Sunday, August 29, 2004

Yahoo! News - War Making Headlines, but Peace Breaks Out:

"The chilling sights and sounds of war fill newspapers and television screens worldwide, but war itself is in decline, peace researchers report.

In fact, the number killed in battle has fallen to its lowest point in the post-World War II period, dipping below 20,000 a year by one measure. Peacemaking missions, meantime, are growing in number.

'International engagement is blossoming,' said American scholar Monty G. Marshall. 'There's been an enormous amount of activity to try to end these conflicts.'

For months the battle reports and casualty tolls from Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites) have put war in the headlines, but Swedish and Canadian non-governmental groups tracking armed conflict globally find a general decline in numbers from peaks in the 1990s.

The authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in a 2004 Yearbook report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication, says 19 major armed conflicts were under way worldwide in 2003, a sharp drop from 33 wars counted in 1991."
Socializing the introvert

'Might be hereditary'
Although there aren’t any studies that show how introversion originates, Olsen Laney said it might be hereditary.

“I do think it’s genetic, because there are countries (where many people) are introverted,” she said, citing Japan as an example. “There are actually are genes that decide which neurotransmitter your brain is using, and then decides which pathway your brain goes down.”

Introverts and extroverts have very different thought pathways.

* The extrovert is known for the “fight-or-flight” personality, which involves information shooting toward emotional parts of the brain and then being stored in the short-term memory.

* Introverted personalities tend to run on a “rest-and-digest” route, where information is considered more analytically and is deposited in long-term memory.

“One system is focused on our inside world and another (on) the outside world,” she said. “We have and need both those systems, but we are dominant in either one or the other.”

A loss for words
The result, said Olsen Laney, is that introverted people may find they have difficulty retrieving words under pressure.

“Because our internal world is already quite active, we can easily get overstimulated, she said, speaking from her own experience. “That is when we get vapour-locked and can’t think as fast.”

This may lead some to believe introverts are stupid, but Olsen Laney said 16 per cent of gifted people are introverts.

“They need to learn how to retrieve long-term memories,” she said. “I often wondered why I could talk rather easily and meet new people and other times I didn’t have any thought in my mind.”

The answer may be in acetylcholine, a neuro-transmitter that regulates human memory. Olsen Laney said a lack of acetylcholine was recently linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and that eating eggs, which contain those receptors, can give introverts that added memory boost.

“It might be possible that introverts that keep their acetylcholine levels up may not get Alzheimer’s,” she said.
Zarqawi’s Disk Demonstrates Suicide’s Pre-Nuptial Rites

Many thousands of copies of a professionally produced CD-rom are being circulated in Iraq and Kuwait on behalf of al Qaeda’s man in Iraq, the Jordanian terror master Abu Musab Zarqawi. Iraqi interim prime minister Iyad Allawi is singled out as prime target.

The 45-minute disk appears to be aimed at recruiting fighters. It shows footage of al Qaeda’s most striking terrorist attacks in Iraq, runs interviews with suicide bombers and airs war and religious hymns. Zarqawi is the narrator. He personally interviews his “star turn”, Abdel al Dusari, whose nom de guerre is “Abu Haras,” for a step-by-step demonstration of how a suicide terrorist goes about his mission, first stepping into a bomb truck, then connecting the detonator strapped to his body to the explosive charge, before driving off. When and how he pushes the button at the target location is explained.

Zarqawi speaks of “raids,” using Prophet Mohammed’s term for his offensives against the Meccans in 624 and 627.

Before setting out on a “raid,” the bomber performs religious rituals known as “ceremonies of yearning for the brown-eyed ones,” which are a kind of pre-nuptial rites to prepare the “martyr” for his union with the promised 72 virgins waiting for him in Paradise at the end of his mission. Male choirs raise their voices in songs of praise for the martyrs and their coming marriage.

DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources note that most of the voices heard on the disk use the Syrian Arabic dialect. They point to five key points in Zarqawi’s narration:

Saturday, August 28, 2004

National Post Montreal man downed U.S. Plane, CSIS told
'Farouk the Tunisian' involved, al-Qaeda say, but officials insist crash was accidental

"A captured al-Qaeda operative has told Canadian intelligence investigators that a Montreal man who trained in Afghanistan alongside the 9/11 hijackers was responsible for the crash of an American Airlines flight in New York three years ago.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents were told during five days of interviews with the source that Abderraouf Jdey, a Canadian citizen also known as Farouk the Tunisian, had downed the plane with explosives on Nov. 12, 2001.

