Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 7 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

More TSA Follies

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

First comes this:

The Transportation Security Administration is once again the subject of national scrutiny, this time after aggressively screening a 7-year-old female passenger with cerebral palsy which caused her family to miss their flight.

The girl, identified as Dina Frank in a report by The Daily, was waiting with her family on Monday to board a flight departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York headed to Florida.

Since Dina walks with the aid of leg braces and crutches, she cannot pass through airport metal detectors, and must instead submit to a pat-down by TSA agents.

Dina, who is also reportedly developmentally disabled, is usually frightened by the procedure. Her family reportedly requests that agents on hand take the time to introduce themselves to her.

However, the agents on duty at the time began to handle her aggressively instead.

Then this:

A Transportation Security Administration baggage inspector at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is facing two to 10 years in prison for stealing Apple iPads from luggage over eight months, according to reports.

Clayton Keith Dovel, 36, of Bedford, Tex., was arrested Feb. 1 and indicted by the Tarrant County grand jury last week on charges of theft by a public servant of items valued up to $20,000, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Dovel is free on $5,000 bail and has been suspended indefinitely by the TSA.

Speaking of illegalities, there’s this:

A TSA agent arrested, accused of being involved in a massive oxycodone trafficking operation between Connecticut, New York and Florida, pleaded guilty on Thursday in court in New Haven.

Twenty people were arrested, including three Transportation Security Administration officers based at airports in Florida and New York, a Westchester County police officer and a Florida State Trooper, officials from the U.S. Department of Justice.said.

Brigitte Jones, 48, a TSA officer at Westchester County Airport, pleaded guilty on Thursday in court in New Haven. She is the third TSA agent to plead guilty to taking cash to help move the Oxycodone through airport security without being detected.

There’s also this:

The Transportation Security Administration is once again under fire after news leaked of how the agency threatened to close an entire airport because a 4-year-old girl hugged her grandmother.

The girl’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer, posted a harrowing account of the incident on her Facebook page, saying officers implied a gun was passed during the brief embrace.

Brademeyer’s daughter, Isabella, ran over to her grandma after the older woman had triggered alarms as she went through security at Wichita Airport in Kansas, she wrote. The family was on its way home to Montana after a family wedding.

Michelle Brademeyer said she and her two daughters passed through the screening with no incident, but her mother set off the alarm and was asked to take a seat and wait to be patted down.

It was then that the little girl ran over to her grandmother to give her a hug, said Brademeyer. “They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers [TSO] who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable,” she wrote.

“First, a TSO began yelling at my child, and demanded she too must sit down and await a full body pat-down. I was prevented from coming any closer, explaining the situation to her, or consoling her in any way. My daughter, who was dressed in tight leggings, a short sleeve shirt and mary jane shoes, had no pockets, no jacket and nothing in her hands. The TSO refused to let my daughter pass through the scanners once more, to see if she too would set off the alarm.

“It was implied, several times, that my Mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter,” wrote Brademeyer.

And now from the illegal to the absurd:

“She should switch to decaf.”

That’s from the New York Post, which reports a Transportation Security Administration screener was arrested at New York JFK for allegedly “hurling a cup of hot coffee at an American Airlines pilot who told her and some colleagues to tone down a profanity- laced conversation in a terminal … .”

The Post cited unnamed sources in reporting the incident, which is said to have occurred March 28. The newspaper apparently first learned of it this week.

The spat apparently began when 54-year-old American Airlines pilot Steven Trivett was leaving JFK’s Terminal 8 and overheard the screeners’ conversation.

The Post’s sources say Trivett admonished the screeners, suggesting they behave more professionally while in uniform. Trivett also told the screeners he thought they should “not use profanity or the n-word” while on the job, one of the Post’s sources said.

That’s when things escalated, according to the Post. One screener allegedly cursed at the pilot and told him to “mind his own business.” When the pilot tried to grab at the ID badge of 30-year-old TSA officer Lateisha El, she pushed him and threw a full cup of hot coffee on him, according to the Post’s unnamed sources.

And finally this:

The lines and pointless interference at Logan Airport were no worse than usual yesterday, but one TSA employee did manage to add a new wrinkle of misery to the experience. As we all stood in line like obedient sheep, he recited the usual litany about removing belts, shoes, liquids, emptying pockets, etc. At the same time, he also kept up a loud, non-stop monologue of unfunny, mildly sexist, and occasionally offensive jokes, to an entirely captive audience of travelers. No doubt he thought he was providing an amusing diversion, but he didn’t seem to notice that no one was laughing. And given the ever-present threat of a strip-search, nobody was going to tell this loudmouth in a uniform to just zip it. So in addition to the degrading inconvenience of the security checkpoints themselves, they’ve now added noise pollution.

As I have pointed out before, if we really cared about security, we would install explosive trace detection portals, just like those in use at the access portals to nuclear power plants in the U.S.  This, combined with abolishing the TSA and sending the work to private contractors, would actually benefit security and save money to boot.

But we don’t want that.  We would rather have ignorant goobers gawk at cute figures and have random violations of our fourth amendment rights.  What a strange world.

The TSA is a federal jobs program for incompetent people.  Nothing more.

The Open Carry Debate

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

U.S. News is hosting a debate over open carry.  First, Lindsay Nichols.

