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A damning view of US intelligence in Afghanistan

Mark Mardell | 06:25 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

us_afghan_getty170.jpgPresident Obama is holding a meeting with all his intelligence chiefs to hear why they think the Detroit bomb plot wasn't picked up earlier. It is not going to be a comfortable day for the hydra headed US intelligence community.

Much of the discomfort will not be down to Obama but Major General Michael T Flynn. He's the top military intelligence officer in Afghanistan and he's published an extraordinary report.

Extraordinary, for the level of scorn at the failure of his own service, American military intelligence, in Afghanistan over the last eight years: journalistic cliches like "damning" and "scathing" spring to mind.

But it is also extraordinary because this is not the leak of a high confidential memo meant for the eyes of four star generals and top politicians: it is published openly by a think tank, the centre for a New American Security. Remember this is not by an ex-CIA officer a policy wonk, but a serving officer, General McCrystal's senior intelligence officer. He says he's done it this way so as many people as possible read his words.

Many operatives in the field may choke on their rations when they see what Major General Flynn has to say. He says "the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which US and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade. Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the correlations between various development projects and the levels of cooperation among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers".

His basic argument isn't that they are all rubbish at the job, but that they are doing the wrong sort of job. Too focused on the enemy, on detailed analysis of road side bombs and on giving power point presentations to the most senior officers. Not able to see and, more importantly, tell the big picture of the country they are in. He urges them to get out of headquarters, work with soldiers on the ground, talk to people and act more like journalists, as well as historian and librarians. Interestingly he says that 90% of intelligence work these days is what he calls "open source", and quotes a former head of intelligence saying that the job should be more Sherlock Holmes than James Bond.

He says a single-minded obsession with IEDs (roadside bombs to you and me) is understandable but inexcusable if local commanders can't outsmart insurgents as a result and concludes "the intelligence community - the brains behind the bullish might of military forces - seems much too mesmerized by the red of the Taliban's cape. If this does not change, success in Afghanistan will depend on the dubious premise that a bull will not tire as quickly as a Russian bear". This is part of the argument between "counter terrorism" and "counter insurgency" and it is slightly horrifying if American intelligence hasn't been routinely doing the sort of analysis he suggests (I am pretty certain British intelligence sees this as fundamental), but if I was out there I would still want operatives who knew about nasty devices lurking in the ditches.

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  • 1. At 07:23am on 05 Jan 2010, democracythreat wrote:

    And yet..... part of me feels not much will change. Congress will continue to meet and to push for pentagon contracts to be issued here and there, and the American military will continue to drive around in afpak and be seen to be dominating the landscape. Hero's will serve their country and take notes for a book that will get their all american haircuts onto the TV screen.

    And the locals will despise the foreign invader for the arrogance, the lawless murder of civilians, and the general breathtaking arrogance of a people who think they can walk into central asia and force people to be highly industrialized at the point of a weapon.

    Most of all, despite the incredible savvy shown by this intelligence officer, everyone will still get paid.

    Does this guy Flynn even speak Pashtun? I'm willing to bet 100 swiss francs he does not.

    Nevertheless, he is building his public media profile, and that will get him spinning through the pentagons revolving door system faster than you can say "I'm in it for the money."

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  • 2. At 07:29am on 05 Jan 2010, Tiresias wrote:

    The CIA is set up to gather covert information, and has a militaristic culture. The information needed is of a civilian nature, and is overt, that is, freely available.

    Why use spies to get open information? A rethink is needed here.

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  • 3. At 07:36am on 05 Jan 2010, Brian wrote:

    As an American, I have often been perplexed at the lack of common sense our military intelligence has shown the last several decades. While the overwhelming majority of Americans are proud of being so, they are also not blinded by arrogance. Clearly, that distinction is not readily made by the upper echelon officers and their civilian counterparts. The ability to incorporate other cultures into our own and capitalize on the differences between our citizens have been driving forces behind American progress. It is a shame that we are not bringing that same spirit of understanding and tolerance to peoples the average American wants to assist.

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  • 4. At 08:14am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    In this case the journalistic cliches "damning" and "scathing" are quite right. . .It has taken eight years to arrive at conclusions that anyone with an average complement of common sense and curiosity could have come to in a couple of hours?

    And how often have people been derided and scorned for saying precisely this:

    "The U.S. intelligence community has fallen into the
    trap of waging an anti-insurgency campaign rather
    than a counterinsurgency campaign. The difference
    is not academic. Capturing or killing key mid-level
    and high-level insurgents – anti-insurgency – is
    without question a necessary component of suc-
    cessful warfare, but far from sufficient for military
    success in Afghanistan. Anti-insurgent efforts are,
    in fact, a secondary task when compared to gain-
    ing and exploiting knowledge about the localized
    contexts of operation and the distinctions between
    the Taliban and the rest of the Afghan popula-
    tion. "


    Or (as anyone with even a tangential knowledge of what has been going on would agree) the kind of thing that seems to bedevil and trivialise not only US intelligence dissemination, but quite probably tactical briefings too:

    "Commanders who think PowerPoint storyboards
    and color-coded spreadsheets are adequate for
    describing the Afghan conflict and its complexities
    have some soul searching to do. Sufficient knowl-
    edge will not come from slides with little more text
    than a comic strip."


    And don't get me started on his criticism of the intelligence services for concentrating narrow-mindedly pursuing 'anti-insurgency' instead of 'counter-insurgency' policies, which is what many of us have been complaining about for years. And -- I suppose in this he must be right -- that too much policy is 'media' (by which I suspect he means 'pundit' and 'armchair general' led. That's been blindingly obvious for years.

    But this I do not understand. First we have General MacChrystal's proposals published openly; now this. What is so disastrously wrong with both the civilian oversight and political control of the US armed forces and intelligence services, and so wrong with the military's own hierarchy and command structure, that these authors seem to feel that if their proposals are not in the public domain they will have no impact or never be complemented without public pressure? That argues not just a stultified military and intelligence service, but a fossilised one; and a downright dumb (and deaf) political structure. And I don't mean the Executive primarily, but Congress and the Civil Service.

    I've said before that I know that after every major engagement (invasion, war, major exercise, even) people are tasked to write reports called "lessons learned". I once instanced one I have read in which the complacent 'lesson learned' was that that disastrous US intervention in Somalia was a 'success'. I thought it was 'Black Hawk Down' they were writing about. General Flynn compares the type of intelligence gathering to journalism at one point; it seems to me he has omitted one lesson from US journalism that I strongly suspect both the US military and Intelligence have learnt and need to forget. "Bad news doesn't sell: make it positive".

    (Gary Younge in The Guardianhas an interesting--and also scathing--take on the political mindset and attitudes to 'the War on Terror' that are part and parcel of this 'systemic failure' and must make some contribution to it.)

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  • 5. At 08:43am on 05 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    Mark Mardell wrote: "This is part of the argument between "counter terrorism" and "counter insurgency" and it is slightly horrifying if American intelligence hasn't been routinely doing the sort of analysis he suggests (I am pretty certain British intelligence sees this as fundamental),"

    Why, because they are British?

    There is no such a thing as being "pretty certain" about anything. Either you are or you are not. There are at least two sides to most stories and in this case I am sure there are many more stories to tell. I think you are simply looking for something to paint American intelligence in a bad light.

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  • 6. At 08:52am on 05 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    The only truly important thing that interferes in American efforts to fight any enemy today are the politically correct obstacles and roadblocks that are placed in the way of America's military by the left. Just imagine trying to fight and win WWII with the kind of ridiculous restrictions and limitations placed on today's American military forces and those of our allies. The allies would have lost, period!

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  • 7. At 09:08am on 05 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    democracythreat wrote: "And the locals will despise the foreign invader for the arrogance, the lawless murder of civilians, and the general breathtaking arrogance of a people who think they can walk into central asia and force people to be highly industrialized at the point of a weapon."

    You mean like the "lawless murder of civilians" during WWII? You know the war that gave you your freedom today?

    No one is forcing anyone to be "industrialized." What a bizarre comment. America is primarily there to kill as many of the enemy as possible. You know, those people that take in and support terrorists and chop off the heads of women. If that was the clearly stated goal, to include as long as it takes, then the light at the end of the tunnel would become a lot clearer and brighter. The West has become weak.

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  • 8. At 09:18am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    5. At 08:43am on 05 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    'There is no such a thing as being "pretty certain" '

    Of course there is, don't nit-pick. Mark was the BBC's political correspondent in London, and therefore probably knows more than some, but if you look at what we do know about British counter-insurgency operations and others over the last 50 years that's crept out--some courtesy of the KGB and Stasi records when they were opened up-- it looks probable. No-one can say "absolutely certain" because the British Intelligence Services are extremely secretive. (Isn't that the point?) They don't publish. Though the new Official History of SIS may tell us more.

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  • 9. At 09:23am on 05 Jan 2010, PartTimeDon wrote:

    Ref 6 AllenT2
    Did you just blame the US's inability to win in Iraq and Afghanistan on the Democrats?
    Did the Republicans not have control of all three branches of govt until late last year? What was stopping you then?

    "America is primarily there to kill as many of the enemy as possible."
    Tells us all we need to know I think.

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  • 10. At 09:30am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    9. At 09:23am on 05 Jan 2010, PartTimeDon wrote:

    "America is primarily there to kill as many of the enemy as possible." Tells us all we need to know I think.

    "Kill them all; God will know His own."

    "The only good . . ."

    "Better dead than . . ."

    (Neatly spanning the 13th to 20th centuries.)


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  • 11. At 09:35am on 05 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re#1 "Does this guy Flynn even speak Pashtun? I'm willing to bet 100 swiss francs he does not.:


    You won. Because there no language called Pashtun.

    Although there is one called Pashto.

    BTW. Does anybody in your canton speak Dari?

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  • 12. At 09:47am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    6. At 08:52am on 05 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:

    . Just imagine trying to fight and win WWII with the kind of ridiculous restrictions and limitations placed on today's American military forces and those of our allies. The allies would have lost, period!

    Well, it's odd they won, because they then fought under Rules of War and in accordance with Geneva Conventions some of which the USA has in the last 8 years ignored.

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  • 13. At 09:51am on 05 Jan 2010, paul wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 14. At 09:52am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    12

    Oh No-o-o-o-o!

    Everybody ignore 12 (and preferably 11 with it, please). It's far too early to start fighting WWII again. I don't know what I was thinking. I should never have fallen for it.

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  • 15. At 09:54am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    14:

    Sorry, not 11, I'm losing track here.

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  • 16. At 10:02am on 05 Jan 2010, John1948 wrote:

    A soldier's job is to win the war. That is their mindset. That is why they why they became soldiers. The culture of the intelligence community is the same.

    What they are not trained to do and what is not in their mindset is How do you win the peace? That is why Ghandi and Mandela are revered - they thought about the peace. That is why people turned away from Churchill at the end of WWII.

    So the simple question is to find out what the Afghan people (repeat people) want and offer to help them get it. Making them into a western style democratic economy may not suit their cultural makeup.

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  • 17. At 10:38am on 05 Jan 2010, Intel2010 wrote:

    I really don't understand the point of these comment boards, arguing the toss with thousands of people around the world, none of whom you know and all with different views and perspectives: this truly is the unwinnable war today.

    However, I have logged in solely to say that nothing I read about the CIA ever surprises me.

    Please read Tim Weiner's history of the agency. Now we have a double agent blowing up CIA operatives. Last week it was the Detroit crotch bomber that the agency apparently knew about. Read the below and never be surprised again. LEGACY OF ASHES...

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tim+weiner&x=12&y=23

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  • 18. At 10:45am on 05 Jan 2010, TaiwanChallenges wrote:

    You're saying they need an avatar program?

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  • 19. At 11:15am on 05 Jan 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    What we know is that like every other problem Obama will blame the Bush administration.

    He will not blame any of his appointees including Napolitano who is over her head.

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  • 20. At 11:22am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    What's the betting that the Senate will call for a Committee hearing, go over the same ground for a couple of weeks, keep their staff busy writing neat soundbites for press briefings every four hours, trample each other rushing to get on Fox or the Sunday shows, write another report, then pat themselves on the back saying 'there you are, problem solved by us' and nothing much will actually happen? Except this General will be replaced by another one--there does seem to be an awful lot of generals around--and Pannetta will publish another letter congratulating the CIA on safeguarding America from the nasty sharks in the shoals of Afghanistan?

    (Not that I'm cynical. Heaven forfend.)

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  • 21. At 11:28am on 05 Jan 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #16
    Boilerbill wrote:
    A soldier's job is to win the war. That is their mindset. That is why they why they became soldiers. The culture of the intelligence community is the same.

    What they are not trained to do and what is not in their mindset is How do you win the peace? That is why Ghandi and Mandela are revered - they thought about the peace. That is why people turned away from Churchill at the end of WWII.

    ________________

    Different situation Ghandi and Mandela were trying to bring peace and stability to their nations. The U.S and U.k are fighting a war against international terrorism, Mandela has never shown the courage to denounce terrorism by certtain groups, and sides with the wrong sides from Mugabe to islamic extremists.

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  • 22. At 11:38am on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    16. At 10:02am on 05 Jan 2010, Boilerbill wrote:

    "a western style democratic economy"

    I don't know what that might be exactly, and I don't see Intel or Boeing setting up in Kandahar. Or even Nike. But they had orchards and gardens -- and irrigation-- in Afghanistan once where they now grow opium poppies to cater for consumer demand. The best thing would be for 300 million Americans to demand Walmart should sell Afghan peaches and apricots -- maybe goat meat as well-- at luxury prices.

    Or cut out the middlemen that still leave the farmers with damn all, and buy the heroin direct. (You can use the CIA as traders and exporters, they've done that before.)

    But I don't think any of that's likely, somehow. Except maybe the bit in brackets.

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  • 23. At 11:47am on 05 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Mark

    You should forgive CIA its shortcomings.


    Not everybody has been blessed with so many brilliant intelligence agents as U.K.

    Black, Blunt, Cairncross, Crook, Gee, Haughton, McLean, May, Norwood, Oldham, Philby, M.J.Smith, Symonds, Wynn, Vassal...

    To name just a few most famous.

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  • 24. At 12:24pm on 05 Jan 2010, D R Murrell wrote:

    Powermeerkat – I guess these are meant to be British intelligence officers who defected to the KGB (though John Alexander Symonds was only ever a corrupt police officer, who fled the country in 1972 to become a mercenary in Morocco, it was then that he became linked with the KGB). So famous that I had to look most of these people up, strange that you include the Cambridge 5 except Burgess, even then I could not find some of them (I think you may have spelt Vassal wrong).

    Not sure how captured Soviet agents (expect Symonds who was dismissed as a fantasist at the time) relates to what the CIA are doing. The CIA failures, being highlighted by a ranking US officer are their failure in the field.

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  • 25. At 12:32pm on 05 Jan 2010, D R Murrell wrote:

    Powermeerkat – Checked Wiki and found the following British Soviet spies the Cambridge 5, George Black (would that be your Black?), John Vassall (you did spell wrong) and Michael John Smith. In total 25 British Soviet spies were listed.

    For the US I could locate, Solomon Adler, James Hall III, Saville Sax and Samuel Dickstein (US Congressman). In total there were 49 listed.

    Ain’t lists of names fun!

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  • 26. At 12:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, Kepler wrote:

    Sir,

    It seems like a world of difference what I read from the English and the German speaking media. Somehow the English speaking media and the communities as a whole may be a little bit out of touch with other realities. This may have to do with their relative isolation about world events, their view of their country as a chosen place and above all with the lack of knowledge of other languages. This situation probably affects the intelligence community of those countries as well.

    Although there are interesting news coming from the English media, particularly from Bbc, from The Economist and from journalists like Robert Fisk from The Independent, most of the time the analysis is rather shallow. How different is it from the analysis I hear at ZDF or ARD Tageschau, from such people as journalist Scholl-Latour and similar! Although they also have their limitations, it seems to me they do a more thoroughful analysis, one based on honestly trying to find out what the others think.
    Many journalists often do not have a good understanding of the history and social factors in those regions, they tend to be contacted generally by people who are English speakers themselves and who may not represent the average citizen there.

    When September 11 took place I hardly heard from the media in the UK or the USA an honest discussion about what they thought the terrorists may be thinking. People just rushed to say: "they envy us, they hate democracy, they hate freedom". As horrible as those attacks are, we must analyze the position of those people, of terrorists and the general popultion there not by "imagining", but by trying to find out about them.

    I want to point at some points:
    - try to find out about the living conditions of people in, say, the Kamdesh province, where US military have suffered important loses time after time since 2001. Illiteracy there is one of the highest in Afghanistan. There is hardly an economy going on.
    Menstrual anemia is a big problem there. What has happened to the billions invested in Afghanistan? How can the effectivity be improved on the side of foreign companies involved in development projects and how can the West force transparency for the use of money by Afghani authorities?
    - what is the ratio of civilian casualties per Taliban that gets killed? has anyone a body count for civilians killed in Afghanistan?

    When these kind of issues are treated in a more serious way by all agencies involved in Afghanistan, I think things may start to improve.

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  • 27. At 1:37pm on 05 Jan 2010, Mike C wrote:

    Thanks for including the link to the CNAS report in your article. The BBC appears to have better news coverage of the U. S. then I can find over here.

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  • 28. At 1:39pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    19. At 11:15am on 05 Jan 2010, MagicKirin wrote:
    What we know is that like every other problem Obama will blame the Bush administration.

    He will not blame any of his appointees including Napolitano who is over her head."

    Typical response. Who commisioned the report in the first place? Brain-dead Bush or gung ho (provided its other people who pay the price) Cheyney? Or a new president who beleives in using his brain rather than cowboy cliches and innate anti-semetism.

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  • 29. At 1:47pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    26. At 12:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, Kepler wrote:

    I want to point at some points:
    - try to find out about the living conditions of people in, say, the Kamdesh province, where US military have suffered important loses time after time since 2001. Illiteracy there is one of the highest in Afghanistan. There is hardly an economy going on.
    Menstrual anemia is a big problem there. What has happened to the billions invested in Afghanistan? How can the effectivity be improved on the side of foreign companies involved in development projects and how can the West force transparency for the use of money by Afghani authorities?
    - what is the ratio of civilian casualties per Taliban that gets killed? has anyone a body count for civilians killed in Afghanistan?"


