Saturday, December 17, 2005

Defining Victory ... Down

Bush, on TV, Says Iraq Vote Won't End Violence
President Bush acknowledged that the elections in Iraq were "not going to stop violence" there, and that "we're behind" on the training of capable Iraqi police forces.

"I think if we have a policy of zero violence, it won't be met," Mr. Bush said in the PBS interview.

Asked if defining victory in terms that allowed violence to continue was an unusual definition of winning wars, he answered, "Yes."

"The elections won't say, O.K., the security situation has, you know, changed dramatically, because there are still people out there that are going to try to affect the political outcome, the political debate, with violence," he said.

"More Iraqis are in the lead on operations, more territory is controlled by the Iraqis," he said. "However, as General Casey said, we're behind when it comes to training the police forces, and one of the real challenges is to make sure that the police force does not become a haven for militia" controlled by political parties. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. of the Army is the American commander in Iraq.

"I think if we have a policy of zero violence, it won't be met," Mr. Bush said in the PBS interview.

Asked if defining victory in terms that allowed violence to continue was an unusual definition of winning wars, he answered, "Yes."

Published: December 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - The Fourth Infantry Division returns to Iraq next month for a complex, yearlong tour that illustrates the risks and goals of the American military's postelection mission across Iraq.

The more than 20,000 troops in the division, about 15 percent of the 138,000-strong American commitment scheduled to remain in Iraq at least through the early part of the year, will be responsible for security across a swath of central and south-central Iraq that is much larger than previous commands have tried to cover there.
So remember … War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength…


The expanded mission includes more than a hope, but a requirement, that Iraqi security forces take over the security mission in larger areas of their own country. The planning is also driven by a cold reality that many of the allied troops - including Ukraine, Bulgaria, Italy and possibly even Poland - seem likely to leave Iraq over coming months.

So, like American troops all across Iraq, the Fourth Infantry Division, from its headquarters in Baghdad, will have no choice but to rely on increasing numbers of Iraqi troops, testing as never before the American and Iraqi forces - and the new government to be assembled after Thursday's vote.

The Americans are planning to turn over bases to Iraqis, and more significantly plan to turn over a much larger share of the battle space to Iraqis, with the goal to minimize a visible American presence that alienates many Iraqis and provides a target for the insurgency. When possible, the American military will remain in a stand-back role, available to rush in if Iraqi forces need assistance.

American commanders make it no secret that the coming Iraqi government, with its sovereign stature and a full, four-year tenure, means they will be operating in new political terrain. Mounting pressures in the United States - and a new Iraqi government all but certain to assert its authority in coming months - will require that the American military demonstrate some kind of success and then withdraw as many troops as quickly and as safely as possible.

The goal is to make Iraqi patrols the norm, with stability no longer dependent on the large foreign force that has so constantly enraged Iraqis. That goal has become every bit as important as quelling the insurgency, if not more so. The new mission for the Fourth Infantry Division is planned around that new goal.

"It is very much a laboratory for the overall mission, linked not just to the development of the Iraqi armed forces but to efforts to make the special security forces act like national police forces," and not loyal only to local religious or ethnic leaders, said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"How much of the battle space can the Iraqi forces take over, and who is actually doing the fighting - those are the key measurements," Mr. Cordesman said.

"The measure cannot be the elimination of the insurgency, as desirable as that would be," he said. "You cannot eliminate all of the bombings."

In a strong indication of the tenor of the coming months, several of the incoming commanders are also returning veterans of the Iraq mission, and come from a school of thought that balances both the rebuilding of Iraq's economy and civil institutions and the contest of arms against the insurgents.

Still, the American reliance on overwhelming firepower will remain central.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Radical Militant Librarians Kick FBI Around?

"While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. "This should be an OIPR priority!!!"

“Publicly, the debate over the law known as the USA Patriot Act has focused on concerns from civil rights advocates that the F.B.I. has gained too much power to use expanded investigative tools to go on what could amount to fishing expeditions.

But the newly disclosed e-mail messages offer a competing view, showing that, privately, some F.B.I. agents have felt hamstrung by their inability to get approval for using new powers under the Patriot Act, which was passed weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

One internal F.B.I. message, sent in October 2003, criticized the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Justice Department, which reviews and approves terrorist warrants, as regularly blocking requests from the F.B.I. to use a section of the antiterrorism law that gave the bureau broader authority to demand records from institutions like banks, Internet providers and libraries.

"While radical militant librarians kick us around, true terrorists benefit from OIPR's failure to let us use the tools given to us," read the e-mail message, which was sent by an unidentified F.B.I. official. "This should be an OIPR priority!!!"

The bureau turned the e-mail messages over to the Electronic Privacy Information Center as part of a lawsuit brought by the group under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking material on the F.B.I.'s use of anti-terrorism powers. The group provided the material to The New York Times.

As part of the lawsuit brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a federal court has ordered the F.B.I. to turn over 1,500 pages of material to the privacy information group every two weeks.

An earlier collection of F.B.I. documents, released by the group in October, showed numerous violations of internal procedure and sometimes federal law by the bureau in its handling of surveillance and investigative matters. In some cases, for instance, agents had extended surveillance operations and investigations for months without getting required approval from supervisors.

In the most recent batch of material, an F.B.I. memorandum sent in March 2004 said the process for getting the Justice Department to improve demands for business records would be "greatly improved" because of a change in procedure allowing the bureau to "bypass" the department's intelligence office, which normally reviews all such requests.

But officials at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. said they were unaware of any such change in procedure and that all bureau requests for business record were still reviewed and approved by the Justice Department.

A separate e-mail message, sent in May 2004 with the subject header "Miracles," mockingly celebrated the fact that the Justice Department had approved an F.B.I. request for records under the so-called library provision.

"We got our first business record order signed today!" the message said. "It only took two and a half years."

In its latest public accounting of its use of the library provision, which falls under Section 215 of the antiterrorism law, the Justice Department said in April that it had used the law 35 times since late 2003 to gain access to information on apartment leasing, driver's licenses, financial records and other data in intelligence investigations. ”

Here's a theory…

The FBI isn't being denied access to what they want because of bureaucratic timidity, but because as our unofficial secret police they've got a demonstrable tendency to demonize political dissenters while ignoring evidence of actual crimes.

I'll bet the loudest complainanta are the very people who saw no significance in a bunch of Saudi's, Egyptians, and Morrocans in flight schools, who disciplined the whistleblowers who pointed out lax security and conflict of interest in the FBI's analysis division. The people who think they know who the dangerous people are, the evidence be “damned.”

So here's a few kudos to the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, for not “embarrassing” the bureau and applying restraint to a law that goes too far.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

What We Did Not Hear

“We did not hear that the war in Iraq, already one of the costliest wars in American history, is a running sore. We did not hear that it has taken more than 2,000 precious American lives and countless - because we do not count them - Iraqi civilian lives. We did not hear that the struggle has dragged on longer than our involvement in either World War I or the Spanish-American War, or that by next spring it will be even longer than the Korean War.