Private citizens should not be allowed to carry firearms openly in public. The open carrying of firearms on the street and in places like restaurants and parks intimidates the public, wastes law enforcement resources, and increases the risk that someone will be injured or killed from the accidental or intentional use of firearms. In response to these dangers and an aggressive “open carry movement” in California, in 2011 the California Legislature banned the open carrying of handguns. Other states should consider similar action.

When individuals openly carry firearms in public, other citizens may become concerned about impending crime and contact the police. In this way, the open carrying of firearms causes a waste of law enforcement resources, but more importantly, it threatens public safety.

How the risk of an inadvertent or accidental discharge is greater with open carry than concealed carry Ms. Nichols doesn’t say.  Besides, the notion that it may be inconvenient for folk would not seem to be a promising line of argument before most courts.  Whether something is legal would be the more important question.  Not much there to see.  On to Mr. Ralph Shortey.

The debate over how some may carry a firearm for protection can only be discussed when the foundation for the carry provisions has been fairly set. Most conceal and carry laws restrict a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. To say that you may only carry a firearm if you have paid a certain amount of money to the government for a licensing fee and then submit to regulation would be equivalent to telling the press that they must abide by certain rules and pay for the right of free speech.

I recently had a debate with a friend who told me that everyone has the right to defend themselves and that gun control does nothing to infringe on that. The issue this brings up is a very simple one. If you are attacked by an unarmed assailant, and you are yourself unarmed, then for the most part you have the right to self-defense. However, if the assailant is armed or is otherwise stronger, bigger, or faster than you, then the government has guaranteed through regulation that you are not only unarmed but also an easy target. “The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It seems like this should be easy enough to understand.

Let’s assume, however, that the carry provisions we are talking about are fair in their access to every citizen. The first question that must be answered is, “Why does the government think it has the right to tell a law-abiding citizen how they may go about protecting themselves?” Some may feel that the best way to defend yourself is by letting the criminals know that you are not an easy target. Most criminals look for the easiest and quickest route to their goal. There is nothing that will slow a criminal down faster than seeing a loaded gun at the ready.

And here, law abiding citizen is the key.  Courts have upheld the idea that states have the right to examine the background of a would-be firearms owner to ensure that they are in fact law-abiding.  McDonald versus Chicago seems to indicate that the requirements cannot be obstructionist, but must be the minimal regulations that accomplish the goal.

I’ve already discussed my own experiences with open carry.  “I open carry, and as I have mentioned before, and women and children don’t run off screaming in fear, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, who are well-educated and comprehensively trained, simply wave and smile as they go past me while openly carrying my weapon.  The issue has to do with bigotry and prejudice, not concocted or fabricated problems that it causes.”

I open carry because I simply hate IWB holsters and sweating my weapon like I do when I go outside in the summer with my weapon concealed.  I am not trying to prove a point so much as I simply find it much more convenient to open carry than conceal carry.  The people I’m around never seem to mind.

If people mind, it’s usually the police.  Witness an open carry club in Missouri.

The only issue I have with this example is that, unfortunately in a very strange decision, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of stop and identify statutes, and Missouri is a stop and identify state.

But the real issue doesn’t have anything to do with open or concealed carry.  The real issue is that this debate is yet another subterfuge to the real aim of the anti-firearms extremists, i.e., the eradication of all firearms from the possession of law abiding people.

At National Review, Robert VerBruggen does a nice job of fisking Jill Lepore’s piece in The New Yorker on the history of the second amendment and gun control.  I’ll leave it to Robert to supply you with the data on how firearms and the second amendment were seen and interpreted in early America.  But the mistake I see with most second amendment detractors is that the claim that the right to firearms ownership resides with the states because of the word “militia” dismisses the context and thus miss the point.

The second amendment makes no sense whatsoever if individuals didn’t own firearms.  The militias were made up of individuals who owned firearms and thus brought them to bear on issues of the state and oppressive authorities.  The ubiquity of firearms in colonial America means that individual ownership was presupposed with the second amendment, even if not specifically addressed.

But as to the warp and woof of Lepore’s piece, all you need to know about it is this silly quote:

Inside, there’s a shop, a pistol range, a rifle range, a couple of classrooms, a locker room, and a place to clean your gun. The walls are painted police blue up to the wainscoting, and then white to the ceiling, which is painted black. It feels like a clubhouse, except, if you’ve never been to a gun shop before, that part feels not quite licit, like a porn shop.

Seriously?  This passes for serious journalism these days?  The best part of [VerBruggen's] piece was the following comment: “The most shocking part of this article is that people still read the New Yorker.”  Apparently, people still do.  Lepore’s piece is breathlessly fawned over and pushed at The Daily Beast, The Atlantic Wire and other sites.

Obama’s Magical Mystery Tour: Long Term Afghan Security Agreement

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 4 months ago

Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour, Step right this way!

According to this New York Times article, the Obama Administration has just completed the “draft” of a long-term security agreement with the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that provides a “framework” for support and assistance from the U.S. for at least ten years after the 2014 draw-down of U.S. forces:

The agreement, whose text was not released, represents an important moment when the United States begins the transition from being the predominant foreign force in Afghanistan to serving a more traditional role of supportive ally.

By broadly redefining the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, the deal builds on hard-won new understandings the two countries reached in recent weeks on the thorny issues of detainees and Special Operations raids. It covers social and economic development, institution building, regional cooperation and security.

Sounds terrific!  Let’s all hop on this bus and ride away in the sunset because this promises to be a swell ride.