    No Afghanistani (like Iraqi, like Palestinian, like any black african etc)dead don't count.

    It is shuddering to think that US morons have been using drones and airstrikes based on US "intelligence" which now their own commander admits was rubbish.

    Thousands of innocent people have died neddlessly because these over paid, incompetent idiots couldn't be bothered to do their job.

    Fancy after 8 years, two years longer than WWII, admitting that the intelligence services don't know the basic power structures of the country in which they are operating!

    God knows what they they come up with about those countries where they are not operating and not backed up by thousands of incompetently led troops.

    Presume we will soon hear the Chinese are to be confronted about their dragon breeding programme or the Bhutanese will be asked to surrender their nuclear missiles.



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  • 30. At 1:49pm on 05 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    Vietnam II. Insurgents, and I am not sure what an appropriate term would be, succeed by creating fear with the population. One set of armed military in the day time and a different group at night. It is easier from a distance to think the people should turn on the insurgents because they are not at your home at 2 AM holding a gun to your child's head. Countries that endure long wars create populations with a mentality to survive...they don't take sides because new sides always appear. The geography is difficult and the culture built on control of terrority, that is why individuals are called "war lords." Aghanistan has endured years of conflict from various nations and groups. It is not in the interest of the West to have a home base for terrorist, and I hope everyone can agree on that, but to prevent that a functioning government must be in place. Until the Muslim nations and their religious leaders openingly speak out against violence the problem will continue. The U.S. is a part of the equation, but it is not the solution. For some reason there is an expectation that civilians will not be killed in a war. Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo, Hiroshima, etc.. War is not managed, it is chaos and the intent is to kill the enemy. The problems occur when war is managed from afar with "moral" guidelines. The act of war is not moral and all that follows must accept the consequences. Only people living in security think those living in war should risk their families to achieve some goals developed by other countries.

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  • 31. At 1:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, Malc wrote:

    Mr Mardell,

    Re: "...former head of intelligence saying that the job should be more Sherlock Holmes than James Bond."

    This seemingly throw away comment, in my opinion, expresses what is probably a significant contributor to the CIA's shortcomings: Your supposed lack of vision or their inability to "see the wood for the trees" as my mother would have it.

    To my point; Look at what the Americans (in the guise of Holywood) have done to Sir Arthur's creation!!!!

    I admit, this is pure speculation (but probably not too far from the mark), but the make up of the average "field agency" would be:

    1. Basically staffed by Marines with degrees
    2. Virtually no women
    3. One way cultural liaison
    4. Procedurally driven chain of command

    The upper echelons would, presumably, therefore reflect these points. So the CIA are probably culturally locked into their present system.

    The Major General presumably thought the CIA could add something different to Military Intelligence other than just numbers.

    (Your blog was about the CIA - right?)

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  • 32. At 1:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, ann arbor wrote:

    We went for 10 months this year without leadership in two critical agencies that ultimately allowed the underwear bomber to board an international flight.

    Why? Because the COOTUS (community organizer of the United States) did not appoint anyone to those positions.

    The damaged department this week is the CIA.

    Leon Panetta (appointed to head the CIA) panders to support the popularity of the President (term used loosely) at the expense of the department and people he "leads". If "Panetta" runs true, CIA agents will be prosecuted for allowing the suicide bomber incident to happen, and the incident will be "erased".

    Unlike Napolitano, Leon is not incompetent. You are hard pressed to find any information about Ft. Hood.

    Your Obama lost more servicemen in 2009, (even excluding January, 2009), than Bush did in the three years prior.

    These failings fall directly on Obama, his appointees, and the leadership vacancies he created.

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  • 33. At 1:53pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    26. At 12:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, Kepler wrote:

    When these kind of issues are treated in a more serious way by all agencies involved in Afghanistan, I think things may start to improve."


    Afghanistans problems are simple, devastating grinding poverty (see latest BBC report)and a plethora of firearms and drugs.

    Those always have been its problems and no one is really interested in solving them.

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  • 34. At 1:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, cping500 wrote:

    "Interestingly he says that 90% of intelligence work these days is what he calls "open source", and quotes a former head of intelligence saying that the job should be more Sherlock Holmes than James Bond."

    I am not sure whether Mark has read the BBC analysis which is here:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7601748.stm#kandahar. This is unsigned and clearly there is much more behind it on which it is based including one hopes a review of all the sources from the published papers in NATO countries which Kelper refers. But even with the UK Freedom of Information Act the public cannot have it, but I a suspect British SIS (MI6) and DI have it. However news and comment have to meet commercial and political criteria which are reflected on the news pages.... given Gordon Browns statement about a 'Cold War' against terrorists and the need provide the readers /listeners views with what they want to hear. There is more stuff on military operation including IEDs and tactics. See here for example http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/markurban/ but note reference a British operation of a similar sort only appears accidentally because a soldier was killer yesterday. However the outlines of the 'pacification' policy can be seen in the major report.
    So within half an hour outlines of what may going on can be be gathered from 'Open Sources' here, let alone others like UN agencies NGO's etc. The role of intelligence and appropriate military, and irregular units is to develop an effect strategy based on the information. But his supposes there is an overall objective, which cannot just be defeat the Taliban. In Britain the Government has found it difficult to formulate this in a convincing fashion.





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  • 35. At 2:14pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    32. At 1:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, ann arbor wrote:
    We went for 10 months this year without leadership in two critical agencies that ultimately allowed the underwear bomber to board an international flight.

    Why? Because the COOTUS (community organizer of the United States) did not appoint anyone to those positions.

    The damaged department this week is the CIA.

    Leon Panetta (appointed to head the CIA) panders to support the popularity of the President (term used loosely) at the expense of the department and people he "leads". If "Panetta" runs true, CIA agents will be prosecuted for allowing the suicide bomber incident to happen, and the incident will be "erased".

    Unlike Napolitano, Leon is not incompetent. You are hard pressed to find any information about Ft. Hood."


    Hmmm odd the General doesn't agree with you, does he. Doesn't take a Dept.head to have to tell morons that if they want to get intelligence they have to go and get it?

    Or do US inteliigence operatives need to be told everything by the head of their agencies - like search people before interviewing them?

    "Your Obama lost more servicemen in 2009, (even excluding January, 2009), than Bush did in the three years prior."


    That is what we in the business call a deliberate mistake. Over 3000 US servicemen, hundred thousand Iraqi men women and children and thousands of Afghans died oon Bush's watch.

    His butcher's bill outdoes Obamas by a long long way.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "These failings fall directly on Obama, his appointees, and the leadership vacancies he created."


    No they fall on the Bush and his gang who failed to try to come to grips with the problem they created.

    And the woeful incompetency of so-called US intelligence operatives.

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  • 36. At 2:15pm on 05 Jan 2010, Joe wrote:

    A lot of this may have to do with the privatization (as in overdone) of intelligence.

    Career officers in the 50's and 60's generally were rewarded by their overall understanding of a conflict, region, or people.

    However, privatization rewards hyper-specialization. Specialization will maximize your billing value, yet may not not promote individual or group success for the operation.

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  • 37. At 2:23pm on 05 Jan 2010, John1948 wrote:

    #21

    You completely miss the point.
    We cannot hope to win the war against terrorism by purely military means. We have got to help those countries which, willingly or unwillingly host terrorists, to achieve a stable improving standard of living. Then they will make the terrorists unwelcome. Eventually there will be nowhere for terrorists to hide. Even with 100,000 Allied soldiers the terrorists will simply vanish without the help of the idiginous population.

    Your point about Mandela is illogical. The fact that he has shown poor judgement in those he supports does not invalidate the fact that he was concerned about achieving a sound peace.

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  • 38. At 2:28pm on 05 Jan 2010, Jacques Bouvier wrote:

    Mark:

    Why take such smug delight in the present difficulties of US intelligence officers? Is it because similar problems have beset UK military adventures for centuries? It IS nice to see the other fellow with his feet in the mud, isn't it? It is quite unfair to compare the range and diversity of US military intelligence problems (that span all of Afghanistan) to those of the small region overseen by UK forces. Perhaps your boys are doing better because their problems are different? Still, they are not doing all that well, are they? What gains can they claim for all their casualties?

    You see, we are all quite capable of rubbing salt in each others wounds, but it doesn't do any good. Perhaps a more constructive attitude on your part would benefit the UK-US relationship. I'm not talking about "hands across the sea" or any of that rubbish. Just appropriate regret when your ally runs into trouble, instead of smug self-satisfaction.

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  • 39. At 2:32pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    "36. At 2:15pm on 05 Jan 2010, Joe wrote:
    A lot of this may have to do with the privatization (as in overdone) of intelligence.

    Career officers in the 50's and 60's generally were rewarded by their overall understanding of a conflict, region, or people.

    However, privatization rewards hyper-specialization. Specialization will maximize your billing value, yet may not not promote individual or group success for the operation."


    Possibly but what about the lack of basic training? One does not need much training to be aware that people must be searched when entering secure military base and possible target.

    This sort of procedure has been done for decades.


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  • 40. At 2:35pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    This isn't really a criticism of intelligence as much as it's a case for dramatically changing it. The military is doing what it has always done and been trained to do -- and is good at doing.

    Major Flynn sees the need for different information to be captured and reported. He is, essentially, calling for an information system. Like any well-functioning organization, the military is only as good as the systems is has in place to capture, analyze and report information. Today, that information is different and, thus, a new system needs to be put in place to provide it.

    It's silly to chastise military personnel for doing what they have been trained to do. The responsibility to change is not at the grassroots level but at the top. The responsibility to design and implement the changes rests also at the top. Soldiers are not to blame if their roles have changed but their jobs have not.

    People who have issues with our wars and military will see this as justification for their criticism. In fact, it's a call to execute our will better. To wage a different kind of war more effectively.

    The military is about to enter the information age. Good luck to it. Large military systems providers are probably licking their lips at the prospect of getting this system development job.

    Resistance to a system like this should be expected, if for no other reason than it represents a change from the job for which many have enlisted.



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  • 41. At 2:41pm on 05 Jan 2010, RomeStu wrote:

    A damning report indeed, and written by the man responsible for intelligence in Afghanistan! As Squirrellist says at the top of the thread it is all pretty obvious stuff - the question should be why has it taken so long to work it out?

    Still, maybe some changes will be made now.

    __________________________________


    32. ann arbor wrote:
    "We went for 10 months this year without leadership in two critical agencies that ultimately allowed the underwear bomber to board an international flight.
    Why? Because the COOTUS (community organizer of the United States) did not appoint anyone to those positions."


    "COOTUS" - Ann, that is just a great new accronym. Did you think of it all by yourself, or just copy it from Rush or one of his cohorts?

    Still, it's interesting that you seem to feel that the CIA and other "intelligence" agencies wouldn't be able to do anything without constant micro-managing from the boss.

    Or, perhaps Obama should have more specifically instructed body searches of persons about whom the US Embassy had been specifically warned. Hmmm.

    The failures of 2009 are in part Obamas - he is commander-in-chief - but the structures in place and the situations with which they are dealing are not of his making.

    It is slightly unfair to expect him to solve problems that were 7 years in the making in just one year of government. I thought only his most rabid supporters had that much faith in him!!!! ;-)

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  • 42. At 2:47pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    21. At 11:28am on 05 Jan 2010, MagicKirin wrote:
    ref #16

    Different situation Ghandi and Mandela were trying to bring peace and stability to their nations."


    No they were also trying to bring justice. Not peace of the dead.


    " The U.S and U.k are fighting a war against international terrorism,"


    No the US has declared it is not. Otherwise the enemy would be treated as POWs.

    War on terror, war on drugs, war on teenage pregnancies. War like terrroism is a meaningless term in the US.


    " Mandela has never shown the courage to denounce terrorism by certtain groups, and sides with the wrong sides from Mugabe to islamic extremists."


    Mandela's courage is undoubted even by his enemies. He brought reconciliation in one of the worst, neo-fascist, regimes since WWII.

    As Bush showed, denouncing people takes no courage, when you are a protected and in a comfortable environment.

    Facing your torturers on a daily basis, watching your family and friends die but not giving up the cause, that takes courage

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  • 43. At 2:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    At 2:32pm on 05 Jan 2010, you wrote:
    This comment is awaiting moderation. Explain.

    40. At 2:35pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:
    This isn't really a criticism of intelligence as much as it's a case for dramatically changing it. The military is doing what it has always done and been trained to do -- and is good at doing.

    Major Flynn sees the need for different information to be captured and reported. He is, essentially, calling for an information system. Like any well-functioning organization, the military is only as good as the systems is has in place to capture, analyze and report information. Today, that information is different and, thus, a new system needs to be put in place to provide it.

    It's silly to chastise military personnel for doing what they have been trained to do."


    They are not trained to search people?

    " The responsibility to change is not at the grassroots level but at the top."


    Er no. Learning the politcal terrain should be fundamental to any intelligence operation.

    " The responsibility to design and implement the changes rests also at the top. Soldiers are not to blame if their roles have changed but their jobs have not.

    People who have issues with our wars and military will see this as justification for their criticism. In fact, it's a call to execute our will better. To wage a different kind of war more effectively."


    After 8 years? Wow you can say that again.

    "The military is about to enter the information age. Good luck to it. Large military systems providers are probably licking their lips at the prospect of getting this system development job."

    You mean they will start asking basic questions? Yippee.

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  • 44. At 3:16pm on 05 Jan 2010, oceanus wrote:

    do not underestimate the power of cia, or any agencies. they are at times some of the brightest brain, and could simply be a call for more funds or as a playing dumb to numb.

    one of the issue is the reccruitement of people open and versatile enough to infiltrates the "enemie" territory, not fall in love with the cultures they infiltrate while pretending to, make friends and eventually betray them. not the set of value that keep a man sane.

    war is dirty, always has been, always will be. cultures not on constant feed from media and a overloaded information grid hold a sensitivity that detect fakes a miles away. they also don't reason the same way.

    how can you kill my brother, my sister, my son, mother, my father, and later on have the guts to tell me that you did it for my own good.
    you have now created the most fearless enemy you can ever have. and not rational talk will bring peace to the fire started there.

    machiaveli tells of killing them all(at least the blood line) there is horifying truth to that. the taliban are as conviced that they are on the "right" side as the US is.

    and regardless of who the president is, obama or bush, it remains the president of the united states of america with it's own "role description" in that particular system. same with CIA, generals ......


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  • 45. At 3:17pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    43. Simon21:

    It's silly to chastise military personnel for doing what they have been trained to do."


    They are not trained to search people?

    " The responsibility to change is not at the grassroots level but at the top."


    Er no. Learning the politcal terrain should be fundamental to any intelligence operation.

    **************

    Er no. Soldiers are not police officers, nor are they anthropologists, and nor are they psychiatrists. Your "should's" abound (as always). There is a difference between your view of how things "should" be and how they actually are.

    This is an organizational change being proposed. Timely and smart. If you had any real experience with organizational change, you'd realize how silly it is to blame the workers for not doing a job that has yet to be formally introduced to them. Very silly, in fact. And inexperienced


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  • 46. At 3:28pm on 05 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    For those of you unfamiliar with the American Right wing, they have no problems with re-writing history or changing facts or taking things out of context to support their views. They generally listen to idiots of the airways an parrot their nonsense. They will undermine any government or leader that does not fit their strange and ignorant views. As patriots they find it fitting to oppose every action by this admninistration and undermine the efforts toward a better country. Cheney, probably the most dishonest human being on earth, is their leader. Interestingly, they tend to be so misinformed that they support things that are not in their own interest. Their other standard-bearer is a drug addicted, three times divorced champion of American values. And people wonder how the German and Japanese people did what they did.

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  • 47. At 3:29pm on 05 Jan 2010, RomeStu wrote:

    38. Jacques Bouvier wrote:
    "Mark:
    Why take such smug delight in the present difficulties of US intelligence officers? Is it because similar problems have beset UK military adventures for centuries? It IS nice to see the other fellow with his feet in the mud, isn't it?"


    If Mark wanted to be smug about US military mis-adventures he wouldn't have had to wait until now to do so. Much of the last 40 years would do the trick.


    However, whether or not you think Mark was being smug, this is a highly important development, coming not from a thinktank or commentator, but from the head of intelligence on the ground in Afghanistan.

    It is an announcment of great significance, and hopefully will lead to a substantive rethink in the entire "mission statement" in Afghanistan.

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  • 48. At 3:30pm on 05 Jan 2010, Mike C wrote:

    I have a hard time believing that there is a serious resolve to bring peace to any country the U.S. is involved with. The economic cost for the United States is enormous while the profits for the military and security firms are staggering. War profits are merely funneled back to fund the campaigns of nearly every politician. Without a peace dividend where is the possibility for peace. In the original "Rollerball" movie, they discussed the way peace came about. After the 'Corporate Wars,' we finally realized that war was detrimental to global commerce so, it was outlawed.

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  • 49. At 3:35pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    41. RomeStu:

    "It is slightly unfair to expect him to solve problems that were 7 years in the making in just one year of government. I thought only his most rabid supporters had that much faith in him!!!! ;-)"

    ***************

    Kind of like when people blamed Bush for 9/11. But why quibble over silly accusations? ;-D

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  • 50. At 3:37pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    45. At 3:17pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:


    **************

    Er no. Soldiers are not police officers, nor are they anthropologists, and nor are they psychiatrists. Your "should's" abound (as always). There is a difference between your view of how things "should" be and how they actually are."


    Sorry these people work in intelligence.

    And all the soldiers I have ever met would have known to search people (even on occassion if they were wearing the right uniform) before taking them to a sensitive area.



    "This is an organizational change being proposed. Timely and smart."


    Which is why the General's report is apparently "scathing" ? Is that a synonym for "timely"? Maybe you need to read Mark's intro again.


    "If you had any real experience with organizational change, you'd realize how silly it is to blame the workers for not doing a job that has yet to be formally introduced to them. Very silly, in fact. And inexperienced"


    Silly not the word I would use to the relatives of people killed by intelligence failings. We are not talking about the failure of a Ben and Jerries Ice cream marketing campaign.

    These people are supposed to be trained. Yet apparently they do not even try to find out the local political structures. That strikes you after 8 years as largely OK?

    How many men women and children have died because of this?

