentagon figures, highlighting what US commanders say is a marked drop in overall violence.

The number compares with the deadliest month of November 2004 when 137 American troops were slain, a toll by independent website showed. The previous low was in May this year when 19 soldiers were killed.

Since the US-led invasion of March 2003 that toppled now executed dictator Saddam Hussein, a total of 4,125 US troops have been killed in Iraq, according to

Read more ....

More news on American Casualties in Iraq

Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq plunge -- Reuters
US records lowest monthly death toll in Iraq -- AFP
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq plunge to new low -- MSNBC
Afghanistan surpasses Iraq as deadliest spot for U.S. troops -- McClatchy Nespapers
Troop deaths at low-point -- IOL
US combat deaths in Iraq plunge in July to new low -- Reuters Alertnet
Tours of duty shortened as U.S. deaths in Iraq plummet -- CNN
Military Women In Body Bags -- Strategy Page

My Comment: Always remember the heroes, and those who have been wounded or crippled from this war.

Did The U.S. Surge In Iraq Change The Battlefield

From The Belmont Club:

Two assertions about Iraq ought to be challenged or at least examined more closely. The first is the idea that security improvements in Iraq and al-Qaeda’s defeat had little if anything to do with the US effort. The second is the assertion that the “real” strategic center of gravity always should have been Afghanistan, because the proper object of the War is to “get bin Laden”.

Take the question of whether the growing success in Iraq had anything to do with US effort. Once violence in Iraq began to wane and al-Qaeda was clearly being defeated, the search to find a non-American explanation began in earnest. For a while it was fashionable to credit Moqtada al-Sadr’s “ceasefire” with improving conditions in Iraq. The Guardian report of February 2008 ascribing nearly miraculous powers to al-Sadr typified the explanation that violence was down because he had turned it off.

Read more ....

More News And Comments On The Iraqi Surge

How Important Was the Surge? -- American Prospect
How Successful Was The Surge? -- NPR
Kagen says surge wasn’t necessary after his first visit to Iraq -- Journal Sentinel
Iraq's 'surge' has its limits -- Asia Times
Bush cuts Iraq combat tours for US troops as surge comes to an end -- Earth Times
Can Iraq's new calm hold? -- Yahoo News/Christian Science Monitor
Are we winning in Iraq? -- LA Times
Bush declares progress in Iraq war -- Yahoo News/AP
Bush hails 'durability' of progress in Iraq -- AFP
Bush: surge in Iraq worked -- LA Times
Iraq Gains May Mean More Reductions -- Time Magazine

My Comment: The Iraqis and American military believe the surge was one of many essential components for bringing peace to Iraq. Playing an armchair general .... if Iraq was a failed state now, I am sure that many would be blaming the surge .... since violence has gone done by 90%, credit has to go where it belongs. the surge did change the dynamics of the Iraq battlefield.

Pakistan War News Updates -- July 31, 2008

Taliban flags on Pakistan side of the border with Afghanistan:
Photo by Talk Radio News

What Pakistan's Intelligence Ties Say About Ending the
War on Terrorism -- Counter Terrorism Blog

The International Herald Tribune today reports on a recent CIA mission to Pakistan to confront leaders of the ISI there about the ties ISI members retain to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The CIA assessment specifically points to links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, which American officials believe maintains close ties to senior figures of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas.

The CIA has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks.

This is not new, but is useful when juxtaposed with the conclusions of the new and very useful Rand Corporation report on how to end terrorism.

Read more ....


30 killed as fighting escalates in Pakistan valley -- Yahoo News
Pakistan: Taliban militants killed in fresh conflict -- ADNKronos
Jirga to mediate between govt and Taliban -- Daily Times
Taliban continue breaching Swat deal -- Daily Times
Swat operation re-launched -- Daily Times
Curfew declared in Pakistan's violence-hit Swat Valley -- Khaleej Times
TTP denies differences in Taliban ranks -- Daily Times
Taliban split into two factions in Bajaur Agency -- Daily Times
Shelling ends Taliban control of PTV booster in Bajaur -- Daily Times
CIA outlines Pakistan links with militants -- International Herald Tribune
US being impatient in war on terror: PM -- Daily Times
Pakistan's Accidental Prime Minister -- Time magazine
‘Gilani govt too weak to act’ -- Daily Times
U.S. Wary of Pakistani Appeal for More Cooperation -- Washington Post
US Senate body approves $15bn aid -- Daily Times
US wants Pakistan to also protect neighbours -- Dawn Internet

My Comment: Afghanistan and Pakistan is the front for the war on terrorism today.