The source claimed Jdey had used his Canadian passport to board Flight 587 and "conducted a suicide mission" with a small bomb similar to the one used by convicted shoe bomber Richard Reid, a "Top Secret" Canadian government report says.

But officials said it was unlikely Jdey was actually involved in the crash, which killed 265 people and is considered accidental. The fact that al-Qaeda attributed the crash to Jdey, however, suggests they were expecting him to attack a plane.

"We have seen no evidence of anything other than an accident here," said Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. "There has been no evidence found, from what I can tell -- at least that's been relayed to us -- that there was any criminality involved here. It appears, at least the evidence we have, is that a vertical fin came off, not that there was any kind of event in the cabin.""

Friday, August 27, 2004

CBS News | FBI Probes Pentagon Spy Case | August 27, 2004:

"CBS News has learned that the FBI has a full-fledged espionage investigation under way and is about to -- in FBI terminology -- 'roll up' someone agents believe has been spying not for an enemy, but for Israel from within the office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.

60 Minutes Correspondent Lesley Stahl reports the FBI believes it has 'solid' evidence that the suspected mole supplied Israel with classified materials that include secret White House policy deliberations on Iran.

At the heart of the investigation are two people who work at The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. " : Bush, McCain Discuss Ads by Outside Groups:

"LAS CRUCES, N.M. Aug. 26, 2004 — President Bush wants to work with Republican Sen. John McCain to go to court against political ads by "shadowy" outside groups, the White House said Thursday amid growing pressure on the president to denounce attacks on John Kerry's war record.

"We want to pursue court action," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to New Mexico. "The president said if the court action doesn't work, that he would be willing to pursue legislative action with Sen. McCain on that........"

Bush has criticized all outside group attack ads, including the Swift Boat Veterans group's first commercial. He has said he wants the ads to stop, but has not explicitly condemned the charges made in the Swift Boat ad.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the court action envisioned by the Bush team would target all outside ads, or only those aired by the Democratic side.

McClellan said the goal is 'to shut down all of this activity by these shadowy groups.'

But the only complaint the Bush campaign and the GOP have filed with the Federal Election Commission accused the Kerry campaign of illegally coordinating millions of dollars worth of anti-Bush ads with Democratic-leaning soft-money groups, Bush-Cheney spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

It was the FEC's May 13 decision not to act on the complaint that allows the Bush campaign to turn to legal action, McClellan said.

'The FEC had an opportunity to act,' McClellan said. 'They did not act so that allows those who filed those complaints to pursue action against the FEC.'

The Kerry campaign filed its own complaint last week with the FEC, alleging that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was illegally coordinating its efforts with the Bush-Cheney campaign.

All sides deny the allegations, and neither campaign has produced proof of coordination on the part of its rival."

I love how government works. We just went through a long, hard fought battle to overhaul completely our nation's campaign finance laws. Now they find loopholes and problems. Now they need even more regulation. What's the point? Let anyone who has money buy an ad. Money IS free speech. All these rules to limit it really just limit political speech. First they regulated each party's speech, now they want to regulate any political group that even slightly affiliated with a point of view. So now if the average person wants to make a political statement, they had better get a lawyer, and fill out paperwork with the government. And the talking heads on the TV wonder why no one wants to get involved in politics any more other than crooks.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Human chips more than skin-deep-
There's not a lot of middle ground on the subject of implanting electronic identification chips in humans.

Safety has been a primary driver in some U.S. applications as well. An Arizona company called Technology Systems International, for example, says it has improved security in prisons with an RFID-like system for inmates and guards. The company's products came out in 2001 and are based on technology licensed from Motorola, which created it for the U.S. military to find gear lost in battle.

TSI's wristbands for inmates transmit signals every two seconds to a battery of antennas mounted in the prison facility. By examining the time the signal is received by each antenna, a computer can determine the exact location of each prisoner at any given time and can reconstruct prisoners' movements later, if necessary to investigate their actions.

