The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

The Feeble Superhero: Pakistan Freely Tugs on Superman’s Cape

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 9 months ago

The Captain’s Journal previously noted the likely Haqqani network connections to the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Now we have Admiral Mullen and Defense Secretary Panetta confirming that a spate of recent, deadly attacks against Americans in Kabul were the work of the Haqqani network with direct, Pakistani support:

Pakistan-based insurgents planned and conducted some of the major attacks in Afghanistan recently, including the one on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul last week, with the support of Pakistan’s intelligence service, senior U.S. defense officials told Congress on Thursday.

“The Haqqani network … acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “With ISI support, Haqqani operatives plan and conducted” a truck bomb attack that wounded more than 70 U.S. and NATO troops on Sept. 11, “as well as the assault on our embassy” two days later.

“We also have credible intelligence that they were behind the June 28th attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of smaller but effective operations,” he added.

Mullen’s statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, together with remarks by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to the panel, were the most specific in a week of strong administration criticism of Pakistan.

Lovely.  Can someone please explain how the definition of an act of war came to have this apparent asterisk attached to it?  If Pakistan had sent jets over the border to attack the U.S. Embassy in Kabul (which international law recognizes as a sovereign piece of U.S. territory), it would be war.   But if Pakistan merely assists unlawful combatants to bomb and shoot up our embassy, it is something else entirely.

No one seems to want to put a name to it or to even speculate generally what the U.S. response to this act of war might be:

Both Mullen and Panetta resisted lawmakers’ attempts to describe what Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the committee, called “the kind of options available to us to stop” Pakistani support for the insurgents and the “actions the administration is prepared to take” to ensure it.

“We’ve made clear that we are going to do everything we have to do to defend our forces,” Panetta said. “I don’t think it would be helpful to describe what those options would look like and what operational steps we might or might not face.”

The administration has insisted that Pakistan sever its ties with the insurgents, in particular the Haqqani forces based in the tribal region of North Waziristan, and supply all available intelligence on the group. Although senior administration officials have said they would prefer to work together with Pakistan against the group, they have indicated they are prepared to consider an expansion of drone strikes in the region, as well as surgical ground strikes, according to senior administration officials.

“The first order now,” Panetta told lawmakers, “is to put as much pressure on Pakistan as we can to deal with this issue.”

Levin noted that similar public pressure has continued for several years, and asked whether “Pakistan’s leaders are aware of what options are open to us, so they’re not caught by any surprise.”

“I don’t think they would be surprised by the actions that we might or might not take,” Panetta said.

Well, Pakistan is quaking in their boots I am sure.   We are making it, “clear [to Pakistan] that we are going to do everything we have to do to defend our forces.”

Pakistan is not simply tugging on Superman’s cape.  They are grabbing it and throwing it over Superman’s head and laughing their collective arses off.   The lack of a firm and memorable response by the U.S. is going to invite even more brazen attacks, more dead Americans and the erosion of what little credibility the U.S. has left overseas.    We are becoming that rich, doddering Uncle Sam who lavishes gifts on his nephews and nieces even while they hide his glasses and set up obstacles for him to trip over.   Pathetic old man, but good for a few bucks and a laugh.

Note to Warren Police Department: You Suck!

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 9 months ago

The Police Department of the City of Warren, Michigan, behaved badly towards a citizen engaged in open carry.

A Warren man who is an advocate for firearm “open carry” practices is suing the city and its police department, claiming officers violated his Second Amendment  right to bear arms.

Jeffery Haman, 54, seeks a $100,000 judgment and $500,000 in punitive or exemplary damages, as part of the lawsuit he filed recently in U.S. District Court.

With a semi-automatic pistol holstered at his waist, Haman, a former firearms dealer, was walking home from a local drug store at 12 Mile and Hoover roads in August 2009 when a patrolman quickly drove up to him.

“At the first instant where I could see through the open passenger window, he had a gun pointed at me,” he said. “Then he came to a stop. As soon as I saw the gun, I put my hands up.”

Haman was ordered to lie on his stomach, with his hands outstretched. The officer handcuffed him and three additional officers in two patrol cars arrived.

“I asked him what his reason was for stopping me. He said, ‘You’re walking down the street with a gun.’ I said, ‘That’s perfectly legal, I’m open carrying.’”

Police took the .45 caliber handgun and his ammunition, and asked if he had documentation for the weapon. Haman said he showed a purchase receipt and a concealed-weapon permit although it’s not required for open carry.

In a police video of the incident, an officer is heard telling Haman: “You should at least call us and tell us what you’re doing. Walking around like this is just going to get you hurt somehow.

“You’re just asking for trouble, brother.”

[ … ]

Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green, who along with former commissioner William Dwyer are defendants in the lawsuit, said Friday he had just received a copy but had not read it yet …

“We have to train and educate our troops when things like this happen,” said Green, “and we certainly do.”

Emphasizing that he was not commenting on the Haman case, the city’s top police administrator said any officer who sees a person carrying a firearm must quickly assess any potential threat.

“I don’t think a citizen would just want us to drive by and assume it’s an open carry situation,” Green said.

“Safety’s first.”

Haman explained the two-year lapse between the incident and the lawsuit was due to finding the right lawyer and unsuccessful efforts to try to meet with the city attorney in the hope of convincing the legal department to issue a memorandum to police on how to address open carry situations in public.