    When a plumber comes to your house to fix the drains you would sorta expect him to know what a drain is, whatever going on at head office.

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  • 51. At 3:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    47. At 3:29pm on 05 Jan 2010, RomeStu wrote:
    38. Jacques Bouvier wrote:
    "Mark:
    Why take such smug delight in the present difficulties of US intelligence officers? Is it because similar problems have beset UK military adventures for centuries? It IS nice to see the other fellow with his feet in the mud, isn't it?"


    If Mark wanted to be smug about US military mis-adventures he wouldn't have had to wait until now to do so. Much of the last 40 years would do the trick.


    However, whether or not you think Mark was being smug, this is a highly important development, coming not from a thinktank or commentator, but from the head of intelligence on the ground in Afghanistan.

    It is an announcment of great significance, and hopefully will lead to a substantive rethink in the entire "mission statement" in Afghanistan."


    The fact that a serving officer issues this report in a very public manner is extremely important.

    Things must really be in a state.

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  • 52. At 4:03pm on 05 Jan 2010, D R Murrell wrote:

    Andrea – In some parts I agree with you while it is a criticism of how military intelligence has been run, from at least the American side (unlike some I see no reason to suppose that the British are doing that much better in Afghanistan), I don’t read it as the damning indictment some have and will continue to. It is a recognition that up to date intelligence gathering has been too focused and focused on the wrong things.

    Sadly military minds do tend to be too conservative, the quagmire of Afghanistan shows this a 21st Century conflict fought using mid 20th Century tactics. I have lost count of the number of times the Taliban have apparently been about to be irrevocably broken, only for them to be resurgent and regaining land two months later. In many ways we have fallen into fighting this conflict the way the Taliban and their allies want and this is way the military intelligence has fallen down.

    We should be looking at ways to undermine the tribal support the Taliban and their allies have. Unfortunately for both the right and left back home this will probably be too uncomfortable, pounding the hell out of an enemy that can simply disappear won’t work, worse every military error only adds to the resentment felt by the local community, adding to the number of recruits. Divide and conquer is probably the only option, by doing deals with the devil, so to speak. Just as we did deals with Northern Alliance, who are not that much better than the Taliban, we will have to bargain with the more moderate parts of the Taliban alliance. We will also have to forget the pipe dream of spreading a recognisable democracy. No glorious battles and leaving a sour taste in the mouth.

    However, soldiers are not police? What about military police who are just that? In the UK and thus I assume in the US there are detectives who are soldiers, trained to make investigations. All military intelligence officers are meant to be better trained than the average squadie, so that they can adapt.

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  • 53. At 4:03pm on 05 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    Re#1 "Does this guy Flynn even speak Pashtun? I'm willing to bet 100 swiss francs he does not.:


    You won. Because there no language called Pashtun.

    Although there is one called Pashto.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    pashto he could learn to speak but one thing that he will never learn is to chew Niswar.....

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  • 54. At 4:22pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    50. Simon21:


    "Silly not the word I would use to the relatives of people killed by intelligence failings. We are not talking about the failure of a Ben and Jerries Ice cream marketing campaign."

    *************
    No, "silly" is the term I used for you. Why do you insist on twisting my words? Are you so in need of being able to find a place for your retorts that you have to distort words to do so?

    This is hardly a "scathing" report, as much as you'd like to believe it is. It's a case for change. It will be a significant change that involves a retooling. Changing any large organization is not a trivial matter. Telling it what it "should" do, however, is easy enough for amateurs and requires no skill or experience.

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  • 55. At 4:32pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    40. At 2:35pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    "People who have issues with our wars and military will see this as justification for their criticism. In fact, it's a call to execute our will better. To wage a different kind of war more effectively."

    I am impressed. This is a spin the Pentagon PR people will admire. Have you copyrighted it?

    Varus's real last words: "This is not a disastrous total massacre that will lose us Germany, but a way of strengthening our resolve and re-organising our priorities."




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  • 56. At 4:38pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "In the original "Rollerball" movie, they discussed the way peace came about." (from Mike C at #48)

    Is this person really suggesting that we ought to derive our national policies from works of fiction?

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  • 57. At 4:42pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "The fact that a serving officer issues this report in a very public manner is extremely important." (from #51)

    This report was published with the approval of the Pentagon, as they have stated. I expect that the Secretary of Defense and the President approved it as well.

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  • 58. At 4:48pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    54. At 4:22pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:
    50. Simon21:


    "This is hardly a "scathing" report, as much as you'd like to believe it is. It's a case for change. It will be a significant change that involves a retooling. Changing any large organization is not a trivial matter. Telling it what it "should" do, however, is easy enough for amateurs and requires no skill or experience."!

    Yes do read Mark's introduction when you will it is his word, not mine.

    Obviously you cannot grasp the straightforward implications of what this report actually says:

    " vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which US and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade. Ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced, incurious about the correlations between various development projects and the levels of cooperation among villagers, and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers".


    If you were in any sort of large business and received this sort of report on company employees with words like "unable to answer fundamental questions" "ignorant" in it, you would probably describe it as scathing.

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  • 59. At 4:53pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    55. At 4:32pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:
    40. At 2:35pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    "People who have issues with our wars and military will see this as justification for their criticism. In fact, it's a call to execute our will better. To wage a different kind of war more effectively."

    I am impressed. This is a spin the Pentagon PR people will admire. Have you copyrighted it?"


    Yes I think the phrase "wage a different kind of war more effectively" means winning, rather than losing.

    i.e. "I think General Custer we need to wage a different kind of battle more effectively"

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  • 60. At 5:07pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    56. At 4:38pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:
    "In the original "Rollerball" movie, they discussed the way peace came about." (from Mike C at #48)

    Is this person really suggesting that we ought to derive our national policies from works of fiction?"


    Many of us were under the impression you already did - "High Noon" rings a bell.

    "57. At 4:42pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:
    "The fact that a serving officer issues this report in a very public manner is extremely important." (from #51)

    This report was published with the approval of the Pentagon, as they have stated. I expect that the Secretary of Defense and the President approved it as well."


    Of course, which reinforces my point. Things must be in a terrible state.




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  • 61. At 5:11pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    56. At 4:38pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:


    "Is this person really suggesting that we ought to derive our national policies from works of fiction?"

    Like the invasion of Iraq?

    But now you mention it, perhaps if more people within the Beltway and in Virginia had read, say, Khaled Hosseini's novels this report might have been either produced before now or been unnecessary.

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  • 62. At 5:13pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    52. D R Murrell:

    Agreed. Yet soldiers have gone on record as saying they are forced to act as policemen when they were trained to do battle. If their mission has changed, so be it, but to train them for one mission and then expect them to be adept at another seems foolish. By all means, change their roles, redesign the entire intelligence structure, but also recognize the challenge of implementation.

    As someone who has been involved in large-scale organization change, I think the military's actually done a decent job of adapting. It recognizes the modern war environment has changed and the need for its own change. That's a good thing.

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  • 63. At 5:15pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    59. Simon21:

    "I am impressed. This is a spin the Pentagon PR people will admire. Have you copyrighted it?"

    *************
    Ah, yes, the inevitable accusation that I am repeating propaganda. Right on schedule. And so predictable.

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  • 64. At 5:17pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    #63, to both Simon and squirrelist.

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  • 65. At 5:22pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    58. At 4:48pm on 05 Jan 2010, Simon21 wrote:

    "If you were in any sort of large business and received this sort of report. . ."

    War as marketing. Secure your finance. Locate your territory. Identify your consumer. Advertise. Deliver your product.

    Hmm. Poor choice of territory? Target too many of the wrong kind of consumer? Advertising fails? Product massively expensive and neither consumers nor shareholders like it? No profits?

    Answer? Expand the business, of course!

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  • 66. At 5:29pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "I am impressed. This is a spin the Pentagon PR people will admire." (from Simon21 at #59)

    "Many of us were under the impression you already did - "High Noon" rings a bell." (from Simon21 at #60)

    Now it is Simon himself who engages in "spin." High Noon was cited only with reference to the question whether Western films were necessarily "cowboy" movies. The subject was entertainment, not national policy.

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  • 67. At 5:30pm on 05 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    I think we can talk about this problem until the cows come home but I think one point the administation doesn't get is the power of activity. Getting impoverished people thinking and dreaming about their future is key. When people have hope in their lives they're not thinking of the next target they're going to blow up. If a team of experts went in and immediately got schools, agriculture, building projects working people would see an immediate difference in their lives. Even hiring villagers to move rocks from one place to another would be better than having them
    sit idly by. As momentum increases, people's lives begin to change for the better. This doesn't have to cost a fortune. Build a mud school in 7 days but equip it well. Get the children in school, happy and learning. Use the schools at night to teach parents agriculture, plumbing, building. When parents see their children enjoying themselves and in school playing, happy and learning the parents willl see this and start to relax and they will let go of their suspicions and start to take part in the building of a village. I can't stress enough the importance of activity in people's lives.

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  • 68. At 5:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    squirrelist (#61), I am not averse to reading works of fiction and drawing lessons from the author's insight, as a general proposition. However, there are countless works of fiction, and the insights contained therein span a vast range of worth. None of them are proof of anything.

    On the whole, it appears to me that our most senior military officers are more widely read and better informed than they were in the past.

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  • 69. At 5:39pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    63. At 5:15pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    59. Simon21:
    "I am impressed. This is a spin the Pentagon PR people will admire. Have you copyrighted it?"
    *************
    Ah, yes, the inevitable accusation that I am repeating propaganda. Right on schedule. And so predictable.


    No, that was my line. Far from accusing you from repeating any, I was congratulating you on creating a very fine example of it. I apologise if I hadn't made that as clear as I thought.


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  • 70. At 5:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, rr17302 wrote:

    Simon21, you sure do grate on everyone's nerves but that I am sure that is precisely your intention. Serves your obvious agenda to bash others trying to make a difference in this world....
    - "everyone knows to search someone..." I hope you are now being body searched at EVERY opportunity when you go anywhere in public. Since anyone can be a threat in today's environment, then -- according to your reasoning -- it is insufficient to depend on SECURITY FORCES to have done their job before a potential source meets with INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVES. After all, a body cavity search by the intelligence agents in this instance is obviously the best way to win the hearts and minds of potential native informants. Yep, anyone within a potential blast radius of you has the DUTY to conduct a search of your person otherwise they are not professionals. Why didn't that darn plumber not fix the electrical short that electrocuted him when he worked on the pipes? He was obviously an unprofessional plumber no matter the 25 years he had in the business and EVERYONE knows that water and electricity are a dangerous combination yet BOTH were present in the house.... Simon21, you are a fool.

    Thank goodness there are still intelligent people such as Tiresias (post #2) who correctly observed: "Why use spies to get open information?" The INFORMATION needed is not best gathered by the Intelligence Community, especially military intelligence, since they are appropriately focused on military threat information that is NOT openly published. I found it interesting that MG Flynn's primary intelligence adviser is a former Wall Street Journal journalist. I know from experience that his background would be invaluable but that doesn't mean every MILITARY INTELLIGENCE officer should be a journalist. Understanding a complex military threat system such as an Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) does not depend on knowing the intricacies of local politics of tribes in the valley where the IADS is deployed. To apply an old adage ... not seeing this reality is like the old saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem becomes a nail. The military is a pretty darn big hammer so don't be shocked that it doesn't do well where a wrench is need.

    The last 30 years of American intelligence history was shaped by abuses of authority in the 1970s that led to severe restrictions on human intelligence. The Intelligence Community turned to technical means to gather information and the result is a culture very capable of gathering and analyzing bits and bytes but that is out of touch with cultural intelligence. The past 8 years were also marked by a complete lack of engagement in the wars by non-Dept of Defense organizations -- due primarily to SecDef Rumsfeld and his cronies monopolizing the effort and marginalizing SecState Powell -- so the focus has been on war fighting by the military rather than engagement by other agencies. Let's hope that the current US leadership will change that and engage in Afghanistan with more than just 30,000 additional troops (who are the best trained in the world in their profession but that is not nation building).

    What is needed is engagement by agencies outside of the military and the Intelligence Community to broaden the perspective of understanding in the region. If the effort continues to be left solely to the military, its leaders, and purely military resources, then the way ahead will continue to look like a nail needing to be hammered.

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  • 71. At 5:58pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    69. squirrelist:

    "No, that was my line. Far from accusing you from repeating any, I was congratulating you on creating a very fine example of it. I apologise if I hadn't made that as clear as I thought."

    *****************
    Are you accusing me of being a propagandist? What, exactly, is it that you are saying?

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  • 72. At 5:59pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    57. At 4:42pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "The fact that a serving officer issues this report in a very public manner is extremely important." (from #51)

    "This report was published with the approval of the Pentagon, as they have stated."

    Why?

    So that General Flynn's organisationalproposals can be approved (or rejected) by public acclamation?

    Since General MacChrystal did the same thing, it only leads me to the suspicion that there is a) practically a mutiny in the ranks of the CIA and the Army against it, or b) Robert Gates and or Leon Pannetta hasn't been listening or won't, or c) Flynn thinks it's so unlikely to be adopted effectively that he's making sure his back is covered and doesn't get the blame himself.

    One way or another this all seems to be a funny way to run a war. But then, turf wars, entrenched ideas, resistance to change, fights between agencies (and Generals) are hardly new in war. Pre-emptive public media strikes are.

    (I've read a bit about the American ideas of 'information war', but I thought it was about a) getting better information than the enemy and b) utilising better propaganda, and c) limiting, or denying, your enemy's ability in both. But that was a while ago. I must have missed later developments of the doctrine: that it's which General gets his info out first to Americans that really matters.)

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  • 73. At 6:00pm on 05 Jan 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    17. At 10:38am on 05 Jan 2010, Intel2010 wrote:

    "I really don't understand the point of these comment boards, arguing the toss with thousands of people around the world, none of whom you know and all with different views and perspectives: this truly is the unwinnable war today."
    __________

    Heaven forbid that we should read and hear the views and perspectives of others. Gosh, then we might learn something, or we might possibly bring truth to light, or we might make better policy decisions on the basis of a fully considered range of options.

    Some of the postings here really make you wonder if some people understand the role of freedom of speech in a free and open democratic society.

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  • 74. At 6:04pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "None of them are proof of anything." (from me at #68)

    I should have written "None of them is proof of anything." of course. Better point that out before our pedant-in-residence spots it.

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  • 75. At 6:10pm on 05 Jan 2010, PartTimeDon wrote:

    Seems to me that the reason this report was issued in this way was to give as much exposure to it before the CIA's high level management could bury it.
    The CIA is a traditionally conservative, right wing thinking organisation in the first place and given the previous administrations penchant for firing nay-sayers and placing yes-men, it is likely that the CIAs long term strategies are still aligned with the aims of the old administration.
    We know that the Bush regime's foreign policy basically amounted to finding a fight and winning it with little or no regard given to the long term repercussions and it seems this world view has become entrenched in the CIA also.

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  • 76. At 6:13pm on 05 Jan 2010, timohio wrote:

    With all respect to General Flynn, I wonder if what he is describing actually is the role of military intelligence? Just because commanders on the ground need certain information doesn't mean that it's the job of a military intelligence officer to gather it.

    The US government has numerous intelligence agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the CIA, each of the service arms has its own intelligence branch, the State Department has its own intelligence brance as does the Treasure Department. And then there's the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has a role in Afghanistan. And the Government Accounting Office probably does reviews. Mark refers to some of the intelligence gathering being like journalism. There are people in the CIA who monitor all public news sources for useful information. Heck, some of the public news sources probably ARE in the CIA. Does each of these agencies have to duplicate the roles of all the others? Does the military intelligence officer on the ground in Afghanistan really need to check on compliance by an Afghan contractor working on a US funded project as General Flynn's report suggests?

    The problem here seems to be the same problem that led to the Christmas day airline bombing attempt, and in fact to the 9/11 disaster. I would be willing to bet that information necessary to the war effort is already being collected by someone, somewhere in the US intelligence community. It's just not being shared properly or analyzed properly, and the results aren't getting to the people who need it.

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  • 77. At 6:14pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    75. PartTimeDon: I would just remind you that the changes being proposed in this report began while Bush was in office. The author is calling for systemwide implementation of tactics that have proven successful in the past.

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  • 78. At 6:19pm on 05 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    #73, IF, if only you were right. Instead though we only seem to see ridiculing and misrepresenting of others' views. Too many here see it as a soapbox upon which to spout their blinkered views and to look down on those who disagree.

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  • 79. At 6:23pm on 05 Jan 2010, doesnotmatter wrote:

    And any time Americans begin to talk about World War Two, we Europeans ask "and do the Americans know when the war actually started?" It was not December 1941.

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  • 80. At 6:23pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    76. At 6:13pm on 05 Jan 2010, tim wrote:

    "With all respect to General Flynn, I wonder if what he is describing actually is the role of military intelligence? Just because commanders on the ground need certain information doesn't mean that it's the job of a military intelligence officer to gather it."

    Read the whole document. It's downloadable via Mark's link. (If I put it in here it'll probably be deemed an 'unsuitable URL' because it's a pdf.

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  • 81. At 6:24pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    squirrelist (#72), Gen. McChrystal spoke publicly on his own on a matter of policy, as I recall. I do not believe his speech had ben vetted by the Pentagon, which is why the President had a meeting with him to explain how to use the chain of command. I don't believe that happened here. According to CNN, a Pentagon spokesman said that the report had Pentagon approval, so linking it with the McChrystal incident doesn't work as you suggested. The linkage is that because of the McChrystal incident, this report went through the chain of command.

    The question "Why?" is for others. It seems to me to be unusual for such a report to come out this way. White papers used to be secret (see "Pentagon Papers"). More openness is a good thing, is it not?

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  • 82. At 6:30pm on 05 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    #76, Tim, you may well be right. And why so many agencies? The military seem to like a vertical structure, for good reason. Yet intelligence gathering seems to be rather too horizontal. And they wonder why dots aren't joined.

    Perhaps the publication of this report is part of a campaign to streamline these processes. And if its publication was approved at the highest levels then maybe there is a chance of change.

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  • 83. At 6:32pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    71. At 5:58pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:
    69. squirrelist:

    "Are you accusing me of being a propagandist? "

    No, I am a propagandist*. Others who post on this blog maymerely be capitalist right-wing Republican lackey camp-followers. Possibly.

