SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER
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|Subject: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:09 pm|| |
Posts : 323
Join date : 2008-03-27
|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:11 pm|| |
Army Orders Pain Ray Trucks; New Report Shows 'Potential for Death'
By David Hambling
October 10, 2008 | 11:17:00 AM
After years of testing, the Active Denial System -- the pain ray which drives off rioters with a microwave-like beam -- could finally have its day. The Army is buying five of the truck-mounted systems for $25 million. But the energy weapon may face new hurdles, before it's shipped off to the battlefield; a new report details how the supposedly non-lethal blaster could be turned into a flesh-frying killer.
The contract for the pain ray trucks is "expected to be awarded by year's end," Aviation Week notes. "A year after the contract is signed, the combination vehicle/weapons will start be fielded at the rate of one per month."
It's been a very long time coming. As we've previously reported, there have been calls to deploy the Active Denial System in Iraq going back to 2004. But it's always been delayed for legal, political, and public relations reasons. Anything that might be condemned as torture is political dynamite. Interestingly, the version being bought is not the full-size "Version 2," but a containerized system known as Silent Guardian, which Raytheon have been trying to sell for some time. They describe Silent Guardian as "roughly 1/3 the size and power of the other Active Denial Systems," and quote it's range as "greater than 250 meters." The larger system has a range somewhere in excess of 700 meters.
Silent Guardian weighs a shade over 10,000 pounds all up, and will be mounted on an "armored ruggedized HEMTT [Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck]."
The announcement arrives on the same day as a new report from less-lethal weapons expert Dr. Jürgen Altmann that analyzes the physics of several directed energy weapons, including Active Denial, the Advanced Tactical Laser (used as a non-lethal weapon), the Pulsed Energy Projectile (a.k.a. "Maximum Pain" laser) and the Long Range Acoustic Device (a.k.a. "Acoustic Blaster").
Dr. Altmann describes the Active Denial beam in some detail, noting that it will not be completely uniform; anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the center will experience more heating than someone at the edge. And perhaps more significant is his thorough analysis of the heating it produces -- and the cumulative effect if the target does not have the chance to cool down between exposures. In U.S. military tests, a fifteen-second delay between exposures was strictly observed; this may not happen when the ADS is used for real.
"As a consequence, the ADS provides the technical possibility to produce burns of second and third degree. Because the beam of diameter 2 m and above is wider than human size, such burns would occur over considerable parts of the body, up to 50% of its surface. Second- and third-degree burns covering more than 20% of the body surface are potentially life-threatening – due to toxic tissue-decay products and increased sensitivity to infection – and require intensive care in a specialized unit. Without a technical device that reliably prevents re-triggering on the same target subject, the ADS has a potential to produce permanent injury or death. "
This potential hazard need not be a show-stopper -- existing less-lethals, such as plastic bullets and tear gas, can also be fatal under some circumstances (and I'm not even going to get into the argument about Tasers).
Dr. Altmann notes that "the present analysis has not found convincing arguments that the ADS would be immoral or illegal in each foreseeable circumstance," and that acceptance will depend very much on how it is used. If the ADS prevents small boats from approaching a U.S. vessel without harming anyone, then it will be seen as a humane option. If it is used to clear protesters out of the way it may be seen differently.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Justice is still has a reported interest in a "hand-held, probably rifle-sized, short range weapon that could be effective at tens of feet for law enforcement officials." That's just one of the likely domestic applications of Active Denial technology which are likely to follow if the Army's experiment with ADS is successful. A lot of people will be watching this one very closely.http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/10/army-ordering-p.html
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:14 pm|| |
Palin abused her power and broke the law
11. Oktober 2008, 08:58 Uhr
An Alaska ethics report has concluded that John McCain’s running mate,
Gov. Sarah Palin, abused her power as governor when firing a state
official, a development that could hinder the Republicans as the race
for the White House narrows. In the closely watched case, the Alaska
governor was accused of pressuring the official to fire her former
brother-in-law and then firing the official when he refused. Palin
maintains the firing was over a budget dispute.
Hundreds of people showed up to demand Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen.
John McCain's GOP running mate, uphold her promise to cooperate with
the state Legislature's investigation into her firing of Public Safety
Commissioner Walt Monegan. Weiterführende Links
The 300-page report by the chief investigator
to a bipartisan Alaska legislative panel that looked into the matter was
likely to be fodder for Democratic attacks, especially in light of the fact
that Palin has painted herself as a political maverick who will help McCain
clean up Washington.
The report is almost certain to be a distraction for the McCain-Palin ticket
as it tries to catch up with Democrat Barack Obama in the polls at a time
when the floundering U.S. economy is becoming ever more important with
The inquiry looked into Palin’s dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner
Walter Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to
fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle with
the governor’s sister.
The McCain camp, which had tried to keep the report from being released
because they called said the process had been politically tainted, began
almost immediately to try to limit the damage.
An attorney for Palin disagreed with the findings announced by Alaskan
investigator Stephen Branchflower.
"In order to violate the ethics law, there has to be some personal gain,
usually financial. Mr. Branchflower has failed to identify any financial
gain,“ attorney Thomas Van Flein said.
McCain campaign spokesman Meg Stapleton said the "Legislative Council
seriously overreached, making a tortured argument to find fault without
basis in law or fact.“
The report comes as the race for the White House is narrowing with only three
weeks before the Nov. 4 election and political attacks at a fever pitch.
Earlier Friday, McCain stepped up his attacks on Obama with a new TV ad that
accuses him of working with a terrorist – and then lying about it.