And we did not hear how or when the president plans to bring our forces back home - no facts, no numbers on America troop withdrawals, no dates, no reference to our dwindling coalition, no reversal of his disdain for the United Nations, whose help he still expects.…

Each month that America continues its occupation facilitates Al Qaeda's recruitment of young Islamic men and women as suicide bombers, the one weapon against which our open society has no sure defense. The president says we should support our troops by staying the course; but who is truly willing to support our troops by bringing them safely home?

The responsibility for devising an exit plan rests primarily not with the war's opponents, but with the president who hastily launched a pre-emptive invasion without enough troops to secure Iraq's borders and arsenals, without enough armor to protect our forces, without enough allied support and without adequate plans for either a secure occupation or a timely exit.”

Responsibility? There is no one more irresponsible than someone who can never admit a mistake.

Here's an apt cliché.

When you see light at the end of the tunnel, make sure you're not standing on rails.

Furthermore …

When you're heading the wrong way, turn around.

When you're in a hole, stop digging.

If you're going to make people disappear, or redefine torture to not include whatever abuse you're currently using. If you manipulate the press at home and abroad, then don't claim to be promoting ‘democracy.’

What Would J.F.K. Have Done?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How Broadcast Television Will Survive in an On-Demand World

“November 2005 may have been the month when the major broadcast networks finally 'got' the Internet.

On November 7th, both CBS and NBC cut deals with digital television providers to allow viewers to buy 99-cent downloads of a few popular shows.

Later that week, CNN rolled out a 'final beta' of CNN Pipeline, its streaming media service that delivers unique content via the Web.

Meanwhile, ISP-cum-portal AOL began offering a range of television shows in a digital format on the Web, while Tivo incorporated Yahoo's interactivity with its cable-box service.

Earlier this year, Yahoo also announced they had hired popular video journalist Kevin Sites to report on war zones across the world.

Industry pundits agreed that traditional broadcast networks were busily searching out new revenue streams to buffer falling TV ad returns, while portals were capitalizing on increased broadband connectivity and Internet fluency among consumers.

"The computer has crashed into the Internet," said Brian L. Roberts, CEO of Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, to BusinessWeek.

He sure a s hell doesn't ‘get it.’

Nor does Sony, the RIAA or the MPAA, but that's all right. The internet's got them.

They're busy fighting the last war. Their trenches and pillboxes are in place. But the net will trat them as damage and the packets will route around them and all their schemes will in the end lead to unconditional surrender.

We will become the media, because the computers are the presses, the

stations, the studios, and we own them. The barriers to entry get lower. Year by year, day by day, and even, minute by minute. Storage is virtually free. New distribution systems are becoming dominant, and they are also ours.

Time is running out for strategies of obstruction. The blitzkrieg has already bypassed them.,1895,1891810,00.asp

Friday, November 11, 2005

Does Torture Work?

“Erroneous information connecting Iraq and Al Qaeda—and used to bolster support for military action against Iraq—was likely the result of torture.

Newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency report—released last Friday by Michigan Senator Carl Levin—show that DIA analysts had doubts about the evidence provided by an Al Qaeda member held prisoner by U.S. personnel.

The New York Times' Douglas Jehl writes:
The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The story of al-Libi's capture and interrogation has been in the news before (as noted by Laura Rozen and Atrios). In June, Newsweek described al-Libi as "the subject of a bitter feud between the FBI and the CIA over how to interrogate terror suspects." The FBI favored "a carrots-and-no-sticks approach," the Newsweek report explained, while some in the CIA favored "bolder methods." After initially being questioned by FBI officers, al-Libi was handed over to the CIA and taken to Cairo, where he was apparently subjected to "bolder methods" and subsequently produced his false testimony about ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.

In July's American Prospect, reporter Jason Vest (a 2003 Dart Ochberg Fellow) took an in-depth look at the FBI's approach, interviewing retired veteran FBI agent Jack Cloonan.

Vest writes:
Based on his experiences interviewing Islamist radicals everywhere from New York City to Khartoum, Cloonan believes that interrogations can gather intelligence that’s both operationally actionable and court admissible (“nothing that shocks the conscience of the court,” as he puts it), and holds that torture -- by hands American or foreign -- is rarely ever useful or necessary. Cloonan and a New York Police Department detective secured actionable intelligence from a suspect in the foiled millennium-bombing plot in just six hours on December 30, 1999 -- by following FBI procedure, and by encouraging a suspect to pray during his Ramadan fast. The suspect even agreed to place calls to his confederates, which led to their speedy arrests.

Cloonan cited al-Libi's case as an example of "how uninformed and counterproductive notions have come to dominate the post–9-11 environment." Cloonan told Vest that FBI agents were getting good results using non-coercive methods—"... they start building rapport. And he starts talking about Reid and Moussaoui. They’re getting good stuff ..."—but then the CIA took over:

What Cloonan’s agents told him happened next blew his mind. “My guys told me that a Toyota Tundra with a box in the back pulls up to the building,” he recalls. “CIA of?cers come in, start shackling al-Libi up. Right before they duct tape his mouth, he tells our guys, ‘I know this isn’t your fault.’ And as he’s standing there, chained and gagged, this CIA guy gets up in his face and tells al-Libi he’s going to fuck his mother. And then off he apparently goes to Cairo, in a box.”

Cloonan says CIA of?cials he later spoke with furiously denied al-Libi was actually put in the box. But he seems to consider this at best a matter of hairsplitting, as there was no question as to what kind of situation al-Libi was being delivered to in Egypt.

Related: From May 2004, a Dart Center article, "Bad Apples, Bad Command, or Both?" looks at the psychological roots of atrocities. Experts on war crimes and war psychology discount the notion that abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib was the work of a few "bad apples." ”


Frontline: The Torture Question [Real Player, pdf, Windows Media Player]

Experts and pundits continue to debate the myriad of strategies deployed by the United States in the effort to combat terrorism around the world and internally. The Frontline program on PBS has created this website to complement a special edition of their show. This show focused on the question of whether torture is a viable way to obtain effective results in combating terrorism. Visitors can dive right in by watching the program in its entirety, or they may also wish to visit one of the sections providing supplementary information. One particularly compelling area is the section that provides information on how the current administration of President George W. Bush has created a protocol for conducting such investigations. Another very useful section is titled “Behind the Wire” and offers visitors an inside look
into the
U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Perhaps the most moving and intense portion of the site is the discussion section, where visitors can leave feedback and read the impassioned opinions of others who have seen the program.

>From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

If Persistance is Devilish are We Becoming Satanic?

When you justify with belief instead of fact, you've already done more damage than Al Qaeda could ever do to a society you nor they will ever comprehend.

In early 2002, the Bush administration got word from a foreign intelligence service—thought to be Italy’s—that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium in Niger. Mr Cheney’s office took an interest, seeking to consolidate the case for war. It asked the CIA to follow up, and Joseph Wilson, a retired diplomat, was sent to Africa. He found no evidence for the claim, and after the war wrote as much, angrily, in the New York Times. In the ensuing flap, two “senior administration officials” talked to Bob Novak, a columnist. He wrote that Mr Wilson was sent at the request of his wife, Valerie (née Plame), a CIA “operative” working on weapons of mass destruction. Ms Plame had been an undercover spy. Though by the time of Mr Novak's column she had been based safely in Virginia for several years, the article nonetheless blew her cover. The resulting investigation sought to determine whether someone broke the law in outing her.From The Economist Global Agenda

A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

The document, an intelligence report from February 2002, said it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, “was intentionally misleading the debriefers’’ in making claims about Iraqi support for Al Qaeda’s work with illicit weapons.