Wait.  It’s just a draft and the actual, written text hasn’t been released?  So, we don’t actually know what is in it?

And the NYT article is extremely sparse on sources or attribution?

So what we have here is a very general agreement to get around to having a specific agreement in the very near future, right?

In many respects the strategic partnership agreement is more symbolic than substantive. It does not lay out specific dollar amounts of aid or name programs that the Americans will support; the financing must be authorized and appropriated by Congress from year to year.

Nor does it lay out specifically what the American military and security presence will be after 2014 or what role it will play. A more detailed security agreement is to come later, perhaps in the next year, Western diplomats said, once it becomes clear how much support European nations will give to the Afghan security forces.

I see.  A “more detailed security agreement is to come later, perhaps in the next year…“   After the November elections, of course.  But the U.S. has committed itself to keeping the Afghan government and its security forces as a viable entity, right?

Even so, the United States expects to make substantial contributions toward the cost of Afghanistan’s security forces beyond 2014. A total figure for the United States of $2.7 billion a year has been discussed, and it could easily be more; there would most likely be aid for civilian programs as well.

That would be a steep reduction from the amount the United States now spends here, which has been $110 billion to $120 billion a year since the “surge” in American troop levels began in 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Sorry, folks.  Get off the Obama Mystery Tour Bus.   This thing is going nowhere.  No specific commitments, funding slashed to $2.7 billion per year from over $100 billion per year and meager U.S. combat forces.

Interestingly, Max Boot is still a true believer in the Mystery Tour.  He recently penned an editorial for The Wall Street Journal that is pure, hilarious fantasy.   Or it would be if Mr. Boot did not seem to seriously believe the notion that the U.S. can still save Afghanistan:

The bulk of future fighting must be carried out by the Afghans themselves, but in order to have any chance of success they must have enough troops to garrison a far-flung country of 30 million people. And that in turn will require outside funding. The Kabul government remains too impoverished to pay its own security costs.

Maintaining an Afghan force of 350,000 soldiers and police, the level which will be reached this year, will require $6 billion a year. Yet the Obama administration wants to provide only $4.1 billion a year. That would require laying off 120,000 soldiers and cops—a move that would significantly destabilize Afghanistan without producing significant savings in a $3.8 trillion U.S. budget.

If we avoid such unforced errors and stick with the plans developed by Gens. Stanley McChrystal, David Petraeus and John Allen, we have a good chance to maintain a pro-Western regime in power. The Taliban are too weak to defeat us or our Afghan allies. But we can defeat ourselves.

As the recent posts by Herschel Smith amply demonstrate, Afghanistan is going to hell in a hand basket and the American people know it full well.  Mr. Boot himself acknowledges that it is less and less likely that his recipe for avoiding defeat in Afghanistan can be attained and yet he makes the argument nonetheless.   It is part and parcel of the same fantasy that Obama is selling, that Afghanistan can make a transition from U.S. combat forces leading the fight to Afghan security forces taking over.   It is not going to happen.  The ANA and police are a farce and no amount of training is going to change that in any time frame that matters.   Long-term security agreements are a laughable dog-and-pony show for the electorate, but very few people are fooled this time around.

Border Lies And What National Guard Troops Do

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

Recall that I told you “the National Guard has been “deployed” to the border to perform clerical functions and do overwatch and reporting,” and that the troops have been deployed without arming orders?  Now this.

From The Boston Herald:

The Pentagon began flying military helicopters and surveillance planes over the U.S. border with Mexico last month as part of an effort to withdraw all but 300 of the National Guard ground troops who have helped patrol the rugged border since mid-2010.

The 19-month deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops on the southwest border has hurt recruiting efforts and threatened to strain diplomatic relations with Mexico, Brian J. Lepore, a director at the U.S. Government and Accountability Office, told a House homeland security subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

About 12 Blackhawk helicopters and several fixed-wing manned surveillance planes began flying regular patrols over the Rio Grande in Texas for a mission called “Operation River Watch II” in March. The 300 troops will fly the aircraft, or analyze intelligence about smuggling routes in command centers miles from the border.

The Obama administration deployed the National Guard to build access roads for border patrols and to help spot smugglers. The extra manpower was intended to bridge the gap while U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hired an additional 1,200 agents.

In the first year, the National Guard troops helped apprehend 17,887 illegal immigrants and seize 56,342 pounds of marijuana, which was 5.9 percent of all apprehensions and 2.6 percent of marijuana seizures during that time, officials said.

This is a great report, that National Guard troops “helped” apprehend 17,887 illegal immigrants.  But wait.

National Guard troops could man watchtowers and stare at closed-circuit television screens of the fence line but were prohibited from making arrests, and officials said morale suffered. The National Guard leadership became concerned that the mission, if extended, could hurt recruitment, according to a GAO report titled “Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border.”

Further use of National Guard troops “could create a perception of a militarized U.S. border with Mexico,” State Department officials told the GAO.

And we certainly wouldn’t want to create the perception of a militarized border.  That would be worse than anything else.  And speaking of perceptions, Lanny Breuer is at it again.  Lying and creating false impressions, that is.  Feinstein queued up the issue of “assault weapons” for Lanny, and he responded as intended.

Thank you, Senator, for the question, and for your leadership on this issue. You have, of course, identified the paramount issue that we have to face as we deal with transnational organized crime from the Mexican cartels.