But McCain also appeared to begin trying to control the raw anger that has
been coming out at Republican rallies, where supporters have booed and
shouted epithets when Obama’s name is mentioned.
McCain was booed by his own supporters Friday when, in an abrupt switch from
raising questions about Barack Obama’s character, he described the Democrat
as a "decent person.“
McCain has steadily escalated attacks on Obama, diverting attention from what
many perceive as the Arizona Republican’s perceived weakness on the economy
as the unemployment rate rises, home foreclosure rates increase and the
stock market gyrates wildly.
The McCain campaign has repeatedly raised
questions about Obama’s associations with William Ayers, who in 1969 helped
found the violent Weather Underground group blamed for bombing government
buildings in the early 1970s. Ayers is now a Chicago college professor.
The veteran senator’s new ad is his toughest yet against Obama yet, asserting
that "when convenient, he (Obama) worked with terrorist Bill Ayers. When
discovered, he lied about it.“
But at a Lakeville, Minnesota, town hall meeting, McCain said his differences
with Obama are over "rhetoric and record,“ not character. He was booed by
his own supporters when he said: "I have to tell you, he is a decent person
and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United
"I don’t mean that has to reduce your ferocity,“ he said. "I just mean to say
you have to be respectful.“ The comments followed several Republican rallies
this week during which angry supporters shouted "traitor,“ "terrorist,“
"treason,“ "liar,“ and even "off with his head“ when Obama was mentioned.
The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Obama
and Ayers are not close but that they live in the same Chicago neighborhood
and worked together on two nonprofit organization boards from the mid-1990s
to 2002. Ayers also hosted a small meet-the-candidate event for Obama in
1995 as he first ran for the state Senate.
During the campaign, Obama has denounced Ayers’ radical actions and views.
To back up its claim that Obama lied about his relationship, McCain’s
campaign juxtaposed that debate comment with a CNN report in which a
reporter asserted that "the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much
deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said.“
But McCain’s campaign provided no other evidence that Obama "lied.“
Campaigning in Ohio on Friday, Obama didn’t mention the Ayers attacks but
chastised McCain and his Republicans for "a barrage of nasty insinuations
"It’s easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division,“ Obama said.
But, he said: "The American people aren’t looking for someone who can divide
this country. They’re looking for someone who will lead it.“
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden accused McCain of trying to
"take the lowest road to the highest office in America.“
Palin, too, has been targeting Obama’s character.
On Friday, Palin accused Obama of exploiting the U.S. economic crisis for
political gain and of proposing a trillion dollars in new government
spending without explaining where that money will come from.
"Media, don’t know why they’re not asking him: ’Where is that money gonna
come from?“’ she said. "He’s got to raise taxes.“
The McCain ticket has been struggling to gain ground in the polls as the
economic crisis spreads. Obama has a sizable lead in the Gallup Poll daily
tracking survey, 51-41. Several polling organizations now put McCain even or
behind in must-win states captured by President George W. Bush in 2000 and
2004 that are key to a Republican win.http://www.welt.de/english-news/article2561612/Palin-abused-her-power-and-broke-the-law.html
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:15 pm|| |
The Terrorist Barack Hussein Obama
By FRANK RICH
Published: October 11, 2008
IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.
Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.
“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.
Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.
All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.
What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.
By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise that someone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.
That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family” was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.
We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed “patriotic” martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.
Obama can hardly be held accountable for Ayers’s behavior 40 years ago, but at least McCain and Palin can try to take some responsibility for the behavior of their own supporters in 2008. What’s troubling here is not only the candidates’ loose inflammatory talk but also their refusal to step in promptly and strongly when someone responds to it with bloodthirsty threats in a crowded arena. Joe Biden had it exactly right when he expressed concern last week that “a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop midsentence and turn and condemn that.” To stay silent is to pour gas on the fires.
It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed “Barack Hussein Obama” when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.
From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.
McCain, who is no racist, turned to this desperate strategy only as Obama started to pull ahead. The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an “only in America” affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.
No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnist famous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”
This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.
The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.
There are no black faces high in the McCain hierarchy to object to these tactics. There hasn’t been a single black Republican governor, senator or House member in six years. This is a campaign where Palin can repeatedly declare that Alaska is “a microcosm of America” without anyone even wondering how that might be so for a state whose tiny black and Hispanic populations are each roughly one-third the national average. There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials. His only apparent infraction was to look glaringly out of place.
Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black — as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.
To see how fast the tide is moving, just look at North Carolina. On July 4 this year — the day that the godfather of modern G.O.P. racial politics, Jesse Helms, died — The Charlotte Observer reported that strategists of both parties agreed Obama’s chances to win the state fell “between slim and none.” Today, as Charlotte reels from the implosion of Wachovia, the McCain-Obama race is a dead heat in North Carolina and Helms’s Republican successor in the Senate, Elizabeth Dole, is looking like a goner.
But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/opinion/12rich.html?ex=1381464000&en=fde9fb7553a7403e&ei=5124&partner=digg&exprod=digg
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:33 pm|| |
Yemen / Somalia
150 migrants thrown in shark-infested waters
11. Oktober 2008, 13:49 Uhr
Dozens of bodies washed ashore in Yemen on Friday after smugglers threw
nearly 150 migrants from Somalia overboard in shark-infested waters,
the latest such tragedy in one of the most lawless stretches of ocean
in the world.