The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi’s credibility. Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi’s information as “credible’’ evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

Among the first and most prominent assertions was one by Mr. Bush, who said in a major speech in Cincinnati in October 2002 that “we’ve learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and gases.’’

The newly declassified portions of the document were made available by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Levin said the new evidence of early doubts about Mr. Libi’s statements dramatized what he called the Bush administration’s misuse of prewar intelligence to try to justify the war in Iraq. That is an issue that Mr. Levin and other Senate Democrats have been seeking to emphasize, in part by calling attention to the fact that the Republican-led Senate intelligence committee has yet to deliver a promised report, first sought more than two years ago, on the use of prewar intelligence. Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts ,

If Watergate taught Americans that it wasn't the crime but the coverup. The Plame game should teach us that when you want to believe something in the worst way, you can tell untruths in the worst way.

When you decide you aren't going to let details like the facts or the truth get in the way of what you decide is right. When you've predetermined the outcome of what's supposed to be an independent investigation. You've already chosen coverup and crime.

When you justify with belief instead of fact, you've already done more damage than Al Qaeda could ever do to a society you nor they will ever comprehend.

Alfred Ingram…

Friday, October 07, 2005

All Bennett Did Was Say It Changes made November 1,2005
All Bennett Did Was Say It
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Mr. Bennett, a secretary of education in the Reagan administration and drug czar in the first Bush administration who has become an author and radio host, said in a broadcast this week that "you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." He said that would be a "morally reprehensible thing to do."

Under fire from Democrats and civil rights groups, Mr. Bennett defended his remarks on Thursday as a hypothetical argument that moral questions like the abortion debate could not be linked to pragmatic issues like the crime rate.

"One could just as easily have said you could abort all children and prevent all crime to show the absurdity of the proposition," he said in his broadcast.”

A lot of America thinks it.

They think most people on welfare are black when most are white.

They think most rapists are black, when the average rapist is a white male in his twenties.

Most of them think they know someone who has lost a job to affirmative action, or even believe they've personally lost out.

Yet the relative unemployment ratios haven't changed since we've been measuring them.

Category for category, blacks are, and always have been, unemployed at twice the rate of whites.

But that's not what people know.

So what did Bennett know and where on earth did he get his information?

Does this have anything to do with the response to Katrina?

I could talk all day about the difference between racism and bigotry, but I'd rather use an analogy.

White people react to the label ‘racist’, the way victims of Katrina reacted to the label ‘refugee.’ The connotation of the word, it's implicit intentionality, has made it so offensive that it's lost its usefulness as a description of behavior. It's useless to say that you're not talking about peoples' intentions.

Bennett wasn't trying to be bigoted.

He did, indisputably, have a set of assumptions about black people that drew his foot into his mouth as relentlessly as gravity draws a damaged plane to earth. Like most of us, he'll defend his assumptions ferociously. After all, we're not just questioning his judgment, but, however indirectly, his oldest, most cherished , relationships and memories.

Alfred Ingram

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Imagine 20 Years of This - New York Times

…if science is correct, we will be repeatedly reminded what "a force of nature" implies. Meteorologists argue that we have begun a new era of Atlantic storms pumped up by hot gulf waters, a cycle that oscillates in decades. The devastating hurricanes of the 1960's like Betsy and Camille were followed by a lull from 1970 to 1995 as cooler waters stifled the wrath of adolescent tropical storms. Now the streams of warm water that encourage rapid evaporation and spiraling winds are back.

If these are just the first dark puffs of a new kind of summer weather that will prevail for the next 20 years, can we possibly be ready for what is to follow?

“The absurdity is that a dangerous squall can now be tracked almost from its birth off the coast of Africa, but its victims still cannot get out of its way. Despite our amazing ability to foretell the meteorological future, greed and sloth may have overpowered most sane efforts to plan for it.

Highways have clotted as families flee, and some of those without cars end up with nowhere to go but their rooftops. Evacuation plans for hospitals and nursing homes have been washed away by worst-case scenarios that no one envisioned - buildings marooned by deep water and beset by gunfire.

Encouraged by federal flood insurance, islands whose very existence is ephemeral have been lined with vacation homes. Low-lying urban neighborhoods with their asphalt toes resting in swamps have been built below levees too fragile to hold. Hurricane-resistant houses have been designed, but their squat forms have proven unpopular with customers craving ocean vistas.

We imagine ourselves to be a can do people. Elect a won't do administration that doesn't even believe in the job it campained so hard for. Why are we surprised that it creates can't do bureaucracy. It doesn't believe government has a right to life. What the market doesn't do shouldnt be done.

Marshes that once absorbed storms have been allowed to die off and sink, leaving stretches of open water that can be flung shoreward by storm surges. Pipelines designed to flex have snapped - Katrina's damage may include 10 major spills.

Even the economy, unable to flee, has become a victim. The nation's refineries have been concentrated in the threatened hurricane belt. Gas-guzzlers and rising prices are beating into the heads of drivers the nature of the laws of supply and demand. Insurance companies have been rocked, struggling airlines have gasped at their jet fuel bills. The damage so far already could reach $200 billion. ”

…As a society,I'm afraid our imagination fails. Again, and again, and yet, despite evidence, against all reason, again. We imagine ourselves to be a can do people. Elect a won't do administration that doesn't even believe in the job it campained so hard for. Why are we surprised that it creates can't do bureaucracy. It doesn't believe government has a right to life. What the market doesn't do shouldnt be done

Alfred Ingram…

Sunday, September 18, 2005 blogs and forums help save lives after Katrina

“OJR: Did you ever consider the possibility that you wouldn't have a print newspaper?

Donley: No, it neveroccurredd to us, we never discussed it. The idea was to use the Web to give breaking information to people and then the full stories would be in the newspaper. When we heard this would be a Category 4 or 5, that had an effect on us, on the number of people we would keep around. Normally, I would take two people with me into the hurricane bunker but this time I just went in by myself. People really needed to get their families out. We had a smaller staff than we normally would.

The electricity went out very early on Monday morning [August 29] and it wasn't settled until 8 or 9 at night that there wouldn't be a paper out. But we wanted to put all the newspaper coverage of the hurricane online because of the massive number of evacuees who wouldn't be able to see the newspaper anyway. We didn't know ahead of time but put it up online for that purpose late in the day.

In the hurricane bunker we never lost electricity or Internet connectivity up until the time we evacuated. But we lost the library system, and [the newspaper editors] lost the ability to print stories to the XML depositories, they lost the ability to transfer photos. We started to put together crude transfer systems on the fly, but in the end we just started pasting the final print versions into the Weblog.

OJR: How did you make the decision to put literally all your print stories into the blog?