Since the technology was installed at participating prisons, violence is down up to 60 percent in some facilities, said TSI President Greg Oester, who says the wristbands are designed for the "uncooperative user." TSI, a division of security company Alanco Technologies, has installed the system in four prisons and will add a fifth soon.

"Inmates know they are being monitored and know they will get caught. The word spreads very quickly," Oester said. "It increases the safety in facilities."

In a California prison that uses the TSI technology, an inmate confessed to stabbing another prisoner 20 minutes after authorities showed him data from his radio transmitter that placed him in the victim's cell at the time of the stabbing, Oester said. A women's prison in the state has begun a pilot program to test whether the technology prevents sexual assaults.

Conversely, at an Illinois prison, Oester said, convicts have pointed to this sort of data as a way to prove that they weren't involved in prison incidents. Guards have similar tags, embedded in pagers rather than wristbands, which set off an alarm if they are removed or tampered with.

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Pakistan turns on itself
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

KARACHI - Under immense pressure from the United States, a slow and gradual operation has begun in Pakistan against the strongest political voice of Islamists and the real mother of international Islamic movements, of which Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front is the spoiled child.

In a surprise move this week, Pakistan's federal minister of the interior, Faisal Saleh Hayat, listed a number of incidences in which members of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), the premier fundamentalist party in the country, had been tied to al-Qaeda, and called on it to "explain these links".

"It is a matter of concern that Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a main faction of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal [MMA], has neither dissociated itself from its activists having links with the al-Qaeda network nor condemned their activities," Faisal said, adding that "one could derive a meaning out of its silence".

The MMA is an alliance of six religious parties that gained unprecedented electoral victories in national elections in 2002. One of its members is the leader of the opposition in the Lower House, while the MMA controls the provincial government in North West Frontier Province. It also forms part of a coalition government in Balochistan province. The MMA has 67 seats in the 342-seat National Assembly, with just under a third of them held by the JI.

Asia Times Online predicted that the JI would be targeted (Jihadi's arrest a small step for Pakistan , Aug 10) and now contacts confirm that moves have already started against associates of the JI in its strongest political constituency, Karachi. The next phase will most likely be in Rawalpindi and southern Punjab. Several close affiliates are believed to have been arrested by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) without charges being laid against them.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Saddam agents on Syria border helped move banned materials - The Washington Times::

"Saddam Hussein periodically removed guards on the Syrian border and replaced them with his own intelligence agents who supervised the movement of banned materials between the two countries, U.S. investigators have discovered.
The recent discovery by the Bush administration's Iraq Survey Group (ISG) is fueling speculation, but is not proof, that the Iraqi dictator moved prohibited weapons of mass destruction (WMD) into Syria before the March 2003 invasion by a U.S.-led coalition.
Two defense sources told The Washington Times that the ISG has interviewed Iraqis who told of Saddam's system of dispatching his trusted Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to the border, where they would send border inspectors away.
The shift was followed by the movement of trucks in and out of Syria suspected of carrying materials banned by U.N. sanctions. Once the shipments were made, the agents would leave and the regular border guards would resume their posts.
'If you leave it to border guards, then the border guards could stop the trucks and extract their 10 percent, just like the mob would do,' said a Pentagon official who asked not to be named. 'Saddam's family was controlling the black market, and it was a good opportunity for them to make money.'
Sources said Saddam and his family grew rich from this black market and personally dispatched his dreaded intelligence service to the border to make sure the shipments got through.
The ISG is a 1,400-member team organized by the Pentagon and CIA to hunt for Saddam's suspected stockpiles of WMD, such as chemical and biological agents. So far, the search has failed to find such stockpiles, which were the main reason for President Bush ordering the invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam.
But there is evidence of unusually heavy truck traffic into Syria in the days before the attack, and with it, speculation that some of the trucks contained the banned weapons.
'Of course, it's always suspicious,' the Pentagon official said.
The source said the ISG has confirmed the practice of IIS agents going to the border. Investigators also have heard from Iraqi sources that this maneuver was done days before the war at a time of brisk cross-border movements.
That particular part of the disclosures has not been positively confirmed, the officials said, although it dovetails with Saddam's system of switching guards at a time when contraband was shipped.
The United States spotted the heavy truck traffic via satellite imagery before the war. But spy cameras cannot look through truck canopies, and the ISG has not been able to determine whether any weapons were sent to Syria for hiding. "
Robot with attitude: Armed with shotgun, WMD sensor

Special to World
Monday, August 16, 2004

The U.S. Army has been testing a robot armed with a pump-action shotgun for counter-insurgency missions. The unit has already seen action in Iraq.