    :-D

    *For the Red Squirrel Party, of course.

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  • 84. At 6:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, U13817236 wrote:

    "Many operatives in the field may choke on their rations when they see what Major General Flynn has to say"...and they should, since they have no business being in that "field" in the first place. And that's obviously the whole point of the highly public feigned flap over "military intelligence" (an oxymoron, at best). What's most "extraordinary" about the report is that it skips over the most important part. That Amerika's military - intelligent or unintelligent - has no business being there in the first place. By focusing on the logistics it implicitly confirms the mission which still has no legitimacy. So the discomfort - and onus - is still squarely on the Invader-in-Chief Obama, who has his own serious problems with intelligence.

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  • 85. At 6:40pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    77. At 6:14pm on 05 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    "75. PartTimeDon: I would just remind you that the changes being proposed in this report began while Bush was in office. The author is calling for systemwide implementation of tactics that have proven successful in the past."

    Evidence please. I am at an utter loss to understand why if they have "proven successful in the past" then Flynn needs to call for their implementation now.

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  • 86. At 6:44pm on 05 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    More than anything thing in the world, poor people want their children to be educated so that they will have a good life and probably Afghani parents view their children as a way out of poverty. If you go into a village and make an education pact with parents and say we will eventually build you a beautiful school (For now a well equipped mud structure), high school, college where your children can become lawyers , doctors, engineers and parents we will invest in your education to become good farmers, builders,etc. and we will provide a market to sell your vegetables at a decent price provided you protect your schools and village and you actually make great strives in acheiving this type of stability,wouldn't this change the parent's current mindset and change the tide in this war?

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  • 87. At 6:45pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    82. At 6:30pm on 05 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    "Perhaps the publication of this report is part of a campaign to streamline these processes. And if its publication was approved at the highest levels then maybe there is a chance of change."

    Doesn't anybody give orders any more? Or is the whole US military and intelligence machine run by means of Sophoclean debate? That's what I'm beginning to conclude.

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  • 88. At 6:59pm on 05 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    Giving orders? Surely what must be done is months or even years of cogitating and hoping the problem goes away. Except it doesn't, it just changes. Cue more cogitating. And more agencies.

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  • 89. At 7:03pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    doesnotmatter (#79) "And any time Americans begin to talk about World War Two, we Europeans ask "and do the Americans know when the war actually started?" It was not December 1941."

    Some say it began with the Nanking Massacre in December, 1937.

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  • 90. At 7:22pm on 05 Jan 2010, SONICBOOMER wrote:

    38, I did not detect any Smugness in Mark's report, some home truths perhaps?

    As you note, failures impact directly on British and others in Afghanistan.

    With the CIA, perhaps it's inception just after WW2 is a factor.

    In 1940, Churchill set up the Special Operations Executive, to in his words 'set Europe ablaze', Nazi occupied Europe.
    It's sabotage and general mayhem causing role clashed with MI6, who as an intel service preferred to work in the shadows, quietly gathering information, running informers etc.
    At the end of WW2, SOE's role was gone and it was wound up.

    When the US entered the European war, they set up the OSS, with the same general mission of the SOE.
    There was no real US version of MI6 to clash with.
    However, when the CIA was formed, it absorbed the people and mission of the OSS.
    Here lies, from birth, the contradiction within the CIA, trying to combine the noisy work of OSS with the quiet one of intelligence gathering.

    The 'Bay Of Pigs' being the most infamous contradiction, had the intel part of the CIA had good information (not what they wanted to hear), about the amount of real opposition to Castro (when memories of the corrupt and brutal previous US backed regime were still very fresh), they would have known the whole Bay Of Pigs idea was doomed from the start, even if air-strikes had supported the hapless invaders, there was no support for them in Cuba, it was get cut to bits on the beach, or cut to bits inland a bit later.

    That Jordanian who killed 7 CIA members with a suicide bomb seems to have been taken entirely at face value, allowed in.
    This is a flouting of basic tradecraft.

    In 2001, a Taliban suspect was slapped around by a CIA man, IN VIEW of 100's of other prisoners, they rioted, got hold of weapons and it took US and UK special forces, with air strikes, to suppress them with a slaughter.
    How many potential information sources were lost then?

    MI6 and CIA probably work closer together than any other two national intel agencies, the listening people of the US NSA and the UK GCHQ even closer still, (a whole floor of the NSA H.Q. are from GCHQ, much information comes from UK bases, at home and in places like Cyprus, the Indian Ocean).

    In the Cold War, only twice were assets run who had access to the very highest Soviet leadership, in 1962 and the early 1980's, both were run by MI6, all info was shared with the CIA, both were at critical times, the build up to Cuban Missile Crisis and in 1983, when a combination of NATO exercises, loose talk from Reagan about 'bombing', along with the paranoia of the USSR almost led to an accidental nuclear exchange.

    There is one agency who has a stellar record though.
    The French DGSE.
    There is a reason why no major attacks have hit France in the last decade, (they are a target, having been in Afghanistan since 2001 and historic fallout from Algeria), it's not through want of trying though, witness the plot to blow up the Strasbourg Christmas markets in 2000, witness too the stopping of a proto Sept 11th style attack.
    In December 1994, an Air France airliner was hijacked in North Africa, it seemed like a 'traditional' style hijacking at first.
    After landing in Southern France to take on fuel, a DGSE run asset managed finally to contact his handlers, the intention was to crash the aircraft on Paris.
    So French Commandos stormed the jet and ended the hijack.

    Had the DGSE not had that asset within the Islamist group, this attack might well have succeeded.
    (And the likes on Condi Rice would later say that '9/11' was the first of it's kind, knowing her though she might not have even been aware of the 1994 attempt, sadly the bad guys did learn from this attempt).

    The CIA seem to have never had any real ability to run assets within terror cells, you might not have seen any movies featuring the DGSE, they of course are tiny compared to CIA, they are however past masters in this respect.

    Then there is the plethora of different agencies in the US, made worse a few years ago when Cheney set up his own one to 'prove' his various nuggets of wisdom like those Iraqi WMD's, like Saddam's links to Bin Laden, stuff that any other intel agency knew was nonsense.
    Our MI6 had it's serious caveats and warnings about it's WMD info, removed by Blair, shame on us.

    But there is no 100% defence against terror attacks, on airliners (the business I've been in all my working life), or anywhere.
    Maybe governments should come clean here.
    These body scanners being talked about and tested, originally in the UK to find illegals hidden in the back of trucks, not quite the same as a human body.
    I suspect developing further the concept of sniffers to detect liquids capable, mixed or not, of causing an explosion.
    But really, the best bet is to stop this way before then, bringing us back to pentrating those groups.


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  • 91. At 7:28pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    squirrelist (#87) "Doesn't anybody give orders any more? Or is the whole US military and intelligence machine run by means of Sophoclean debate? That's what I'm beginning to conclude."

    I think you are well aware that orders were given at the end of last year to implement the President's war policy in Afghanistan.

    LA Times story

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  • 92. At 7:35pm on 05 Jan 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    Ref 80 squirrelist-

    "Read the whole document. It's downloadable via Mark's link. (If I put it in here it'll probably be deemed an 'unsuitable URL' because it's a pdf."

    Good advice. Having read all the posts on this thread, I get a strong impression that very few have read Gen. Flynn's entire report. It is 28 pages long, including the pretty graphics, executive summary, and end notes. The double-column format makes it a quick read, for those who have speed-reading skills.

    As to why this document should be released in the manner it was? Perhaps this is an example of the "more transparent" government that the President has spoke of during many speeches. It has been noted that the document was released with the approval of the White House and the Defense Department which leads to the conclusion the document was released to facilitate such transparency.

    If nothing else, the document shows that a sever problem has been identified; during the process of discovery successful, new programs came to light; and the process of correcting the problem has already begun. Looks like progress is being made.

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  • 93. At 7:55pm on 05 Jan 2010, bcave wrote:

    Look, I don't disagree with the general's criticisms. BUT, it's actually kind of reasonable for the military to be directly focused on things that kill members of the military (that is, IEDs). There is an empirical outcome from improving counter IED tactics (fewer casualties) and that outcome is one that gets a lot of press attention. The goals that the general is stressing are not ones that are organizationally supported by the military, are difficult to initiate, and are difficult to quantify. What is the end goal of knowing who the powerbrokers in the region are? What are the concrete measures of change that will occur once these individuals are located and contacted? What are the long term outcomes associated with these goals?

    The general is doing this for a reason--because change in the status quo in the military is very difficult to affect, and there has to be some sort of public demand for it before a change happens. Yes, the military is still fighting with an outdated mindset. No, it isn't happening because intelligence analysts are idiots. It's because the military intelligence as an organization needs a wake up call.

    This blog entry is sort of nonsensical to me, though. You begin with a question about why the Detroit bomber was undetected (that's a screening issue which could really be closely related to the military obsession with finding/ defeating IEDs) and then segue into a discussion about the lack of military attention to the larger issues of social change in Afghanistan. Two very different mindsets are involved in solving these problems. Distinguishing between the immediate (casualty reduction) and long term (social change) goals in this conflict is important, and you have not done it effectively. Practice what you preach.

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  • 94. At 8:05pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "That Jordanian who killed 7 CIA members with a suicide bomb seems to have been taken entirely at face value, allowed in. This is a flouting of basic tradecraft." (from SONICBOOMER at #90)

    It's easy to be a critic when others fall short, but according to this very website, even the family of that Jordanian was unaware of his beliefs and intentions. It is difficult to defend against treachery.

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  • 95. At 8:13pm on 05 Jan 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    In my opinion, the creation of the Homeland Security department was a major contributor towards increased security, not only because of physical surveillance improvements at ports, airports, and our borders but because it forced our intelligence agencies to share relevant information and work towards a common goal.

    However, the latest incident and similar incidents in recent years indicate that more needs to be done and that absolute security may be an illusion near impossible to attain.

    The Nigeria incident highlights a number of issues that must be considered and addressed to minimize attacks. Terrorist attacks are, obviously, not limited to Middle Easter men and can be carried out by just about anybody. Dissemination of information needs further improvement. International agreements must be put in place to minimize the probability of terrorists boarding passenger planes or ships. The "no-fly" list must be made available to U.S. airlines operating overseas, and must be shared with foreign intelligence agencies.

    Last, but not least, we must review the logic of our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and must learn to accept the fact that there are repercussions associated with our actions. The increased focus on Al Qaeda and increases in troop levels in Afghanistan may produce results from a military perspective, but they will not reduce acts of terrorism. If anything, our presence and actions in those countries are likely to exacerbate the problem and reinforce the determination of those that oppose a Western presence in Muslim countries to retaliate.



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  • 96. At 8:26pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    • Many Americans can only see one side of this conflict. They don't seem to realize that we started this war with decades of bombing campaigns in various middle east countries. It always just seemed like our right to do this. No one complained or worried too much about this when it was just Muslims being bombed in far away lands. If they had been Christians or if they were white, maybe someone would have cared, but the weren't Christians and they don't look or act like us, so we didn't care. But when those people who had no tanks or fighter planes to fight back with they resorted to the only style of retaliation available to them, and finally we took notice.

    Now consider what it must be like for them. Let us imagine the roles reversed. Lets say that 100 years ago, a very powerful invader came in to conquer and occupied all of North America. Then they divided it up as they liked. They made Mexico and Texas one country, they made California and the western states one country. They made Utah one country. They separated the South from the New England states, they made eastern Canada one country, they made Alaska and western Canada to be one country, and they sold Hawaii to the Japanese. This is what Britain (and friends) did throughout Africa and the middle east in very recent history.

    Now imagine if our land (America) was divided by foreigners like this, but then they didn't just leave. Instead, just 40 years ago, a powerful expansionist empire like The Soviet Union decided to build military bases throughout our entire land and the neighboring countries. And over the last 40 years they have built more and more bases in our homeland and they have used these bases again and again over the years to bomb us -- sometimes they bomb California, sometimes New York, but over time they attack just about everyone in our great divided land. Even though our people resented the foreigners rape and carving up of our country, the expansionist empire; through threats and bribery manages to build dozens of military bases all over north America, on the nearby islands, and in South and Latin America. If our people resent foreign interference, how can the foreigner be invited to build military bases all over our land? Easy, the foreigner will promise to prop up unpopular kings so that they can keep their crown against the will of the people. The people don't want you? no problem, let us build bases in your land, we'll guarantee your rule. This is what America has done throughout the middle east: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and a few others. The people there hate our overlordship, they resent the millions of deaths we've caused over the years, and they hate those local governments that have allowed us to kill their friends and families from bases in their own land.

    If we did not resist the foreigners who have been abusing us this way for decades, if we gave our loyalty to the foreigner's puppets, wouldn't we be traitors? You know the answer. Then you should understand that any Muslim that sympathises with the invader is a traitor. You should realize, that although many people have misgivings about targeting civilians, the alternative is unconditional as well as personal, national, and cultural suicide. Involving civilians in Iraq was the beginning of a great hardship for the invader. Besides, the invader kills 100 times as many civilians as the freedom fighters do, so concentrate on those civilian deaths which number in the millions, those are dead because of the invader (in reality, we are that invader).

    If this was our own history. If we had no tanks or planes to fight with, don't you think our good ol' country boys and our hardened inner city dwellers would occasionally group up with some of our radical intellectuals and organize pockets of resistance? Sometimes that would mean attacks against local governments that have decided to invite the foreigners to build bases here. Sometimes we'd attack the foreigners directly, sometimes we'd even attack our own citizens who decided their loyalty is with the foreigners directly or indirectly through loyalty to local governments that serve the foreigners. That is the sort of hatred Saudis, Iraqis, Afghanis, etc have for their own corrupt puppet kings who rule only because we keep them in power.

    Now if we had to suffer decades of foreign interference. If they had killed millions of our people, destroyed our prospects for the future, stolen resources, and starved us. If they had constantly threatened us and treated us like animals, if they had stolen Kansas, kicked out the Americans and renamed it Israel, don't you think we might harbor just a little bit ill will? And what would we fight them with? The answer is, anything we could get our hands on. And how long would we fight them? The answer is, forever.

    Many of my fellow Americans think we are 100% right and any Muslim that fights us is 100% wrong. That couldn't possibly be true, there are two sides to this story, and quite clearly we are the ones who started this war. Over the decades we have pushed Muslims further and further back against the wall. Only after years of abuse did they ever push back. Please consult history. Our rape of the Muslim world was taking place long before we ever suffered any terrorism. We have antagonized them for decades, and now we suffer retaliation and hatred, isn't that appropriate? Countries like Brazil and Japan are not bombing and building military bases all over the middle east and so they suffer no retaliations. See how that works? We started this war, over the decades as our power grew we constantly increase the pressures of this war. Now our power has reached it's peek, it's downhill from here. One day many of our leaders will be in The Hague trying to explain why millions of Muslims (mostly civilians) died. They're going to say, "I didn't give the order". Well you, dear reader, also didn't give the order. But you went along with it.

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  • 97. At 8:27pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    Here are the facts: Please refute if you like:-)

    Some facts to explain how we became the most hated nation on earth. Here they are:

    Since there end of WWII there has been constant meddling of our armed forces and spy agencies in the middle-east. When I say 'constant' I mean multiple agency, multiple zone, boots on the ground constant illegal and lethal interference. Below, for those who are young or forgetful, I listed just some notable events -- it is a partial list. Remember the key words 'constant interference', a complete list of our activities would fill a library. We're world famous for interfering with the middle-east ever since it became an important source of oil.

    In WWII our soldiers were convinced they were fighting a true and necessary war. The enemy had tanks, and we faced them bravely. We were willing to suffer massive casualties, because it was a real war and the common man felt he had a stake in the outcome. Everything after than has been different. These days our soldiers even fear home-made bombs and can not stomach much real fighting because most of them know they have no stake in the outcome. Our way of life is not threatened by peace. Most soldiers know that our activities in the middle east only create more enemies for our children to face and the endless destruction of one small country after the next only makes war industries and Washington insiders more powerful at our expense.

    After Vietnam we stopped confronting our enemies with ground troops and shifted towards high-altitude bombing which has the unfortunate result of killing lots of civilians. It's hard to tell the women and children from the freedom fighters when you're up there at 15,000 feet. Even now in Iraq and Afghanistan we try very hard to expose our ground troops to any real fighting unless we've got total air superiority, armor, artillery, and a numerical advantage of at least 10 to 1. Double checking the target is a little dangerous, so we tend to kill them first, remove the women and children from the debris and label any male casualties as "suspected terrorists".

    70s to early 80s saw several occupations, assassinations, destruction of oil platforms, and other sabotage by U.S. forces against Middle-East targets.

    1983, Air raids against Libya in support of our good friend the nation of...Chad? Find that one on a map.

    1984, shoot down Iranian fighters on patrol in international water

    1986, repeated used Libya for live fire training exercises causing many casualties and lasting animosity.

    1987, destroy Iranian oil platforms irritating 50 million Iranians and 50 billion fish

    1988, Largest naval attack since WWII against Iran's hopelessly outgunned navy

    1988, Iran Air Flight 655 killing all 290 passengers and crew aboard, including 66 children

    1989, We inexplicably shoot down Libyan fighters in Libyan airspace... again.

    1990, Somehow we claimed our love of democracy meant the defense of kings in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait

    The 90s, we bombed uncounted thousands to death from high altitude in Iraq and the Balkans -- including huge numbers of women and children.

    Even if you were born yesterday, you know the rest. We've been dropping bunker busters, cluster bombs, massive MOABs and white phosphorus ever since. Since the year 2000 we've killed more than 100 times the civilians killed by all the terrorists in the world combined. Literally tthousands of kids in the middle-east have a dead friend or family member, or a missing limb and us to thank for it. Think we might win those kid's hearts or minds eventually? If they ever get a chance to attack us, will you blame them? All those that attack us now grew up in a world that was under attack by America since they were kids.

    With a little help from our friends, we brought this war to the middle east. Terrorism is the last resort of a beaten people who we've abused for decades. Forget about the horrors of British colonial period or the crusades, this new crusade isn't a memory. American aggression in the middle-east is inescapable for many millions of people and infuriating to all the rest not under direct attack in Iraq and Afghanistan or under direct threat in Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, etc.