Donley: We have used a blog-style situation ever since Hurricane Georges for news updates and breaking news stuff, but never with the intention to run the print stories. They usually combine the tidbits into print stories.

We were running two blogs live. One was from the city desk and they were funneling news from their reporters. And I was running the NOLA View blog, first what we were experiencing in the newsroom and that morphed into reports from the police scanner. I'm used to listening to scanner traffic in one ear and taking notes on it, but this is something we'd never heard before. The only parallel was scanner tapes from the 9/11 emergency. It was that kind of stuff. I could actually hear phone calls patched through, and you could hear the water going up in someone's attic, and you could hear the cops crying, "I can't get to them, they're dropping off the roof one at a time."

Eventually people started sending requests for rescues. So that blog morphed from my little color thing to people reporting other people trapped and some of the agencies using it to rescue people. I have some remote producers monitoring that full-time and going through rescue requests.

OJR: I heard from a number of people posting on your blog that it helped save the lives of people they knew.

Networks, at least the uncentralized ones, just worked. Both the people and the protocols routed around the damage and, as a result lives were saved. FEMA, centered in Homeland Security, fell apart. In part, because the center tried to hold all authority… Al Ingram

Donley: Necessity is the mother of invention. We do know that this Lt. Gen. Honore who oversees the military operation, one of his aides who has a group of people who have been monitoring the forum continually and taking notes and sending out rescue missions based on that information. In fact, one time we had some server issues, and he wrote us frantically saying, "Get this up as soon as you can, people's lives depend on it. We've already saved a number of lives because of it."

OJR: I can't think of another online forum that's saved lives like that before.

Donley: It was weird because we couldn't figure out where these pleas were coming from. We'd get e-mails from Idaho, there's a guy at this address and he's in the upstairs bedroom of his place in New Orleans. And then we figured out that even in the poorest part of town, people have a cell phone. And it's a text-enabled cell phone. And they were sending out text messages to friends or family, and they were putting it in our forums or sending it in e-mails to us.

The cell service didn't work, but they could send text. They're saying now that the body counts won't be as bad as they thought, and I know at least some of that is that people figured out how to hack the system, to use this kludge to save people's lives.”

…Networks, at least the uncentralized ones, just worked. Both the people and the protocols routed around the damage and, as a result lives were saved. FEMA, centered in Homeland Security, fell apart. In part, because the center tried to hold all authority to the point of refusing to act when explicit total authority wasn't transferred from the governor to them in triplicate.

Food, medicine, even diesel fuel sent to supply a hospitals emergency generator was confiscated, not allowed to go through. Buses sent to evacuate desperate people were halted. Truckloads of supplies were blocked. It's not that the local authorities didn't make deadly mistakes and FEMA did. It's the nature of the mistakes, why they confiscated supplies, why they cut the sheriff's line, why they held up search and rescue volunteers, that must be examined.

Security was put ahead of human need in a natural catastrophe. Management swallowed emergency. I think Brown was the smallest part of the problem. What the agency was structured to do will turn out to be a lot more important.

This administrations theory of governance will be most important of all. Unless the press and congress blow this one too.

Unfortunately, that would be totally consistent. The real shame is that the outstanding coverage of the response to Hurricane Katrina is inconsistent.…

Friday, September 16, 2005

Some Things Bear Repeating

More US Military dead in combat than being reported.

US Military Report: The High Death Rates exposed by Brian Harring

The Bush Butcher’s Bill: Officially, 52 US Military Deaths in Iraq from 1 through 15 May, 2005 – Official Total of 1,803 US Dead to date (and rising)

U.S. Military Personnel who died in German hospitals or en route to German hospitals have not previously been counted. They total about 6,210 as of 1 January, 2005. The ongoing, underreporting of the dead in Iraq, is not accurate. The DoD is deliberately reducing the figures. A review of many foreign news sites show that actual deaths are far higher than the newly reduced ones. Iraqi civilian casualties are never reported but International Red Cross, Red Crescent and UN figures indicate that as of 1 January 2005, the numbers are
just under 100,000
by Brian Harring, Domestic Intelligence Reporter

Note: There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq.

The Bush administration is an Accessory Before the Fact to Murder.
If we don't act on this we're Accessories after the fact.


The Natural Talent of a Burning Bush

I think we all know a “Mr. Fix-it.” You know the type. They're the guys (and yes, they always seem to be guys) who'll burn down the house lighting the stove. They've got a million and one ideas for improving the world (all wrong), and they're natural born salesmen.


I've Been Interviewed — Audio and Text Part 1



I've Been Interviewed — Audio and Text Part 2

…A.J. Liebling said,"Freedom of the Press belongs to those who own one." What passes for news in the conventional media is too often the mere opinion of the powerful. The answer to the speech of the few is the speech of the many. People feel that their freedom is at stake.

The government gets away with these huge lies because they claim, falsely, that only soldiers actually killed on the ground in Iraq are reported. The dying and critically wounded are listed as en route to military hospitals outside of the country and not reported on the daily postings. Anyone who dies just as the transport takes off from the Baghdad airport is not listed and neither are those who die in the US military
hospitals. Their families are certainly notified that their son, husband, brother or lover was dead and the bodies, or what is left of them (refrigeration is very bad in Iraq what with constant power outages) are shipped home, to Dover AFB. You ought to realize that President Bush personally ordered that no
pictures be taken of the coffined and flag-draped dead under any circumstances. He claims that this is to comfort the bereaved relatives but is designed to keep the huge number of arriving bodies secret. Any civilian, or military personnel, taking pictures will be jailed at once and prosecuted. Bush has never attended
any kind of a memorial service for his dead soldiers and never will. He is terrified some parent might curse him in front of the press or, worse, attack him.

WASHINGTON August 5, 2005
Pentagon Agrees to Issue Photos of Coffins of Iraq War Dead
Under the terms of a legal settlement announced on Thursday, the Pentagon will make available "as expeditiously as possible" some photographs of the coffins of service members killed in Iraq. The agreement runs counter to a longstanding Pentagon policy that bars the public release of such photographs. But in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act, the Pentagon has already released hundreds of such photographs this year, and it agreed under the settlement to continue to do so.

The agreement responded to a Freedom of Information Act suit filed in October in Federal District Court here that sought all photographs and video images that showed coffins or similar items that held the remains of American military personnel at Dover Air Force Base, Del., beginning in February 2003.

The Pentagon has strictly enforced a policy barring news photographs showing the coffins. That policy has been in place since the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and President Bush has said it protects the privacy of the families of the dead.

Ralph Begleiter, a journalism professor at the University of Delaware who was a lead plaintiff in the current suit, said the Pentagon's agreement to release the photographs represented a "significant victory for the honor of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in war for their country, as well as for their families, for all service personnel and for the American people."

The Pentagon issued a statement, saying, "As with all information, including images, the Department of Defense has an obligation and a responsibility to strike a balance between our strong desire to be as transparent as possible and the legitimate concerns to protect the privacy of military families and as necessary, operational security."

But there was no indication that the government would permit news organizations to begin taking such photographs.