That’s it.  The paramount issue, without which there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Mexican cartels.  American “assault weapons.”  This deceitfulness will be held to account one day, but until then, it belongs in the same category as stupid border security reports like this one.

Today, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Mexico’s College of the Northern Border (COLEF) released “Beyond the Border Buildup: Security and Migrants along the U.S.-Mexico Border,” a year-long study on the impact of both countries’ security policies on migration.

The study finds a dramatic buildup of U.S. security forces along the southern border–a fivefold increase of the Border Patrol in the last decade, an unusual new role for U.S. soldiers on U.S. soil, drones and other high-tech surveillance, plus hundreds of miles of completed fencing–without a clear impact on security. For instance, the study finds that despite the security buildup, more drugs are crossing than ever before.

The study reveals that security policies that were designed to combat terrorism and drug trafficking are causing a humanitarian crisis and putting migrants in increasing danger.

Migrants are often subject to abuse and mistreatment while in U.S. custody, and face higher risks of death in the desert. Also, certain deportation practices put migrants at risk. For example, migrants can be deported at night and/or to cities hundreds of miles from where they were detained. These same cities are also some of the border region’s most dangerous, where migrants may fall prey to–or be recruited by–criminal groups. In Mexico, approximately 20,000 migrants are kidnapped a year; many others face other abuses. “Decency demands more humane policies,” said Maureen Meyer, WOLA analyst and co-author of the study.

In addition, “We have reached a point where any further increase in security will yield diminishing returns,” said Meyer.

Yes, we may as well just stop everything and swing the borders wide open.  Our buildup hasn’t helped.  The possibility that it is a drop in the bucket compared to what it needs to be doesn’t occur to this team because they have different presuppositions than you do.  They don’t want a secure border, so it’s easy conclude that there should be no buildup or change in strategy or tactics.

The National Guard is bored, has little to do other than watch, isn’t under arming orders, and has sagging morale, while the administration is using the lack of security on the border as an opportunity to make political hay on so-called “assault weapons,” and study groups are more concerned about militarization of the border than they are border security.

Don’t look for a secure Southern border in this generation unless something catastrophic happens to the U.S. homeland.  By then it will be too late.

The Kagan’s And The Strategy For Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

From The Washington Times:

Afghanistan’s harsh and isolated Korengal Valley two years ago this month served as the setting for an unlikely U.S. military maneuver — a retreat.

The Army evacuated a network of hilltop platoon outposts, left them to the Taliban and started a war strategy devised by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan in 2010.

[ ... ]

Today, the failed Korengal experiment is a factor in a new way of conducting missions in the east, which includes Kunar and 13 other provinces, and a 450-mile-long border with terrorist-infested Pakistan. The military calls it a “refocus” on finding and hitting the enemy, with less reliance on static valley outposts.

[ ... ]

Nearly nine years into the war, the military had to acknowledge a big mistake.

“So what the commanders did, they took a very hard look at the east, with the help of the Kagans, who analyzed the terrain and the enemy to a level of detail that maybe had not been done in the past,” Gen. Keane said.

The Kagans are Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, a husband-and-wife analytical team who played a major role in developing and selling the Iraq surge.

In 2010, the U.S. command invited them to Afghanistan as an outside “red team” to tell the generals how operations could be improved.

Mr. Kagan, a military historian who taught at West Point, is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Mrs. Kagan, who also taught at West Point, is president of the Institute for the Study of War.

The Kagans spent months in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. They traveled throughout the battle space to study the enemy and the tactics to kill them.

As the Kagans gave their advice, U.S. troops adapted.

“They refocused on the populated areas, which has meant coming out of some of the valleys,” Mrs. Kagan told The Times. “Troops rearranged so that they were massed in the key terrain in population areas in order to interact with the population, protect that population and really help abrogate the enemy by seeing to it they could not engage in the same intimidation campaigns that they were engaged in populated areas.”

Three main intelligence/strike targets emerged: “mobility corridors” through which the Taliban and allied Haqqani Network fighters moved; “support zones,” or safe havens, where the enemy planned and rested; and the areas around possible enemy targets.

“The Kagans did a better job in analyzing which were the ones the enemy was using and which ones were more important,” Gen. Keane said.

And what about the valleys such as Korengal?

“They are using strike forces and basically planned operations on occasion to go back into the valleys and remove pockets of the enemies when they grow sufficient to warrant military attention,” Mrs. Kagan said. “That is really what has changed in operating in the northern Kabul area.”

Mrs. Kagan said the operations of Army Col. Andrew Poppas, who led Task Force Bastogne last year, stand as a good example. He used “creative ways to mass forces” to go after the Taliban, she said.

Nine months into his mission, Col. Poppas talked to the Pentagon press corps from a base in Jalalabad. He gave three examples of combined strikes on identified safe havens that took territory away from the Taliban.

In Operation Bulldog Bite in Kunar’s Pech River Valley, “we successfully reduced the amount of insurgent attacks on the local populace and proved wrong the entire mystique that there were safe havens [for] the enemy,” he said. “We worked through each of the separate valleys, identifying, targeting the enemy network, predominately Taliban.”