    Our recent activities have lead to a direct increase in recruitment for Al Qaeda. Our military industrial complex is wringing it's hands in glee at the prospect of an endless war to justify military spending which is already equal to the rest of the world combined. Oh, you didn't know that? Washington power-brokers, the insiders who are not elected, thugs like Erik Prince need constant wars to stay on top. We pay for that in lives and trillions of dollars. What a country this could be if we didn't through it all away on war machines and hate mongering. We're being ruined by those who are cashing in on the spoils of war.

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  • 98. At 8:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Dear Saint Dominick,
    The problem with Homeland Security is that most of the intelligent officers leave. The head of security recently stated that eventhough he received a briefing on an underpants bomber who tried to kill a Saudi prince, he was given no information that that incident would relate to a plane bombing. I mean come on. Does it have to be spelled out to these people, with all the dots connected on a plate. This is the type of mentality you have running these agencies and its really scary.

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  • 99. At 8:40pm on 05 Jan 2010, superfromgaryindiana wrote:

    Re#1 "Does this guy Flynn even speak Pashtun? I'm willing to bet 100 swiss francs he does not.:

    All he needs is C-3PO. C-3PO is a protocol droid designed to serve humans, and boasts that he is fluent "in over six million forms of communication." Threepio's main function as a protocol droid is to assist with etiquette, customs, and translation so that meetings of different cultures run smoothly. Threepio can play a vital and pivotal role in the Galaxy's history. And he knows how to speak Vachee too!

    Major General Flynn needs to lead by example and get out in the field himself instead of ragging our troops. Typical jerk who makes himself look good by putting the onus focus on others faults instead of being a part of the solution.


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  • 100. At 8:40pm on 05 Jan 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 101. At 8:41pm on 05 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Dear St. Dominick,
    Another recent example is when a famous comedian Joan Rivers tried to board a plane. Her passport stated Joan Rivers AKA Joan .....(something else) Since the word AKA was used which means something else in Arabic she wasn't allowed on the plane.

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  • 102. At 8:45pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    OH BTW I know every country has to make necessary evil decisions (like the CIA probably does every day in protecting U.S. lives) to protect itself. But one has to be very careful with accepting the necessary evils. During WW2, many, if not most of people working for the Nazi government, in the army, secret police, and concentration camps, were average people, just thinking they're doing what needs to be done. Only very few did oppose, and had enough courage to refuse to participate. I do not see why doing "evil" things to people in other countries somehow is OK, and doing same things to Americans is bad. Evil is evil, and that's it... It's a slippery slope, and if you consider yourself morally better than your enemy you must behave so.

    That is the main problem. Nobody respects Americans anymore, because Americans do not respect themselves. From a guardian of world peace, we have became the ugly, corrupted, bad cop, that, under the banner of "Freedom and Democracy" has spread little dictators, and financed banana republics around the world. For few bucks, Americans have sold their idealism, getting few barrels of oil in return. And now you're wondering why you can't turn the "hearts and minds" to your side?

    Sure plenty of soldiers do good things during their deployments, and many slowly work on rebuilding reputation, trying to show that, after all, America can do good things around the world. Yet, every time CIA people do "evil" and illegal things, they undo all that work, and even if they manage to catch 1 bad guy, they create 10 new ones by your action. You need to first fix your own country before you go around and tell people how to fix theirs. And by that I do not only mean your economy. You need to rebuild your national moral fabric as only trough it you can gain respect and confidence world wide.

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  • 103. At 8:46pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    There's another long-winded poster explaining where "we" went wrong, and why so many people hate "us."

    Here is a link to a story from my local newspaper, which indicates that despite our warlike ways against Muslims and others, there are still people from non-Christian nations who wish to come to the United States to seek a better life.

    SF Chronicle story

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  • 104. At 8:50pm on 05 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    More than anything thing in the world, poor people want their children to be educated so that they will have a good life and probably Afghani parents view their children as a way out of poverty. If you go into a village and make an education pact with parents and say we will eventually build you a beautiful school (For now a well equipped mud structure), high school, college where your children can become lawyers , doctors, engineers and parents we will invest in your education to become good farmers, builders,etc. and we will provide a market to sell your vegetables at a decent price provided you protect your schools and village and you actually make great strives in acheiving this type of stability,wouldn't this change the parent's current mindset and change the tide in this war?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If Afghans had occupied usa, toppled the government and put mafia and criminals from black and lation population inncharge of the government and then told the whites to get education and everything you have suggested, would the white population, especially those in power had accepted this?

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  • 105. At 8:53pm on 05 Jan 2010, McJakome wrote:

    3. At 07:36am on 05 Jan 2010, Brian wrote:
    “As an American, I have often been perplexed at the lack of common sense our military intelligence has shown the last several decades. While the overwhelming majority of Americans are proud of being so, they are also not blinded by arrogance. Clearly, that distinction is not readily made by the upper echelon officers and their civilian counterparts. The ability to incorporate other cultures into our own and capitalize on the differences between our citizens have been driving forces behind American progress. It is a shame that we are not bringing that same spirit of understanding and tolerance to peoples the average American wants to assist.”

    Absolutely Brilliant! Brian sees the forest AND the trees, whereas most of those in Washington can’t even see the trees.

    5. At 08:43am on 05 Jan 2010, AllenT2 wrote:
    “…There are at least two sides to most stories and in this case I am sure there are many more stories to tell….”

    A wise injunction to look at more than one side.
    And @6 “The only truly important thing that interferes in American efforts to fight any enemy today are the politically correct obstacles and roadblocks that are placed in the way of America's military by the left.”
    There is some truth to this, but leaving out the blinders worn by the GOP [currently in “I hope {Obama} fails mode] and the right wing “Neocons” is only half of the problem. So Allen ignores his own advice about only looking at one side.


    I hope Mr. Mardell’s column and the very insightful comments here are being read and taken seriously in Washington. There is a lot of savvy here, and even the contrarians should be listened to [for PR reasons if for naught else]. Kudos all around [here].

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  • 106. At 8:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    Does it have to be spelled out to these people, with all the dots connected on a plate. This is the type of mentality you have running these agencies and its really scary.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The mentality is there because its being accepted...the failure of inteligence agencies to intercept one Nigerian guy led to segregation of people from 14 countries, why should then this mentality change...If these intelligent people are held accountable, then perhaps they will work hard...

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  • 107. At 9:02pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    I think the same 5 people write comments to articles in every website:

    1. Hapless Losers whose only pleasure comes from criticizing everything and everyone, showing their glaring ignorance in the process.

    2. Angry boneheads who take #1's bait every time spewing venom with no more rationality or wit that H. L. above.

    3. Whimpering simps who respond to the above exchange, no matter what the topic, with Rodney King-esque pablum about how we should all just hold hands and sing kumbaya.

    4. Well-meaning, knowledgeable, informed and unbiased readers who post accurate responses and are summarily ignored, rendering their input moot.

    5. Lost, clueless, confused drifters who post an incoherent phrase only to disappear into the vapor.

    And so goes the promise of BBC World, sinking into oblivion, perhaps the biggest disappointment of our time. Fair and balanced; I think not.

    GH1618 I think you know where you belong. Have a nice day.

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  • 108. At 9:05pm on 05 Jan 2010, bepa wrote:

    32 ann arbor

    "Your Obama lost more servicemen in 2009, (even excluding January, 2009), than Bush did in the three years prior." ann arbor quote

    That is not accurate.

    http://icasualties.org/

    The number of US troops killed in Afghanistan has increased but the number dying in Iraq has gone down. The total number of Americans dying has gone down since 2006.

    2006 the total US troops killed was 920 (Afghanistan 98 and Iraq 822)

    2007 the total US troops killed was 1021 (Afghanistan 117 and Iraq 904)

    2008 the total US troops killed was 469 (Afghanistan 155 and Iraq 314)

    2009 the total US troops killed was 469 (Afghanistan 319 and Iraq 150)

    What is the source for your sentence about how many servicemen died in each year?

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  • 109. At 9:06pm on 05 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    It's easy to be a critic when others fall short, but according to this very website, even the family of that Jordanian was unaware of his beliefs and intentions. It is difficult to defend against treachery.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    and do you really believe that people who volunteer themselves to be the double agents tell their friends and families what the do?

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  • 110. At 9:12pm on 05 Jan 2010, SaintDominick wrote:


    "...poor people want their children to be educated so that they will have a good life and probably Afghani parents view their children as a way out of poverty."

    Probably true, but I doubt educational and social improvements will deter terrorism. The Nigerian dude involved in the latest incident was the son of a wealthy banker, the guy that blew up 7 or 8 CIA agents a few days ago was a Jordanian doctor, and Mohammad Atta was an engineer who had no problem meeting the tough admission requirements at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

    The key is to determine the root cause of the hatred directed at us and, in my opinion, we don't have to go any further than reflect on the effects of our military and corporate presence in the Islamic world, and the socio-political influences we exert on people that regard the West as the Great Satan.

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  • 111. At 9:19pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    96. oncernedpirate:


    What a relief to discover people like me are not alone, nor just confined to the other side of the Atlantic.

    I agree with everything you say, and I hope your home analogies will bring home to some of your fellow citizens the real truth and scale of the whole problem.

    The only thing I might question is the round numbers of casualties, though since it's almost impossible to calculate those caused by American-supported and armed militias in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia (and probably more than a few other places more covertly) as well as those caused by 'official' military action, you're probably right.

    But I hope you are prepared for the deluge of contradiction that I am sure will follow.

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  • 112. At 9:22pm on 05 Jan 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 98,

    "Does it have to be spelled out to these people, with all the dots connected on a plate."

    And let's not forget the father of the Nigerian terrorist informed the U.S. Embassy of the activities his son was involved in. It is obvious that incompetence and a lackaidasical attitude are rampart in our "intelligence" community.

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  • 113. At 9:26pm on 05 Jan 2010, RomeStu wrote:

    94. GH1618 wrote:
    "That Jordanian who killed 7 CIA members with a suicide bomb seems to have been taken entirely at face value, allowed in. This is a flouting of basic tradecraft." (from SONICBOOMER at #90)

    It's easy to be a critic when others fall short, but according to this very website, even the family of that Jordanian was unaware of his beliefs and intentions. It is difficult to defend against treachery.

    ___________________________________-

    Gary, that's a good point, but it makes it rather dangerous to recruit "quick-fix" assets in the current situation. However the evident long-term lack of good intelligence seems to have led to the clutching-at-straws approach to recruitment. He must have seemed "too good to be true".

    How much risk are we prepared to take? The risk of an IED is one thing, but inviting the enemy into the compound is another thing entirely.

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  • 114. At 9:27pm on 05 Jan 2010, tpapp157 wrote:

    I've done some government work in the past. Common people generally have this idea of the CIA and some other government agencies as being full of geniuses and super-spies. They really believe that the CIA knows everything and can do whatever it wants. Obviously that can't be farther from the truth but that still doesn't change the fact that this is how people view the agency.

    The truth is that the CIA is full of average people. The sort of people that you see all around you every day. People that work 40 hours a week in an office solving problems and filling out a lot of forms. The CIA does of course have its experts but for the most part it relies on people that can learn the job as they go. This is something that people need to remember. The CIA (and other government agencies) is not all-knowing and all-seeing. It is full of average people trying to earn a paycheck and get by in a challenging and changing career.

    Think about that the next time you wonder why the CIA isn't perfect and then maybe ask yourself why you don't do better work at your own job.

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  • 115. At 9:33pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    Ref 111 squirrelist,

    Thanks. It's apparent to me now that those who would disagree with me will not show up for this debate. It's far too easy to conjure up the evil bogey man as the enemy rather than what that monster really is, a human being pushed to his limit and is now pushing back.

    The sad truth is that if I read a fantasy novel (Like Avatar a throughly excellent but at the end very western/paternalistic film) where villains like our leadership said such things as "they attack us because we are a beacon of light", I would think the characters to be too transparent and the writer to be lacking imagination. But this is what they tell us every day on CNN and BBC, and it does fool children and those with childlike mentality. I wish they could come up with something better.

    I'm irritated that they can't satisfy my requirement to suspend disbelief, and by the fact that so many of our citizens suspend disbelief so easily.

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  • 116. At 9:40pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    The "concernedpirate" in (#97) asserts as a "fact" that Lybian fighters were shot down "in Libyan airspace" without explanation. This is nonsense, as anyone who follows such things knows. The fact is that these incidents occurred over the Gulf of Sidra, which in the 1970s and 1980s was disputed as to whether it was Lybian territory (asserted by Libya) or international waters (asserted by everybody else, and particularly by the US). The Libyan fighters were shot down because in one instance they first fired on US Navy fighters, and in another instance they were about to.

    When a nation wishes to annex international waters without the recognition of other nations, it had better be prepared to defend the area. Libya was unable to, and they haven't attempted to assert this claim for some time.

    Here is a link to an article containing probably more than most people want to know about Libya: from fas.org

    There is an irony here. Tripoli, a city in Libya, is where the US Marines were first sent abroad to defend US interests, against the Barbary Coast pirates. Is it merely a coincidence that a defender of Libya, once a sponsor of terrorism, would call himself a "concerned pirate"?

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  • 117. At 9:48pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    RomeStu (#113) "How much risk are we prepared to take? The risk of an IED is one thing, but inviting the enemy into the compound is another thing entirely."

    Yes, and I'm sure that the CIA will be reviewing and revising their procedures for vetting "assets."

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  • 118. At 9:49pm on 05 Jan 2010, McJakome wrote:

    32. At 1:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, ann arbor wrote:
    “We went for 10 months this year without leadership in two critical agencies that ultimately allowed the underwear bomber to board an international flight.”
    And YOUR “leadership” refuses to cooperate and “hope[s] he fails.” Politics used to end at the water’s edge, now everything is grist for the partisan mill and the next election. If you aren’t happy with the status quo, look in the mirror and see ½ of the problem.

    46. At 3:28pm on 05 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:
    “For those of you unfamiliar with the American Right wing, they have no problems with re-writing history or changing facts or taking things out of context to support their views. They generally listen to idiots…”

    Yes, but this applies equally to the Left Wing. I listen to the Right [FOX :news”] and Left, then look for the truth elsewhere. “The truth is out there” but not on the dishonest far left and far right fringes.

    RE” #79 Facts are facts and interpretations of them are infinite. PLEASE do not start that WWII business again. As you will never get me to accept your unreasonable interpretation and I will never get you to accept my rational nationalistic one, it is a bloody waste of time and bandwidth!

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  • 119. At 9:50pm on 05 Jan 2010, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    There is a Western idea of what the world should look like and that is shaded by a sense of cultural superiority. Given the present shape of things, world financial crisis created in the West, Climate Change from 100 years of Western industrial pollution and the remnants of colonialism, it seems the West is professing an ideal rather than an actuality. There are many places in equally difficult situations that are ignored by the West. The West only gets involved when there is a threat or a gain and seldom are these about the country where these take place. In most instances it is about protecting private markets, but covered by some greater social good. If the Taliban had just killed Afghans, I doubt anyone would be there. Terrorist are seen as a threat to economies, that is why they are being killed. The ideology of the West is greed, not democratic ideals, well maybe ideals, as long as they do not interfer with the wealthy and their control of governments. The bankers in the West did more harm than the terrorist, yet no one is hunting them down, or even putting them on trial. Hypocricy is a difficult national policy to defend. I see no justification for the actions of terrorist for killing innocent people and always advise that one should not believe in a god that needs your help. Somehow the ipod and cell phone are the measure of civilization.

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  • 120. At 9:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, bepa wrote:

    #115 concerned pirate

    I agree with you.

    I remember when people were saying that Iraq should not be attacked because it would be expensive and drain troops away from Afghanistan and could destabilize the area..those critics were met with ..."You support Saddam Hussein!" "You are anti American"

    and after it became clear that there were many problem with the war in Iraq..Then they were saying.."Who could have known ? Who would have predicted this? "

    There were millions of people around the world who were saying don't attack Iraq and many of our usual allies did not support that attack. Even Bush's father limited his war with Iraq...but facts do not deter these people from making up some stories to suit their own ideologies.

    The US needs accountability and fact based evaluations so that good choices can be made..but instead we get ideology. To get support from some Americans all you have to do is say the US is number one and they will support you.

    The US is in trouble on many fronts.

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  • 121. At 9:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    Ref 116 GH1618,

    Quote: "There is an irony here. Tripoli, a city in Libya, is where the US Marines were first sent abroad to defend US interests, against the Barbary Coast pirates. Is it merely a coincidence that a defender of Libya, once a sponsor of terrorism, would call himself a "concerned pirate"?

    Very nice GH, well played sir. You had me laughing for a while here. What a brilliant deflection. You sir must be a student of rhetoric.

    No I am not a Libyan, though I suppose, one can see how my defense of the colonel and Libya might be seen that way. Lol.

    But thank you for proving my point of we started it. I forgot about American involvement in the Barbary Coast.

    Indeed the U.S. were even then meddling in Muslim countries to defend the indefensible (to defend US interests).

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  • 122. At 9:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, Dwight Beach wrote:

    The reason the US Army has a Foreign Area Officer (FAO) program is exactly because we require the kinds of information alluded to in Mark's piece and previous comments. There has been, unfortunately, a propensity among commanders to give short shrift to the input from FAOs--frequently because they are seen as apologists for whatever country it is to which we may be referring. As a retired US Army colonel, now out 20 years, I have seen little shift in the attitude of combat commanders (i.e. Infantry, Armor, Artillery) to use what their FAO officers are offering; they may hear, but it's not "hard," "actionable" info. Unfortunately, what Mark describes regarding the non-combat elements (economics, society, etc) must compete with and overcome the ingrained combat instinct to kill one's opponent--and, of course, we only hear about the civilian deaths that result. From my reading of the responses to Mark's item, "squirrelist" seems the most on target--not grinding an axe, and bringing balance to the discussion. Thanks.

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  • 123. At 9:58pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    Ref 116,

    I think there is an excellent movie about that (Barbary Pirates) with Sean Connery as Rasul the muslim prince/pirate whose concerned about the end to his way of life.

    Brought to an end by American marines and a Rosevelt dictum of that time "walk softly but walk with a big stick".