Somali refugees walk on their way to the southern Yemeni port city of
Aden upon their arrival to the coast of Ahwar on a smuggling boat
across the Gulf of Aden. Fighting in Somalia and new smuggling routes
to Yemen lead hundreds of people to risk their lives by crossing the
Gulf of Aden on small boats run by smugglers. Weiterführende Links
The Gulf of Aden between Yemen and the Horn of
Africa has already become notorious for Somali piracy. The hijacking of a
ship carrying a cargo of heavy weapons two weeks ago heightened concern over
the chaos in a key shipping route – and prompted NATO on Thursday to send
warships to help U.S. Navy vessels already patrolling the region.
The latest migrant deaths raised calls for those ships to also act against
human trafficking across the same waters, which is also fueled by the
turmoil in Somalia, a country where there is no government control and armed
groups are rampant.
"It’s essentially the same problems that allow piracy and smuggling,“ said
Roger Middleton, an expert on East Africa at the Chatham House think tank in
Dire economic conditions and violence in Somalia drives the waves of
migrants, while the general lawless that gives pirates a free hand also
opens the door for smugglers. "People are very desperate,“ Middleton said.
He welcomed the NATO deloyment of ships against piracy, calling it
"excellent news“ that could also help in stopping human trafficking.
Around 32,000 migrants have made the hazardous sea journey to Yemen this year
– 22,000 of them Somalis, according to figures from the Yemeni government
and the U.N. refugee agency.
Smugglers are known to cram dozens of men, women and children onto small
boats and often beat and abuse the migrants during the journey, which can
take up to three days. To avoid Yemeni patrols, the smugglers often dump
their passengers far from shore and force them to swim the rest of the way.
In the latest instance, around 150 migrants departed Somalia on Monday, and
when their vessel reached about 3 miles (5 kilometers) off Yemen’s southern
Shabwa coast, the smugglers ordered everyone off, U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees spokesman Ron Redmond told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
Twelve of the passengers were put on a smaller boat to take them to shore,
while the rest were forced to swim. Redmond said 47 were believed to have
survived, but around 100 were missing and feared drowned.
By Friday, 30 bodies have been found washed up on shore and were buried
immediately in keeping with Islamic customs of quick burial, a Yemeni
security official said. He estimated that up to 118 may have drowned. He
spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to
In a sign of how frequent such drownings are, he
cautioned that it was not certain whether all the 30 came from the boat,
saying he could not rule out that other smuggling incidents occurred over
the past week. During the first half September, some 165 bodies were found
on the shore, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The UNHCR estimates at least 230 migrants have died this year and 365 remain
missing, including 100 from the latest incident. In 2007, over 1,400 were
reported dead and missing, according to the rights group Medecins Sans
The Gulf of Aden is not the only dangerous sea crossing for migrants.
Hundreds of Africans die every year trying to make the journey across the
Mediterranean to Spain, Italy and Greece. But the Aden traffic is
particularly dense, with tens of thousands crossing a single concentrated
geographical area – and, as MSF said in a June report, it is "largely
"This is one of the most dramatic situations in the world,“ the U.N. high
commissioner for refugees, Antonio Guterres said at a press conference in
Geneva. "The way smugglers and traffickers treat people is absolutely
outrageous and corresponds to one of the worst crimes that we can see in
He urged the international community to look "not only for pirates but also
to look for these (human trafficking) situations in the Gulf of Aden.“
NATO defense ministers agreed Thursday to send a seven-ship force to the
region to deter pirate attacks and escort U.N. food aid vessels into Somalia
after the seizure two weeks ago of the Ukrainian tanker MV Faina and its
cargo of weapons. The NATO warships join vessels from the U.S. 5th Fleet,
which already patrol the area.
Pirates have seized more than two dozen ships this year off the Horn of
Africa, but the hijacking of the Faina has drawn the most international
concern because of its dangerous cargo – 33 tanks and other heavy weapons.
Six U.S. warships are surrounding the Faina to prevent pirates from unloading
its cargo of 33 tanks and other heavy weapons, and a Russian warship is
headed to the region. On Friday, a spokesman for the pirates threatened to
blow up the Faina in three days if no ransom is paid.
A diplomat at the NATO meeting that decided on the deployment to the Gulf of
Aden said detering human trafficking was not discussed as part of its
mission. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about the
Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the 5th Fleet, said the U.S. Navy is
focused on combating smuggling in the Gulf of Aden as well as piracy, and he
expected the increase in the force will help.
"We look for weapons smuggling, drug smuggling, and human smuggling,“ he
said. "That’s part of the lawful maritime order that we try to create
there.“ He would not provide specific details on how U.S. ships deal with
migrant boats, citing operational secrecy.
"The more ships, the more coalition assets, the more people, the more navies
we have involved in this problem, that’s the way this is going to end,“
Christensen said. "It’s not something the U.S. or six ships can solve on
their own down there. It requires even regional governments to get involved.“
Ahmed al-Haj reported on this story from San’a. Lee Keath reported from
Cairo, Egypt. Associated Press Writers Sebastian Abbot in Cairo, Frank
Jordans in Geneva, Switzerland, and Jennifer Quinn in London contributed to
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:51 pm|| |
New Killer Drones Could be Piloted by Teenagers
By Noah Shachtman
October 10, 2008 | 1:15:00 PMCategories: Drones
Today, only experienced Air Force pilots are allowed to
remotely-operate the American fleet of killer drones. Tomorrow, the
heavily-armed robotic planes could be flown by 19 year-olds, barely out
of basic training.