In combat, the PackBot can be equipped with a pump-action shotgun system capable of recycling and remote firing. A soldier controls the robot through a joystick and receives streaming video from a front-mounted camera transmitting to a personal digital assistant, or PDA.

The PackBot also comes equipped with a nuclear, biological and chemical sensor package capable of detecting a wide range of NBC contaminants. An infrared camera lens enables the robot to operate in low-light conditions as well.

The PackBot has been tested by the 29th Infantry Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga. as part of the unit's new experimental force platoon. The PackBot weighs about 40 pounds and is propelled by heavy-duty tracks. It has rotating, tracked arms that assist in propulsion and negotiation of obstacles.

The robot was introduced in Iraq in late June, officials said. The Army has also deployed advanced robot control systems with the 25th Infantry Division in Afghanistan.

[On Aug. 8, the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq announced that Iraqi security forces received "massive shipments" of weapons and material over the past week. The shipments for the Iraqi military and National Guard were said to have included more than 2,500 vehicles, 600 radios, 55,000 weapons and 25,000 pieces of body armor.]

Officials said one use of the PackBot has been to transport up to 30 pounds of munitions or medical supplies to personnel trapped under fire. The robot reportedly costs $42,000.

The PackBot has been operated through an advanced robot control system, officials said. The system allows for the remote control of different types of unmanned robotics elements and expands the communication capabilities from firing teams to higher echelons.

PackBot is manufactured by iRobot Corp. in Burlington, Mass.

Friday, August 13, 2004

My Way News-Olympic opening ceremonies.:

"Behind him more than 10,500 athletes streamed into the stadium.

There was huge applause for Afghanistan on its return to Olympic competition after an eight-year absence and with its first female athletes.

The entrance of the more than 500-member U.S. team - led by basketball guard Dawn Staley - drew cheers. But some people also stood and put their thumbs down in an apparent show of displeasure for the war in Iraq.

Moments later, the Iraqis entered to a roaring ovation."

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Terrorism & Security | csmonitor.comRoad to Al Qaeda runs through Pakistan
Computer files show web of terrorist contacts reaches from Pakistan to US and Britain.
by Jim Bencivenga |

The spotlight on Al Qaeda's plans to target big banks and financial icons in New York, Washington, and London, as well as the discovery of a terror cell intent on bombing Heathrow Airport, is about to get brighter.

And as it does, Pakistan will in turn come under its glare as the United States and England rachet up efforts to crush Al Qaeda, reports the Times of India.

Pakistan is "widely seen as the ground zero of terrorism," and a "flurry of arrests over the last 48 hours of suspected Al Qaeda elements, all of whose trail leads back to Pakistan," further confirms this, reports the Times.

CNN reports that the recent arrests "have exposed an intricate web of Al Qaeda contacts in which the terror network's operational information flowed among Pakistan, Britain and the United States."

Overshadowed by coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Boston, as well as the ongoing conflict in Iraq, has been "an intense Pakistani military operation directed at suspected Al Qaeda hideouts along the Afghan-Pakistan border" reports the Washington Post.

The military effort has forced the fighters out of the rugged remote tribal areas, just inside Pakistan, and into more urban areas, where they are more visible and vulnerable to capture...

And the hoped-for arrests did follow. In all, at least 20 people have been detained in Pakistan in the past month, reports the Associated Press.

But as important as the military action and arrests have proven, the real victory is the major intelligence coup that has resulted, reports the Washington Post.

The seizure of a number of Al Qaeda suspects and the discovery of a cache of computer information ... contributed to last weekend's decision to increase the terror alert in several US cities, Pakistani officials said Thursday.

The capture of Ahmed Khalfan Ghaliani, a Tanzanian indicted by the US for his role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa, and a Pakistani computer expert identified as Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, provided US intelligence agents with their greatest leads, reports the AP. Maps, photographs and other details of possible targets in the US and Britain were found on computers belonging to Mr. Ghailani.

As a result of his arrest in Pakistan, Mr. Khan was "forced to take part in an undercover 'sting' operation to help the authorities in Britain and the US track down key Al Qaeda agents," reports the Times of London.