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  • 124. At 10:14pm on 05 Jan 2010, bepa wrote:

    This is the international response to the attack upon Libya by the US in 1996

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Libya#International_response

    "The attack was widely condemned in strong terms. By a vote of 79 in favor to 28 against with 33 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which "condemns the military attack perpetrated against the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on 15 April 1986, which constitutes a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law."[14]"

    skip

    "The U.S. received support from the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, and 25 other countries. Its doctrine of declaring a war on what it called "terrorist havens" was not repeated until 1998, when President Bill Clinton ordered strikes on six terrorist camps in Afghanistan."

    big skip

    Recent events

    "In June 2009, during a visit to Italy, Colonel Gaddafi criticized American foreign policy and, quizzed as to what the difference was between al-Qaeda attacks and the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986, when one of his own children was killed, he commented: "If al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has no state and is an outlaw, America is a state with international rules."[27] The Colonel received a red-carpet welcome by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in what may be regarded as a warming of relations between Tripoli and Rome after years of difficulties.'

    And the CIA has a site where people can read about Libya

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ly.html

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  • 125. At 10:21pm on 05 Jan 2010, rodidog wrote:

    According to Maj. Gen. Flynn, the 5Th Marines in Nawa, among other units in other areas, conducted the right approach in dealing with the local populace and thus the Taliban. He seems to be taking their accomplishments and trying to implement them across the board, with all units and higher command structures. A good thing. The worrying part of this report is that his approach appears too bureaucratic. I wonder at the effectiveness if the impetus for proactive involvement with the local populace is removed from the front end, as in the case of the 5Th Marines, and placed up the chain of command not located in the immediate area.



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  • 126. At 10:26pm on 05 Jan 2010, McJakome wrote:

    121. At 9:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:
    Ref 116 GH1618,
    "I forgot about American involvement in the Barbary Coast.
    Indeed the U.S. were even then meddling in Muslim countries to defend the indefensible."

    Is it indefensible to prevent pirates from attacking one's ships and kidnapping or enslaving one's nationals? You sir are, I submit, defending the indefensible. The US was hardly a power at that time and had no interest but self-defense. We had tried to play the bribery game, but the Barbary pirates kept jacking up the price and not keeping their agreements.

    #123 "...Brought to an end by American marines and a Rosevelt dictum of that time 'walk softly but walk with a big stick'". Your history is way off. TR was a century later, when the US had become more powerful and, in fact, was flirting with both interventionism and even imperialism.

    NOTE: In dealing with the Somali pirates we could do worse than reviewing our forbears' successful solution to piracy in their day.

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  • 127. At 10:42pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    103. At 8:46pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "There's another long-winded poster explaining where "we" went wrong, and why so many people hate "us."

    Here is a link to a story from my local newspaper, which indicates that despite our warlike ways against Muslims and others, there are still people from non-Christian nations who wish to come to the United States to seek a better life."


    A man who was a translator for the US Army in Afghanistan; was offered the opportunity to emigrate without restrictions; and now works part-time for the US Army.

    Now the story looks a little different to the one I suspect a local Afghan guy who has recently set upo as a shopkeeper a few hundred metres from my home in London might tell. And somewhat different to some I have been told by people, or know of, from Iraq, from Iran, the Lebanon, Palestine and Somalia here in London.

    A statistical perspective: No of legal immigrants, 2008:

    Egypt: 10, 728
    Iran: 9, 920
    Jordan: 5, 692
    Turkey: 4, 953
    Morocco: 4, 187
    Iraq: 3, 765
    Syria, 3,310
    Afghanistan: 2, 812
    Algeria: 1, 037

    For comparison:
    Israel: 6. 682
    Poland: 7. 896
    Brazil: 14, 295
    Haiti: 25, 522
    Korea: 26, 155
    Russia: 45,092
    China: 75, 410

    (The largest number of those granted asylum by far, btw are from China, followed by Colombia. I have been musing over what these statistics suggest about the USA and geopolitics.)

    [Figures from the US Department of Homeland Security 2008 Yearbook.]




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  • 128. At 10:44pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    concernedpirate (#121), now you are beginning to sound a little more reasonable. I am mystified, however, that a couple of posters above would give a blanket endorsement to your laundry list of complaints in nos. 96 and 97 without any attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff. For example, any rational person, Americans included, was appalled at the downing of Iran Air 655 in 1988 by the US Navy. This incident was every bit as deplorable as the downing of KAL 007 in 1983 by the Soviet Union. But there is nothing at all to object to, in my opinion about the use of US Naval power to defend freedom of navigation in such places as the Gulf of Sidra.

    (Here, by the way, is a link to a comparison of the two airliner downing incidents as reported from an American point of view, just for interest:" from fair.org)

    Every incident you mention has its own back story, and could be the subject of a separate thread; not possible to deal with such a scope here. On some of these incidents we might actually find some agreement; on others, as is clear in case of Libya, we won't. If you think the world is so black and white that every use of power by the US since WWII was wrong, then I have to say that this is simplistic thinking and we won't find much basis for discussion. I am frankly not interested in debates with anyone who is a defender of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or crackpots like Qadhaffi.

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  • 129. At 10:49pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    115. At 9:33pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    "Ref 111 squirrelist,

    Thanks. It's apparent to me now that those who would disagree with me will not show up for this debate."

    Early days. Believe me. Some are slow readers. And some have trouble reading more than 144 characters on screen. . .

    :-D

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  • 130. At 10:51pm on 05 Jan 2010, reaves wrote:

    I cannot believe the attitudes towards Americans from the majority of the postings. Being American, you cannot imagine watching a building crumbling to the ground and knowing that you had a friend in there. Are you really that ignorant to the fact that women and children are abused every day. Women are stoned to death, children sold as sex slaves or as wifes, as young as seven. Freedom is not free. If the Author feels that way, go back to England.

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  • 131. At 10:54pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    bepa (#124) "This is the international response to the attack upon Libya by the US in 1996"

    I think you mean 1986.

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  • 132. At 10:55pm on 05 Jan 2010, Karen Yukie Yamada wrote:

    Dear Mr. Mardell,

    My recent entries to your blog since the beginning of this
    year describe the "tricking out" of terror on a domestic level
    when criminal justice agencies and so-called intelligence-led
    policing couple to profit with drug traffickers rather than
    prosecute crimes in a timely manner.

    Hawaii's economic, enforcement, government and intelligence
    lines are inextricably linked to certain criminal-type systems
    that do not adhere to nor believe in a Constitutionally sound
    democracy. Perhaps there are examples in other countries. It
    isn't a matter of "ethnic profiling", it is an issue of whether
    or not the human structure of these societies function for the
    sake of social order and prosperity.

    President Obama's cozy relationship with Hawaii commercial
    Democrats who are not stupid in the least, is a statement of
    someone who does not define the template while provided full
    privilege and power. He is defined by those in his surrounding,
    almost like Bush was during pre-Iraq ware debates.

    Obama is not better than Bush. He is a perpetrator of more than
    a failed security policy. He is complicit in the worst cover-up
    of domestic wire terror resulting in human rights abuses for the
    sake of partisan gain. Watch him closely, it is undoubtedly his
    refusal to admit to his own incompetence.

    In Hawaii, we have a metaphor about the "lolipop lounge". A
    metaphorical place where all secrets are traded and bartered by
    within a collusion of silence. In such a case, committing a
    heinous act against human life is a way "in" to protect one's
    right to commit more heinous acts in perpetuity. This is a
    well-understood secret by cowards, liars and those who are able
    to live without conscience like our Yahoo news service sources.

    See my letters to Congress.org and my personal blogs on Twitter.

    Karen Yukie Yamada
    compostpilecontact.blogspot.com

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  • 133. At 10:56pm on 05 Jan 2010, bepa wrote:

    Tripolitan War 1800 to 1815

    There was a tribute being paid by nations sailing ships past Tripoli. The US refused to pay what was considered too high a price and in 1801 war broke out and there was a blockade by the US of Tripoli . Jefferson tried to settle the war with negotiation but failed.

    After some more military activity between the two in 1805 a settlement was negotiated. However piracy continued and it wasn't until after 1815 that the US no longer paid tribute..

    ............

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Barbary_War

    "The war would effectively be ended the following year, but then not by the United States, rather Great Britain and the Netherlands. "

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  • 134. At 10:57pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    JMM (#126), thanks for the support. And by the way, our concerned pirate does not seem to know that it was President Thomas Jefferson who sent the US Marines to Tripoli, not President Theodore Roosevelt, who was much later.

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  • 135. At 10:59pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    JMM, I see you noticed the anachronism also.

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  • 136. At 11:03pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    squirrelist (#127), thanks for the statistics. I do not claim, of course, that anecdotal stories, however interesting, are proof of a trend. But I do like to read that immigrant families from whatever country or culture believe that the US will be better for the future of their children. That has always been true for many, and I hope it will continue to be true.

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  • 137. At 11:03pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    110. At 9:12pm on 05 Jan 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    "but I doubt educational and social improvements will deter terrorism."

    I think you should qualify that with against the West.

    Those who act in Afghanistan and Pakistan have a very different profile, as a BBC interview with a District Commisioner in Northern Pakistan (Tariq something, I'm afraid I can't recall his full name) who has interviewed many who were caught, made clear. It was news to me that many who are acting as suicide bombers now in Pakistan (usually between 17 and 24 and very poorly educated) are actually deliberately 'psyched up' with a massive injection of adrenalin by their handler when they are sent out to blow themselves up.

    He said, rather acerbically, "They're filled up with images of a paradise they've never seen the like of, told they'll get to see 70 virgins in heaven; but no-one tells them who's going to put the pieces back together so they'll get to enjoy the meeting." I've paraphrased slightly, since I can't remember it exactly.

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  • 138. At 11:20pm on 05 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    He said, rather acerbically, "They're filled up with images of a paradise they've never seen the like of, told they'll get to see 70 virgins in heaven; but no-one tells them who's going to put the pieces back together so they'll get to enjoy the meeting." I've paraphrased slightly, since I can't remember it exactly.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This is what i call telling what the earr would like to listen...Rest assured the inseptor has the same images of paradise...For fun, it would have been great to ask him who put the pieces together of the civilian casualities at the hands of western bombing or his own army's bombing...

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  • 139. At 11:21pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    124. At 10:14pm on 05 Jan 2010, bepa wrote:

    ""The U.S. received support from the United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, and 25 other countries."

    In the case of the UK political support. I happen to know that a large opinion poll conducted immediately after showed a substantial majority of British citizens opposed it. It was never published by the US agency that commissioned it AFAIK. Similar polls were carried out in other 'allied' countries, I understand, but I can't myself vouch for the results.

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  • 140. At 11:28pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    Thats right GH1618,

    I was wrong about which Rosevelt it was, but it was a Rosevelt in the movie i mentioned. Point being that it was still a sort of interference. Listen I know my history, so dont gloat. LOL.

    Anyways the western imperialist powers abetted by the US (who were just about flexing their muscles for the first time) used the issue of Piracy as the justification they needed to dismantle the existing power structures not to mention boundaries with new puppet leaders and new territories. You my have a fickle memory regarding the history of the middle east and muslim countries but I assure you they dont.

    I digress.

    Thanks Bepa!

    How right you are about the US being in trouble on many fronts.

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  • 141. At 11:33pm on 05 Jan 2010, Morgan Cooper wrote:

    About 25 years ago I was involved in the guard service industry in the United States. We interviewed ex CIA agents formerly working in Europe as possible managers. They were the most underqualified, least educated group of candidates I ever interviewed.

    As a result of this experience and a previous experience with information available from our State Department I have very little confidence in any so called intelligence generated by US intelligence agencies.

    A professor from Northwestern University in Chicago once said that 90 - 95% of the intelligence needed is available in the public domain if people will read and listen.

    The mess in Afganistan does not suprise me.

    Morganhughes

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  • 142. At 11:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    concernedpirate (#140) "You my have a fickle memory regarding the history of the middle east and muslim countries but I assure you they dont."

    I admit that my memory fails me when I try to think back as far as the Jefferson administration.

    The muslims are still sore about the crusades, aren't they?

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  • 143. At 11:50pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:

    GH1618 (#142) (The muslims are still sore about the crusades, aren't they?)

    Please answer me honestly in this, do you agree with US policy in regards to supporting puppet regimes it likes (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Eygpt) all of which are repressive governments

    The support, the US gives now, to these governments could correction will come back to haunt the US.

    I think they will be plenty sore in the future. That should concern all of us.

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  • 144. At 11:56pm on 05 Jan 2010, bepa wrote:

    #131 GH

    yes 1986 Thank you for checking

    From what I am reading the Tripoli War ( 1800s) ended because of technology. The Europeans had better and more ships so I guess they outran the pirates...

    #136 GH

    Its an assumption to think that immigrants are choosing the US over other nations. But I agree with you and also wish it were true...
    People often say what they need to say...and they may be coming to the US for reasons other than a desire to actually be in America. There may be economic reasons...

    This graph might interest you:

    http://www.migrationinformation.org/DataHub/migrants1_05.04.cfm
    Number of Permanent Migrants to Australia, Canada and the US 1970 to 2002

    There was a big jump in the early 1990's for the US

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  • 145. At 11:58pm on 05 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    142. At 11:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "The muslims are still sore about the crusades, aren't they?"

    Here we go again. "The Muslims". A lot of Arab Muslims are; I rather doubt whether that's true of Malaysian or Pakistani Muslims. Both the Syrians and Jordanians show off the old Crusader castles though; they haven't bulldozed them like olive groves for all that.

    Many Arabs are still rather 'sore' about the Ottoman Turks, too.

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  • 146. At 00:04am on 06 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    #143, would you care to name any middle eastern country that you would not consider repressive? I'm not suggesting that one doesn't exist, but as you brought the description up I'm intrigued as to your idea of what this is.

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  • 147. At 00:16am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    138. colonelartist:

    I think you are getting your agendas in a twist. I'm weary of reading nothing more in your contributions than "East is East and West is West and ne'er the twain shall meet."

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  • 148. At 00:23am on 06 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    Good grief, squirrel, I was about to mention Mr Kipling myself.

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  • 149. At 00:24am on 06 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #25 D R Murrell


    Don't you appreciate the fact that out of courtesy I haven't included Harold Wilson and Sir Roger Hollis on my list? :-)))

    P.S. Sorry for missing Burgess. Yes, it was George Black.

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  • 150. At 00:34am on 06 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re # 76 tim wrote: "The US government has numerous intelligence agencies: the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the CIA, each of the service arms has its own intelligence branch, the State Department has its own intelligence brance as does the Treasure Department. And then there's the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has a role in Afghanistan."


    tim

    Guys from Ft. Meade [No Such Agency] feel underappreciated, I'm sure. :-)

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  • 151. At 00:36am on 06 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #79 "And any time Americans begin to talk about World War Two, we Europeans ask "and do the Americans know when the war actually started?" It was not December 1941.


    And it didn't end on May 8th, 1945 despite what many Eurocentrists believe. :-)

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  • 152. At 00:42am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    148. At 00:23am on 06 Jan 2010, seanspa wrote:

    Good grief, squirrel, I was about to mention Mr Kipling myself.

    Well, I have a soft spot for the spongey jammy finger thingies with icing and a chocolate squiggle on top. Can't remember what they're called.

    (Alas, the local supermarket patisserie in France has deteriorated sadly, or I wouldn't dare mention it, and the village baker who was just beginning to turn out quite nice stuff on Fridays went and cut himself really badly so thy could only do baguettes the last week I was there. . .)

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  • 153. At 00:48am on 06 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    I think you are getting your agendas in a twist. I'm weary of reading nothing more in your contributions than "East is East and West is West and ne'er the twain shall meet."
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Terror suspects in one line, the western innocent until proven guilty, in the other line...You get sick and tired of my mention of segregation of east and west, but accept without blinking eyes the actual act of segregation...

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  • 154. At 00:48am on 06 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    If General Flynn wants that information, he'll have to figure out a way to allow someone (not necessarily soldiers) to get it, record it and report on it. All the while, he'll have to to keep them alive and deal with IED's and suicide bombers.

    I'd be interested to know how soldiers feel about becoming investigative reporters.

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  • 155. At 00:48am on 06 Jan 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    Gardiner of the BBC said:

    For Washington it risks making a mockery of the CIA's attempts to track down and infiltrate the intimate circle of al-Qaeda's leadership. One can only imagine how much false intelligence this al-Qaeda double agent had been feeding his handlers, before he killed them.

    There is some gallows or black humor in the above comment. How damn stupid can the Americans be? Can't speak the lingo, know nothing about the culture and are trying to make them 'toe the line' so they got themselves blown up. Whatever happened to the concept of tertium gaudens, let them fight their own battles? If we got out of the mideast terrorist attacks aimed at the USA would come to a screeching halt. Read bin Laden's 1998 fatawa,that is what they want not more invasion and destruction.

    The only loser if we left could be Israel... so what? They love having a quarter of a million plus army and mercenaries quartered over there. Tough, let them fight their own battles. If AIPAC, doesn't like it... once again tough. Let them pass the hat and hire enough of Eric Prince's goons to keep from being shoved into the sea, don't spend my bucks protecting them.

    I've never heard a decent explanation of how the defense of Israel is in our national interest.

    I lived in the Philippines for several years and am familiar with some of the differences between western societies and the so-called undeveloped world. We'll never understand them and that is okay, but what is really dangerous is thinking we do. The present caper in Afghanistan is a perfect example of "thinking we do". Trust me, every society doesn't see the virtue of a McDonalds on every corner and nursing homes for their parents.

    If we want to win, meaning stop the terrorist attacks here, we leave. If we prefer to lose, we proceed with the same naive strategy. Something else that cracks me up is how do you fight terrorism with an army? Thinking you can is a gutbuster.

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  • 156. At 01:28am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    153. At 00:48am on 06 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    Pay attention, I shall sai thees onlie wunce. . .

    If you did (pay attention) instead of resorting to the same tedious kinds of repetition that is so typical of another poster, you would recall it was me who has been banging on about airport segregation. And again, like another poster, I am actually quite likely to find myself in the 'segregated line'.

    I asked you once before; you wouldn't reply. You claim to 'know what side' I am on. What 'side' are you on? Apart from the opposite one to everyone else, no matter what their actual origins, background or views. It just doesn't wash any more.