Analysis & Commentary

Sounds nice, no?  “Mobility corridors,” and “creative ways to mass forces”?  The only problem is that despite what General Keane is saying, it hasn’t worked, and won’t work.  Let’s begin with Highway 1, the most significant transportation and logistics corridor in Afghanistan, running between Kabul and Kandahar, and then on to other cities as the so-called “ring road.”  Greg Jaffe recently authored a good piece at The Washington Post on this very road.  The entire report is well worth the study time, but after a recent IED attack on Highway 1, U.S. forces wanted to know why a local farmer didn’t report the IED.  The farmer’s reply is telling: “The Taliban were everywhere, including the Afghan army, the farmer replied. “There is no one I can trust,” he insisted.

On to RC South, which is supposed to be so much better off than RC East.  The Marines are frustrated with the constant release of insurgents from prison, the changing strategies, and so much more.  This report is disheartening.

I have seen courageous American soldiers get increasingly frustrated and cynical about the war. Last summer a Marine colonel in southern Afghanistan told me there was low morale among the troops. He said, “On an operational level, the soldiers are saying, ‘I’m going to go over there and try to not get my legs blown off. My nation will shut this bullshit down.’ That’s the feeling of my fellow soldiers.” The marine officer said, “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

As for Keane’s claims for the success of the Kagan’s plans in RC East, there is near panic among Afghans in the Nuristan Province.

Local Afghan officials have called for a military intervention in the country’s northeast after scores of suspected Pakistani Taliban fighters overran several districts in Nuristan, a remote province bordering Pakistan.

Ghulamullah Nuristani, the security chief in Nuristan, says the militants captured the Kamdesh and Bargmatal districts of Nuristan two weeks ago and have torched dozens of homes and threatened to kill local villagers who work for the Afghan government.

Nuristani has called on NATO and the Afghan government to intervene, insisting that the small contingent of local police is powerless to stop the militants in Nuristan, from where U.S. forces withdrew in 2009.

“If anybody opposes them, the insurgents burn their homes and threaten to kill them. I have witnessed several houses being burned and seen many of the inhabitants beaten,” Nuristani says. “Until the government intervenes, we don’t have the resources [to fight back]. We can’t do it alone.”

It’s not clear where the militants are from. Nuristani says they are members of the Pakistani Taliban, who control the Pakistani side of the border alongside Al-Qaeda operatives and fighters from the Hizb-e Islami group headed by notorious former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Aziz Rahman, a village elder in Kamdesh, describes the militants as armed and wearing black clothing. He says the militants have set up a shadow government, opening local offices and collecting taxes from local residents.

“Kamdesh is under the control of the Taliban. The men in black clothing are here. They have opened a Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice,” Rahman says. “They are teaching religious material and are telling people to do the right things. If people violate the rules, then they get punished.”

[ ... ]

Mawlawi Ahmadullah Moahad, a member of parliament from Nuristan, issued a warning to the government on the deteriorating situation in Nuristan when he addressed parliament on March 24.

Moahad told parliament that the militants had crossed the border from Pakistan and had evicted hundreds of villagers from their homes and replaced them with families from the Pakistani town of Chitral, which is across the border in the Bajaur tribal agency.

It’s just as I had forecast for the Pech River Valley and Hindu Kush once U.S. troops left.  A better chance to kill the trouble-makers in their own safe haven, we will never have.  But we chose to implement population-centric counterinsurgency and withdraw to the cities, and then to top it all off, we decreased troop levels.  It’s a sad, sad story that regular readers have seen well documented on the pages of The Captain’s Journal.

But what we see above is the fruit of our strategy.  The chickens are coming home to roost.  The people of Nuristan are in a panic, the Marines are fed up with the strategy, the farmers in the Kandahar Province are afraid of the Taliban, and just to make sure that you understand how parents and loved ones feel about the engagement, read the comments about the report from Nuristan when the author got the date for the battle at Kamdesh wrong.

by: Vanessa Adelson from: USA

March 29, 2012 23:59
Please get your facts straight. COP Keating was attacked in October 2009, not 2008. I should know. My son was killed during that attack. 300 Taliban attacked our small COP of about 50 soldiers. NOT ONE person from the village of Kamdesh let our COP know about the imminent attack. Some ANA were killed that day. Others turned their guns and attacked our soldiers. Others ran and hid. Let them ROT! Oh yeah, America….Pakistan is not a nation that should be considered our friend. Where do you think the Taliban came from that attacked my son and his buddies. Let’s just get the hell out of that country.

by: Dave from: Ft drum

March 30, 2012 16:52
Justice served. Keating was attacked repeatedly during 2008 as well and the first indicator of an attack was always the locals not showing up for work. No warnings. Screw em. My CO, Capt Yellescas died there in october 2008, a week after telling the local shura that America would abandon them to the Taliban if they didn’t start helping.

by: Cynthia Woodard from: Pa

March 30, 2012 00:23
The Battle of Kemdash was Oct 03, 09, not 08. My son was one of the 8 that were killed that day. Those people didn’t warn the soldiers that they were going to be attacked by 300+ insurgens. NOW they cry for our help. I say NO NO NO.

by: Knighthawk from: USA

March 30, 2012 00:44

All due respect – tough doo-doo. Too little too late we’re out of there soon and these people are screwed by their own failures to act when they had a chance, and their not the only area with the same story. The time for such calls were years ago but most of these villagers didn’t want to risk being involved then, or in many cases they did far worse by aiding the enemy (the very same people they are now complaining about) when US\NATO et all actually did try to secure their areas but this same population wouldn’t lift much of a finger to help themselves.