Nonaligned Countries Back Iran's Nuclear Program

Picture of an atmospheric nuclear test in French Polynesia, August 1971.
Kodachrome color slide scan from an Instamatic camera.

From Reuters/AP:

TEHRAN, Iran - More than 100 nonaligned nations backed Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear power on Wednesday, an endorsement sought by Tehran in its standoff with the U.N. Security Council over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.

The decision came as supreme Iranian leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei pledged to continue the country's nuclear program.

Senior Iranian officials depicted the support from a high-level conference of the Nonaligned Movement as deflating claims by the U.S. and its allies that most of the international community wanted Iran to stop enrichment.

The conference's backing, which echoes the group's previous declarations, acts to "remove this notion that the international community opposes the nuclear activities of Iran," said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Read more ....

More News On Nonaligned Countries Supporting Iran

Non-aligned nations support nuclear right -- Chicago Tribune
NAM meeting winds up in Tehran -- Economic Times
Non-aligned nations back Iran's N-cause -- NDTV
Despite Calls to Halt, Iran Says It Will Continue Its Nuclear Program -- New York Times
Iran FM Rejects Deadline for Nuclear Incentive Package -- Voice Of America

My Comment: Deep in the heart of every poor and destitute third world nation is a belief that a nuclear weapon will enhance their society and its role in the world community. Yup .... everyone wants a nuclear program.

The big divide between countries that have a nuclear program and those countries that do not are amplified by their political cultures. Western, Russian, and Asian societies with a long history of warfare, societal destruction, and ethnic genocide, have a tremendous appreciation and respect on the destructive elements that a nuclear arsenal can entail. They know what total war is and what it's results can be.

In countries that do not have this political culture and historical background but have a desire for a nuclear program are approaching this issue from a completely different perspective. Countries like Iran, India, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, and the non-aligned movement have all experienced in some degree of warfare .... but nothing in comparison to what Western, Russian, and Chinese/Korean/Japanese cultures have endured.

It is fortunate that for most of these countries they do not have the political will, economics, and intellectual resources to fulfill such a program. But this will not stop them from supporting others who are trying.

Challenges Of The Muslim World: Oil, Testosterone And War


From Austin Bay:

Oil and unemployed testosterone don't mix, they collide -- with war the likely result.

"Economics and demographics" lack the sizzle of oil and testosterone, which as eye-grabbers are an Oprah-notch below money and sex. But in the grand sense of geo-strategy and the intricate 21st century problems that produce wars, poverty and other forms of sustained misery, economics and demographics are the fire.

Anyone looking for instant soundbites won't find them in William Cooper and Piyu Yue's "Challenges of the Muslim World, Present, Future, and Past" (Elsevier, 2008). Cooper is an economist at the University of Texas. A spry 94 years old, he's comfortable with detailed history as well as voluminous data. Yue works at the University of Texas' IC2 Institute.

Read more ....

My Comment: From my point of view .... I believe it is the cultural component of Arab society that is probably the main ingredient that is causing so much grief for so many Arabs in the Middle East. Religious, cultural, and political intolerance are systemic in so much
of the Middle East. Treatment of women, an educational system that focuses on religious indoctrination, and limits on press freedoms, accountability, and political discourse have fed and produced a society that is now behind in every metric for a 21rst century society.

Can this cycle be broken .... the underlying purpose of the Iraq invasion and occupation was to change an Arab society with this mindset, and if successful be hopeful that this would then produce a trend in the rest of the Arab world. The next generation will tell us if we have been successful or not.

Spain Warns Of Big Attack By Separatists ETA Soon

Hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities across Spain Sunday, including Bilbao
in the Basque Country, to protest the ETA bombing. (January 14, 2007)

From Reuters:

MADRID (Reuters) - Authorities in Spain's Basque Country fear separatist guerrilla group ETA will attempt a big attack soon and have ordered police to increase security measures, police said on Wednesday.

The rare warning, contained in an internal police memorandum later published on the police website, follows a spate of small bombings blamed on ETA at seaside resorts that are timed to hurt Spain's tourism sector during its high season.