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  • 157. At 01:29am on 06 Jan 2010, Karen Yukie Yamada wrote:

    Please forward my comment #132 that is for review by moderators to
    the Wall Street Journal Associate Editor Alix Freedman. She has heard
    from me per phone/fax and email about formalizing my status as a terror
    crime victim/survivor since November 2008 when I contacted the Publisher
    at the Honolulu Advertiser.

    President Obama's failure to acknowledge this situation while sun bathing
    in Hawaii since August 2008, December 2008 and December 2009 is a reflection of the criminal terror not-so-intelligence network with drug groups in the State of Hawaii.

    My other letters to Mark Mardell's blogs are noted by those who have
    significant experience in understanding protocol when high level officials have demonstrated contempt for public safety.

    Karen Yukie Yamada
    Karen Yukie Yamada

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  • 158. At 01:31am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    154. AndreaNY:

    Read the full report; he has. The 'reporter' phrase was an analogy.

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  • 159. At 01:34am on 06 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    There is some gallows or black humor in the above comment. How damn stupid can the Americans be? Can't speak the lingo, know nothing about the culture and are trying to make them 'toe the line' so they got themselves blown up.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Not all, but most of them do speak pashto and arabic...the litmus test is Niswar, they cannot chew the niswar the way native pathans do...

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  • 160. At 01:36am on 06 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Here's wandering what U.S. policies/actions in the Middle East have to do with an increase of Islamic terrorism directed against such countries like China, Indonesia, India, Russia...

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  • 161. At 02:37am on 06 Jan 2010, AndreaNY wrote:

    58. squirrelist:

    Read the full report; he has. The 'reporter' phrase was an analogy.

    ****************
    Read it. As was my use of the term.

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  • 162. At 02:40am on 06 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Dear St. Dominick,
    I agree but until you have a complete change of power in the U.S. government this equation won't change. The government wants their pipeline and they'll stop at very little to get it. My point being that its easier to gain people's cooperation when you have something to offer them.

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  • 163. At 03:30am on 06 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Squirrelist,
    I think you're referring to ding dongs. I think they're the ones with the squiggle icing on top.

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  • 164. At 03:51am on 06 Jan 2010, rogue wrote:

    I hope MG Flynn shouldered some of the blame in his report considering he was a contributor behind the current strategy.
    Why can't the military leaders just admit that they are not trained to conduct this type of operation? They expect 18 year olds with 8 hours of forensic training to act as investigators in the field.
    Additionally, ISAF is NATO force implemented by the U.N. Doesn’t the U.N. typically send in peace keepers? Why are international forces conducting offensive operations?

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  • 165. At 04:03am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    164. At 03:51am on 06 Jan 2010, rogue wrote:

    "Additionally, ISAF is NATO force implemented by the U.N. Doesn’t the U.N. typically send in peace keepers? Why are international forces conducting offensive operations?"

    ISAF has no connection whatever with the UN, it is not deployed by the UN but by the joint decision of all NATO members, at the request of the USA.


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  • 166. At 04:04am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    63. At 03:30am on 06 Jan 2010, clamdip lobster claws wrote:

    Squirrelist,
    I think you're referring to ding dongs.

    Am I? I'm surprised at myself. I don't think I would normally. . .

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  • 167. At 04:30am on 06 Jan 2010, rogue wrote:

    "ISAF has no connection whatever with the UN, it is not deployed by the UN but by the joint decision of all NATO members, at the request of the USA."

    ISAF is led by NATO but only operates under the approval of the U.N.

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  • 168. At 05:06am on 06 Jan 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    26. At 12:36pm on 05 Jan 2010, Kepler wrote:

    It seems like a world of difference what I read from the English and the German speaking media. Somehow the English speaking media and the communities as a whole may be a little bit out of touch with other realities. This may have to do with their relative isolation about world events, their view of their country as a chosen place and above all with the lack of knowledge of other languages. This situation probably affects the intelligence community of those countries as well.
    ... most of the time the analysis is rather shallow. ...
    Many journalists often do not have a good understanding of the history and social factors in those regions, they tend to be contacted generally by people who are English speakers themselves and who may not represent the average citizen there.... we must analyze the position of those people, of terrorists and the general popultion there not by "imagining", but by trying to find out about them.
    ____________________________________________

    Great post! Thank you. As a partially educated American with only scraps of other languages, I 'resemble your remarks.' But I know enough to be very curious about what I don't know, and painfully conscious that it might matter more than does my own opinion.

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 169. At 05:14am on 06 Jan 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    Too focused on the enemy, on detailed analysis of road side bombs and on giving power point presentations to the most senior officers. Not able to see and, more importantly, tell the big picture of the country they are in.

    ____________________________________

    The American Army has become the French Army of 100 years ago.

    KScurmudgeon, Byzantinist

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  • 170. At 05:41am on 06 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    169. KScurmudgeon:

    Well, you can see how it happens. If you idolise (or idealise) your military, turn them all into automatic heroes, so any criticism or questioning is practically impermissible, who can say "Stop just a moment. Are you sure this is the right way to do it?" and actually be heard?

    Interesting analogy. What about the Tsarist Army of a hundred years ago? They didn't spot the cataclysm coming, either. No, better still, the Austro-Hungarians?

    (Can we make it the Austro-Hungarians? They're defunct. I mean, I live in France part of the year. . .)

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  • 171. At 06:05am on 06 Jan 2010, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    Squirrelist -

    What saved the honor of the French of that generation was their response to the real war, heroic, determined, ultimately victorious. As you say, they had to forget their posturing as they crawled into and out of the trenches. Honor squandered just a generation later.

    The others committed suicide as I remember.....

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 172. At 12:01pm on 06 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re: Austrio-Hungarians.

    Not sure about Austrians, but Hungarians definitely knew how to fight, and against all odds, as late as 1956.


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  • 173. At 3:49pm on 06 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    bepa (#144) "Its an assumption to think that immigrants are choosing the US over other nations."

    I wasn't meaning that. It's not a competition. What drew my attention in the article to which I linked is that the mother hoped for a better future for her children. Parents are the same everywhere in that respect, wherever they go to seek it.

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  • 174. At 4:04pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    136 but you deride immigrants that are here and tell you that it is not so great.

    how even handed of you

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  • 175. At 4:06pm on 06 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    concernedpirate (#143) " ... do you agree with US policy in regards to supporting puppet regimes it likes (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Eygpt) all of which are repressive governments?"

    I don't know enough about specific support we give to these countries to answer this, but I do not believe that the United States is responsible for the nature of the governments in those countries or is any position to do much about it. I doubt if these "puppet regimes" (as you call them) exist only because of US support.

    There are lots of repressive governments with which the US has relations, notably China. I don't like the repression there and the deference that is given to China because of its emergence as an economic power.

    Here's a better example on which I will comment. I believe that the place US foreign policy began to go seriously wrong was in in Iran, where the US and UK conspired to have Prime Minister Mossadegh removed from power in 1953 in favor of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. This gave the US the illusion that it could install friendly governments around the world wherever it seemed to be to our advantage. Ultimately, this laid the foundation for the Iran we have to deal with today.

    I would call the Shah a "puppet." I don't know about the others.

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  • 176. At 4:07pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    KYY why don't you send it to them yourself. do you think the BBC is your secretary?

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  • 177. At 4:10pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    132 " He is complicit in the worst cover-up
    of domestic wire terror resulting in human rights abuses for the
    sake of partisan gain. "
    I missed the story here. what evidence do you have of this. or what are you saying he did ,exactly?
    Including your blogspot would be in breach of the house rules if it were not for your dubious content you would probably be struck. Should have been.

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  • 178. At 4:11pm on 06 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Looks like Jack is back.

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  • 179. At 4:17pm on 06 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    I cannot believe the attitudes towards Americans from the majority of the postings. Being American, you cannot imagine watching a building crumbling to the ground and knowing that you had a friend in there. Are you really that ignorant to the fact that women and children are abused every day. Women are stoned to death, children sold as sex slaves or as wifes, as young as seven. Freedom is not free. If the Author feels that way, go back to England.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    But being an american you can accept and watch citizens of 14 countries being treated collectively as terror suspects...Unless you are a native american, you have no right to tell any fellow settler to go back to his or her country....All settlers share the same boat, if someone a settler is asked to leave america, then that settler how new he might be in that country has the right to say that to you...A settler is a settler is a settler in the eyes of a native...

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  • 180. At 4:22pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    Well said gary "the shah was a puppet". but come now you know there are more out there
    put your thinking cap on. I'm not saying puppets don't reach up and cut the strings occasionally.

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  • 181. At 4:23pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    Not a good movie.

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  • 182. At 4:24pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    178 I followed your arguments as to that character. it seems you are a stickler for rules only at times.

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  • 183. At 4:38pm on 06 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    I would call the Shah a "puppet." I don't know about the others.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The true puppets. the likes of shah...King of Jorden, Mahmood Abbas of palestine, Hosni Mubarak of egypt, the ex president general Musharaf of pakistan, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, and Maliki of Iraq...These people were directly picked and hired...the puppets who became puppets and so puppets of a lesser degree, are the royals of Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,Bosnia and Turkey..the non puppets leaders who are supported by usa and west as long as they do not oppose the exploitation of usa and allow it to make them personaly rich are, leader of Indonesia, Libya, lebanon, Morrocco, Algeria, Tunesia, the other muslim countries like that of yemen, nigeria etc etc are pure dicators who at this moment are in the good books of usa because they label their opponents as "islamists" alqaida or supporters of alqaida...Too bad for burmese military that burma isnt a muslim country, otherwise west would be pumping millions of dollars, pound sterlings and euros to the burmese military..

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  • 184. At 5:10pm on 06 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    Colonel you don't like anyone do you?
    are you a friend of MA's
    Despite all your differences you have that in common.

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  • 185. At 5:54pm on 06 Jan 2010, Jaipur Vegetables wrote:

    >We cannot hope to win the war against terrorism
    >by purely military means.
    We are not using purely military means; nor did the Soviet Union.
    There have been extensive efforts to help Afghan civilians.
    Tens of thousands of children are back in school; infant
    mortality, while still terrible, is way down; women are
    no longer prisoners in their own homes and the machine
    gunning of 'prostitutes' in the football stadium has stopped.
    The genocide of ethnic minorities - the Hazari and Uzbeks - has
    stopped.
    >We have got to help those countries which, willingly or
    >unwillingly host terrorists,
    >to achieve a stable improving standard of living
    We've tried. It has not won hearts or minds, it has merely
    provided another way for the Taliban to exert their power
    by beheading schoolteachers, bombing schools and throwing
    acid in schoolgirls' faces, and murdering human rights
    activists.
    I do not suggest we should stop trying to help the Afghans,
    but it is not going to help us defeat the Taliban if we do.

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  • 186. At 6:25pm on 06 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    Colonel you don't like anyone do you?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I like Nelson Mandella....I liked yassir Arafat...I like Uri Avenry...I think he is a kind of my Aron, who says what I think in the bestest of the best ways..I like all those fighting for freedom and the poor and the weak...I like many muslim leaders of the past, and I like the forgein minister of saudi arabia, I like the king of saudi arabia, because he is polite and soft spoken,I like a certain baluch leader, and I like some pathan leaders, I like one occupied kashmiri leader and there is another i respect a lot..I liked prime minister of india Desai..I like some bengali leaders of 19th century. I liked one of the Ayatullah's who came with Khomeni...I like Mohammad Ali Jinnah and I like bacha khan..I like Edhi, and I also like a vendor who sold peanuts in the winters and fruits in summers..I even liked your george bush because before I knew he was, and when he was just a candidate for the president, and those who saw him on tv, used to say that he was like me, not face wise, but otherwise...I like Mohammad Ali the boxer, not because he was a muslim but because he refused to join the army and go to war and that cost him his career...but he managed to come back..I later realised that sixties were still black segregation era so my respect for him increased...i think I even like the previous pope...He had a very nice delivery when used to give the sunday surmons..And I like all first four caliphs of muslims, but caliph Umer was the best...I like Moses because of straight forwardness and his ability to show his frustration the way he showed to his people and even to G-d...And there was this person called Sir Richard or something during king henry (I forgot his number)....I liked chairman Mao, I memorized his little red book...I liked Houari Boumediene , I liked Dedan kimanthi and Kanyata. I liked Haile Selassie and his ancestors..the one who recevied the first muslim delegation ever sent abroad by Prophet Mohammad...And I like Prophet Mohammad's first wife..His uncle who supported him though he didnt convert to islam before the fall of Mecca..I like Bilal the first slave to convert to islam, and set free...I like sallahudin ayubi..I like shah Shamayal, the prince of daghistan..I like the one congress women who voted against war on afghanistan, I like one of the two people who voted against sharia law in swat in pakistani parliment, he was a mullah...every moderen and non mullah voted for it...And I like all the monkey ancestors of mine who allowed themselves to be evoluted.And I like my maternal grand father..

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  • 187. At 1:25pm on 07 Jan 2010, shiveringofforgottenenemies wrote:

    Obama's meeting with the nations top security heads has been presented to the American public as "about the Nigerian bomber." This is just another part of Obama smoke and mirrors magic show. Clearly he did not need to bring in the top brass for that. The meeting was about the compromise of CIA activities throughout Afghanistan...throughout AFPAK revealed by the Khost incident.

    General Michael Flynn's report is the usual "cover your ass" document that anyone familiar with a government agency in crisis mode expects. It's one of those, "It wasn't ME, but a lot of the other guys are not taking their jobs seriously enough..." reports that points the finger further down the chain of command.

    In his weekly address Obama announced that we are in a state of war and that he would do whatever was necessary to ensure the safety of Americans. THAT was frightening! We have seen how he has increased the size of government, he is creating a police state in America, he is creating authoritarian one-party BIG BROTHER government. He will use the bomb incident to do whatever is necessary to impose more government tyranny on the American people!

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  • 188. At 3:47pm on 07 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Somebody forgot to take his pill.

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  • 189. At 4:18pm on 07 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    No he was asked. I am glad he has answered it gives us a fuller picture as to the colonel.
    after all we have to put up with others

    after all few would have thought" I like one of the two people who voted against sharia law in swat in pakistani parliment, he was a mullah...e"

    see you can learn something

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  • 190. At 4:30pm on 07 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    Somebody forgot to take his pill.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I was asked and I replied, next time, people shouiild think twice, thrice and one more time, just to be on t he safe side, before they ask me that question...

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  • 191. At 4:36pm on 07 Jan 2010, fantus69 wrote:

    Why? Because the COOTUS (community organizer of the United States) did not appoint anyone to those positions.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    I went out with this girl once, everything was going great, but she slapped me in the face when I asked about her COOTUS.

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  • 192. At 4:51pm on 07 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    190 I was pleased to read your response.


    here is some ammo for you
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1917917,00.html

    kinda relevant to this post profiling and banning people etc etc.

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  • 193. At 4:54pm on 07 Jan 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Tssss.... Our Commender-in Chief is going to speak any moment.

    Explaining to us why there were to terrorist attacks on the US terrritory or in US airspace on "W"'s watch while on his, Mubarack Husein Obama's watch....

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  • 194. At 5:05pm on 07 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    Talking about change is easy, bringing change requires passion, Obama is too cognitive and has no passion..He can arise emotions but not passion...He applies principles of rational choice theory in politics and in social issues...No gutsy feelings...Maybe he needs to integrate the gut feelings and cognition...

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  • 195. At 5:55pm on 07 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    190 I was pleased to read your response.


    here is some ammo for you
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1917917,00.html

    kinda relevant to this post profiling and banning people etc etc.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The guy should have asked the palestinian authorities to give him the persmission on a seperate peice of paper....not stamped on passport..This is what israel used to do in good old days of so called peace, the citizens of countries which do not recognize israel were given israelian visa on a separate paper. But he would not have been allowed anyway because he was I think origninally a palestinian even though he had canadian passport..Israel would have found some other excuse to not let him enter..

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  • 196. At 7:11pm on 07 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    192. charlie:

    If one were to do what the Colonel (and Wikipedia, I see) suggests, you would find yourself in difficulties I think. The answer used to be to carry two passports. (Although if you were born in an Arab country, and that's on your passport, even if you left before you could speak or walk and had never gone back, that didn't help much.) And forget about trying to get from the Occupied Territories to Israel, or vice-versa. It involves long and tedious taxi-drives and worse irritations and delays (if that's all) at borders, but that's the way Israel likes it.

    Now you know how any Palestinian who gets a Uni place abroad (or gets an invitation to play abroad with the football team, or the East-West Divan Orchestra, feels. i.e. a lot worse.) There are people in Syria who can see where relatives live but actually haven't been able to meet for forty years or more.

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  • 197. At 7:41pm on 07 Jan 2010, U14283552 wrote:

    Colonel and Squirrlist

    I thought Palestinians with university places abroad were dealt with by refusing them visa to leave in the first place. Forgive me I was thinking Gaza where a full and bright learning experience is considered illegal from the Israeli perspective.

    178 GH1618

    What is that post about. Your other posts I can follow, but that one seems strange, out of place?


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  • 198. At 7:54pm on 07 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    If one were to do what the Colonel (and Wikipedia, I see) suggests, you would find yourself in difficulties I think. The answer used to be to carry two passports. (Although if you were born in an Arab country, and that's on your passport, even if you left before you could speak or walk and had never gone back, that didn't help much.) And forget about trying to get from the Occupied Territories to Israel, or vice-versa. It involves long and tedious taxi-drives and worse irritations and delays (if that's all) at borders, but that's the way Israel likes it.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nope, the answer was getting israelian visa on a separate piece of paper..this one you cannot win by saying one could have two passport...without naming names...I can safely say that I have trusted sources through which I have first hand knowldge of this fact, even your western tourists visting israel and then its neihbour countries used to get and I think even get israel's visa stamp not on their passports, keeping two passports is and has been against the laws of every country...