The Army and Marine Corps use Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
to spy on suspected militants. Not only are they smaller, cheaper,
lighter, and lower-flying than the Air Force's array of missile-laden
Predator and Reaper drones. But Shadows are considered a "tactical
assets," meant to watch over
relatively small patches of ground, for relatively small units.
Predators, on the other hand, are "theater" or "operational-level"
assets -- controlled by generals, and sent all over.
As a result, ground forces often
use the most junior of noncommissioned officers to fly their Shadows --
teenagers who've sometimes never even been in combat
. In contrast,
the Air Force only allows rated pilots -- guys trained to operate a
B-52 or an F-15 -- to fly their Predators. "You have to understand
flight, know how to talk to a controller," then Air Force Colonel Tom
Ehrhard told me a few years back. "It takes an aviator to do that."
But those aviators are worn out from non-stop drone-piloting duty
. And it often takes a while to get a big UAV like a Predator over to where a captain or a colonel needs it.
Which is why there's a new military development program underway to "weaponize Shadow" for Special Forces, Inside Defense
reports. "The goal is to pair firepower with sophisticated visual sensors, giving
lower-echelon UAV operators capabilities heretofore reserved for
operational-level unmanned systems."
Which means those young privates and corporals and specialists could be controlling killer drones, some day soon.
It's part of a broader Pentagon effort to make armed UAVs cheaper, and more plentiful
. John Wilcox, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, tells Inside Defense
, "We're also going to look at weaponizing a couple more small
UAVs." With one-to-five-pound weapons, these tny killers could take out high-value targets -- "or hold a target at risk until
bigger and better operational platforms with more ordnance get onto the
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:53 pm|| |
y'see, this is what the war in afghanistan/pakistan/iraq/wherever is all about. it's about toys for the boys.More Killer Drone Bangs For The Buck
By David Hambling
October 09, 2008 | 11:01:00 AMCategories: Ammo and Munitions
Remote-controller Predator and Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles
proved extremely effective in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. But if
the Hellfire missile has a problem, it's the cost: about $100,000 every
time you pull the trigger* . Can we do the same job cheaper and better?
My article in this month's Defense Technology International
on page 54) looks at weapons options for unmanned aircraft. Weight is a
big driver; you can only hang two of the hundred-pound Hellfire
missiles on a Predator, and the missile is too big for smaller drones.
Cost is a factor too, and there are a lot of competitors in the drive
to produce smaller, cheaper guided missiles.Raytheon's new Griffin missile is
typical example of the development in this area. It's been assembled
using component from previous missile programs for a rapid solution,
and it's small enough that you can swap each Hellfire for three
Another approach is to upgrade the existing 2.75" rockets commonly
used on helicopters with laser guidance kits to create instant,
low-cost laser-guided missiles with a minimum of effort. Unfortunately,
it's taken twelve years so far to develop the Advanced Precision kill Weapon System
(APKWS II) based on the existing Hydra rocket. But there are a number of other contenders
working on this idea too and we may get a $10,000, 35-pound Hellfire-substitute soon.
However, in order to make make something significantly smaller and
cheaper than existign weapons, you have to start from scratch -- that's
what Steve Felix of the Naval Air Warfare Center did. He is Program
Manager for the Spike missile
is described as the smallest guided missile in the world. Originally
designed to as a portable, shoulder-fired weapon, it's been adapted for
Spike weighs just five pounds, but it's a formidable weapon. The
guidance system is highly original; in one mode it uses an
electro-optical seeker, basically a video camera. Lock on before launch
and it follows the target -- even something agile like a motorbike. In
another mode for night operation, the seeker can be set to home in on a
laser spot, turning Spike into a laser-guided missile.
In a test firing in February, Spike engaged a remote-controlled van
with a crossing speed of twenty miles an hour, at a range of a mile and
a half. You can see the effects in the photo. Although the warhead
weighs less than two pounds, high precision increases its lethality.
It's designed to penetrate the target before detonating, so it could be
used to target the window of a specific room in a building rather than
demolishing whe whole thing like larger weapons.
(Using smaller warheads should reduce collateral damage which is a
huge issue in the current campaign. For example, it now seems the U.S.
air strikes on August 22nd may have killed more civilians
than previously admitted. )
Spike is being built to a budget: Felix's target is $5,000 a round.
That would make it about 95% cheaper than the Hellfire. While Spike may
not be suitable for taking out heavy tanks (Hellfire's original brief),
it looks like a useful tool for the sort of missions currently being
undertaken. And at that weight and price, you can carry a lot more
bangs for your buck.
Spike looks to be a trend setter. As the DTI article explains
even tinier missiles are in the pipeline from both the Air Force and
Army. Watch out for small drones with smaller missiles in
* See the Air Force's current missile shopping list
(warning, big PDF) -- the FY2008 budget has 642 of them for $63,585,000 (Photo: Naval Air Warfare Center )http://blog.wired.com/defense/
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:58 pm|| |
LSD Cured My Headache
Arran Frood, Independent UK. Posted October 10, 2008.
Cluster headaches cause such severe pain that some sufferers are driven
to suicide. Now one man believes he's found a surprising cure.
This is the story of a man known online as Flash -- a man driven to
the brink of suicide by the debilitating effects of cluster headaches.
After years of ineffectual treatments, Flash stumbled on what he
declared was a new treatment, as controversial as it was, he claimed,
effective: hallucinogenic drugs.Flash was ridiculed by the
cluster headache community for his "miracle cure". But when a survey of
fellow sufferers who self-medicated with hallucinogens was published in
the mainstream journal Neurology, the results gave weight to his
claims. The Harvard Medical School scientists who conducted the survey
have now applied for a preliminary clinical trial on the subject.
read the story:http://www.alternet.org/drugreporter/102400/lsd_cured_my_headache/
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:11 pm|| |
I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....
* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."
* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.
* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.
* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.
* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.
* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.
OK, much clearer now.!!http://www.alternet.org/columnists/story/100068/the_wild_stuff_that_makes_its_way_around_the_internet/
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:39 pm|| |
|Pentagon Reined in Cheney’s Plans for Iran Strikes |
Analysis by Gareth Porter | Posted on June 9, 2008
(Inter Press Service)
|<table width="620" border="0" cellpadding="10" cellspacing="0"> <tr> <td class="style3">Pentagon officials firmly opposed a proposal by Vice President Dick Cheney|
last summer for airstrikes against Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC) bases by insisting that the administration would have to make
clear decisions about how far the United States would go in escalating
the conflict with Iran, according to a former George W. Bush
J. Scott Carpenter, who
was then deputy assistant secretary of state in the State Department's
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, recalled in an interview that senior
Department of Defense (DOD) officials and the Joint Chiefs used the
escalation issue as the main argument against the Cheney proposal.
newspapers reported last August that Cheney had proposal several weeks
earlier "launching airstrikes at suspected training camps in Iran,"
citing two officials involved in Iran policy.
According to Carpenter, who is now at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy,
a strongly pro-Israel think tank, Pentagon officials argued that no
decision should be made about the limited airstrike on Iran without a
thorough discussion of the sequence of events that would follow an
Iranian retaliation for such an attack. Carpenter said the DOD
officials insisted that the Bush administration had to make "a policy
decision about how far the administration would go—what would happen
after the Iranians would go after our folks."
question of escalation posed by DOD officials involved not only the
potential of the Mahdi Army in Iraq to attack, Carpenter said, but also
possible responses from Hezbollah and from Iran itself across the
Carpenter suggested that DOD officials
were shifting the debate on a limited strike from the Iraq-based
rationale, which they were not contesting, to the much bigger issue of
the threat of escalation to full-scale war with Iran, knowing that it
would be politically easier to thwart the proposal on that basis.
former State Department official said the DOD "knew that it would be
difficult to get interagency consensus on that question."
Joint Chiefs were fully supportive of the position taken by Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates on the Cheney proposal, according to Carpenter.
"It's clear that the military leadership was being very conservative on
this issue," he said.
At least some DOD and
military officials suggested that Iran had more and better options for
hitting back at the United States than the United States had for
hitting Iran, according to one former Bush administration insider.
Former Bush speechwriter and senior policy advisor Michael Gerson, who left the administration in 2006, wrote a column in the July 20, 2007 edition of the Washington Post
in which he gave no hint of Cheney's proposal but referred to "options"
for striking Iranian targets based on the Cheney line that Iran
"smuggles in the advanced explosive devices that kill and maim American
Gerson cited two possibilities:
"Engaging in hot pursuit against weapon supply lines over the Iranian
border or striking explosives factories and staging areas within Iran."
But the Pentagon and the military leadership were opposing such
options, he reported, because of the fear that Iran has "escalation
dominance" in its conflict with the United States.
meant, according to Gerson that, "in a broadened conflict, the Iranians
could complicate our lives in Iraq and the region more than we
Carpenter's account of the
Pentagon's position on the Cheney proposal suggests, however, that
civilian and military opponents were saying that Iran's ability to
escalate posed the question of whether the United States was going to
go to a full-scale air war against Iran.
civilian and military opposition to such a strategic attack on Iran had
become well-known during 2007. But this is the first evidence from an
insider that Cheney's proposal was perceived as a ploy to provoke
Iranian retaliation that could used to justify a strategic attack on
The option of attacking nuclear sites had
been raised by President George W. Bush with the Joint Chiefs at a
meeting in "the tank" at the Pentagon on December 13, 2006, and had
been opposed by the Joint Chiefs, according a report by Time
magazine's Joe Klein last June. After he become head of the Central
Command in March 2007, Adm. William Fallon also made his opposition to
such a massive attack on Iran known to the White House, according
Middle East specialist Hillary Mann, who had developed close working
relationships with Pentagon officials when she worked on the National
Security Council staff.
It appeared in early 2007,
therefore, that a strike against Iran's nuclear program and military
power had been blocked by opposition from the Pentagon. Cheney's
proposal for an attack on IRGC bases in June 2007, tied to the alleged
Iranian role in providing both weapons—especially the highly lethal
explosively formed projectiles (EFPs)—and training to Shiite militias,
appears to have been a strategy for getting around the firm resistance
of military leaders to such an unprovoked attack.
the Pentagon bottled up the Cheney proposal in interagency discussions,
Cheney had a strategic asset that he could use to try to overcome that
obstacle: his alliance with Gen. David Petraeus.
the Inter Press Service reported last week, Cheney had already used
Gen. David Petraeus' takeover as the top commander of U.S. forces in
Iraq in early February 2007 to do an end run about the Washington
national security bureaucracy to establish the propaganda line that
Iran was manufacturing EFPs and shipping them to the Mahdi Army
Petraeus was also a supporter of
Cheney's proposal for striking IRGC targets in Iran, going so far as to
hint in an interview with Fox News last September that he had passed on
to the White House his desire to do something about alleged Iranian
assistance to Shiites that would require U.S. forces beyond his control.
that point, Admiral Fallon was in a position to deter any effort to go
around DOD and military opposition to such a strike because he
controlled all military access to the region as a whole. But Fallon's
forced resignation in March and the subsequent nomination of Petraeus
to become chief of Central Command later this year gives Cheney a
possible option to ignore the position of his opponents in Washington
in the final months of the administration.
Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in
U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:46 pm|| |
| Blackwater: The Real “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”? |
By Ali Gharib | July 18, 2008
|<table width="620" border="0" cellpadding="10" cellspacing="0"> <tr> <td class="style3">|
with ties to the GOP and right-wing ideologies and pedigrees are not
uncommon. What makes Erik Prince special is the confluence of his core
beliefs—militarism, right-wing Christianity, and privatization—in his
controversial mercenary business, Blackwater Worldwide. At the center
of a heated scandal over abuses committed by private military
contractors in Iraq and elsewhere, Blackwater has begun to expand its
business into intelligence gathering and a host of other
security-related services. Its success is helping fill the coffers of
some of the country’s most influential conservative political figures
and prompting some observers to call it the “future of war.”
Hillary Clinton coined the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” during
her husband’s presidency, she was referring only to the attacks against
her husband—not to a rapidly expanding business of mercenaries and
private spies whose largesse is helping fill the coffers of some of the
country’s most influential right-wing politicians. But such a phrase
comes to mind when one considers Blackwater Worldwide and its founder
and CEO, Erik Prince. The company and its leader are tied together in a
dizzying mix of right-wing ideologies ranging from privatization and
enthusiasm for an unchecked free market, to aggressive nationalistic
militarism, the Christian Right, and the broad executive power they
rely on for patronage.
already at the center of a heated controversy over the use of private
military forces in Iraq and elsewhere, Blackwater has begun to expand
its business into the realm of intelligence, as ardent
Blackwater-watcher and journalist Jeremy Scahill reported last month in
the Nation. The zealous privatization agenda of military-tied
programs and the creation of what Scahill called “a structure
paralleling the U.S. national security apparatus” converge in the new
“private spy” mission of Total Intelligence Solutions—Blackwater’s
espionage subsidiary. 1
Total Intelligence promises to bring “CIA-style” intelligence work to
the boardrooms of mega-corporations and executive offices of foreign
governments—probably among the few entities that can afford the heavy
price tags associated with Blackwater services. In exchange for its
massive fees, Total Intelligence Solutions delivers, according to its
website, "surveillance and countersurveillance, deployed intelligence
collection, and rapid safeguarding of employees or other key assets." 2
the helm of Total Intelligence Solutions are two former CIA
heavyweights—Cofer Black, a former counterterrorism specialist, and
Robert Richer, a former executive in the CIA’s Directorate of
Operations, where he ran clandestine activities in the Middle East and
beyond. 3 But the outfit, like all of Blackwater, is under the purview of its secretive founder and head honcho, Prince.
Conservative Origins and Connections
was born into right-wing politics with an ideological bent. His father,
Edgar Prince, was the head of a Michigan auto-parts company that, after
his death in 1996, was sold for more than $1 billion. Edgar Prince,
like his son after him, supported a bevy of right-wing causes,
bankrolling the nation’s most powerful Christian Right organizations
and pouring money into the Republican Party.
hard right surrounded young Prince nearly all his life. The area he
grew up in Michigan was known for another massively rich corporate
family with a record of funding right-wing causes and candidates: the
DeVos family, which made its considerable fortune from its Amway empire
(which, despite a Federal Trade Commission ruling stating otherwise, is
still called a glorified pyramid scheme by detractors).
ties between the two like-minded clans were solidified when Erik
Prince’s sister, Betsy, married into the family of the other local
right-wing patrons. The DeVos family, she declared in 1997 in the Roll Call daily, “is the largest single contributor of soft money to the national Republican Party.” In his book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,
Scahill noted that Amway “would rise to become one of the greatest
corporate contributors in the U.S. electoral process in the 1990s,
mostly to Republican candidates and causes.” 4
Edgar Prince, who, according to Religious Right luminary and friend Gary Bauer,
committed himself to Jesus Christ after a heart attack in the 1970s,
set the standard for right wing philanthropy for the family. 5
Edgar was instrumental in helping Bauer set up the Christian Right
think tank and lobby group Family Research Council (FRC). The Princes
also have close ties to James Dobson, who was on the founding board of
FRC. Dobson, a child psychologist and perhaps the most powerful figure
of the Christian Right today, runs Focus on the Family, which has
benefited from the Princes’ lavish spending. Even after Edgar’s death
in 1995—at his funeral, both Bauer and Dobson eulogized him—the family
held tight to the two organizations. Edgar’s wife, Elsa, has served on
both boards. She runs (and Erik serves as vice president for) the Edgar
and Elsa Prince Foundation, which gave at least $670,000 to FRC and
$500,00 to Focus on the Family from 2003 to 2006, according to
FRC and Focus on the Family both support President George W. Bush,
giving him unmitigated support and receiving high levels of access in
Scahill pointedly says in his book, “If there was one lesson Edgar
Prince was poised to impart on his children, it was how to build and
maintain an empire based on strict Christian values, right-wing
politics, and free-market economics.” 7
the last 20 years, Erik Prince has given more than $230,000 dollars to
GOP candidates and conservative political action committees. 8
The list of candidates to whom he has donated reads like a who’s who of
the far right of Washington elites: George W. Bush, Pat Buchanan, Sen.