The fact they are crying foul now is pretty rich, but typical of the general afghan mentality.

Not a lot of love going around.  And when you have lost morale among the Marines due to failed strategy and the parents and loved ones of men who have suffered are angry and resentful, you know that support for the campaign has evaporated.

It didn’t have to be this way, but we pretended that minimal troops and nation-building would work in Afghanistan.  It’s been a costly pretension.

Obama And Romney On Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

There seems to be no end to the articles, discussion threads and posts pointing to the fact that Obama has not issued any new firearms laws since his administration took over in Washington.  This cynical post is but one more example.  True enough, Romney, as I have pointed out, has a bad reputation with second amendment advocates like me.  So when Romney recently addressed the NRA, it leaves the door open for charges of duplicity and – let’s go ahead and say it – flip flop.

Mitt Romney drew a warm reception from the National Rifle Assn. on Friday as he attacked President Obama for “employing every imaginable ruse and ploy” to restrict gun rights, which Romney pledged not to do if elected in November …

“In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election,” Romney told a crowd estimated at 6,000 in the cavernous Edward Jones Dome. “As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after a re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, ‘flexibility’ to do what he wants.  I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.”

Referring specifically to the right to bear arms, Romney said: “If we are going to safeguard our 2nd Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.”

But there is this:

Even before Romney’s speech, the Obama campaign hit back with a statement attacking the presumptive GOP nominee, along with a hefty file of news clippings intended to show that he had a checkered history on gun rights.

“The president’s record makes clear the he supports and respects the 2nd amendment, and we’ll fight back against any attempts to mislead voters,” said campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt. “Mitt Romney is going to have difficulty explaining why he quadrupled fees on gun owners in Massachusetts then lied about being a lifelong hunter in an act of shameless pandering.  That varmint won’t hunt.”

Again, true enough. Romney has some explaining to do on the campaign trail.  But understanding why Romney is speaking before the NRA and Obama is not requires only that one understand the people with whom Obama has surrounded himself.  The President cannot pass laws, but the President can do two things that are unique to the office.  He can appoint judges, and he can fill positions in the executive branch of government.

Forgetting for a moment scandals such as Fast and Furious, there are four individuals that define Obama’s views of firearms and the second amendment.  First, let’s consider Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the Supreme Court opinions in McDonald v. Chicago was the dissenters’ assault on District of Columbia v. Heller. Not only did Justice Stephen G. Breyer vote against extending the Second Amendment to state and local governments, he also argued forcefully and at length for overturning Heller and, therefore, for turning the Second Amendment into a practical nullity. Ominously, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the Breyer dissent – contradicting what she told the U.S. Senate and the American people last summer.

Regarding the key issue in McDonald – whether the 14th Amendment makes the Second Amendment enforceable against state and local governments – Justice Sotomayor resolutely refused to tell the senators how she might vote. So in voting against incorporating the Second Amendment, Justice Sotomayor was not inconsistent with what she had told the Senate. But regarding Heller, her actions as a justice broke her promises from last summer.

The Breyer-Sotomayor-Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissent urged that Heller be overruled and declared, “In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense.”

Contrast that with her Senate testimony: “I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller.” And, “I understand how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans” …

To the SenateJudiciary Committee, Justice Sotomayor repeatedly averred that Heller is “settled law.” The Associated Press reported that Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat, “said Sotomayor told him during a private meeting that she considers the 2008 ruling that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban as settled law that would guide her decisions in future cases.”

Next, consider Obama’s nominee for head of the ATF, Andrew Traver.  John Richardson does a good job of examining the larger aspects of the Traver nomination within the context of his history.  But the single most telling thing about Andrew Traver is his work with the Joyce Foundation, and specifically, his positions in the report entitled Taking A Stand: Reducing Gun Violence In Our Communities.  Among the other onerous regulations on firearms manufacturers and owners, they would require ballistic fingerprinting of all firearms, otherwise called “microstamping.”  But the single most bracing position taken by this study group has to do with federal oversight of the firearms manufacturing industry.

Congress should enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry.

Unlike other consumer products, domestically manufactured firearms are not subject to any design standards to reduce risk to the user or protect the safety of the general public and those sworn to protect them. Moreover, unlike other consumer products, no federal agency is empowered to require a remedy in the case of a defectively designed or manufactured firearm.

The lack of health and safety oversight is particularly worrisome given the manufacture and sale of firearms that pose a unique threat to law enforcement and the general public, such as high-caliber handguns that can penetrate bullet-resistant vests, anti-personnel military-style assault weapons and .50 caliber sniper rifles that can penetrate armor plating from a mile away.

This oversight and regulation would involve the Centers for Disease Control, ATF, Justice Department and other federal organizations.  However controlling and oppressive this would be, the third example that should interest us involves Obama nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Caitlin J. Halligan, who in her tenure as Solicitor General of the State of New York, attempted to hold firearms manufactures and retailers responsible for crimes committed with guns. In 2006, Halligan also filed a brief arguing that handgun manufacturers were guilty of creating a public nuisance.  This caused an almost incredulous rejection by the New York Court of Appeals.

“The New York Court of Appeals has never recognized a common-law public nuisance cause of action based on allegations like those in this complaint. Moreover, other jurisdictions have dismissed public nuisance claims against firearms manufacturers on similar or other grounds… In light of the foregoing, we believe it is legally inappropriate, impractical and unrealistic to mandate that defendants undertake, and the courts enforce, unspecified measures urged by plaintiff in order to abate the conceded availability and criminal use of illegal handguns.” (People Of The State Of New York v. Sturm & Ruger Co., 309 A.D.2d 91, 2003).