They said Wednesday's warning was based on information gleaned after the arrest of 10 suspected members of ETA's "Vizcaya cell" on July 22.

Police said on Saturday ETA were planning an attack against police at a fair in the Basque town of Getxo set for Thursday, and they feared the group would now attempt a similar attack.

Read more ....

More News On Spain And the ETA

Spain warns of big attack by separatists ETA soon -- Swiss Info
Surge in Eta bombing campaign feared -- Irish Times
ETA blamed as bomb scares tourists in southern Spain - Summary -- Earth Times

My Comment: By all analysis the ETA separatist movement in Spain should be dead. It has little if any popular support, the region has a considerable amount of autonomy from the central government, and economic opportunities abound.

Unfortunately, ETA terrorism proves the point that you only need a few dozen dedicated followers and a few thousand sympathizers to completely paralyze or disrupt a society. For the Basques, it has always been a fear of assimilation and the belief that it is only through independence that some form of security to their cultural traditions can be secured.

Because of this strong underlying belief, terrorism will always exist in Spain. Police enforcement by the Basque community itself is the only way to ensure that this type of activity will not get out of hand.

War News, Blogs, Opinions, And Wire Service Roundup -- July 31, 2008

A sailboat crosses in front of the guided missile destroyers USS Pinckney, USS Chung-Hoon and USS Kane as they perform a sail-by near Waikiki Beach to celebrate the centennial of the Great White Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, July 29, 2008. The destroyers are participating in Rim of the Pacific 2008, an international exercise. U.S. Navy photo by Chief David Rush (Defenselink)

United States Central Command
Global Security Briefs -- In Homeland Security
Complete Roundup Of World Trouble Spots -- Small Wars Journal
International, War, and Terrorism Headlines -- Rantburg
Morning Brief -- Foreign Policy
Global Incident Map
Global News -- Inform
Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs -- Canadian Perspective
Summary Of Wars & Conflicts: Right Hand Side Of Page -- Counter Terrorism Blog
Global Security News Roundup -- Global
Latest News -- Strategy Page
Institute For War And Peace Reporting
Intelligence News Roundup -- Intelligence Online
Analysis And Commentaries -- International Relations And Security Network
Alertnet From Reuters -- Use Their Search Filter
Emerging Threats -- United Press International
International Forecasting And News -- Stratfor

Iraq News -- E I N News
Conflict In Iraq -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
War In Iraq -- MSNBC
Iraq News Online -- Times Online
Iraq News -- Inform
Iraq Status Report
Iraq Weekly Status Report -- U.S. State Department
Iraq Updates
Iraq War News
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Afghanistan -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Afghanistan Conflict Monitor
Afghanistan Update: April 1-30, 2008 -- Center For Defense Information
Operations In Afghanistan -- U.K. Ministry Of Defense

Mideast Conflicts -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Middle East Coverage -- Memri

Security -- MSNBC
Terrorism -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Terrorism -- MSNBC
Terror News Briefs
National Terror Alert Response Center

U.S. Department Of Defense News
News in The Military -- Military News
Stars And Stripes
U.S. Armed Forces News -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Index Of Military Blogs: Stories Updated Daily --
Milblogging: Stories Updated Daily -- Index Of Military Blogs
Directory Of Intelligence Sites -- Strategic Intelligence Complete

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Final Post For Tonight -- U.S. Navy Tribute

How Terrorist Groups End -- The Rand Report And A Collection Of Comments And Opinions On Its Conclusions

From The Rand Corporation:

How Terrorist Groups End -- Lessons for Countering al Qa'ida
By: Seth G. Jones, Martin C. Libicki

All terrorist groups eventually end. But how do they end? The evidence since 1968 indicates that most groups have ended because (1) they joined the political process (43 percent) or (2) local police and intelligence agencies arrested or killed key members (40 percent). Military force has rarely been the primary reason for the end of terrorist groups, and few groups within this time frame have achieved victory.
This has significant implications for dealing with al Qa'ida and suggests fundamentally rethinking post-9/11 U.S. counterterrorism strategy: Policymakers need to understand where to prioritize their efforts with limited resources and attention. The authors report that religious terrorist groups take longer to eliminate than other groups and rarely achieve their objectives. The largest groups achieve their goals more often and last longer than the smallest ones do. Finally, groups from upper-income countries are more likely to be left-wing or nationalist and less likely to have religion as their motivation. The authors conclude that policing and intelligence, rather than military force, should form the backbone of U.S. efforts against al Qa'ida. And U.S. policymakers should end the use of the phrase “war on terrorism” since there is no battlefield solution to defeating al Qa'ida.