Under President Bill Clinton, the policy against taking such photographs was not rigorously enforced, and Mr. Clinton took part in numerous ceremonies that honored dead service members.…

Sunday, September 04, 2005


“The first rule of the social fabric - that in times of crisis you protect the vulnerable - was trampled. Leaving the poor in New Orleans was the moral equivalent of leaving the injured on the battlefield.
The Bursting Point

“AS the levees cracked open and ushered hell into New Orleans on Tuesday, President Bush once again chose to fly away from Washington, not toward it, while disaster struck. We can all enumerate the many differences between a natural catastrophe and a terrorist attack. But character doesn't change: it is immutable, and it is destiny.

As always, the president's first priority, the one that sped him from Crawford toward California, was saving himself: he had to combat the flood of record-low poll numbers that was as uncontrollable as the surging of Lake Pontchartrain. It was time, therefore, for another disingenuous pep talk, in which he would exploit the cataclysm that defined his first term, 9/11, even at the price of failing to recognize the emerging fiasco likely to engulf Term 2.

After dispatching Katrina with a few sentences of sanctimonious boilerplate ("our hearts and prayers are with our fellow citizens"), he turned to his more important task. The war in Iraq is World War II. George W. Bush is F.D.R. And anyone who refuses to stay his course is soft on terrorism and guilty of a pre-9/11 "mind-set of isolation and retreat." Yet even as Mr. Bush promised "victory" (a word used nine times in this speech on Tuesday), he was standing at the totemic scene of his failure. It was along this same San Diego coastline that he declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln more than two years ago. For this return engagement, The Washington Post reported, the president's stage managers made sure he was positioned so that another hulking aircraft carrier nearby would stay off-camera, lest anyone be reminded of that premature end of "major combat operations."

This administration would like us to forget a lot, starting with the simple fact that next Sunday is the fourth anniversary of the day we were attacked by Al Qaeda, not Iraq. Even before Katrina took command of the news, Sept. 11, 2005, was destined to be a half-forgotten occasion, distorted and sullied by a grotesquely inappropriate Pentagon-sponsored country music jamboree on the Mall. But hard as it is to reflect upon so much sorrow at once, we cannot allow ourselves to forget the real history surrounding 9/11; it is the Rosetta stone for what is happening now. If we are to pull ourselves out of the disasters of Katrina and Iraq alike, we must live in the real world, not the fantasyland of the administration's faith-based propaganda.…
Falluja Floods the Superdome

“"Why didn't they leave?" people asked both on and off camera. "Why did they stay there when they knew a storm was coming?" One reporter even asked me, "Why do people live in such a place?"

Then as conditions became unbearable, the looters took to the streets. Windows were smashed, jewelry snatched, stores broken open, water and food and televisions carried out by fierce and uninhibited crowds.

Now the voices grew even louder. How could these thieves loot and pillage in a time of such crisis? How could people shoot one another? Because the faces of those drowning and the faces of those looting were largely black faces, race came into the picture. What kind of people are these, the people of New Orleans, who stay in a city about to be flooded, and then turn on one another?

Well, here's an answer. Thousands didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. They didn't have the money. They didn't have the vehicles. They didn't have any place to go. They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do - they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find. There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn.

What's more, thousands more who could have left stayed behind to help others. They went out in the helicopters and pulled the survivors off rooftops; they went through the flooded streets in their boats trying to gather those they could find. Meanwhile, city officials tried desperately to alleviate the worsening conditions in the Superdome, while makeshift shelters and hotels and hospitals struggled.

And where was everyone else during all this? Oh, help is coming, New Orleans was told. We are a rich country. Congress is acting. Someone will come to stop the looting and care for the refugees.

And it's true: eventually, help did come. But how many times did Gov. Kathleen Blanco have to say that the situation was desperate? How many times did Mayor Ray Nagin have to call for aid? Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.
Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans?

“THE white people got out. Most of them, anyway. If television and newspaper images can be deemed a statistical sample, it was mostly black people who were left behind. Poor black people, growing more hungry, sick and frightened by the hour as faraway officials counseled patience and warned that rescues take time.

What a shocked world saw exposed in New Orleans last week wasn't just a broken levee. It was a cleavage of race and class, at once familiar and startlingly new, laid bare in a setting where they suddenly amounted to matters of life and death. Hydrology joined sociology throughout the story line, from the settling of the flood-prone city, where well-to-do white people lived on the high ground, to its frantic abandonment.

The pictures of the suffering vied with reports of marauding, of gunshots fired at rescue vehicles and armed bands taking over the streets. The city of quaint eccentricity - of King Cakes, Mardi Gras beads and nice neighbors named Tookie - had taken a Conradian turn.

In the middle of the delayed rescue, the New Orleans mayor, C.Ray Nagin, a local boy made good from a poor, black ward, burst into tears of frustration as he denounced slow moving federal officials and called for martial law.

Even people who had spent a lifetime studying race and class found themselves slack-jawed.…
What Happens to a Race Deferred

“They waited, and they waited, and then they waited some more in the 90-degree heat, as many as 5,000 people huddled at a highway underpass on Interstate 10, waiting for buses that never arrived to take them away from the storm they could not escape.

Babies cried. The sick huddled in the shade in wheelchairs or rested on cots. Dawn Ray, 40, was in tears, looking after an autistic niece who had soiled herself and her son who is blind and has cerebral palsy. A few others, less patient, simply started walking west with nowhere to go, like a man pushing a
bike in one hand and pulling a shopping cart in another. But most just waited with resigned patience - sad, angry, incredulous, scared, exhausted, people who seemed as discarded as the bottles of water and food containers that littered the ground.

"Disease, germs," one woman, Claudette Paul, said, covering her mouth with a cloth, her voice smoldering with anger. "We need help. We don't live like this in America."

New Orleans has always existed in a delicate balance between land and water, chaos and order, black and white, the very rich and the very poor. It has been the lacy ironwork of French Quarter balconies, the magical shops and galleries on Royal Street and the magisterial cuisine not just at Galatoire's or Mr. B's or Commander's Palace but also at humble po-boy joints and neighborhood restaurants in every part of town.

But it has also been a place of crushing poverty, of dreary housing projects and failing schools, where crime and violence have been an incessant shadow in daily life, as much a part of the local sensibility as the smothering blanket of heat and humidity.

This week, bit by bit, that delicate balance came completely undone. Water took over earth when levees broke, putting 80 percent of the city under water. The mix of fatalism and bravado that allowed the city's biggest fear - a killer hurricane - to become the marquee drink of Bourbon Street gave way to terror and despair and horrifying spasms of looting and violence. New Orleans became unrecognizable not just physically, but psychologically as well. Faced with a disaster of biblical proportions, everything fell apart, and government was either overmatched or slow to the task.…
A Delicate Balance Is Undone in a Flash, and a Battered City Waits

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Job Posting - New York Times

LAST month, Nadine Haobsh, an associate beauty editor at Ladies' Home Journal, was about to resign and take a job at Seventeen, where she had been offered a similar position. Then the magazines discovered she was blogging about work, and her two jobs became none. Ladies' Home Journal asked her to leave immediately; Seventeen rescinded its offer.