The arrest of Abu Issa al-Hindi, an Al Qaeda suspect now in custody in Britain, was triggered "after computer forensic specialists [from the US] were dispatched to Pakistan to retrieve and decipher the information found on computers linked to Ghaliani and Khan," reports the New York Times.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Where in Washington, D.C. is Sun Myung Moon?: Rev. Moon's submarines, sold to Kim Jong-Il: nuke threat?: "Rev. Moon's submarines, sold to Kim Jong-Il: nuke threat?

Left: North Korean propaganda poster

NOTE: Please see Thursday's post for an important clarification.

Jane's Defense Weekly is reporting this week that Kim Jong-Il, unstable North Korean dictator (I wrote about his kidnapping habit in the British Guardian) may be able to target California with sea-launched missiles. His know-how, the Reuters story relates [Reiteration added Aug. 3: I said his know-how, not actual launching platforms], comes from 12 ex-Soviet submarines that fell into his hands. They came with their original launch tubes and stabilizing gear intact. Where does Kim get those wonderful toys?

Funny story: According to U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency documents from 1994 (which you can browse here), they were furnished by Reverend Moon.

Robert Parry, the ace reporter who broke the Iran-Contra story, obtained these files through the Freedom of Information Act while writing his 2000 story, 'Rev. Moon, North Korea and the Bushes,' about Moon's gifts to the Communist regime. Read on, if you dare. (Glossary: KN = North Korea)"

Not sure how true all of this is, but I've become more interested in Rev. Moon since he was "crowned" in the Dirksen federal building, with members of Congress attending, and indeed, in the case of Danny Davis, actually brought the crown to him on a satin pillow while bowing! Moon is hungry for power and influence, and will do almost anything to get it, in my opinion. - U.S. & World - Iraq Evidence Led Feds to Albany Mosque

ALBANY, N.Y. — Information found in Iraq led federal investigators to become suspicious of an Albany, N.Y., mosque leader, FOX News has learned.

Last summer, U.S. troops discovered Yassin Muhhiddin Aref's (search) name, telephone number and address in a book left behind in a vacated terrorist training camp, a U.S. official told FOX News. The book also revealed that Ansar al-Islam, the group running the camp, had given Aref a title: "the commander."

Aref, 34, is the Imam of the Masjid As-Salam mosque in Albany, N.Y. He and one other mosque leader were arrested Thursday and charged with helping an undercover informant posing as a weapons dealer who was plotting to buy a shoulder-launched missile that would be used to kill the Pakistani ambassador in New York City.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Science & Technology at Scientific Where's the Shining Armor? -- New technology aims to better protect soldiers and vehicles in Iraq:

"Americans may view their soldiers as knights in shining armor, but in Iraq, soldiers are often short on protection, particularly while riding their mechanized steeds. As casualties rise, the Pentagon is rushing to equip its soldiers and vehicles with new and better armor. In the short term, soldiers will get body armor upgrades that better guard previously vulnerable areas like the groin and sides of the body. Some vehicles, meanwhile, will be getting special reactive armor designed to thwart rocket attacks. In the long term, however, a soldier's best protection may come from new technologies being developed by military laboratories such as the Office of Naval Research and the Army Research Laboratory.

The shortage of effective armor for troops serving in Iraq borders on the scandalous. Body armor has been in such short supply that soldiers have been buying their own. Supplementary body armor packages that protect the arms and sides of the body began shipping only in May. Soldiers are draping their Kevlar vests over the sides of unarmored Humvees and using scrap wood and metal on the vehicle's floor for makeshift protection against roadside explosives. The army is scrambling to install steel doors and bulletproof glass on Humvees as quickly as possible, a move the Army Material Command estimates could reduce casualties by 25 percent. Some 4,500 Humvees are expected to be 'up-armored' by the end of this month.......

Indeed, the army lists both body armor and wheeled vehicle protection among its top 10 capability gaps. Helping to bridge that gap is a new type of add-on reactive armor jointly developed by Rafael Armament Development Authority in Israel and the General Dynamics' Armament and Technical Products unit in Burlington,Vt. Reactive armor is being added to tracked Bradley fighting vehicles as a counter to RPGs after its successful--and secret--use by Israeli defense forces for many years. According to a spokeperson for General Dynamics, reactive armor consists of 105 tiles that attach to the sides, turret and front of each Bradley. The tiles, which look like small boxes, contain a special explosive charge that detonates when hit by a missile or rocket with a shaped-charge warhead.......