Read more ....

Free, downloadable PDF file(s) are available below.
Full Document
(File size 3.1 MB, 13 minutes modem, 2 minutes broadband)

Download PDF Summary Only
(File size 0.1 MB)

Chapter One: Introduction

Chapter Two: How Terrorist Groups End

Chapter Three: Policing and Japan's Aum Shinrikyo

Chapter Four: Politics and the FMLN in El Salvador

Chapter Five: Military Force and al Qa'ida in Iraq

Chapter Six: The Limits of America's al Qa'ida Strategy

Chapter Seven: Ending the “War” on Terrorism

Appendix A: End-of-Terror Data Set

Appendix B: Al Qa'ida Attacks, 1994–2007

Appendix C: Regression Analysis



New Rand Report on Terrorism: Reminders of Reagan Administration -- Counter Terrorism Blog
Countering al Qaeda, a must-read for Pakistan -- Reuters
On Al Qaeda, Good News and Bad News -- New York Times
War on Terror Out; Counterterrorism In -- Wired News
How Does Terrrorism End? -- The Atlantic
In Fighting al Qaeda, Bush's "Global War on Terrorism" Is Off Target -- U.S. News And World Report
Strategy Against Al-Qaeda Faulted -- Washington Post
New strategy 'can beat al-Qaeda' -- BBC News
Ending the Global War on Terror -- TPM
Paul Cruickshank at UN Dispatch Says the Following

My Comment:The report is rather long .... over 200 pages .... I have read part of it and I find it quite eye opening. Chapter Six: The Limits of America's al Qa'ida Strategy and Chapter Seven: Ending the “War” on Terrorism are the two chapters that are a "must read".

Iraqi Parliament Deadlocks Over Kirkuk

An Iraqi soldier stands guard as a U.S. military helicopter takes off at New Al-Muthana Air Base in Baghdad July 30, 2008.REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ)

From Yahoo News:

BAGHDAD - Iraqi lawmakers on Wednesday scheduled an emergency weekend meeting during summer recess to resolve disagreements that have blocked a provincial elections law and threaten a new wave of bloodshed in the disputed northern city of Kirkuk.

The proposed law has raised ethnic tensions in the oil-rich area, which is emerging as one of the biggest threats to U.S.-backed efforts to heal the country's sectarian rifts and prevent a resurgence of violence.

The standoff over control of Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, is also the latest example of Iraqi political deadlock despite impressive military gains against Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents.

Read more ....

My Comment: As mentioned in my previous post on Sadr City, the civilians of Iraq .... including those in Kirkuk .... everyone has high expectations that with peace and with Iraq's oil wealth .... good times are just down the corner. In the interim, everyone is now repositioning themselves to get the most out of the system.

Expect more Kirkuks popping up in the next few months.

Will Peace Hold in Sadr City?

U.S. soldier holds his sniper position on a rooftop in a Shiite
enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, in this April file photo.

From Time Magazine:

Abbas seems friendly enough, and laughs easily. As his car breezes through Iraqi army checkpoints at the entrance to Baghdad's notorious and sprawling Sadr City slum, he talks about killing Sunnis. "We caught Takfiris [members of a fundamentalist Sunni Islamist sect] who were [working] with the Americans. We didn't want to kill them, but the government was too weak to do anything at the time. So we killed them all and put them in a big grave."

A loyal Mahdi Army fighter since the Shi'ite militia was established in 2003, Abbas is now wanted by the Iraqi government. But his story echoes that of many of Iraq's young fighters; it's not one of cold-blooded murderers, but of avengers. "Al-Qaeda killed my brother. They kidnapped him from a street near his home in 2006. They wrapped his head in plastic until he suffocated to death," he says. "He was 23 and his wife was five months pregnant. Those people [who killed him] were his neighbors — his friends." (Abbas later caught and killed them too.)

Read more ....

My Comment: Sadr City is not Iraq, but it does represent a good chunk of it. The key for the Iraqi Government is to provide some basic security and some signs of progress. With oil revenues coming in, it will become easier for the Iraqi Government to pay off and/or buy off these former militia members.