"…when it comes to keeping your job - at least in the private sector - the law hardly protects anyone. You can be fired for being ugly, you can be fired for being left-handed, you can be fired for something you say to your secretary. And if you can be fired for something you say to your own secretary, it seems silly to say you shouldn't be able to be fired for something you post on the Internet for everyone else's secretary to read.

Related ,

Besides, there are good reasons employers might want to fire people with Weblogs. Surely it's not great for the work environment if your boss finds out that you are telling the world what a jerk he is. If you're revealing trade secrets or confidential information, clearly your employer has a right to be upset. Even if you are writing innocent content, the mere fact that there's an employee in the ranks who is communicating something to a larger audience can be legitimately scary to companies that are used to controlling the information that gets out.

But here's the problem: Weblogs are worth protecting. It used to be that if you wanted to know what it was like to work for a law firm or a beauty magazine, you had to have a friend on the inside. But now that everyone can publish online, we can get these incredible glimpses into worlds we might otherwise never get to see. People across the world can share stories, commiserate and connect with each other. Potential employees can see beyond the marketing pitches.

If no one was reading, employers wouldn't be concerned. There's a demand for the first-person narratives people are writing about their jobs. There's nowhere else to go to create honest conversation about the working world.

So maybe it does make sense that the law should provide special protection for bloggers, because of the social benefits Weblogs provide. The simplest place to start would be to put the burden on employers to show actual harm, if they are firing someone because of her Weblog.

This would protect the kind of innocent revelations that bloggers like Ms. Haobsh make on their sites, while still giving employers rights if their employees are revealing secrets, disclosing client and customer information or otherwise driving business away. In addition, companies should create Weblog policies that let employees know what management feels is off limits for public consumption.

In any case, blogs may not hurt companies as much as they fear.… "

I think it's time to reign in private sector assaults on freedom of speech.

Firing bloggers is just the latest way of silencing people who often aren't even critics.

There are law suits brought for no other reason than to silence, often totally without merit. What these methods all have in common is economic threat. You'll lose your job (and won't get another). The lawsuits eat up years and savings. You might not (in the United States) get your costs back even if you win.

If we don't stand up for free speech now, we'll find ourselves sitting still for worse abuse to come.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What They Did Last Fall

By PAUL KRUGMAN“In his recent book "Steal This Vote" - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I've seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election."
Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.

But few Americans have heard these facts. Perhaps journalists have felt that it would be divisive to cast doubt on the Bush administration's legitimacy. If so, their tender concern for the nation's feelings has gone for naught: Cindy Sheehan's supporters are camped in Crawford, and America is more bitterly divided than ever.

Meanwhile, the whitewash of what happened in Florida in 2000 showed that election-tampering carries no penalty, and political operatives have acted accordingly. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired a company to jam Democratic and union phone banks on Election Day.

And what about 2004?

Mr. Gumbel throws cold water on those who take the discrepancy between the exit polls and the final result as evidence of a stolen election. (I told you it's a judicious book.) He also seems, on first reading, to play down what happened in Ohio. But the theme of his book is that America has a long, bipartisan history of dirty elections.

He told me that he wasn't brushing off the serious problems in Ohio, but that "this is what American democracy typically looks like, especially in a presidential election in a battleground state that is controlled substantially by one party."

So what does U.S. democracy look like? There have been two Democratic reports on Ohio in 2004, one commissioned by Representative John Conyers Jr., the other by the Democratic National Committee.

The D.N.C. report is very cautious: "The purpose of this investigation," it declares, "was not to challenge or question the results of the election in any way." It says there is no evidence that votes were transferred away from John Kerry - but it does suggest that many potential Kerry votes were suppressed. Although the Conyers report is less cautious, it stops far short of claiming that the wrong candidate got Ohio's electoral votes.

But both reports show that votes were suppressed by long lines at polling places - lines caused by inadequate numbers of voting machines - and that these lines occurred disproportionately in areas likely to vote Democratic. Both reports also point to problems involving voters who were improperly forced to cast provisional votes, many of which were discarded.

The Conyers report goes further, highlighting the blatant partisanship of election officials. In particular, the behavior of Ohio's secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell - who supervised the election while serving as co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio - makes Ms. Harris's actions in 2000 seem mild by comparison.

And then there are the election night stories. Warren County locked down its administration building and barred public observers from the vote-counting, citing an F.B.I. warning of a terrorist threat. But the F.B.I. later denied issuing any such warning. Miami County reported that voter turnout was an improbable 98.55 percent of registered voters. And so on.

We aren't going to rerun the last three elections. But what about the future?…”

…In fact, the past will be the future unless the invertebrates in the Democratic party miraculously grow backbones. Clinton to Progressives: 'Be Tough'

Be tough, stop whining, speak from the heart, and talk to the so-called red America.

President Clinton spoke to 700 young progressive students from universities around the country at the Campus Progress' first National Student Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 13. The conference, organized by the Center for American Progress, brought together dedicated student organizers to build leadership skills and strengthen a progressive vision through workshops and speeches like Bill Clinton's.

In typical Clinton fashion -- deeply intellectual yet accessible -- he discussed four big questions progressives need to answer for themselves and others in order to win this country back. And as a leader with substantial experience in the field, he couldn't resist the temptation to answer them all while at it. President Clinton shared his insights about the fundamental nature of the modern world, progressive values, the role of government and what changes progressives need to make in their tactics. (Hint: be tough, stop whining, speak from the heart, and talk to the so-called red America.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Failed State None Dare Name

“Contrary to the expectations of the early Zionists, most of the world's Jews have not joined their brethren to live in Israel. Of the world's 13 million to 14 million Jews, a minority - 5.26 million - make their home in Israel, and immigration has largely dried up. Last year, a record low 21,000 Jews immigrated to Israel”
Israel is consistantly called a successful state, a democracy with a high standard of living and many proud accomplishments, but it's not a democracy, and its failure is worse than others, because it should have been.

The Zionists expected Jews elsewhere to suffer misery that has not materialized. Over half a century after the establishment of the Jewish state, more Jews live in the United States than in Israel.

The Palestinian population has grown far more rapidly - and Palestinians have proved far more willing to fight - than many on the Israeli right had anticipated. The newspaper Haaretz reported that the proportion of Jews in the combined population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza had dropped below 50 percent. Many Israelis argue, that unless they yield territory, they will have to choose a Jewish state or a democratic one; they will not be able to have both.

The truth is the choice was made unconciously. A Jewish state for the benefit of Jews can't be democratic any more than a White state for the benefit of Whites. You can have a democratic state period. Hyphenate it, and you have something else entirely.

Jewish immigration never achieved anticipated levels, the Palestinian population has ballooned. The question of the role played by Palestinian violence is hotly contested.

Some argue that the two Palestinian intifadas, or uprisings, from 1987 to 1993 and from 2000 to the present, drove Israel out. Others say that Israel's increasingly effective counterterror measures - the building of a barrier, killings of terror leaders and military reoccupation of selective Palestinian cities - broke the back of the insurgents, allowing Israel the sense of strength to walk away. In fact, both factors seem likely to have played a role.