Humvees and Stryker vehicles, however, cannot support the added weight of reactive armor. Just adding steel plating to Humvees places added strain on suspension and drivetrain systems not designed with armor in mind, putting those vehicles out of service more frequently than expected. The solution may be spray-on polymer armor now being developed by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR). The spray-on armor is similar to a polymer commonly used as a spray-on truck bed liner. It's made from either polyurethane, polyurea or a mixture of the two. When applied to steel, the polymer spreads out the shock of an explosion and helps prevent impacted material from shattering. In tests, a 500-pound bomb detonated near two trailers obliterated the unarmored trailer but only buckled the walls of the trailer whose walls were coated with the rubbery polymer."
Science & Technology at Scientific New Peacekeeping Vehicle?:

"Critics contend that the military needs fast, well-protected armored cars like those used by many foreign armies for low-intensity conflicts such as those in Iraq. Heavily armored track vehicles are too slow, but neither is the current crop of wheeled vehicles well suited to the job of peacekeeping. That's because armored Humvees have limited visibility and Strykers may be under-armored and cost 10 times more than Humvees, says Christopher Lamb, a senior research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Marines may just have the perfect peacekeeper, however, although they're not calling it that. The Cougar looks like an oversized armored truck and is designed to be used by explosives disposal teams in Iraq. It comes in two versions: one seats four, and the other seats 12. The truck is encased in thick steel and bulletproof glass for better visibility, and the crew capsule has an angular shape that deflects blast energy away from the vehicle. The vehicle also has roof hatches and weapons ports for returning fire. The first Cougars are due to arrive in Iraq in September. Unfortunately, there will be too few of them. The Marines have ordered only 27 Cougars for explosives disposal work, but Garth Barrett, president and chief technology officer of the company that makes the vehicle, Tactical Solutions Group, of Ladson, S.C., says he expects the vehicle to be used by the army and marines as an armored personnel carrier in the near future."
My Way News Two Albany, N.Y., Mosque Leaders Arrested: "WASHINGTON (AP) - Two leaders of a mosque in Albany, N.Y., were arrested on charges stemming from an alleged plot to purchase a shoulder-fired missile that would be used to assassinate the Pakistani ambassador in New York, according to court papers filed Thursday.

The men have ties to a group called Ansar al-Islam, which has been linked to al-Qaida, according to two federal law enforcement authorities speaking on condition of anonymity. U.S. officials have said that Ansar's members are thought to be affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant whose network is blamed for attacks on U.S. forces and their allies in Iraq."

Hmmm. Members of an Iraq-based terrorist group supported by Saddam, and having links to Zarqawi and Al Qaida, planning attacks in the United States. I thought there weren't any terrorists from Iraq?

Monday, August 02, 2004 - Politics - Army Looks at New Choppers:

WASHINGTON — The Army is overhauling its helicopter corps after high-profile setbacks in Iraq . A battle lost, several crashes and the cancellation of the new Comanche (search) stealth helicopter have led critics to suggest the aircraft is too fragile, vulnerable and ineffective for the modern battlefield.

Army officials point to a plan to take the $14.6 billion intended for the Comanche program and use that money to deal with problems in the helicopter service. A new scout helicopter is planned. Upgrades are in the works for aging Black Hawk and Chinook transports and Apache gunships. Pilots will get more cockpit training before joining combat units.

Army officials insist combat helicopters can fight in unmatched ways.

"You can't get one commander in Iraq to let one helicopter come home," said Brig. Gen. E. J. Sinclair, commandant of the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., in an interview.

"Fixed-wings (jets) are great, ... but can they get down and do the rooting in a low level in the cities? Can they see down the alleyways? Right now they can't," he said.

During the invasion of Iraq, in the early morning of March 24, 2003, Iraqi forces ambushed 30 Apaches from the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment, shot down one and forced the others to retreat.

The Apaches were conducting a deep strike against the tanks and artillery of the Medina Division of the Iraqi Republican Guard. Due to a delay in refueling some of the helicopters, the mission started more than two hours later than planned. This gave the Iraqis time to recover from preattack strikes by artillery missiles and Air Force jets.