Finally, there is the example of Eric Holder, who believes the following about firearms.

From rejection of the Supreme Court decision in Heller v. D.C., to advocacy for federal control over firearms manufacturers, to attempts to bankrupt firearms manufacturers with lawsuits, Obama’s friends have a storied and ugly history concerning their views on the second amendment.

The NRA knows full well Romney’s history on firearms and the second amendment.  But the circumstances that give credibility to Obama’s promises to implement gun control “under the radar,” or explain the ATF’s rejection of the import of almost 800,000 M1 Carbines from South Korea aren’t speculative either.  Obama is certainly aware of the anti-firearms positions of his appointments and nominees, for the contrary is simply impossible.  And people in such positions can effect policy, regulations and legal decisions for a generation.

This is Obama’s intent – at least, there is no other explanation.  To the NRA, Romney is a slightly to moderately uncomfortable ally.  Because of his chosen company, Obama must be seen as the enemy.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

Concerning Guns, Hammers and Violence

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

H. Lee Sarokin, writing at Huffington Post,waxes emotional over the effects of gun violence in America, using the example of Trayvon Martin as the springboard.  Rather, he wants you to wax emotional.  The comments range from the delusional (e.g., more regulation would mean less gun violence), to the badly mistaken (people hunt with fully automatic weapons – can you imagine such a thing?).  Sarokin himself mixes in some bad statistics, or allusion to things that statistics in fact do not prove, but the beginning paragraph is the best part of the commentary.

When innocent people are gunned down in schools or offices or when someone like George Zimmerman shoots and kills Trayvon Martin, how do members of the NRA and gun-advocates truly feel? I really want to understand. I think I understand the desire to have a gun for self-defense or sport. But when a gun owner sees statistics such as these, how do they react?

“Statistics such as these” made me think of this sad and recent case near Orlando.

A tip to Crimeline has led to the arrests of two men in a brutal beating that occurred a week ago in the Midway community east of Sanford.

Julius Ricardo Bender, 18, and Yahaziel Isaac Israel, 19, face charges of attempted first-degree murder, burglary with assault or battery and armed burglary.

The victim, a 50-year-old Winter Springs man whose name has not been released, is on life-support at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Deputies were called to the area of Lincoln Street and Beardall Avenue about 6:30 p.m. March 26 to investigate a report of a man being beaten, Seminole County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Heather Smith said.

They found the victim in the woods on the north side of Lincoln Street.

According to arrest affidavits:

A witness told deputies he heard someone screaming for help and saw two men pull the victim from his vehicle. He said he watched as one man held the victim and the other beat him in the head with a hammer.

After they dragged the victim into the woods, the men drove away in his sport utility vehicle, which was later found abandoned about a half-mile away on Garbo Jack Lane.

Beaten into a coma with a hammer.  In fact, this isn’t as uncommon as one might think.  In March of 2012, Jun Hyuk Chang beat his father to death with a hammer in or near LA.  In July of 2011, Jean Simon beat his stepdaughter to death with a hammer in NYC.  In July of 2011, Tyler Hadley beat both of his parents to death with a hammer in Port St. Lucie and then threw a party with the bodies of his parents still lying on the floor.  In 2008, Clayton Jerrod Ellington killed his wife and two twin boys with a hammer in DeKalb County.  In November of 2011, Craig Stephen Frentzel was found beaten to death with a hammer in St. Louis.  In September of 2011, Benjamin Singleton was beaten beaten to death with a hammer in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  Then there was poor little Zander Martino who perished after being beaten with a hammer in Las Vegas.  From the very young to the old, Jessie James Durham beat his great-grandmother, 78-year-old Elizabeth Armismier, to death with a hammer in Campbellsville in February of 2012. Violence is even perpetrated against dogs and cats with hammers.

In order to obtain my concealed handgun permit, I had to give the Sheriff of Mecklenburg County permission to access all of my medical records.  Any admisions to any hospital for substance abuse or mental health issues would have been reason to have denied my permit.  I also had to have a background check and have many other records examined for the sake of public safety.

Given the easy availability of hammers – I can go to Home Depot, Lowes, or even Walmart and purchase a hammer with no background check whatsoever – I am calling for the increased regulation of carpentry tools.  Given the outrage of hammers and the fact that anyone can purchase them just about anywhere, what reasonable person could oppose such a thing?  And finally, studying these cases of beatings with hammers actually made me sick to my stomach.  I want to know how everyone feels about all of these senseless acts of violence perpetrated with the weapon to which we commonly refer as hammer?  How does it make you truly feel?

U.S. Outsources Syrian Policy to Islamists

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 4 months ago

One month ago I advocated here that arming selected groups of Syrian rebels would best serve the U.S. national interests in the Middle East.

According to this report, however, it appears that the Obama Administration is on the verge of outsourcing this important task to Islamist countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  (Hat Tip Drudge Report)

The US and its allies have warned president Bashar al-Assad that unless he halts his attacks on the Syrian population and implements a UN-backed peace plan, the rebels fighting him will be given more weapons,[sic]

The move, made at an Istanbul conference of the Friends of Syria, a grouping of more than 70 countries, in effect gives Washington’s blessing to a Saudi Arabian bid to arm the opposition.