"Of course terror has a role in the disengagement," said Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Institute, a conservative Jerusalem research group. "It convinced us that Gaza was not worth holding onto and awakened us to the demographic danger. It took two intifadas for a majority of Israelis to decide that Gaza is not worth it."

A senior Israeli official who spent years closely associated with Likud leaders, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said that Israelis long had little respect for Palestinians as fighters, but that had changed.

"The fact that hundreds of them are willing to blow themselves up is significant," he said. "We didn't give them any credit before. In spite of our being the strongest military power in the Middle East, we lost 1,200 people over the last four years. It finally sank in to Sharon and the rest of the leadership that these people were not giving up."

Some came to a similar conclusion much earlier. The Israeli left has been calling for a withdrawal from Gaza for years, and even many on the right believed settlement there to be futile and counterproductive. Mr. Kimche, the former foreign ministry official, recalled that when Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of the conservative Likud party was running against Yitzhak Rabin of Labor in the early 1990's, several Shamir advisers told him: "Unless you withdraw from Gaza, you're going to lose these elections." He did not withdraw; he lost.

Mr. Rabin himself said that he decided to negotiate a withdrawal with the Palestinians when he realized how unpopular military service in Gaza had become.

"He said privately - I heard him say it - that military reservists don't want to serve in the occupied territories and while they are not formally refusing they are finding excuses to stay away," Yoel Esteron, managing editor of Yediot Aharonot, recalled. "That put a real burden on the army and it meant we couldn't stay there forever."

With Gaza soon no longer in their hands, Israelis will face a much more complex set of decisions regarding the occupied West Bank. Settlements in distant corners of the West Bank are also being dismantled in the coming weeks, but no one knows how much more land Mr. Sharon and his successors will be willing to yield.

In fact, settlements in the West Bank are expanding, encroachment in East Jerusalem continues.

What is clear, however, is that the internal Israeli logic of what is taking place this week - a scaling back of ambition in the face of reality - could lead to traumatic withdrawals of larger numbers of people on the West Bank.

…. Failed states facilitate to terror. Failed democracies give us rwandas, kampucheas, and yes even Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, propping up a state militarily doesn't preserve or spread democracy. Failure to recognize the fundamental flaw turned Israel, first into a police state, lead to death squads, all because they thought they could have democracy for some, but not all. They staked their survival on it, but their continued survival may depend on whether they can abandon it.

Alfred Ingram…

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Struggling to Get Soldiers Updated Armor

“For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

Workers assembled body armor made of ceramic plates at ArmorWorks in Tempe, Ariz. Specially treated plates give troops extra protection.

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.

The effort to replace the armor began in May 2004, just months after the Pentagon finished supplying troops with the original plates - a process also plagued by delays. The officials disclosed the new armor effort Wednesday after questioning by The New York Times, and acknowledged that it would take several more months or longer to complete.

Citing security concerns, the officials declined to say exactly how many more of the stronger plates were needed, or how much armor had already been shipped to Iraq.

"We are working as fast as we can to complete it as soon as we can," Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, the Army's deputy for acquisition and systems management, said Wednesday in an interview at the Pentagon.

While much of the focus on casualties in Iraq has been on soldiers killed by explosive devices aimed at vehicles, body armor remains critical to the military's goals in Iraq. Gunfire has killed at least 325 troops, about half the number killed by bombs, according to the Pentagon.

Among the problems contributing to the delays in getting the stronger body armor, the Pentagon is relying on a cottage industry of small armor makers with limited production capacity. In addition, each company must independently come up with its own design for the plates, which then undergo military testing. Just four vendors have begun making the enhanced armor, according to military and industry officials. Two more companies are expected to receive contracts by next month, while 20 or more others have plates that are still being tested.…”

…Body armor arose as an issue in Iraq shortly after the invasion in March 2003, when insurgents began attacking American troops who had been given only vests and not bullet-resistant plates. The Army had planned to give the plates only to frontline soldiers. Officials now concede that they underestimated the insurgency's strength and commitment to fighting a war in which there are no back lines.

The ensuing scramble to produce more plates was marred by a series of missteps in which the Pentagon gave one contract to a former Army researcher who had never mass-produced anything. He was allowed to struggle with production for a year before he gave up. An outdated delivery plan slowed the arrival of plates that were made. In all, the war was 10 months old before every soldier in Iraq had plates in late January 2004.

Four months later, the Pentagon quietly issued a solicitation for the enhanced plates that would resist stronger attacks. At the same time, it worked to make improvements to the vests, including adding shoulder and side protection.

Pentagon officials said they had been hampered in their efforts by the need to make the armor as light as possible.

"You can trace this back to the early centuries ago when they started wearing body armor to the point they couldn't get on the horse," General Sorenson said. "We are doing the same sort of thing. You can only put so much armor on a soldier to the point where they can't move."

The new enhanced SAPI plates weigh about one pound more than the original plates, bringing the total body armor system with vest to about 18 pounds, military officials said.

Among the first soldiers to use the stronger armor were the military's special forces, who are known to cut the handles off their toothbrushes to reduce the weight of their packs.

Shortly after the Iraq war began, insurgents began attacking American soldiers engaged in stationary tasks like directing traffic or less arduous combat operations.…

Sunday, August 07, 2005

(Found Below A Review Of Books on Slavery)

Talk about strange… I found this ad below this review ‘Setting Them Free by Adam Goodheart. This is Adwords gone berserk.

“Modern Slavery
Great deals on Modern Slavery Shop on eBay and Save!

…This seems to be good old fashioned greed masquerading as a contextual ad. The link takes you to 263 items of modern sculpture. I guess both sculpture and slavery start with an S…, close enough?…

Friday, August 05, 2005

Forget the War? Many Can't - New York Times

“On CNN's 'Reliable Sources' on Sunday, there was a discussion of 'Iraq fatigue,' the idea that viewers, readers and editors are tiring of stories about the war and the number of deaths. But despite the fatigue, the war continues to force itself on us, with jolting developments like this week's terrible death toll for American marines.”

Can you hear Lincoln saying that a just God might require each drop of blood shed by the lash to be matched by one shed by the sword?

Are you disturbed by our total disregard for Iraq's innocent dead, killed by the ‘insugents’ or killed by us?

America, soldier or civilian seems stuck on the idea that Iraqi's were involved in the 9-11 atrocities. We've totally forgotten that our soldiers swear an oath to defend the constitution of the United States, and that constitution is in more jeopardy from our actions and reactions than the worst a thousand Bin Ladens could ever accomplish.

When you're heading the wrong way it's almost always better to turn around then to stay the course.

Alfred Ingram

  • this is an audio post - click to play
    It's Time To Call It Murder
  • this is an audio post - click to play
    The Natural Talent of a Burning Bush
  • this is an audio post - click to play
    I've Been Interviewed Part 1
  • this is an audio post - click to play
    I've Been Interviewed Part 2


    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    From ‘What Is The War’ Religion, Politics, And Legitimacy

    “From bin Laden's 1998 fatwa:

    The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, 'and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,' and 'fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.'