UN: NKorea Facing Worst Food Crisis Since 1990s

In this photo released by World Food Program Wednesday, July 30, 2008, malnourished children are seen at an orphanage in Chongjin City, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea June 20, 2008. Flooding and poor harvests have caused North Korea's worst food crisis since the late 1990s and have put millions at risk, the United Nations' food body said Wednesday.(AP Photo/World Food Program, HO)

From Yahoo News:

BEIJING - Flooding and poor harvests have caused North Korea's worst food crisis since the late 1990s and have put millions at risk, the United Nations' food agency said Wednesday.

The food shortage threatens widespread malnutrition, the World Food Program said.

"Millions of vulnerable North Koreans are at risk of slipping toward precarious hunger levels," Jean-Pierre de Margerie, the WFP's country director for North Korea, told a news conference.

The WFP had been given permission to launch a new operation to target those most vulnerable in eight of the country's 10 provinces, or 6.4 million people, up from a current 1.2 million.

Read more ....

More News On North Korea's Famine

U.N.: Millions Hungry in North Korea -- Washington Post
Millions in North Korea facing famine -- Telegraph
North Korea facing major food crisis: UN’s food program -- Taipei Times
North Korea on brink of food crisis, say aid agencies -- Guardian
North Korea food crisis worst in a decade: U.N. -- Reuters
U.N.: Millions at risk in N.K. food crisis -- CNN
Spectre of hunger again haunts North Korea, UN says -- CBC
DPR Korea facing worst food crisis since late 1990s - UN News Center
Stunted children: the legacy of North Korea's hunger -- The Guardian

My Comment: The sad part of this disaster is that by sending emergency foodstuffs to North Korea, everyone knows that much of it will be directed to the military and supporters of the regime .... the same regime that has produced this disaster.

As for the people who are starving ... I am sure that they will receive nothing.

Pakistan Intelligence Riddled With Supporters Of Taliban and al-Qaeda, Purge May Be Coming

From Strata-Sphere:

The tensions and fighting are still escalating in the tribal areas that span the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. While US, NATO and Afghani troops have a good handle on the Afghan side of the problem area, the Pakistan tribal regions known as FATA and NWFP (click map below for larger image) are the last large sanctuary for Islamo Fascists groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The recent missile strike which took out a key al-Qaeda chemical weapons expert hiding in the South Waziristan Agency of FATA has resulted in some interesting reactions - to say the least.

The largest question looming for Pakistan is whether they can control their tribal areas, and those within their intelligence agency you support and cover for the terrorists. Our hit on a target inside FATA underscores our doubts about the Pakistan efforts to deal with the dangerous elements hiding out inside their country.

Read more ....

My Comment: A great post from Strata-Sphere. Listing past failures of Pakistan's ISI in its joint operations with the CIA is revealing and self explanatory. But will Pakistan's Intelligence Agency ISI be purged of its disloyal members .... I doubt it.

The problem is not Pakistan's ISI, but Pakistani society as a whole. The news media, education, government, religion .... all of these institutions are openly supportive of Osama Bin laden and Al Qaeda. How can you purge a society?

End Of Petraeus, Crocker Era Dawning

Gen. David Petraeus & Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

From CBS News:

(CBS/AP) One of the defining features of Gen. David Petraeus' tenure as leader of U.S. forces in Iraq is an unusually close partnership with his political counterpart here, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

With that connection about to be broken, the question arises: Will it matter at this calmer but still fragile stage of the war?

Petraeus, widely credited as chief orchestrator of a generally successful counterinsurgency strategy, is due to depart in September. Crocker, among the State Department's most experienced Middle East hands, says he will stay until President Bush leaves the White House in January, then retire.

In an Associated Press interview, Petraeus said he and Crocker saw "inescapable merit" in a political-military synergy. So when they arrived in Baghdad in early 2007, with sectarian violence still raging, they wrote and then executed a classified "joint campaign plan" for countering the insurgency.

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My Comment: A classic example of how important it is for political and military organizations to work together. One of the disappointments with the Iraq war has been the U.S. State Departments impotence in being a major player in the development and establishment of a peaceful Iraq.

While Amb. Crocker is from the State Department, the men on the ground have been from the military. this lack of participation and involvement from State is a disappointment. I can only hope the same mistake will not be repeated in Afghanistan.

U.S. Intel: Iran Plans Nuclear Strike on U.S.