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  • 199. At 01:41am on 08 Jan 2010, ranter22 wrote:

    What i like the most about this administration, more so than the previous ones, is that when the language calls for - say a bombing mission of significant proportion or importance- They really know how to explain how it really gets done.
    It is no longer shock and awe. Now is persuade and assist. Win hearts and minds. Elicit cooperation. Emergency diplomacy. Elevating developmental assistance. All such cute names, so much so that we at home would think(if not for the casualty list )they were cuddling second grade students and leading the symphony orchestra.
    Follow the bouncing ball and sing along, ji ji had had, blow blow the ball gently down the...
    eerily eerily life is but a scream. Ok so My voice sucks big time but lets call the next mission 'suckle and lullaby' When the taliban comes marching home, hurrah hurrah we'll give them a lolly pop Hurrah hurrah... we can all sleep tonight knowing that God has blessed each and everyone. Tiny tim too. Oh, and i almost forgot that this blog is about damning evidence so i am going to say that there was a leak of information and it was done on purpose. Just so everyone knows that the people on the ground should not take the heat for the screw ups of the one world order giants, no strike that, the intercontinental committee of the world. Where is the IMF getting all those funds that are in the international bank? Hmmm, could it be they are siphoning from the current budget and telling us the economy is bad, no wonder it's bad.

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  • 200. At 02:07am on 08 Jan 2010, squirrelist wrote:

    198. At 7:54pm on 07 Jan 2010, colonelartist wrote:

    "keeping two passports is and has been against the laws of every country..."

    Nope. (Unless they're in different names. . .)

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  • 201. At 02:44am on 08 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    " keeping two passports is and has been against the laws of every country..."

    I assume you mean two valid passports from the same country. If the countries were different there is no prohibition on having "dual nationality". When in Israel be American.

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  • 202. At 5:27pm on 08 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    easytarget (#197) "What is that post about. Your other posts I can follow, but that one seems strange, out of place?"

    It was just a reference to a long-time contributor who was banned from the site a long time ago, but who keeps coming back under new screen names. People who have been here awhile know who he is. But there was no real point to my post; generally I just ignore him.

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  • 203. At 11:45pm on 08 Jan 2010, ranter22 wrote:

    New coalition in combating Terror is called the Anti Terror, Terror Task Force.
    Will bend the minds and hearts of Terrorists.
    However due to a new technique developed by a very prominent scientist
    (using empirical evidence) no humans were harmed by this method,-- wink wink. One dummy slips by security, but just for a hug from his girl and 3 others slip into the white house uninvited, plus one goon tries his luck with very explosive undies. The president says that someone was busy connecting the dots at the time ... . ...
    s o s

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  • 204. At 01:51am on 09 Jan 2010, Emily wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 205. At 02:19am on 09 Jan 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    175. At 4:06pm on 06 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "Here's a better example on which I will comment. I believe that the place US foreign policy began to go seriously wrong was in in Iran, where the US and UK conspired to have Prime Minister Mossadegh removed from power in 1953..."
    __________

    That is an interesting comment.

    Maybe it also followed from earlier events? Consider the decision at the end of the war not to clean up unfinished business in Spain. The ever wily Franco made himself a valuable commodity as a reliably staunch anti-communist.

    And if you can accept that, well, ... why not just urge things along elsewhere to get the same result?

    Ah, the ever slippery slope of anti-communist rationalizations.



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  • 206. At 02:40am on 09 Jan 2010, McJakome wrote:

    143. At 11:50pm on 05 Jan 2010, concernedpirate wrote:
    GH1618 (#142) (The muslims are still sore about the crusades, aren't they?)

    "Please answer me honestly in this, do you agree with US policy in regards to supporting puppet regimes it likes (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Eygpt) all of which are repressive governments

    The support, the US gives now, to these governments could correction will come back to haunt the US.

    I think they will be plenty sore in the future. That should concern all of us."

    Even though this wasn't addressed to me, I think you are right on this issue. The US should never have gotten into the habit of supporting despots for short-term and self-interested advantage. In addition, the US should not have helped US companies like ITT and United Fruit do so.

    So your question has to be answered by any fair-minded individual, "What goes around comes around." OR good karma begets good and bad karma begets bad. The big surprize is that with so many of my countrymen self-identifying themselves as "Christian," so few, nowadays, apply Christian principles to their ideas about foreign affairs [the situation was quite different before 1900].

    A final point, is that it is not even in our self interest to support the government of Saudi Arabia. It is to the contrary quite irrational, as that is the source of some of our biggest problems.

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  • 207. At 7:29pm on 09 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    InterestedForeigner (#205), I am not very familiar with the situation in Spain to which you refer, but you seem to me to be equating non-intervention with intervention. It was in Iran where I believe the precedent was set that the US could oust a government with which it was not at war, which led to many other subsequent CIA misadventures.

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  • 208. At 9:05pm on 12 Jan 2010, U14273708 wrote:

    The Border (*)
    (*)=Gregory Isaacs

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  • 209. At 10:23pm on 12 Jan 2010, U14283552 wrote:

    "202. At 5:27pm on 08 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:
    easytarget (#197) "What is that post about. Your other posts I can follow, but that one seems strange, out of place?"

    It was just a reference to a long-time contributor who was banned from the site a long time ago, but who keeps coming back under new screen names. People who have been here awhile know who he is. But there was no real point to my post; generally I just ignore him."

    There I was thinking you were trying to get someone banned because of past deeds.A ban that would supposedly contradict your wishes that all could speak freely as you believe the constitution allows.
    I know this is a British site so maybe the constitution of the United states of America would not apply. Indeed the very house rules we all read seem to allow any lee way one could interpret. But either way how do you square your views that no one should be banned with accepting that one is banned, and indeed trying to draw attention to it. Surely that is the equivalent of telling the nazi's where those they sought were hiding. Not a very nice thing at all. But maybe that was not your perpose. I have not followed it to closely it just seemed that way.
    I have to say though that I am fully with you that the way America and Britain handled Iran was despicable.
    It was an appalling precedent to set. I am not sure so sure that it was totally an original idea, but it sure was a mistake.
    Though this comment below does have me wondering if there was some rational explanation for invading a country to get oil rights.Good luck in your quest to vanquish those who have the mark.

    205. At 02:19am on 09 Jan 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:"Maybe it also followed from earlier events?"

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  • 210. At 02:45am on 13 Jan 2010, ranter22 wrote:

    What should we do about the Cathars, Sir?
    It seems that there are Catholics and Cathars alike in the village.
    Well 'kill them all and the gods will know which ones are which.'

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  • 211. At 04:34am on 13 Jan 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    easytarget (#209), that's a bit overwrought, isn't it? (See Godwin's rule.)

    No, I am not trying to get anyone banned. Such things are entirely a matter between the BBC moderators and those they wish to treat thusly. I frankly don't understand the process, and don't particularly care how they apply it.

    As for the Iran matter, it wasn't merely about access to oil in Iran, although that was a factor. It was about containing the Soviet Union.

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  • 212. At 3:56pm on 13 Jan 2010, U14284230 wrote:

    211 Oh godwins rule does not take away the obvious FACT that you are trying to get me banned.

    Surely a pedant like you should try to understand the process of censorship on the forum you frequent so much.
    Over wrought I'd suggest not. Just truthful. Something you have great issues with, it seems.
    Those things are entirely between the BBC mods and those they would......

    You really do excel at sticking your head in the sand and having NO opinion.
    that is not a good thing by the way. It makes you look foolish not wise.Oh and a little spiteful.

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  • 213. At 08:38am on 14 Jan 2010, whackercarthy wrote:

    Why are these people at war with us? Is it because we wage war on them?

    The Taliban's origins can be traced back to the Indian Mutiny, the fall of the Moghuls and the sacking of Delhi by the British, which scuppered the last chance for a political system based on religious tolerance in India and the surrounding areas, 150 years ago.

    The people in the region have been paying the price for the excesses of the East India Company and the religious bigotry and racism of the Raj, ever since, which has led to the division of the sub-continent into two countries (now nuclear powers, with one on the verge of political collapse) and who have been at war with each other, in one way or another, since 1948.

    Add to this the political tinkering and chicanery that has been perpetrated by the West on Muslims (Palestine 1948),Iran in the Fifties and is it any wonder that the legacy of past colonial misdemeanours is landing on our doorsteps in the form of united terrorist attacks from all these regions on our airports, aeroplanes and cities.

    We destabilised these areas by various means: puppet in Iran, support for a Jewish homeland and the creation of hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees: a breeding ground for terrorism and the near destruction of the "Switzerland" the Middle East, Lebanon, with grave consequences for Jordan and devastation for Iraq.

    The CIA and NSA and the other "secret" US security organisations are practically redundant as, all Americans do wherever they go, is create a Little America locally, hermiticly sealed from the local community. They serve their 3-5 years, get their booze from the embassy bond and their t-bone steaks from the local PX and then they go home, to be replaced by others.And, why not?!

    America went for broke in Viet Nam with commitment in resources far greater than that used today in Afghanistan. It could not win because it could not invade North Viet Nam without starting a third world war. If it didn't work against an unseen enemy in South Viet Nam, with all those resources commitment and manpower, why should it work in Afghanistan?

    America is good at supplying covert support to right wing governments e.g. Chile etc. However, it only works if the right wing governments is competent and ruthless enough, supports American corporate interests and puts down any local insurgency.

    The US is also good at invasions when international political circumstance allows: e.g. Iraq, but, not in Cuba, where they were warned-off by the Russians.

    It also, of course, worked in Europe in WWII, when millions of innocent people had to die to get rid of Hitler and his particular bunch of crazies.

    It worked, to a limited extent in Korea, when the US supported UN eventually reinstated the status quo. And if Korea teaches us anything, it teaches us the value of patience as we have been sitting on the 48 parallel for over 50 years and allowed the South to become one of the worlds biggest economies while the North slowly withers and dies.

    Therefore, the lesson for today is: bow out gracefully if the local government can't cut the mustard and if the new government starts to get dangerous hit 'em with everything you've got, because in this nuclear age you may not get a second chance.

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  • 214. At 2:36pm on 14 Jan 2010, ranter22 wrote:

    Good post whackercarthy and add to it Argentina and the thick anxiety with which the US collaborated (Falkland island)One British invasion just to prove that no one was going to mess with the US. Only to concede and it sure was a lot like Cuba and the Island of Puerto Rico, A matter of be my neighbor or else.
    Of course it all worked out well, for some.
    The premise of not standing by watching other countries do evil to their citizenry only applies when the country is less powerful than the US. Take China, If you can, No one can stomp into China demanding anything, and in fact if one were to ask for something it would be done with the utmost respect or else. Two bullies who wont back down or fight. 'Telle est la vie.'
    The truth is we can't handle the truth, nor do we want to. Some causes become noble only when no one can change the circumstances or they are unwilling to risk embargoes. Changing the names of the missions of death and destruction to many people is insulting and should be looked into as flying in the face of arrogance, delighting and snickering at their competence, such nice qualities and aren't we cute.
    Mission, 'What, me care' from Alfred Newman.
    Since when do we prosecute and hang people not yet proven to be guilty.
    Since when do we kill the parents for the crimes of their children? Question the wars! Don't maintain commitments of past administrations.

    Commitments begun on faulty and erroneous principles, and not unlike throwing good money after bad as we have been doing. Calling good people disenfranchised protesters. Ignoring plausible compromising and repairing trust issues. Change! Yes we can-not continue this way.
    Draining the health care system and imposing unrealistic taxes-penalties- on those who would not have any part of a wayward and ill contrived plan. Dishonesty is a tradition because we allow it and most people live within borderline fiasco status in our political agenda. One small change may mean the financial ruin of some. Allegiance of some and cries of mercy from many others, the same cries that have been heard since so many decades of our constitution. Nothing new in America. Although Thomas Jefferson may have interjected his patriots and tyrants quote right at a time like this.

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  • 215. At 5:52pm on 18 Jan 2010, RRRoy wrote:

    You could probably trace the roots of the Afghan mess back to Alexander but it wouldn't clarify much. You can however usefully trace it back to the "mujahideen" campaign which the west, in its avidity to humiliate the Soviets, so recklessy funded and armed. Even in the early stages it was clear that in the enthusiasm to bash the Sovs, nobody in the intelligence community paid any attention to who was being funded and what the likely long term results would be. It occurred to me at the time, but what do I know? Answer: apparently a lot more than the intelligence community.

    Let's just take a single example; Hizbe Islami and its leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar - who is still there somewhere using the power we helped him acquire against us. During the jihad against the Sovs (we didn't mind the term at that point and in that context) it was pretty obvious that whatever its effectiveness as a fighting force, Hizbe Islami was an organisation fundamentally opposed to Western values in almost every respect.

    Before AQ killed him a couple of days preceding 11/9, Ahmed Shah Mahsood had been trying to tell us - for years - about the development of AQ's capability within Afghanistan and its relationship with the Taliban. He even travelled to Europe to let us know about it. He was ignored.

    Every day we hear military and political spokesmen (and not only from USA it must be said) uttering complete absurdities about the objectives in Afghanistan which have by now become axiomatic received wisdom, but which on examination are completely invalid.

    The assumption constantly parroted is that we are simply awaiting the stage where "Afghan security forces" are finally able to "take over security duties" from ISAF troops. This would be more plausible if it were not for the fact that after eight years the situation is actually getting worse by the day. And this is with a western military operation that is equipped at every level - intelligence, logistics, training - to a standard that is unimaginable for the Afghans - ever. Leave aside the matter of loyalty and long-term comittment; the Afghans barely have personal equipment, let alone remotely operated drones, helicopters, satellite surveillance and all the panoply of western technology which has so far failed miserably to prevail. It will never happen.

    But if it did?
    Who are the "Afghan security forces"? Ironically, given Mahsood's fate, mostly Tajik (I don't know the accurate current figures). And who are "the Taliban" (as we must, it seems, continue to call them)? Well, they're mostly Pashtun* - who constitute over 40% of the Afghan population. So either the army has to be constituted so as to reflect Afghan demographics - in which case how many of it's 40% Pashtun soldiers will be prepared to fight in Pashtun districts, against Pashtuns? - or else be seen as a tribal army of occupation in Pashtun regions. Either situation is a guaranteed disaster.

    We got it all wrong; we're getting it all wrong; we're going to get it wrong. The only question is which of several bad outcomes is most likely. However the component in all this that never seems to be discussed is one of the principle reasons there are western forces in Afghanistan. That is to provide a base for the invasion and disarming of Pakistan. It's just a question of when this will become necessary, not if.

    BTW. I have spent time in Afghanistan. Probably unlike some of the people currently driving foreign policy on Afghanistan.



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  • 216. At 4:46pm on 19 Jan 2010, Garry Harriman wrote:

    I am a former military man now living in North America (Labrador, Canada) with a life long interest in US recent history and the US modern presidency. Like so many others around the world, I was thrilled with tghe election of Obama as the 44th President, however, a little concerend at that the limits of presidential power via constitutional sepaeration of powers could seriously retard his bold agenda, even with a majority in both houses and largely becuase of the great divide now in political ideology present in both parties thus representitive of the country as a (divided) entity. My biggest concern with previous administration was the way in which foregin policy was serupticiously controlled by ultra Right Wingers in the shadows, namely Cheney (one of the most powerful and influntial VP`s in the history of the Executive Branch), Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and many other less prominent but effective cosigners of the now infamous PNAC document.

    I have always firmly beived that the world, with a population nearing 7 billionpeople is facing a potential energy crisis, especially if you believe, as I do that oil and natural gas is infact a finate rescource that will and is nearing peek production. Established and competing Asian ecconomies are putting further demand into the global established proven and accessible reserves. Where are the current most accesiable and developed reserves of oil? Obviosuly the unfortunate nations that have been maniplualted by the West for many yeras both politically and ecconmically, even more since the discovery of oil in Persia, nations such as Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia to name the main key geographical areas. Most of us know that Mr Hussein was starting to displease his masters,espcially after the invasion of Kuwait but after many years of sanctions, bombing, the US decided with the UK to invade and occupy this nation following the 9/11 attacks. One factor here may have been due to Sadam`s ossible threat to start retaliating the only way he could......by trading his precious oil in the Euro thus breaking the Petro Dollar cycle of US ecconmic stability that could potentially destroy the US ecconomy in a single stroke of a a pen. Simmiarly, if Iran also followed suit, it too may have faced invasion on some other false pretext and may still do so in the future.

    When President Obama was elected, he made `clear` his displeasure at the invasion of Iraq, however, I wondered how his future retoric and actions would transpire of Amererica`s other quagmire, Afghganistan. Again, I always wondered what importance this part of the world held to Western governments, even after 9/11, as the number of deaths there far excelled the numbers of that day, and that the `war on terror` was something that I always held with supspcion, escially when you unearth US involvment there with the arming, training and funding the current tormentors of the West some SIX MONTHS BEFORE THE USSR INVADED THEW REGION!

    It is clear to me that Afghanistan is vital to Western energy interests again, due to the richness and obundance of oil and gas reserves in the regions of the `Stans` around the Caspian Basin, indeed, the long planned Trans Afghan Pipe Line bringing such reserves to Asian and Western markets to the Pakistan coast was threatened and de-railed due to the instability there and also largelly becauss that a rival comany, the Argentine owned Britas, were favoured more by the Taliban than Unicol! Strangely, the Argentine ecconomy collapsed in 2001 shortly after! Then, with the conveinient attacks of 9/11, the US and the UK seem to back on track their plans to `bring democracy and freedom` to the above mentioned regions to save the day!

    My point in this long winded history lesson, is that it seems to me that the US presidency, and thus political direction and ecconimc stability has largelly been hijacked by massive corporations, mainly energy corportions which in turn has been co-created by a long and miss guided foerign policy to provide such needed energy requirments ever since US domestic reserves ran almost dry in the early 1970a and Nixon dropped the gold standard for trading and tied the cost of a barrel of oil to the US Dollar. So, in real terms of substance, it really does not matter who is elected to the Oval Office, because, as Bill Clinton`s aids so memoribly learned not long after assuming office.......`IT`S THE ECCONOMY, STUPID! As much as I hate to say it or admit it, G W Bush and his ultra right wingers probably did what they did in order to sdave their country.........oh my, I did say it!

    Garry Harriman
    Happy Valley/Goose Bay
    Labrador
    Canada





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  • 217. At 10:22pm on 20 Jan 2010, Marcus wrote:

    As a former intelligence officer in the US military, I can speak of first hand experience with the type of off mark "intelligence" that goes on. A lot of effort and resources for such little impact. I've been beating down doors telling anyone within earshot the way we are conducting intel is not what is needed. Unfortunately, I am convinced that the mechanism is not only out-dated, but also too broken to be fixed to a point of relevance. Sometimes you just have to scrap it all and start from scratch.

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