    Clearly, bin Laden advocates the use of terrorism as a means of changing the behaviour of governments: His goal is the removal of Western troops from Muslim lands, and the creation of a single Islamic state throughout the Middle East. This seems to me political by definition. Bin Laden's objectives may be somewhat more abstract and grandiose than those of the Irish Republican Army or the Zionist Irgun, for example, but his objectives are still political, albeit a politics which is completely entwined with religion.

    As to Nelson's claims about legitimacy, I also regard both the means and ends of Islamist terrorism as illegitimate, but I'd offer that legitimacy is in the eye of the beholder. In the view of a very small minority of fundamentalist Muslims, the al Qaeda ideology (and at this point al Qaeda is much more an ideology than it is an organization) and the violence it inspires are legitimate responses to what they perceive as an aggressive and invasive West. This is certainly not meant to justify or excuse terrorism, only to point out that it matters very little whether Nelson or I consider it legitimate. For those willing to kill and die for this ideology, its legitimacy is a matter of fact.… ”

    It's past time to start taking Al Qaeda at its word. Al Qaeda means "the base" and tha's precisely what we're dealing with. Not a base like Fort Campbell or Dix, but base like a B-team whose purpose is to support A- teams. Al Qaeda trains and supports the trainers, provides strategic goals, but doesn't dictate tactical decisions. If we're to defeat them we must deal with them as they are, not as we believe them to be.

    Monday, August 01, 2005

    No Place to Hide

    In the 1990s, the data industry mushroomed. Vast computer systems quietly gathered staggering amounts of personal information about virtually every American adult, mostly for business and marketing purposes. After the 9/11 attacks, national security officials reached out to data companies for help in finding potential terrorists. Now, there may be No Place to Hide.

    Since the 9/11 terror attacks, Americans have heard a stream of reports about new, eye-popping security technologies - tools to rate every airline passenger as a terrorism risk, or to sift through personal data about adults across the country and beyond. How far should the nation go in using your personal information for crime fighting and national security? In this new world, what are the rules?

    There's wide agreement that after 9/11, the government needed to do a better job of identifying threats on American soil through the use of information technology. But since these technologies, in effect, monitor almost everyone, some people worry about the potential for new abuses.
    Posted by Picasa

    The book is unevenly written, but the website and audio are fascinating.

    The book is ironic and shocking. A subsidiary of ChoicePoint helped the republican party suppress the black vote in Florida in the 2000 election. Not only do they steal your identity, they steal your vote.

    Thursday, July 28, 2005

    Oil and Blood - New York Times

    “It is now generally understood that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has become a debacle. Nevertheless, Iraqis are supposed to have their constitution ratified and a permanent government elected by the end of the year. It's a logical escape hatch for George W. Bush. He could declare victory, as a senator once suggested to Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam, and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

    His mantra would be: There's a government in place. We won. We're out of there.

    But don't count on it. The Bush administration has no plans to bring the troops home from this misguided war, which has taken a fearful toll in lives and injuries while at the same time weakening the military, damaging the international reputation of the United States, serving as a world-class recruiting tool for terrorist groups and blowing a hole the size of Baghdad in Washington's budget.

    A wiser leader would begin to cut some of these losses. But the whole point of this war, it seems, was to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq to ensure American domination of the Middle East and its precious oil reserves, which have been described, the author Daniel Yergin tells us, as "the greatest single prize in all history."

    You can run through all the wildly varying rationales for this war: the weapons of mass destruction (that were never found), the need to remove the unmitigated evil of Saddam (whom we had once cozied up to), the connection to Al Qaeda (which was bogus), and one of President Bush's favorites, the need to fight the terrorists "over there" so we won't have to fight them here at home.

    All the rationales have to genuflect before "The Prize," which was the title of Mr. Yergin's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book.

    It's the oil, stupid.…”

    The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

    Dreams of empire die hard. We're dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but there is a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. The global competition for oil reserves intensifies by the hour.


    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Reporter Malpractice, Texas Hold-em & the Plame Game

    “It's not news that the U.S. has an intelligence agency, and it's not news that some of the agencies employees are double-naught spies. Further, the name of Valerie Plame isn't news, either -- there's nothing about her that makes her identity lede-worthy according to any standards of journalism I've ever seen. (If the agent were, say, Michael Jackson, that might be news, especially in today's Big Media world.)

    At this point, there isn't a story in what the contact is offering (the New York Times never ran a story suggesting that this was news); the contact's actions themselves do constitute a story (‘Did White House official violate U.S. law in outing CIA operative?’ is showing serious legs); and finally, the contact has implicated the reporter in an expansive web of intrigue that may result in the reporter going to prison.

    This last part is key because it goes to the core of the implicit contract between reporter and source. A great deal of attention has been focused on the misguided idea that naming Whitehouse would violate a sacred trust, but this view misunderstands the responsibilities both parties incur when such an agreement is struck.

    When Bob Whitehouse dropped Plame's identity on Miller, he immediately breached his contract with her. An agreement of confidentiality binds both parties, not just the reporter. When the source swears the journalist to secrecy, he/she incurs an obligation to behave ethically, as well. A reporter's good faith oath isn't a license of indenture, and it may not be played in bad faith to place a reporter in undue jeopardy. If Whitehouse breaks that trust, the reporter is no longer under any obligation whatsoever to protect his name.

    Miller needed to step back and say “thanks Bob, but no thanks -- you're the story now.” Reporters are obligated to the truth, and allowing themselves to be pimped by those who would use them as tools against the truth is a crime against the profession and the society it serves. Protecting that which you are bound to expose is malpractice.

    As somebody who has given and honored his word many times, I can respect that somebody is willing to go to jail rather than do something they see as reflecting on their reputations. But in doing so, you may be acting on a personal principle, not an industry code. The distinction is important.

    There are few things in our entire culture that are more essential than the freedoms codified in the 1st Amendment. Press freedom isn't just important to democracy, it's a prerequisite. Further, I'm all in favor of doing anything we can to encourage whistle-blowers in this age of high governmental and corporate kleptocracy. Most editorials and comments I'm seeing this last week or two insist that the Plame case is about just these issues.

    I don't buy it. From where I sit, Miller went to jail not to protect the name of a source, but to protect the name of a former source who may be a felon.”

    Former Intelligence Officers Hit White House on Plame Leak

    Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.

    In a hearing held by Senate and House Democrats examining the implications of exposing Valerie Plame's identity, the former intelligence officers said Bush's silence has hampered efforts to recruit informants to help the United States fight the war on terror. Federal law forbids government officials from revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence officer.

    "I wouldn't be here this morning if President Bush had done the one thing required of him as commander in chief-- protect and defend the Constitution," said Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst, who calls himself a Republican. "The minute that Valerie Plame's identity was outed, he should have delivered a strict and strong message to his employees."

    When they thought it would die down they talked tough, but, when it came back to haunt them they suddenly were ‘helpless’ until the investigation was over.

    Apparently, none of them imagined a prosecutor as relentless as Fitzgerald. He just kept dotting the i's and crossing the t's until he had a trail that lead him to the offices of the President and Vice President of the United States. So now, it's time to change the subject…, again…

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Just a Sound Check

    “Like it says. This is just a sound check.” ‘’

    …It should also help me claim my channel at…
    con·cept: 2005