From Newsmax:

Iran has carried out missile tests for what could be a plan for a nuclear strike on the United States, the head of a national security panel has warned.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and in remarks to a private conference on missile defense over the weekend hosted by the Claremont Institute, Dr. William Graham warned that the U.S. intelligence community “doesn’t have a story” to explain the recent Iranian tests.

One group of tests that troubled Graham, the former White House science adviser under President Ronald Reagan, were successful efforts to launch a Scud missile from a platform in the Caspian Sea.

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My Comment: An interesting article, but I do not share its apocalyptic view of what an EMP attack would do to the U.S. I strongly believed that any damage caused by an EMP attack would be quickly repaired, and the grid back on line in a few months.

I live in Montreal, Canada, and we had a catastrophic power failure in the month of January, 1998. Because of an ice storm, the entire electrical grid collapsed. I did not have power for over a week, but for others it lasted almost a month. This occurred in the middle of winter and life was very difficult. But we all survived. People helped each other. Crime was at an all time low (almost non-existant). The shelters worked A-OK. Word got around very quickly on what was happening. People were informed. Hospitals, restaurants, supermarkets ... everyone adjusted.

The same will happen if the U.S. experiences an EMP attack. As for the country or group that launches such a strike .... my gut tells me that they will not be so lucky.

Al-Qaeda's Sinister Creep Into North Africa

AQ In North Africa (Pat Dollard)

From Times Online:

As the jihadists face defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are moving stealthily into a new power base.

On Monday the Iraqi Army launched a large-scale offensive in Diyala north of Baghdad to wipe out al-Qaeda's last remaining hideouts in the country. Since the tide of the war turned last winter, thousands of al-Qaeda jihadists have fled Iraq.

Some returned home and resumed normal life. Others, looking for new places to pursue their holy war against “Zionists and Crusaders”, ended up in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Thailand and helped to reignite the fires of jihad.

However, North Africa appears to have attracted the largest number of returnees. According to the buzz in jihadist circles, confirmed by officials and analysts, a new arc of terror is taking shape in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania - the five countries of the so-called Arab Maghreb in North Africa.

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My Comment: Al Qaeda will not have the same environment as what they had Iraq. North Africa militaries have different rules of engagement that the remnants of Al Qaeda are going to find out very quickly.

From Counterinsurgents to Peacekeepers

Sadr City Streets

From Commentary Magazine:

Associated Press Baghdad Bureau Chief Robert Reid and his chief military reporter Robert Burns published a dispatch from Iraq over the weekend that should have made banner headlines. “It's not the end of fighting,” they wrote. “It looks like the beginning of a perilous peace.” This is exactly right, but millions of Americans still have no idea. Coverage from Iraq has diminished as much as the casualty rates since General David Petraeus implemented an effective counterinsurgency strategy in early 2007. At least we’re finally seeing a media consensus emerge after a year and a half of looking at the data as though it were inkblots on a Rorschach. It’s nearly impossible to work in Iraq anymore and deny what has happened.

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My Comment: Michael Totten is right. The war is over in Iraq, the big problem now is winning the peace. This victory must encompass security, political, and economic issues. How this mix is sorted out will determine peace or war in Iraq.

CIA Accuses Pakistan Of 'Backing Militants'

Pakistan's Tribal Regions (Wikipedia)

From AFP:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A senior CIA official this month confronted Pakistani officials over ties between the country's intelligence service and militants in the tribal areas, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Citing defense and intelligence sources, the Times said that the trip by agency deputy director Stephen Kappes demonstrated a harder line being taken against Pakistani ties to those responsible for the surge of violence in Afghanistan, including militant Maulavi Jalauddin Haqqani.

Earlier this year, the US military pressed for Pakistani troops to hit the Haqqani network in the tribal areas.

Read more ....

More News On the CIA And Pakistan

C.I.A. Outlines Pakistan Links With Militants -- New York Times
U.S. Wary of Pakistani Appeal for More Cooperation -- Washington Post
Visit to Pakistan by CIA officer reported -- L.A. Times
U.S. reportedly confronts Pakistan on links to militants -- Reuters
CIA to Pakistan: ISI works for the enemy -- Hot Air
Failed coup against ISI was to appease US -- Pak Tribune

My Comment: The key quote that I read and liked is the following:

"The problem from our perspective has not been an absence of information going into the Pakistani government," said one Bush administration official familiar with discussions this week between the two governments. "It's an absence of action."