Tom Coburn (R-OK), former Sen. Rick Santorum
(R-PA), the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA),
and former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX). Through his Freiheit Foundation, he
gave $500,000 to Prison Fellowship Ministries, 9
which was founded by Nixon’s chief counsel Chuck Colson, who spent time
in prison for crimes related to the Watergate scandal and converted to
Evangelical Christianity while behind bars. In 2000, Prince also gave
$30,000 to the American Enterprise Institute,
a right-wing think tank that pushed for the invasion of Iraq and, via a
revolving door with government, has unprecedented access to the Bush
more than just money, Prince has also given his time to right-wing
causes and came of age within and among them. He had initially gone to
the Naval Academy to earn his undergraduate degree, but he transferred
to Hillsdale College in Michigan, a Christian-oriented school that Newsweek called “an institution with an almost Ayn Rand-like faith in free markets.” 11
Though Prince liked the Navy, one of his professors at Hillsdale said
that Prince had found the academy “insufficiently tough and
conservative,” in the words of Newsweek (Prince denied the comments). Prince interned at both FCR (becoming one of their first college interns) 12 and at the George H.W. Bush White House, where he did a six-month stint. 13
His burgeoning right-wing worldview was revealed in an interview he
gave about the experience at the White House shortly after leaving,
telling the Grand Rapids Press that he saw things there he
didn’t agree with, such as gay groups being invited into the White
House, a budget agreement that raised taxes, and the passage of the
Clean Air Act, which regulated pollution and cost businesses money. 14
The Mercenary Business
businessmen with ties to the GOP and conservative ideologies and
pedigrees are not uncommon. What makes Prince special is the confluence
of his ideologies in his business—Blackwater.
two most readily discernable right-wing ideologies behind Prince and
Blackwater are clearly militarism and privatization; it is, after all,
a private military company.
cont'd next post
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|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER Sun Oct 12, 2008 11:47 pm|| |
far as privatization goes, Blackwater depends on government outfits
like the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) to fall
by the wayside so that the North Carolina-based mercenary outfit can
pick up State contracts to do DSS’s old job—guard U.S. diplomats
abroad. Protecting U.S. interests, notably people in war zones, is how
Blackwater built its business. As of late 2007, the company had lost
none of its protected charges in either Iraq or Afghanistan, both
places where they have a heavy presence (Blackwater’s force in Iraq is
two-thirds of what DSS has in total around the globe). 15 But its services have not been without controversy. Last
September, Blackwater mercenaries gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians when a
Blackwater-protected State convoy ran into traffic at Nisour Square in
Baghdad. In a stark and troubling sign of Blackwater’s usurpation of
government responsibilities, it was reported that a Blackwater employee
was allowed to write the initial State Department report on the
incident, which—contradicting later reports, most notably the Iraqi
government’s—cited gunfire from the crowd as having set off the melee. 16 An official with knowledge of the investigation subsequently told the New York Times
that the incident had been characterized by chaos and confusion,
including infighting between Blackwater employees when one of them did
not heed a ceasefire call. 17
Though the incident was neither the first nor last of reported
Blackwater abuses, it was the first that garnered the attention of
Congress. A hearing was called, and Prince, in line with Blackwater’s
previous statements, denied any wrongdoing. Absurdly, he even denied
that Blackwater had shot and killed innocent civilians. 18
None of the abuses, however, have been prosecuted either in Iraq—where
U.S. contractors enjoy immunity—or in the United States. That
immunity, however, is proving severely problematic as the Bush
administration attempts to heal strained relations with it Iraqi
allies, who remain outraged over the Nisour Square incident and other
abuses committed by private security contractors. Contractor immunity,
in fact, was one of the major holdups in U.S.-Iraqi negotiations for a
controversial security agreement to replace the current U.N. mandate. 19 But
given the hard-fought resistance to giving up contractor immunity—and
the failure to prosecute alleged crimes upon return to the United
States—some observers have begun to wonder if the private contractors
haven’t overtaken the U.S. military in the Iraq pecking order. Pointing
to a telling incident in which U.S. Army and Blackwater vehicles
collided and Blackwater guards subsequently disarmed military
personnel, researcher Madhavi Bhasin wrote, “The Iraqi Government has
come to realize that the U.S. is attempting to run the Iraqi state
through private contractors who cannot be held accountable for their
Ideological Hodgepodge Blackwater’s
tentacles into the world of right-wing ideology go well beyond the
basics of militarism and privatization. Blackwater’s chief operating
officer Joseph Schmitz, for example, was involved in several
controversies during his time as inspector general (IG) of the Defense
Department. One of them, bizarrely, was his obsession with a Prussian
Army officer who was a hero in the American Revolutionary War and whose
motto—“Always Under the Protection of the Almighty”—Schmitz spent
months working into a new logo for the IG’s office, 21 with questionable disregard for the separation of church and state. Schmitz,
as the Pentagon’s IG, was responsible for defense contracts. His watch
saw the largest increase in military contracting ever—certainly a boon
to Blackwater’s business. But in 2005, Schmitz resigned from the IG
under pressure for malfeasance in his oversight—including questionably
exonerating Iraq war architect Richard Perle for peddling his influence within the Pentagon. 22
Though he may have lacked oversight, Schmitz was certainly not
shortsighted. His Catholicism, ideological politics, and doling out of
contracts to Blackwater surely helped his chances of getting a gig with
Prince’s outfit, which is where he landed the month after he resigned. Another
Blackwater figure with ideological underpinnings is Cofer Black, the
head of Total Intelligence Solutions and former head of the CIA’s
Counterterrorism Center. While at the CIA (where he worked until 2002),
Black oversaw one of the Bush administration’s forays into expanding
the powers of the executive; many of those overreaches have been
criticized for putting the executive branch above the law and beyond
oversight. The program that Black was responsible for was no exception.