There are some very telling quotes in the article – gems that get to the heart of the problem.  “You should at least call us and tell us what you’re doing” … “Walking around like this is just going to get you hurt somehow” … “You’re just asking for trouble, brother” “any officer who sees a person carrying a firearm must quickly assess any potential threat” … “I don’t think a citizen would just want us to drive by and assume it’s an open carry situation” … “Safety’s first.”

“Safety’s first.”  Right.  So lets’ examine some of these positions in a little more detail after a few questions.  Before we exercise our right to free speech or religion, must we contact law enforcement to inform them?  Has the police commissioner polled the citizens to see what they expect concerning open carry, or has he just assumed that he knows?  How will walking around with a weapon get someone hurt?  Who will hurt them and for what purpose?  Why didn’t the police commissioner educate his officers (not “troops”) to understand that Michigan is a traditional open carry state?  Why didn’t the police commissioner educate his officers to understand that Michigan has no stop and identify statute?  Do his officers routinely unholster and aim their weapons at people who are not violating any law?

A bit more background before I make several observations.  I open carry, and it’s not because I am trying to make some sort of political point.  I walk my dog, and in the afternoons here in Charlotte, N.C., it can reach 100 degrees F in the summer, even late in the afternoon.  I got tired of sweating all over my weapon when I concealed it.  I suppose I could use something that lifted my weapon off of my body like a super-tuck holster, but the last thing I want on a 100 F day is to put a slab of leather next to my body to get wet and salty and make me more hot than I already am.

So I have been open carrying for a number of  months now.  Women and children don’t go running home and screaming in fear for their lives.  People don’t scatter when they see me.  On the contrary, many people stop to talk and pet my dog.  The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police (Baker 2) drive by often, smile, and wave – or simply ignore me.  My time open carrying has been completely uneventful.  No one has been harmed, no one has sought to harm me, and most importantly, no out-of-control police officer has unholstered his weapon and aimed it at me.

In fact, I use extreme discipline when I carry my weapon.  I have never unholstered it when I am in public.  If I did, someone could charge me with brandishing a weapon, and properly so.  Not so for the Warren Police, apparently.  If safety is first for the Warren Police, then why did this officer unholster his weapon and aim it at someone who wasn’t violating any statue or law?

There are two cardinal sins for any firearm owner.  Lack of muzzle discipline, and lack of trigger discipline.  Sweeping someone with a muzzle is forbidden in the superlative, and this officer pointed his at an innocent citizen.  If he had been lacking trigger discipline – like other incompetent LEOs – he might just have killed someone with a negligent discharge.

So the salient question is this.  Who is the one who supplied the safety in the situation; Mr. Haman who held up his hands, or the police officer?  I think that the answer is clear to any thinking man.  And with a little more thought, it isn’t hard to ascertain the cultural basis for this kind of behavior.

It’s okay if an officer has a negligent discharge and kills an innocent man (we’ll just find “analysts” who say that it was something procedural).  It’s okay if police officers fire off 71 stray bullets in a shootout and kill an innocent bystander (whereas I would have been charged with second degree murder if I attempted to defend myself and ended up shooting a bystander).  It’s okay if a SWAT team terrorizes the Guerena family, killing former Marine Jose Guerena, and fail to recover a single shred of incriminating evidence for the raid.  And it’s okay if a Warren police officer unholsters his weapon on an innocent citizen who is obeying all laws.  We shouldn’t expect him to know or understand the law, whereas I would be jailed for brandishing a weapon if I did something like that.

You see, they are sworn law enforcement officers, and they are entitled to these things.  I, on the other hand, cannot be trusted with a firearm, any more than Mr. Haman.  How disciplined I am with a firearm has nothing to do with it.  I’m not a sworn LEO.

So there you have it.  Prejudice and bigotry on display.  It is the intellectual edifice they have built for so many years.  This officer overreacted during the incident by unholstering his weapon and losing his muzzle discipline.  I could never get away with that.  But the real problem is manifest by the refusal properly to educate the officers on the open carry tradition and (lack of) stop and identify statutes.  Did you catch that?  The police commission refuses to issue a memorandum.

A memorandum to educate his officers.  Good grief.  A memorandum could have made this whole ugly scene go away, and they are too proud to do it.  Prejudice and bigotry.

And speaking of prejudice and bigotry, I notice that my sister state, South Carolina, forbids open carry (causing me some moderate inconveniences).  It’s about time for some thoughtful congressman to put forward a bill to bring S.C. into the 21st century.  Michigan is already there, even if their police aren’t.

Massive Corruption in the U.S. Border Patrol?

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 9 months ago

From UPI:

Two former law enforcement officers say their allegations of Mexican cartels corrupting U.S. law officers and politicians have brought no investigations.

The El Paso Times reports Greg Gonzales, a retired Dona Ana County sheriff’s deputy, and Wesley Dutton, a rancher and former New Mexico state livestock investigator, said their whistle-blowing led to threats against them and retaliation.

The Times said both had been confidential sources for the FBI in El Paso and assisted with an 18-month investigation.

They said the FBI dropped them after “big names” on the U.S. side of the border were revealed in drug investigations. Dutton said an FBI official who had worked in El Paso sent a memo to area law enforcement agencies urging them not to talk to or have anything to do with him or Gonzales.

FBI Special Agent Michael Martinez said the FBI cannot comment on former or current relationships with confidential sources.

“I lost my job for a security company at the federal courthouse in Las Cruces because I would not keep my mouth shut, and someone threatened me by holding a knife to my throat,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales and Dutton say one or both of them had helped with federal investigations, including one that led to the arrest of a special agent, convicted of weapons-related charges after a weapon he sold was found at the scene of a Chihuahua firefight between Mexican soldiers and drug traffickers.

Dutton said he had told the FBI street gangs working for the Juarez cartel had put a hit out on an FBI special agent.

Gonzales and Dutton said they have contacted lawmakers and the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch about the lack of investigations.

Analysis & Commentary

This report is very involved and complicated; see the El Paso Times for a more detailed report.  Both the U.S. Border Patrol and the FBI are buried neck deep in this sordid affair.  On a related note, there is currently a jailed U.S. Border Patrol agent who is in prison for drug running activities and assisting the Mexican cartels.  His report is extremely self-serving, and no exoneration is possible for his crimes regardless of how hard he tries.  So his report must be tempered by the fact that he is apparently attempting to “explain and justify” his actions.  Exaggeration might be present in his report.  Nonetheless, his report is chilling reading.

A corrupt U.S. border agent sitting in a federal prison cell is offering a chilling view of the Mexican drug cartels whose drug shipments he protected for years in return for hefty bribes.

He is so terrified of the cartel’s famous vicious streak that he fears for his own life — and the lives of his family — if he is identified as speaking to ABC News. He depicts a dangerously paranoid crime organization that has spies throughout U.S. law enforcement …

“In my opinion they have unlimited power..they have informants of all kinds, good and bad,” he said. “They have informants in the city level, county level and, from what they claim, federal” …

In a disturbing trend, new figures show 122 current or former U.S. federal agents and employees of the Customs and Border Protection agency have been arrested or indicted for corruption since October 2004. It’s not just for money, some agents are accepting payment from the cartels in the form of sexual favors.

Just last week, a police officer, a state trooper and three TSA officers in Florida and Connecticut were among 20 arrested for allegedly running an interstate drug ring. “

Corruption in some doesn’t mean corruption in all, and sweeping judgments can be overstated.  But when cartel violence, largesse and corruption have begun to reach into U.S. law enforcement in a significant way, it’s time for not only a comprehensive agency wide investigation (the Border Patrol and the FBI included), but probably a good house cleaning as well.  These kinds of problems cannot be allowed to fester.  Corruption breeds corruption.  Unfortunately, in the wake of the Holder leadership and Operation Fast and Furious, no one can entrust such an investigation to the Justice Department.  If not them, then who?

Night Raids, Prisons, Politics and the Afghanistan Strategy

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Over the past year, US and NATO forces say they have made considerable progress against the Afghan insurgency through the use of night raids. But a new study suggests that the long-controversial nighttime operations are doing more harm than good.

Despite a sharp rise in the number of night raids, there have been no benefits in the form of decreased insurgent attacks, and anger over the operations has continued to mount among Afghan civilians, found the report by the Open Society Foundations and The Liaison Office, a research and analysis group in Kabul.

“The dramatic increase in the number of night raids, and evidence that night raids or other operations may be more broadly targeting civilians to gather information and intelligence, appear to have overwhelmed Afghan tolerance of the practice,” wrote the authors of the report. “Afghan attitudes toward night raids are as hostile as ever, if not more so.”

International forces rely heavily on night raids to capture or kill high-level insurgents. Night raids are a critical component of NATO’s strategy here, but a growing number of Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, have condemned the raids as disrespectful to Afghan culture, and say they undermine the authority of the government and security forces …

Even in the face of heated political debate about the night raids, there was fivefold increase between February 2009 and December 2010. Though newer statistics are unavailable, military officials indicated to Open Society Foundations that international forces still conduct a large number of night raids, possibly at higher rates than those previously documented. By one estimate, up to 40 night raids occur daily throughout Afghanistan.

“The night raids are perceived by the people, by the government, by Afghans as an insult. It’s a very big insult because they are insulting our privacy … so people hate them from the depths of their hearts,” says Rahim Khurram, deputy director of The Liaison Office …

The US and international forces have made a number of changes to their night-raid policy that have, by many measures, improved their accuracy and addressed Afghan concerns. Among other changes, Afghan officials are now incorporated in the planning process, and 25 percent of night operations are led by Afghan forces.

Presently, International Security Assistance Force officials say that they get their target 80 percent of the time during night raids. The report does not state what portion of the remaining 20 percent escaped or if they mistakenly arrested the wrong person. ISAF officials also point out that the night raids account for less than 1 percent of civilian casualties and that 85 percent are conducted without any shots fired.

“Night operations are an effective method of maintaining the pressure on the enemy while minimizing risk to innocent civilians,” says US Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, an ISAF spokesman.

Many of the improvements have been overlooked or gone unnoticed by Afghans, however, due to the sheer quantity.

Despite pervasive disapproval of night raids among many Afghans, if conducted properly, they are a valuable tool against the insurgency, says Mirwais Yasini, a member of parliament from Nangarhar Province, where night raids have been a serious point of contention.

“We cannot do without them, because if we do away with the night raids it means we are cutting [ISAF’s] operational capacity to the day, and if we do that it means we’re cutting their operational capacity to less than 50 percent,” says Mr. Yasini.

He suggests that instead of raiding houses during the night, international forces should try surrounding a village at night and make arrests during the day time.

Analysis & Commentary

Of course many of the Afghan people don’t like it.  But the edifice upon which this whole objection is built is population-centric counterinsurgency, with its adage that “if you kill one insurgent you create ten more.”  There isn’t a single shred of evidence that killing an insurgent creates ten more – that’s just a doctrinal mantra, and if repeated enough times it begins to be taken as science.  However, while the objection lodged by the Afghans to high value target raids may not be salient, there is a much more important reason that these raids are not as successful as they are purported to be.  Prisons.  Many or most of the HVTs are not killed, but captured and sent to prisons.  These prisons have become not only a laughingstock of the Afghan culture, they have become dangerous.

Cell Block 3 was in flames as prison riots continued in the next block over. The Taliban had grown too powerful, and the confinements of Afghanistan’s Pol-e-charki prison became little more than protective walls rendering them untouchable from the war raging outside.

The December 2008 riots at Pol-e-charki prison on the outskirts of Kabul served as a wake-up call to the severity of the corruption that had crept in through padded pockets and turning blind eyes. Captured Taliban commanders and radicalized prisoners had formed an operating center within Cell Block 3—armed with weapons, and with their own Shura Council to hold trials, vote, and eliminate those who refused to cooperate.

“The guards were not even allowed to go down into the cell block because they would be killed or kidnapped—I mean, its the Wild West out there,” said Drew Berquist, a former U.S. intelligence agent and author of “The Maverick Experiment,” in a phone interview.

Attention fell on the prison after the riots, and rebuilding efforts became focused on increasing security. This included eliminating cells for large groups, and replacing them with cells for smaller groups of between two and eight.

“You had a prison that was run by the Afghan government, but really, entire facilities within that prison were being used as training and education grounds for insurgent elements,” said Drew Quinn, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs director at the U.S. Embassy Kabul, on the NATO Channel in Nov. 2009.

Resolving such issues is no simple matter, and the battle behind prison walls continues to this day.

A rare news conference in Kabul, held by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security intelligence service in February, highlighted the breadth of the problem—noting that despite efforts to root out operations at Pul-e-Charkhi, it is still going strong.

Taliban commander Talib Jan, a prisoner at Pul-e-Charkhi, is one of the more extreme cases. He organizes suicide bombings across Kabul from within his cell—including the Jan. 28 suicide bombing of a supermarket that killed 14 people.

“Most of the terrorist and suicide attacks in Kabul were planned from inside this prison by this man,” said National Directorate of Security spokesman, Lutfullah Mashal, at the conference, New York Times reported.

The problem, according to Berquist, runs deep.

“The prison systems are corrupt,” Berquist said. “The safest place for the Taliban is the prisons because they can’t get caught again.”

But if killing an insurgent doesn’t in fact create ten more, imprisonment of one may in fact do just that.  To coin a phrase, “imprisonment one insurgent creates ten more.”  Remember that phrase.  Since HVT raids focus so much on imprisonment of insurgents, they are counterproductive.  Killing the enemy isn’t counterproductive, but because we place so much value in not doing that in the campaign, it has affected the entirety of the effort.

And this clouds the whole strategy.  Thus, Presidential candidate Rick Perry is not clear yet in his proposed strategy for Afghansitan.

Rick Perry is still laboring to articulate a clear position on Afghanistan. At Monday night’s Republican debate, Perry–who has no real foreign policy experience beyond flying Air Force cargo planes abroad–seemed to endorse Jon Huntsman’s call for a major drawdown from Afghanistan. Yesterday, an unnamed Perry adviser revised and extended the gentleman’s remarks for Foreign Policy:

“If increasingly the Afghans can do this kind of work, then of course we want to bring our people home. It’s good for us, it’s good for them. But Gov. Perry is not confident in the Obama policy, which seems to be driven largely by politics, and he’s not confident in the 100,000 troops number. He’d like to know if it’s possible at 40,000,” the advisor said, explaining that the rationale for the specific number of U.S. troops on the ground has never been clearly explained by the administration.”He would lean toward wanting to bring our troops home, but he understands that we have vital strategic interests in Afghanistan and that a precipitous withdrawal is not what he’s recommending.”

This position is incredibly tortured. A presence of 100,000 troops seems too high to Perry, but he opposes Obama’s plan for a modest withdrawal of about 30,000 troops because it’s apparently driven by “politics.” He’s against a precipitous withdrawal, yet he’s interested in a 60 percent reduction in forces–to a level that would make David Petraeus bang his forehead on his desk.

Perry isn’t the only Republican to send mixed signals on Afghanistan. That’s because the GOP candidates are torn between two powerful forces. One is the general public’s loss of patience with the Afghanistan war. Especially now that Osama bin Laden is shark food, a clear majority of Americans want us out–regardless of whether Afghan troops can execute jumping jacks. But Republican voters are still on board: As of June, 53% of them still favored fighting on until Afghanistan has been stabilized (whatever that means).

Even Andrew McCarthy, writing for NRO, observes that Perry’s answer was muddled (although McCarthy parrots the usual stuff about killing and capturing a lot of people which makes his case rather odd).  Since we have tried population-centric counterinsurgency and nation-building in the most backwards place on earth, the last ten years has seen a groundhog day rinse and repeat of the same thing, over and over again.  Of course our strategy is confused.  The people who implemented it were confused.

Mr. Obama has been content to go along with a confused strategy and cut his losses as soon as possible.  In challenging him, the GOP needs to see their way clear to a revised strategy and a justification for said approach.  This needs to fit within the framework of the larger war against the transnational insurgency, in which AQ, the Taliban, the TTP, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., are just manifestations of the militant side of Islamism, with the Muslim Brotherhood being the manifestation of the more political side of (what will ultimately become the forcible implementation of) sharia law.