Still, the mission went forward, at the direction of confident officers who believed they could repeat the Apache's successes of the Persian Gulf War.

Someone blinked the lights on and off in the town below to signal the helicopters' approach. Iraqi gunners targeted their weapons just above the tops of electrical power poles, knowing that American pilots are trained to fly directly over poles to avoid hitting hard-to-spot wires.

Every Apache was hit by either small arms or anti-aircraft fire. One went down; its pilots were captured and later rescued. The rest withdrew, many with 20 bullet holes or more. It took a month of repairs before the regiment could bring its full firepower to bear.

"We got hit. That's the bad news. The good news is we had some great heroics that night and some tremendous flying," said Gen. Richard Cody, vice chief of staff of the Army and a former Apache pilot, in a recent interview. "They shot the heck out of those airplanes, and the aircraft just kept flying."

The mission was a proper use of the Apaches, but it was poorly executed, Army officials say, and should have been scrubbed when the problems arose.

"'I disagree with people saying the attack helicopter's role has been diminished by that mission. I think we gave the attack helicopters a mission that wasn't quite suited for them at the time,' Cody said.

But to critics such as retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, a former Air Force chief of staff, helicopters are too slow and easy to detect. He says they should stay close to the front lines or work in tandem with Air Force strike jets.

'You start operating helicopters over hostile territory, I think you've got very serious problems,' McPeak said.

Other missions also met with problems in Iraq.

One was scrubbed because of sandstorms and poor visibility. In a second, helicopters conducted a successful attack against the Republican Guards' Medina division, but two helicopters crashed during a dust storm at takeoff.

During the postwar occupation, Iraqi insurgents have shot down several helicopters, including troop-filled transports, which has led to heavy loss of life.

Sinclair said commanders studied each enemy shooting and altered their tactics. A helicopter has not gone down to enemy fire since April 11.

In combat, pilots have learned to race and strafe and dive at their targets, leaving themselves exposed to enemy fire for only a short time.

'We went through every aircraft that was shot down and confirmed what shot it down, how it was shot down, where it was shot down,' Sinclair said. 'We changed the way we fight. We're being shot at every day, but our soldiers are adapting to it.'

In addition, commanders emphasize the helicopter's ability to support troops in urban warfare, lingering overhead to hit concealed targets that jets and artillery are unable to target precisely.

The Army is planning to build almost 800 new helicopters, including a new scout to replace the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, and a new utility helicopter. Attack helicopter companies are expanding from six Apaches to eight."
The New York Times > Washington > Intelligence: Captured Qaeda Figure Led Way to Information Behind Warning: "ASHINGTON, Aug. 1 - The unannounced capture of a figure from Al Qaeda in Pakistan several weeks ago led the Central Intelligence Agency to the rich lode of information that prompted the terror alert on Sunday, according to senior American officials.

The figure, Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, was described by a Pakistani intelligence official as a 25-year-old computer engineer, arrested July 13, who had used and helped to operate a secret Qaeda communications system where information was transferred via coded messages.

A senior United States official would not confirm or deny that Mr. Khan had been the Qaeda figure whose capture led to the information. But the official said 'documentary evidence' found after the capture had demonstrated in extraordinary detail that Qaeda members had for years conducted sophisticated and extensive reconnaissance of the financial institutions cited in the warnings on Sunday.

One senior American intelligence official said the information was more detailed and precise than any he had seen during his 24-year career in intelligence work. A second senior American official said it had provided a new window into the methods, content and distribution of Qaeda communications.

'This, for us, is a potential treasure trove,' said a third senior American official, an intelligence expert, at a briefing for reporters on Sunday afternoon.".........

The American officials said the new evidence had been obtained only after the capture of the Qaeda figure. Among other things, they said, it demonstrated that Qaeda plotters had begun casing the buildings in New York, Newark and Washington even before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Among the questions the plotters sought to answer, senior American intelligence officials said, were how best to gain access to the targeted buildings; how many people might be at the sites at different hours and on different days of the week; whether a hijacked oil tanker truck could serve as an effective weapon; and how large an explosive device might be required to bring the buildings down.


A domestic centerpiece of the Bush/GOP agenda for a second Bush term is getting rid of the Internal Revenue Service, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

The Speaker of the House will push for replacing the nation's current tax system with a national sales tax or a value added tax, Hill sources tell DRUDGE.

"People ask me if I’m really calling for the elimination of the IRS, and I say I think that’s a great thing to do for future generations of Americans," Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert explains in his new book, to be released on Wednesday.

"Pushing reform legislation will be difficult. Change of any sort seldom comes easy. But these changes are critical to our economic vitality and our economic security abroad," Hastert declares in SPEAKER: LESSONS FROM FORTY YEARS IN COACHING AND POLITICS.

"“If you own property, stock, or, say, one hundred acres of farmland and tax time is approaching, you don’t want to make a mistake, so you’re almost obliged to go to a certified public accountant, tax preparer, or tax attorney to help you file a correct return. That costs a lot of money. Now multiply the amount you have to pay by the total number of people who are in the same boat. You can’t. No one can because precise numbers don’t exist. But we can stipulate that we’re talking about a huge amount. Now consider that a flat tax, national sales tax, or VAT would not only eliminate the need to do this, it could also eliminate the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) itself and make the process of paying taxes much easier."

"By adopting a VAT, sales tax, or some other alternative, we could begin to change productivity. If you can do that, you can change gross national product and start growing the economy. You could double the economy over the next fifteen years. All of a sudden, the problem of what future generations owe in Social Security and Medicare won’t be so daunting anymore. The answer is to grow the economy, and the key to doing that is making sure we have a tax system that attracts capital and builds incentives to keep it here instead of forcing it out to other nations."


Sunday, August 01, 2004 : Sources: Al Qaeda Again Targeting New York:

"Border Worries

Intelligence sources say al Qaeda plans to move non-Arab terrorists across the border with Mexico.

Authorities already have in custody a woman of Pakistani-origin arrested after crossing into Texas. She carried a South African passport with several of the pages torn out, $7,000 in cash and an airplane ticket to New York.

New York is already on heightened alert for the Republican National Convention, which meets at Madison Square Garden in a month and will bring scores of high government officials to town.

The sources tell ABC News that Wall Street firms may be among the targeted U.S. corporations based in New York City. Which corporations or how many may be targeted has not been revealed. "
Retired Gen. Tommy Franks Says U.S. Should Put Iraq On 5-Year Plan: "Franks Talks Candidly In Exclusive Interview With PARADE Magazine About War, Israel, Saddam and Osama NEW YORK, July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who led U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, says he never thought the U.S. could be out of Iraq in a year. Five years, he says, is a realistic timeline. 'It takes time to solve problems when you're talking about 25 to 26 million people,' Franks tells PARADE magazine for this Sunday's issue, noting that Iraq has to dig itself out of a '30-year hole.' Franks, 59, who retired from the military in July 2003, had a lot to say in this exclusive interview with PARADE, his first national interview since leaving command:

* The biggest surprise for him was that they've found no weapons of mass
destruction (WMD), the "reason we went to war." He says multiple
Middle Eastern leaders, including Jordan's King Abdullah and Egypt's
Hosni Mubarak, told Franks that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
In January 2003, Mubarak said point blank to Franks, "Saddam has
WMD-biologicals, actually-and he will use them on your troops."

* Franks and his warplanners expected 150,000 additional international
troops to help with peacekeeping operations. They never materialized.

* Franks singles out White House Counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke as
never providing him with "a single page of actionable intelligence" and
of engaging in mostly wishful thinking. Franks also believes the U.S.
invested too much in electronic spy surveillance and not enough in
spies. "We can't send a Princeton-educated New York lawyer to
infiltrate al-Qaeda. To get information, we have to marry the devil or
at least employ him. You have to deal.".......

* Franks was disappointed that the Iraqis initially chose looting and
insurgency over pulling together to rehabilitate their country --
immediately coming out to guard museums, weapons depots, etc.

* Franks openly rebuts and takes issue with the long-standing "Powell
doctrine" of over-whelming military force. Powell criticized Franks'
warplans for Iraq, drawing his ire..........

* Franks believes the world is "far safer" without Saddam Hussein. Asked
about Osama bin Laden, he says that, unlike Saddam, who was hated in
Iraq, tens of thousands of Arab families would happily take Osama in as
their hero. Franks believes Osama will be caught eventually, "even
though we don't have enough sources on the ground.""