The day that Pakistan uses its intelligence and military services to capture or kill top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders is the day that I will believe they are serious in their efforts to confront radical Islam. The ball is now in Pakistan's court, and their actions will not only determine how this U.S. administration will react, but also what the next U.S. administration will be doing.

Arabs Not Honoring Financial Pledges to Palestinians

Border Between Gaza And Egypt

From CNS:

Jerusalem ( – Despite billions of dollars pledged to it late last year, the Palestinian Authority is caught in a serious financial crunch, mainly due to the failure of Arab countries to fulfill their commitments, reports said on Tuesday.

Economic growth and stability is seen as crucial to the Palestinian Authority’s ability to maintain control in the West Bank and to make peace with Israel.

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My Comment: For the Palestinians ... this is the least of their problems.

Zimbabwe's Mugabe Threatens Emergency

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe addresses his supporters at Harare airport on July 4. Mugabe is beginning to breathe more easily as a Western diplomatic campaign against his re-election falters, leaving mediation efforts in the hands of his old ally Thabo Mbeki.(AFP/File/Alexander Joe)

From Yahoo News:

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe will drop 10 zeros from the hyper-inflated currency, the country's reserve bank said Wednesday, and President Robert Mugabe threatened a state of emergency if businesses profiteer from the country's economic and political unraveling.

The longtime ruler issued the warning in a televised address to the nation as South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki flew in to meet with him about stalled power-sharing talks.

Mbeki insisted Tuesday that the talks that started last Thursday were going well and had simply adjourned on Monday.

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My Comment: The next step is emergency rule followed by Marshall Law. The situation is going to get worse in Zimbabwe, and their neighbors (like South Africa) are just twiddling their thumbs.

Gun Battle On India Pakistan Border Threatens Kashmir Ceasefire

"Atop an armored truck, a flak-jacketed member of India's Border Security Force stands watch over Srinagar's busiest intersection. Since separatist fury exploded in 1989, New Delhi has committed as many as 400,000 army and paramilitary troops to the region. 'In the valley,' says Kashmiri journalist Surinder Oberoi, 'violence poisons everyday life.' Death toll estimates for the decade range from 24,000 to 80,000."

From Times Online:

India and Pakistan traded blame yesterday after their troops fought a 16-hour gun battle across a disputed border in Kashmir in what Delhi described as the most serious violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire agreement.

It was the latest in a series of violent incidents that threaten to undermine a four-year peace process between the neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947. Both countries tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

The Indian Army said that the battle began when between ten and twelve Pakistani troops crossed the line of control (LOC) between the two sides and shot dead an Indian soldier in the mountains north of Srinagar, Kashmir's capital.

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My Comment: You would think that even knowing that your neighbor India has suffered from dozens of terrorist bombings this past weekend, the Pakistani Army would decide it would probably not be in their interest to inflame the Indians even more by going out of their way to provoke a gun battle with them as well as issuing threats against their Government. But that is exactly what they went about doing.

Did Germany Strike A Gas Deal With Iran?

South Pars Gas Field In Iran

From The Jerusalem Post:

A parliamentary state secretary in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet appears to have acted illegally in influencing the country's Export Control office (BAFA) to approve a €100 million-plus deal for liquefied natural gas with Iran.

"I've become an annoyance," boasted Hartmut Schauerte, a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) member of parliament and state secretary for the Economics Ministry, in an article in the Siegener Zeitung newspaper about his efforts to secure a permit for the massive gas contract.

The Export Control office concluded after a 12-month investigation that plans by German engineering firm Steiner-Prematechnik-Gastec to build equipment for converting natural gas to a liquid did not violate sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Read more .....

My Comment: Look at what I say, not what I do. Another example why pressure on Iran is not going to work, our own allies are going out of there way to prop up and support the mullahs in Tehran against the long term strategic interests of the West.

Visit to Pakistan By CIA Officer Reported

From The L.A. Times:

The top-level agent is said to have come with a warning on security service ties to forces linked to Al Qaeda.

WASHINGTON -- In a demonstration of growing U.S. frustration, the CIA's deputy director flew to Islamabad this month to warn Pakistani officials that they need to do more to address dangerous ties between the country's spy agency and resurgent Al Qaeda-linked militants, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency has long been accused of arming, training and sponsoring the Taliban and affiliated Islamic extremists, first in Afghanistan and more recently in Pakistan, and of using them as proxies in Afghanistan and the disputed territory of Kashmir.