Whatever is decided, let’s be clear.  A small footprint, HVT raid-based approach by 10,000 – 15,000 troopers, mostly SOF, won’t work.  When there are no troops to provide security for the people who supply intelligence for the raids, the raids will dry up.  When logistics cannot get supplies to the troopers, it will take SOF missions to rescue the SOF troopers remaining in Afghanistan.  A small footprint is a silly, juvenile cop out, and a poor excuse for actually thinking through the difficult issues of the war.

The troops exist for the proper execution of the campaign.  The CJCS could tell the Commandant of the Marines to stop playing Iwo Jima, give up the ridiculous EFV, settle for a mission that includes air-based forcible entry capabilities, and send Marines all over the world in distributed operations (similar to SOF).  There are missions for the Marines to do, surely.

And as for what to do with the insurgents, they must be killed or released.  Prisons are not only not helpful in counterinsurgency, they are counterproductive.  As I have said before, prisons … do … not … work … in … counterinsurgency.

UPDATE: From The Washington Post:

Even as U.S.-led forces draw down in Afghanistan, U.S. officials expect the number of detainees at their main prison to increase — and by a significant margin.

Officials had already announced that they would retain control of the Parwan Detention Center north of Kabul well beyond the planned 2012 transfer date because of concerns that the Afghan legal system is still too weak. But U.S. officials recently said they intend to solicit contractors to help expand the facility’s capacity from about 3,500 beds to 5,500 beds.

Parwan, which has been expanded previously, holds about 2,500 detainees. Those detainees include high-profile insurgents as well as Afghans who are suspected of playing more of a peripheral role in the conflict.

The construction project “is part of our established and ongoing transition efforts” with the Afghan government, Capt. Kevin Aandahl, a spokesman for the U.S. task force that oversees detention operations in Afghanistan, said in an e-mail. Aandahl said the expansion was necessary to “accommodate an increase in the number of suspected insurgents being detained as a result of intelligence-based counter- terrorism operations, which we conduct with our Afghan partners.

There is a massive amount of hope in this plan.  It is being planned in order to “accommodate an increase in the number of suspected insurgents being detained as a result of intelligence-based counter- terrorism operations …”  All of which means that the U.S. wants to turn this even more into a SOF High Value Target campaign.  In other words, take that which hasn’t succeeded thus far, and intensify it without the troopers on the ground to supply logistics and security for those who supply intelligence.  This exemplifies the bankruptcy of our military thinking on Afghanistan.


The Long Term Effects of Prisons in Counterinsurgency

The Great Escape – in Afghanistan!

Because Prisons Work So Well In Counterinsurgency

Afghan Prison An Insurgent Breeding Ground

Prisons Do Not Work In Counterinsurgency

Hamid Karzai: Defeater of the High Value Target Program

The Ineffectiveness of Prisons in Counterinsurgency

Jirgas and Release of Taliban Prisoners

Prisons in Afghanistan

Prisons in Counterinsurgency

Secret Recordings In Gunwalker Case

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago

From CBS News:

CBS News has obtained secretly recorded conversations that raise questions as to whether some evidence is being withheld in the murder of a Border Patrol agent.

The tapes were recorded approximately mid-March 2011 by the primary gun dealer cooperating with ATF in its “Fast and Furious” operation: Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Arizona. He’s talking with the lead case ATF case agent Hope MacAllister …

The tapes have been turned over to Congressional investigators and the Inspector General …

The conversations refer to a third weapon recovered at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry …

Court records have previously only mentioned two weapons: Romanian WASR “AK-47 type” assault rifles. Both were allegedly sold to suspects who were under ATF’s watch as part of Fast and Furious.

The third weapon found at the scene of Brian Terry’s death is an SKS.  But that a third weapon was found is not the main point here.  The transcript follows (CBS has the audio).

Agent: Well there was two.

Dealer: There’s three weapons.

Agent: There’s three weapons.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: And yes, there’s serial numbers for all three.

Dealer: That’s correct.

Agent: Two of them came from this store.

Dealer: I understand that.

Agent: There’s an SKS that I don’t think came from…. Dallas or Texas or something like that.

Dealer: I know. talking about the AK’s

Agent: The two AK’s came from this store.

Dealer: I know that.

Agent: Ok.

Dealer: I did the Goddamned trace

Agent: Third weapon is the SKS has nothing to do with it.

Dealer: That didn’t come from me.

The main point is that heretofore, the ATF only reported two weapons at the scene of Terry’s death.  This recording is evidence that not only were there three weapons, the ATF knew it and sought to cover it up.  As they say, why cover it up unless there is something wrong?

If The Zombies Attack Me, Will The Police Shoot Into The Crowd?

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago

Gilbert, Arizona Police Sergeant Bill Campbell advocates an interesting way to train police.

OK, my fellow Firearms Instructor… You’ve been tasked with creating a short block of in-service training for the department, but budget and time constraints have dictated that each officer will only get to shoot 50 rounds of handgun ammo and you have only one hour of training time. Your goal for this training session is to work some shooting drills from the patrol car doors in a dimly-light environment, maybe even incorporating some cover. You want to make the training as fun and interesting as possible so the officers will enjoy it, and of course, you’d like to make it memorable so they will look forward to returning to training at their next available opportunity.  What should you do?

Okay, but who doesn’t like putting 230 grain slugs down range at any time and under any circumstances?  It’s fun and interesting and memorable any time.  Why does he have to make it fun?  It’s already fun.  But continuing with his recommendation, he gives us the situation he’s set up for his trainees.

The drill briefing itself is rather simple, and our instructions went like this:

When the lights go out, you will be attacked by a group of four Zombies. Using the car doors for cover, draw and engage the Zombies with a couple of rounds as they show themselves. Whenever a light is shining on the Zombie, he is considered a threat to you and will remain so until the light shining on the Zombie goes out. Occasionally, you will see a Zombie attacking an innocent person. In this case you must hit the Zombie but avoid hitting the innocent person. Reload when you can or must — using teamwork to avoid reloading at the same time. At some point, the Zombies will retreat. That is your cue to move tactically to the ground cover and be prepared to use a kneeling position to continue the drill from behind the ground cover. When the Zombies reappear, continue to fight them from behind the ground cover as you had from behind the car doors, fighting until there are no further Zombie threats.

You can read the entire article, including the use of Zombie targets.  I’m okay with Zombie targets.  In fact, I’m good to go with the great Zombie apocalypse.  Bring it.

But here is the problem.  During engagements, a very low percentage of shots fired from police hand guns actually hits their intended target.  It might be as high as 25%-30%.  But it’s probably no higher than 20%.  In one recent engagement, the New York City Police discharged 71 stray bullets, one of which killed a bystander.

Does Sergeant Bill Campbell really want his officers to learn the behavior to shoot at assailants and victims entangled together in an attempt to hit the assailant?  Really?  Is this good training?

Let me go on record right now with the following.  If I am ever attacked by Zombies, I’ll be armed.  Let me do the fighting.  I don’t want anyone shooting into the crowd.

Haqqani Fighters Bomb Kabul

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago

E2 writing for Free Range International predicted when this happened that this wasn’t the Taliban – it was the Haqqani network of fighters.  Sure enough, we now learn that this is exactly what happened.

American and Afghan officials on Wednesday blamed a Taliban  offshoot, the Haqqani network, for a marathon assault on the U.S. Embassy and the NATO  force headquarters that killed 16 Afghans, including civilians and members of the security forces.

Eleven assailants died as well, the last of them shot Wednesday morning as Afghan police, backed by NATO helicopters, regained control of the unfinished high-rise structure the attackers used as their main staging ground.

The 20-hour siege paralyzed the city center, terrorized Kabul residents and sent hundreds of American embassy worker, military personnel and civilian NATO staff into hardened bunkers, where they remained for hours.

Senior U.S. officials sought Wednesday to downplay the significance of the attack, saying it had little or no military affect. But many Afghans, particularly those living or working in the vicinity of the strikes, spoke of a pervasive sense of insecurity in their daily lives.

We’ve covered the Haqqani network before, and we won’t waste time unearthing their precise relationship again with the Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, the LeT, the Kashmir fighters, and so forth.  But take note of one thing.  The Haqqani fighters are said in the above article to be a “Taliban offshoot.”  Elsewhere, the words “Taliban-affiliated” are used.

Make sure to point this out.  Because it’s important when we try to sell the idea of negotiating with and reintegrating the Taliban that the American people know that we mean the Quetta Shura, you know, the … good … Taliban.  Not those bad guys the Haqqanis.  Words have to do with perceptions.

Man Who Shot Grizzly Bear Defending His Family is Fined

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago

Do you recall our having discussed the issue of Jeremy M. Hill having shot the grizzly bear on his property defending his family, only subsequently to be charged with a crime by genius federal prosecutor Wendy Olson?  Well, there are developments in this case.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday dropped a misdemeanor charge filed against a northern Idaho man accused of illegally shooting and killing a male grizzly bear at his home in May, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.

Jeremy Hill, 33, pleaded not guilty last month to unlawfully taking a federally protected species. His case has generated public and political backlash against federal officials.

As part of a deal, Hill agreed his actions violated a regulation of the Endangered Species Act against removing nuisance bears and paid a $1,000 fine. The act classifies the grizzly bear as a threatened species in the lower 48 states, and the animals are protected by federal law.

Hill claimed he was protecting his children when three bears walked on to his property near Porthill, near the Canadian border, on May 8.

Olson said investigators were unable to determine the location of Hill’s children at the time the bears were first seen in Hill’s yard near the pig pen. But by the time Hill fired his final shot, he was aware that his wife and children were inside their home, Olson said.

“The United States Attorney’s Office well understands Mr. Hill is a concerned husband and father who wants to protect his family,” Olson said in a press release.

[ … ]

Olson said anyone who sees a grizzly near their home or campsite should immediately contact wildlife officials, who will take steps to remove the animal.

“These regulations are designed to ensure citizen safety and protect the grizzly bear,” Olson said.

So consider.  This case warranted “investigators” to ascertain where the children were when the shots were taken.  Mr. Hill ultimately had to agree to a crime in defending his family and be fined by the federal government.

In addition to the things I said earlier concerning the God-given right of Mr. Hill to defend his family, let me add (as I had to in the comments section to my original post) that this right was a proactive one.  To have waited until later to either shoot the bear or contact wildlife officials would have been the height of irresponsibility.  The bear wouldn’t be there later, and the worst possible situation would obtain, i.e., Mr. Hill would have helped the bear to learn the behavior of coming onto or in the proximity of his property unmolested.  That learned behavior would have caused mortal danger to his family.

Ms. Olson is not only a juvenile, she is a liar.  The purpose of the regulation is not for the safety of people.  Guns provide safety to people.  The purpose is the protection of bears.  And she no more believes what she said concerning understanding the need Mr. Hill had to protect his family than she does that justice has been done.  She is only dropping the case because of the attention this has gotten.  Otherwise, she would have had her day in court defending bears.  Ms. Olson also isn’t willing to live where Mr. Hill does, but she is willing to criticize Mr. Hill’s choices.  Proud day for Ms. Olson.  Proud day.

This is simply a disgusting, sophomoric display of the sad state of affairs of the regulatory bureaucracy.  Instead of sending investigators to determine where Mr. Hill’s children were (it’s none of their business), they should be working on identifying and targeting members of MS-13.  In other words, they should get a real job, along with Ms. Olson.  Defend people instead of bears.

Is That A Threat Or A Promise? Saudis Warn Against U.S. Veto of Terror State

BY Glen Tschirgi
12 years, 10 months ago

This opinion piece seems almost too good to be true.

Former Saudi ambassador and Saudi intelligence director Turki al-Faisal writes in The New York Times op-ed page (on September 11th no less!) that a United States veto in the U.N. of an anticipated proposal for a “Palestinian” state could result in the loss of Saudi Arabia as an ally in the Middle East as well as other unpleasantness.

There are so many great come-backs here, I am just going to list them and let readers vote in the comments section on the one that best summarizes their feelings (or suggest their own).

Lose Saudi Arabia as an ally if we veto a Palestinian State?

A) Can we get that in writing?

B) We should be so lucky.

C) So… what’s the bad news?

D) Is that a threat or a promise?

E) Wait, you mean to say that Saudi Arabia has been our ally all this time?

F) With allies like this, who needs enemies?

Al-Faisal’s piece is such a target-rich environment that it is almost too easy.  Where to begin?

How about his argument that failure to support the creation of yet another terror-supporting State by the name of “Palestine” (a term, by the way, that was only revived by the British colonial rulers in 1917 and was never appropriated by the locals until after the revival of Israel in 1948) will further undermine Israel’s security?  Sure, it is possible that the veto of the resolution might lead to yet another intifada (as al-Faisal warns), but this sort of talk sounds like the practiced art of an extortionist:  Sure would be a shame if you didn’t go along with the new, palestinian state and then something happened to your family.   (Come to think of it, this talk sounds like the kind of thing we hear from labor unions these days.  I wonder if al-Faisal has been reading the SEIU manual?).

At any rate, it is difficult to imagine that Israel’s security could get much worse short of open warfare.   Afterall, Israel is already getting rocketed from the Gaza Strip, infiltrated by terrorists from the supposedly demilitarized Sinai peninsula, the aim point for tens of thousands of medium range, Hezbollah missiles in southern Lebanon and literally ringed by neighbors who are all committed to her annihilation.  Other than that, it’s all just peachy, eh Mr. Faisal?

I also like the bit about the border of the State of Palestine being based upon the pre-1967 War borders.   Now where do you think al-Faisal got that idea?  Yeah, thanks Barack Hussein.   Last time I checked, the 1967 borders were about the width of the Washington, D.C. beltway and utterly indefensible.

Here are some, other gems from the former Saudi ambassador (and now, presumably, getting a regular time slot on Comedy Central):

Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Again, the Saudi idea of “cooperation” is funding Sunni terrorists in Iraq who target Americans, spending billions of dollars on Islamic schools all over the world (including the U.S.) which teach militant Wahhabi doctrines, spending billions more supporting mosques and imams who preach violent jihad against the U.S. and actively seeking to undermine democratic institutions in the U.S.

Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy. Like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed, Saudi Arabia would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open an embassy there despite American pressure to do so. The Saudi government might part ways with Washington in Afghanistan and Yemen as well.

A “far more independent and assertive foreign policy” ?  Example Bahrain? Assuming that the Obama Administration was sincere in its public protests over the tanks and troops sent by Saudi Arabia into Bahrain to quell Iranian-inspired protests, the last thing that any thinking American wanted was another, major oil producing state in civil war.   Go ahead and send in tanks, O Sultan.

And “opposing the government of…al-Maliki” in Iraq?  Puh-leeeze.  The U.S. can barely stand the guy either.  He is leading his country down the tubes with the Iranians.  Very few people in the U.S. would mourn the loss of Maliki.   The U.S. gave him a perfect opportunity to establish a strong and independent Iraq and he blew it with a short-sighted Status of Forces Agreement in 2008 that gives away Iraqi security at the end of this year.

Does the Obama administration care that the Saudis will not establish an embassy in Iraq?  That’s good.  No one else here does.  A Saudi embassy is just another, little piece of hell on earth for women, infidels and those who love bacon.

In fact, in case you have not noticed, Al, Americans are none too happy with Obama these days, so making threats of non-cooperation with Obama’s foreign policy is actually a way to get drafted by Democrats to run against Obama for re-election in 2012.  (And, considering how Democrats these days seem to love authoritarians– see the Tom Friedman man crush for China’s communist leadership– a Saudi candidate might just be their dream guy).

At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia naturally pursues its own, national interests and does not shrink from doing so even when it involves the death of U.S. servicemembers  (as TCJ pointed out in the past with regard to its role in supporting Sunni terrorism in Iraq, for instance).  It is comic, however, when someone like al-Faisal tries to pretend that the Saudis are America’s closest ally in the Middle East and the damage (or even loss) of that relationship is something that most Americans would grieve over.  No matter how they  dress it up, the notion of a state for the Arabs that formerly resided in Israel (aka “Palestinians”) is simply a cynical means to the ultimate end that they desire: the obliteration of Israel.

Rick Perry and the Progressives on Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 10 months ago

In what may be the best line … ever … on gun control, Rick Perry weighs in on his position to a crowd in South Carolina:

Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry on Monday turned a South Carolina forum question into a quip, on an issue where no Texas politician dare be caught on the “wrong side.”

“Honestly, the next question is so easy that I don’t even want to ask it: Are you for gun control?” asked Rep. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina.

“I am actually for gun control: Use both hands,” Perry shot back.  He put on a wide old-boy grin and gave thumbs-up to his listeners.

In his book Fed Up, Perry describes himself as “the kind of guy who goes jogging in the morning packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights, loaded with hollow point bullets, and shoots a coyote that is threatening his daughter’s dog.”

By way of full disclosure, I have been supportive of Perry (if only vocally), although I think that his positions on illegal immigration and border control are deplorable.  But this one line will stick with his campaign until the end, and it’s similar to a tactic that I recommended he pursue in South Carolina.  I advised that if Romney temporarily surges when he begins campaigning in S.C., all Governor Perry has to do is show up at the shooting range in Pickens County, S.C., where I often shoot, carry along some reporters with him, and then inform his fellow shooters that Governor Romney signed an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts (and would do so again).

Speaking of Romney and his assault weapons ban, Yvonne Abraham with The Boston Globe defends his position.

Now, I’ve been critical of Romney at times. But he looks better every time Perry says something dense, which is often (Evolution is just one theory! Global warming is a hoax by greedy scientists!).

Romney is a Second Amendment guy, but as governor, he wasn’t an absolutist. In 2004, he signed into law a permanent ban on assault weapons in Massachusetts. Everybody seemed pretty happy with it at the time, even National Rifle Association types, who extracted some concessions in return for the ban on AK-47s, Uzis, and other exotics.

Since then, the national electorate has lurched to the right, forcing Romney into inelegant contortions to explain even positions considered firmly Republican a few years ago. Shortly after Romney signed the bill, Congress, most of which is owned by – or terrified of – the gun lobby, allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire. That’s why Jared Loughner was able to so easily obtain (sic) the semiautomatic weapon he used to kill six people and injure a gun rights-supporting congresswoman in Arizona earlier this year.

Poor analysis, this is.  Ms. Abraham makes several mistakes, one of which is thinking that gun owners are a monolithic group represented by the NRA.  Many of us believe that the NRA made mistakes in the past when they didn’t oppose government intrusions into second amendment rights.  Furthermore, the background may very well have been that the bill was going to pass anyway, so the NRA bargained for inclusion of relaxation of some existing laws.

Either way, Romney isn’t a second amendment man if he signed into law a so-called “assault weapons” ban.  Finally, Loughner didn’t purchase an “assault weapon.”  He had a hand gun.  It had a high capacity magazine, and Ms. Abraham assumes (because she apparently knows nothing about firearms) that Loughner wouldn’t have been able to master rapid magazine changeout similar to the way it’s done at IDPA competitions.  She also assumes that Loughner wouldn’t have been able to fabricate a high capacity magazine in his garage.  After all, it’s only a parallelepiped, made of aluminum, a spring and follower.  This isn’t rocket science.  But don’t tell the progressives that making more laws won’t affect law abiding citizens.  It gets in the way of their world view.

Speaking of that, Zach Brooke writing for The UWM Post is more than willing to step in the way of constitutional rights in a commentary entitled Happiness is No Guns.

Now that concealed carry has been approved for all University of Wisconsin system campuses, each college must decide whether to ban guns, tasers, billy clubs and various types of dangerous knives from campus buildings. It is our belief that UW-Milwaukee should follow UW-Madison’s lead and prohibit weapons from all campus buildings, including all residence halls and Engelmann Field …

We advocate the prohibition of weapons not out of a desire to curb second amendment rights. As an independent press, we have a healthy respect for all freedoms afforded by the Bill of Rights and consider each amendment as sacrosanct as the first, which all newspapers claim as birthright.

But we believe freedoms must be balanced against their potential for significant harm. No right is absolute, but rather is subject to limitations based on the probable consequences of abuse. If the Post abuses its first amendment privileges, we print a retraction. If an individual discharges their weapon into a crowd, several lives are irreparably damaged.

Strange apology, appearing out of nowhere.  ” … not out of a desire to curb second amendment rights … but we believe freedoms must be balanced against their potential for significant harm.”  In other words, Mr. Brooke doesn’t want to intrude into second amendment rights, but that’s exactly what he advocates, and not only that, he justifies it based on some vague variant of utilitarianism.

Forget for a moment whether gun control actually accomplishes its intention.  There is plenty of evidence that it does not.  The more  important point is that like most statists, Mr. Brooke sees the government in the role of granting and legitimizing rights.  If that is so, then it’s a short step to governmental stipulations on the extent of their exercise.

But if our rights are granted by God rather than the state, then it is immoral for the state to sanction their removal or impede their free exercise.  As for Mr. Brooke and Ms. Abraham, they are worrying over things that they have no legitimate right to control.  My right to self defense and protection of my family is incorrigible.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention to this article.

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