It contrasts with the administration’s previous stance that arming the rebels could drag Syria deeper into civil war and increase the risk of innocent people being killed.

US officials made clear there was no prospect of Washington itself providing the rebels with weapons, not least because of a UN arms embargo on Syria. Countries such as the UK and Turkey also rule out arming the opposition themselves.

But all three signalled [sic] on Sunday that they could welcome Saudi and Qatari efforts to give weapons to the rebel Free Syrian Army.

If this report is at all accurate, it serves as further proof that this Administration cannot find its own rear end when it comes to U.S. interests.

First, arming the Syrian rebels only makes sense to the extent that the rebels serve U.S. interests to some extent in exchange for weapons and other support.   As pointed out in my prior post, there are many groups of fighters in Syria vying for dominance in the struggle to overthrow the Assad Regime.   The U.S. has important national interests in ensuring that the Regime is not replaced with an Islamist one.   Now is the time to identify and nurture any rebel groups in Syria that oppose an Islamist takeover.  Second, if we are not going to step on the scales in favor of rebels friendly to U.S. interests, we certainly should not be supporting efforts to arm rebels who are hostile to the U.S.

All of this is elementary stuff.   It should be crystal clear to the White House that the last people to entrust with arming the Syrian rebels are the Saudis and Qataris, some of the biggest Islamists on the planet.

It is, perhaps, understandable that the U.S. may want to filter military aid through another country to preserve at least a shred of plausible deniability.   But the Saudis and Qataris?  For God’s sake, there must be someone less noxious who would be willing to funnel weapons to the rebels than these extremist countries.

It is almost as though the Obama Administration had no clue that U.S. interests do not align with those of Saudi Arabia and Qatar (and Turkey, for that matter).  We can only hope that this sort of bad policy is the result of clownish incompetence and not deliberate.

Iran’s Asymmetric Warfare

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 4 months ago

Andrew Exum discusses how we and Hezbollah have more in common that one might think.  His entire commentary is interesting, but he summarizes with this.

In the end, Hezbollah finds itself in much the same position as the United States as it watches the clouds of war gather between Israel and Iran. Like the United States, it has reason to hope conflict can be averted. But like the United States, it is realistic about the likelihood that it will be drawn into a conflict once the first shots are fired.

To get the context for the statement above you must read his commentary.  Andrew does come down warning that Hezbollah would likely respond against Israel if war comes to Iran, but he also casts us in the same light as Hezbollah: poor, strange bedfellows – hoping against war, shaking our heads at the very idea, war weary, and being dragged kicking and screaming against our will into the larger conflict if it comes.

I don’t see Hezbollah as dependent on the electorate in Lebanon as does Andrew, nor do I see them as war-weary, hoping against hope that war doesn’t come.  They are part of Iran’s forward-deployed troops, present from the Middle East to South America.  As for Iran (and its forward deployed troops), it all comes down to whether one believes the things that the Mullahs say.

“We do not worship Iran.  We worship Allah.  For patriotism is another name for paganism.  I say let this land [Iran] burn.  I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world”

I believe that the Mullahs mean what they say.  We have discussed their behavior-controlling eschatology before.  But if Hezbollah is only one part of Iran’s forward deployed troops, there is another more secretive part.

Intelligence agencies are searching for members of a secret Iranian network of assassins under orders to attack Jewish, Israeli and Western targets in Turkey.

According to intelligence sources, the organisation behind the attack is known as Unit 400, a secret part of the al Quds Brigade, which falls under the direct command of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader.

“Unit 400 of the Qods Force has been developing in the last few months a standing operating procedure for carrying out an attack in Turkey against western targets as well as Israeli and Jewish. It is our firm assessment that these procedures are in a very advanced stage, and that the intention is to act on the plans very soon,” an intelligence source told Sky News.

There is also evidence that Unit 400 has been given instructions to carry out more frequent and more daring ‘terror’ attacks around the world as a demonstration of ‘Iran’s asymmetric power’ – in the face of the growing threat of Israeli or American air strikes on its alleged nuclear weapons programme, the sources said.

[ ... ]

“Unit 400 is a top-secret “special ops” unit within the elite overseas wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF). It plans and carries out terror attacks on external targets, and provides material support to foreign militia groups, at the direct behest of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This is in accordance with the regime’s core strategic considerations about how best to challenge perceived enemies in Israel and the west – through asymmetric warfare – and to cope with mounting international pressure over its nuclear programme,” a secret study by a foreign intelligence agency said.

Several international intelligence sources confirmed that Ali Khamenei controlled the Quds Force through his close ally Qassem Suleiman.

“He runs the whole thing – directly. [Mahmoud] Ahmedinajad [the Iranian president] makes all the noise and gets the attention but it’s the Supreme Leader who is in charge of what is going on especially when it comes to international operations,” said a senior intelligence official.

 Regular readers know all about General Suleimani.  I have recommended a targeted assassination of him, as well as covert and asymmetric warfare against Iran and fomenting an insurgency and regime change in order to avoid all out warfare.

It seems that the only one who takes our advice seriously is Iran.  They are masters of covert warfare, we … well, we are masters of vacilation and equivocation.  But remember what I said that I could pull off with 400 well-trained, motivated fighters.  Consider yourself warned, for it may soon be too late.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.


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