But the visit by Stephen Kappes marked a significant escalation of those U.S. concerns, and was carried out before this week's visit to Washington by Pakistani Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gillani, according to one senior U.S. official who confirmed the trip.

Read more ....

My Comment: Frustration is clearly bubbling away at foggy bottom that they are now leaking details of their visit to the leadership of Pakistan. They cannot understand why they are being treated this way after giving the Pakistanis almost 10 billion dollars in aid since 9/11.

One of my favorite quotes is the following .... a fool and his money are always soon parted.

War News, Blogs, Opinions, And Wire Service Roundup -- July 30, 2008

A U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter flies over eastern Baghdad as the command staff of the 10th Mountain Division conducts an aerial reconnaissance of major joint security stations and combat outposts in Baghdad, Iraq, July 25, 2008. U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian D. Lehnhardt

United States Central Command
Global Security Briefs -- In Homeland Security
Complete Roundup Of World Trouble Spots -- Small Wars Journal
International, War, and Terrorism Headlines -- Rantburg
Morning Brief -- Foreign Policy
Global Incident Map
Global News -- Inform
Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs -- Canadian Perspective
Summary Of Wars & Conflicts: Right Hand Side Of Page -- Counter Terrorism Blog
Global Security News Roundup -- Global
Latest News -- Strategy Page
Institute For War And Peace Reporting
Intelligence News Roundup -- Intelligence Online
Analysis And Commentaries -- International Relations And Security Network
Alertnet From Reuters -- Use Their Search Filter
Emerging Threats -- United Press International
International Forecasting And News -- Stratfor

Iraq News -- E I N News
Conflict In Iraq -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
War In Iraq -- MSNBC
Iraq News Online -- Times Online
Iraq News -- Inform
Iraq Status Report
Iraq Weekly Status Report -- U.S. State Department
Iraq Updates
Iraq War News
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

Afghanistan -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Afghanistan Conflict Monitor
Afghanistan Update: April 1-30, 2008 -- Center For Defense Information
Operations In Afghanistan -- U.K. Ministry Of Defense

Mideast Conflicts -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Middle East Coverage -- Memri

Security -- MSNBC
Terrorism -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Terrorism -- MSNBC
Terror News Briefs
National Terror Alert Response Center

U.S. Department Of Defense News
News in The Military -- Military News
Stars And Stripes
U.S. Armed Forces News -- Full Coverage From Yahoo News
Index Of Military Blogs: Stories Updated Daily --
Milblogging: Stories Updated Daily -- Index Of Military Blogs
Directory Of Intelligence Sites -- Strategic Intelligence Complete

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kuwaiti Daily Reveals: Iran Building Secret Nuclear Reactor

Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad says his country now
has an industrial nuclear capacity (Reuters: Caren Firouz)

From The Arab Times:

KUWAIT CITY : A secret nuclear bomb manufacturing center at Al-Zarqan Area in Al-Ahwaziya Region, which was first established in 2000, was discovered recently, highly reliable sources told Al-Seyassah. Sources from Al-Ahwaziya claimed Tehran has started building a secret nuclear plant for manufacturing atomic bombs in Al-Zarqan Area near Al-Ahwaz City in southwest Iran and its border with Iraq. Sources said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is not aware of this plant since it was not included in negotiations with Iran held in Geneva at the beginning of this month. Sources revealed Iran started implementing the project some time between 2000 and 2003, which led to the evacuation of a large number of Arab tribes from the area to Al-Zarqan. Sources added the Tehran administration vacated the location, destroyed all the houses, wells and farms, and started full implementation of the project in 2007.

Read more ....

More From Memri -- Kuwaiti Daily Reveals: Iran Building Secret Nuclear Reactor

My Comment: If true, this is explosive information that will scuttle any possibility of a negotiated settlement. This is a smoking gun that will embarrass Iran's supporters (Russia and China), galvanize the Arabs to pursue their own nuclear program and thereby start a nuclear arms race, and lastly increase tension that will result in oil prices going through the roof.

I predict that if true, reports from intelligence sources will soon start to be leaked to the press giving additional information and analysis. This is going to be an interesting week.