According to Dana Priest of the Washington Post, under
Black’s watch the Counterterrorism Center ran the “extraordinary
rendition” program in which suspects were kidnapped by the CIA, taken
to secret “black sites,” and interrogated with harsh methods that have
given rise to accusations of torture. 23 After 9/11, Black had famously told Congress that, “the gloves came off.” 24
Perhaps, indeed, the gloves came off. And in addition to possibly
conducting torture, those bare hands apparently also dialed up
Blackwater—just two weeks after the attacks, Prince told Bill O’Reilly
of Fox News, “The phone is ringing off the hook.” 25 A
constant enemy of the aggressive economic right is taxation, and
Blackwater Worldwide is no exception. In October 2007, Rep. Henry
Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter to Prince notifying him that there was
evidence that “Blackwater may have engaged in significant tax evasion.” 26
The question arose from Blackwater’s classification of its armed guards
as “independent contractors,” for which the company is not responsible
for taxes like Social Security and Medicare, “for which it is legally
responsible.” Waxman’s letter noted that Blackwater’s modus operandi
was different than the two other military contractors doing private
security for the State Department in Iraq, and that in at least one
case, the Internal Revenue Service had deemed the independent
contractor status as “without merit.” But
that’s not the only way Prince and Blackwater have apparently sought to
shortchange the government, even as their cups runneth over with
taxpayer money in the form of contracts. Scahill reports that Prince
registered Greystone Limited, a new division of Blackwater, with the
government in 2004. But unlike other Blackwater subsidiaries, Greystone
was not incorporated in Virginia, North Carolina, or even the domestic
tax haven of Delaware. Instead, wrote Scahill, “Greystone was
registered offshore in the Caribbean island-nation of Barbados. It was
duly classified by the U.S. government as a ‘tax-exempt’ ‘corporate
entity.’” 27 Though
the offshore incorporation of Greystone happened in 2004, it was not
until late 2007, just as the Nisour Square scandal broke, that
Blackwater changed its name to reflect its global base and outreach,
tweaking “Blackwater USA” to “Blackwater Worldwide”—a subtle change,
but a meaningful one in light of Blackwater’s increasing enterprises
and growing scope. Bill Sizemore of the Virginian-Pilot
reported that the name change coincided with significant expansions,
citing Blackwater’s desire for or recent foray into “a role providing
private armed forces in support of international peacekeeping and
nation-building operations,” acquisition of “an oceangoing ship for
training and potential paramilitary use,” and a share of a federal
“five-year federal counter narcotics contract that could be worth up to
$15 billion.” 28 Sizemore
also noted that Blackwater is expanding into the time-honored
right-wing enterprise of traditional defense contractors—not training
and private mercenary work, but rather weapons and equipment
development, manufacturing, and sales. National Public Radio’s Corey
Flintoff reported last fall that Blackwater now provides everything
“from bomb-sniffing dogs to drone reconnaissance aircraft.” 29 Newsweek
also reported that Blackwater “has a prototype of a spy blimp—an
unmanned dirigible that could hover for days,” and that Prince’s “focus
seems to be more on developing the latest high-tech gadgetry to sell to
the government.” 30
“The Future of War”? But
Blackwater is going global in other new and troubling ways. Scahill
devotes a whole chapter of his new book to “Blackwater’s Man in Chile.”
This is the “real” vast right-wing conspiracy going international.
Through extensive interviews with Blackwater’s Latin-American recruiter
himself, Scahill documents the relationship between Blackwater and Jose
Miguel Pizarro Ovalle, the Chilean responsible for placing nearly 1,000
of his countrymen in Iraq under the employ of Blackwater. Pizarro is a
passionate apologist for brutal right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet, the general who in 1973 led a CIA-, U.S. government-, and
multinational corporation–backed coup d’état to overthrow Chile’s
democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende. In
the congressional hearings last October, Prince tried to deflect
accusations that his group is indeed a mercenary outfit. “People call
us mercenaries,” he told the committee. “We have Americans working for
America protecting Americans,” he said—omitting the fact that
Blackwater employs non-Americans as well. 31 A New York Times
blog noted that Prince’s answer is “in stark contrast to the Oxford
English Dictionary definition: ‘A professional soldier working for a
foreign government.’ But that’s the second definition in The American
Heritage Dictionary. Here’s the first: ‘Motivated solely by a desire
for monetary or material gain.’” 32 That
is the essence of the problem with Blackwater. Scahill, an undisputed
expert on Blackwater who has been called before Congress to testify
about the mercenary group, quotes Michael Ratner, the president of the
Center for Constitutional Rights: “The increasing use of contractors,
private forces or as some would say ‘mercenaries’ makes wars easier to
begin and to fight—it just takes money and not the citizenry.” 33
In a time when the Right misled the people of America into a war in
Iraq that appears to be based on neoconservative ideology and
aggressive nationalist economic interest in oil, this is a particularly
potent criticism of Prince’s right-wing principles. As Scahill writes,
the saga of Prince and Blackwater is “the living embodiment of the
changes wrought by the revolution in military affairs and the
privatization agenda radically expanded by the Bush administration
under the guise of the war on terror. But more fundamentally, it is a
story about the future of war, democracy, and governance.” 34 Ali Gharib is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter. He contributes to PRA’s Right Web (http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/) and is also a writer for the Inter Press Service.
|Subject: Re: SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER || |
SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER