“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Guest Post from Habu

Secret rocket-ball weapon may be effective against WMD facilities

One of the major problems in attacking the WMD facilities of rogue nations is the destruction of these facilities may scatter the toxic materials over a wide area; a secret Pentagon weapon program aims to address this problem

As Iran gets closer to developing nuclear weapons, accompanied by testing of more and more sophisticated missiles, and North Korea slows down its nuclear disarmament, the search for means forcibly to defang rouge nations of their unconventional capabilities continues. David Hambling writes that the Pentagon has a new secret weapon to neutralize sites containing chemical or biological weapons: rocket balls. These are hollow spheres made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno. The manufacturers call them "kinetic fireball incendiaries." Published documents show that the fireballs have undergone tests on underground bunkers.

There are, of course, many types of bombs which could destroy a lab, and bunker-busting weapons can destroy or do serious damage to hardened underground facilities. Blowing up weapons of mass destruction is not a good idea, because using high explosives will likely scatter the toxic materials over a wide area. Two special high-temperature incendiary bombs -- named "CrashPAD" and "Shredder" -- were rushed into service for the use against WMDs few years ago. The filler for both is a combination of explosive and incendiary, which is more effective than explosive alone, but hardly safe. An explosion causes overpressure and releases a plume of hazardous material, but without explosives the incendiary will not be adequately dispersed. Hambling points out that the incendiary must also maintain the temperature for a prolonged period in order to ensure that anything dangerous is destroyed. Existing incendiaries are not suitable because they tend to burn fiercely but quickly.

One solution is replacing the standard explosive or incendiary with a load of kinetic fireballs, described in this proposal. Each fireball is a hollow spherical shell with a hole in it; when the inside is ignited, the hole acts as a rocket nozzle. The kinetic fireballs eject an extremely high-temperature exhaust which will heat up the surrounding volume to more than 1,000 F within seconds. Their random ricocheting around ensures that they will fill any space they occupy, and they are capable of diffusing throughout a multiroom structure.

The inventor of the rocket ball is Kevin Mahaffy, who was an engineer at Air Force Research Laboratory's Rocket Propulsion Division. He then spent three years as the chief of the Motor Branch overseeing solid and hybrid rocket propulsion. Mahaffy's company, Exquadrum Inc., has received contracts from the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, or DTRA, which is tasked with tackling WMD threats. Hambling notes that DTRA says that the fireball project progressed under an SBIR program completed in 2006, and resulted in a 2,000-pound BLU-109 bomb filled with a payload of fireballs, which was tested against a multiroom bunker.

Hambling writes that "The kinetic fireballs might be an effective way of dealing with chemical and biological WMDs safely. They might also be effective against nuclear facilities, as again they can effectively spread destruction throughout a complex without breaking it open and spreading radioactivity." He concludes: "[I]f you're running a chem/bio weapons lab and assuming they won't risk attacking you -- be afraid."

The newby is a nuclear deep penetrating bomb that has already been tested to below 150 feet with delayed detonation.

The first part of this was out very recently. The other is not out or hasn't made it out yet but no doubt will.


  1. gee jiminy crickets batman

    You've just exposed the sensitive secrets of our glorious nation. Doesn't that make you a traitor or sumtin'?

  2. An Oddessy. Take your protein pills and put your helmut on.

  3. commencing countdown engines on.

  4. I can think of a couple places for those rocket balls. Cousin Sally's house, and Congress. Toss one in the Illinois Governor's Mansion, too.

  5. Sounds like a nifty pyrotechnic.

    Would have to be the size of a baseball, I'd imagine. Maybe even a softball. To keep the temperatures high for an extended period. Maybe even basketball size.

    Wonder how they penetrate steel doors, or if the overpressure from the blast ruptures those doors, allowing the burning bouncing balls access.

    Wonder what type of pyrotechnic technologies the Taliban used upon those 160 trucks they burned, to include 70 HUMVEEs, in Peshawar, Pakistan?

    Betcha it was nothing so fancy as kinetic fireballs.


    ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan said Tuesday it would not hand over suspects in the Mumbai terror strikes to India and warned that while it wanted peace with its neighbour, it was ready for war if New Delhi decided to attack.

    The remarks came as Indian police on Tuesday released the names of nine suspected gunmen killed in the carnage, reiterating that all of them came from Pakistan.

    Tensions have been mounting between the nuclear-armed neighbours after India said it was keeping all options open following last month's attacks on its financial capital, where 172 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.

    "We do not want to impose war but we are fully prepared in case war is imposed on us," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said.

    "We are not oblivious to our responsibilities to defend our homeland. But it is our desire that there should be no war."

    Indian officials say the hardline Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is based in Pakistan despite being banned by the government, is behind the bloodshed, and Indian media have suggested there could be Indian strikes on militant camps.

  6. However, the US aversion to putting its troops on the ground is clear. Despite all the risks and Pakistan's record of diverting foreign aid to its military against India, the report goes on to say that US should continue funding Pakistan.

    But it adds that the funding should be increased to improve the quality of life for Pakistanis.

    "Current US assistance to Pakistan reflects the decision to make tactical, near-term military and security concerns a priority over long-term efforts to bolster Pakistan's democracy and its prospects for economic development. Over the past six years, the US supported Pakistan with a mix of military, security, economic, and social aid, totaling $12 billion.

    Roads Lead to Pakistan

  7. On the surface, last week’s attack on Mumbai was remarkable for its execution and apparently unconventional tactics. But when compared to a plot uncovered 15 years ago that targeted prominent hotels in Manhattan, it becomes apparent that the Mumbai attack was not so original after all.

    In July 1993, U.S. counterterrorism agents arrested eight individuals later convicted of plotting an elaborate, multistage attack on key sites in Manhattan. The militants, who were linked to Osama bin Laden’s then-relatively new group, al Qaeda, planned to storm the island armed with automatic rifles, grenades and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


    A little more than fifteen years later, the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai closely followed the script of the New York plot. Militants armed with AK-47s, grenades and military-grade explosives carried out a very logistically sophisticated and coordinated attack on the financial capital of India.

    Mumbai Attack

  8. Here's a series of articles getting the dirt on Obama--Evelyn Pringles operation board games and curtain time for Obama.

    December 9, 2008 at 6:35 p

    susan h

    If anyone out there thinks that Obama is not tied to the corruption here in Illinois alongside of Rezko, Blajogevich and others, then there is some swamp land in Tennessee I want to sell you. That is politics as usual in Illinois and Obama was part of the process that allowed Tony Rezko (convicted of many counts of corruption) to receive all the money and deals he was involved in, while Rezko provided sub-standard housing to residents of Obama’s congressional district.

    I am sure you all remember how Obama paid super-delegates to vote for him in the phony roll call in Denver out of the multi-millions he amassed from citizens of America and who knows how many foreign countries. Obama and the DNC broke every rule of law to enable THE CHOSEN ONE to become president; Obama learned many tricks of the trade while a senator in Springfield that served him well running for president.

    The only question now is, will Blajogevich take the fall alone or will he implicate Obama and others in corruption going back to Obama’s junior senate days. Perhaps they will continue to cover up for Obama and then hope he gives Rod (Blajogevich) and Tony (Rezko) a pardon. Pardons seem to be the standard fare for politicians, celebrities and the like, so Obama will no doubt dangle a pardon over Blajogevich to pay for his silence. Except he better be sure no one is wire-tapping the phone when that conversation takes place.

  9. RUSH: Now, this just is mind-boggling. "Several Democratic operatives from Illinois say the Illinois state legislature will likely move as quickly as possible to hold impeachment proceedings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), in attempts to prevent the jailed governor from appointing President-elect Barack Obama’s successor in the Senate."


    There's no such thing as an ethical violation if you're a Democrat. Only Republicans are capable of that because Republicans publicly state that they have standards.

    They have morals, they have this or that, and they think people ought to live by them. The Democrats say, to hell with all that, and so they can't be accused of hypocrisy.

    Nothing New

  10. Tonight on Coast-To-Coast--

    Tue 12.09 >>
    Founder of the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, Dr. Jeffrey Long MD will discuss ground breaking new data about NDEs including some of the most compelling evidence to date.

  11. It says a lot that Near Death Experiences are relegated to the night shift right along with UFOs, Bigfoot, Zero Point Energy. Edgar Cayce, Mr. Obama's birth records, Richard Hoagland, HAARP, Area 51, Black Helicopters, and Folk Cures for Gout.

  12. You're not a playfulparanormalist.

  13. Whoa, Mach 20 acceleration on that sucker.

    The Illinois governor was withholding, or going to withhold, or trying to withhold, $8 million from Children's Memorial Hospital unless he got a $50,000 kickback to his 'campaign fund'.

    Got to be a special level in hell for a guy like that.

    He's out now on $4,500 bail, I heard on the radio.

    Some Chicago judge, no doubt.

  14. Would not be at all surprised if the governor had an accident, and died.

  15. Hadn't thought of that, but, accidents happen, and dead men tell no tales. :)

    He might even "commit suicide".

  16. December 09, 2008

    Aide: Ax 'misspoke'

    An Obama aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, took back David Axelrod's remark last month that Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich had spoken recently.

    "What the president-elect said today is correct, David Axelrod misspoke," the aide said.

    Obama said today the men had not spoken.

    An open question: When they last spoke.

    UPDATE: Axelrod says the same in a statement:

    I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.

    The statement doesn't answer a question that I've asked, so far fruitlessly, of the transition, which is when Obama and Blagojevich last spoke on any subject, and what about.
    Ben Smith

  17. Based on the indictment, it remains unclear whether any close Obama associate knew that Blagojevich was seeking monetary gain in return for the Senate appointment. It is possible that having such knowledge without reporting it to authorities in a timely way could raise serious legal issues.

    That's what I've wondered. If one is offered a bribe in such a circumstance, does one have a legal duty to report it?

    What Did Obama Know And When Did He Know It?

  18. Mr. Obama says that's not the Governor Blagojevich that he knew, and it's a great tragedy. Mistakes were made. Sure, he's been in smoke filled rooms with the guy, but Barry says he didn't like it and he didn't even inhale.

  19. Another connection is Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Chicago real estate developer and one-time fund-raiser for both men. Obama severed ties with Rezko, who was found guilty of corruption earlier this year, but their relationship caused him some embarrassment during the presidential election campaign.

    "I don't think that this is going to impact one iota on Barack Obama," said Democratic strategist Doug Schoen. "Given the nature of the problems we're facing in the country, this has no relevance.

    No impact."

    Governor Charges

  20. How can those people be so dumb as to talk this stuff over a telephone? That's what I don't get. Maybe they had his office bugged, I don't know. But, they should have suspected that, too. Business like this ought to be done on a park bench, among trusted colleagues.

  21. over-confidence.

    Ask Spitzer.

  22. Business like this ought to be done on a park bench, among trusted colleagues.

    Call me. We'll set a meeting. :D

  23. Who's Habu clubbing in the clip?

  24. Here's a good story by a Chicagoan--

    Apologies for the length. I thought some might be interested in the local view.

    I don't think that other Illinois pols threw Blago to the Feds--other than possibly some recent pressure from Rahm to avert a really ugly post-appointment scandal. Everyone in Chicago has suspected that Blago is a crook for at least a couple of years. You can see that going back to old posts in my blog.

    As far as the impetus for the investigation, I believe that goes back to North Shore attorney Stuart Levine who was engineering all sorts of pay-to-play deals and shakedowns involving another fellow and Rezko. Levine, a meth addict, was completely out of control and took to shaking down respectable corporate heads in the most crass, brazen ways. Needless to say, some of the shakees were appalled and went to the feds. That’s when the feds launched a major investigation. An often psychotic Levine folded like a cheap tent and the feds moved up the food chain to G-Rod. The only thing that surprised me was that it took so long. Then again, the George Ryan pre-indictment investigation phase seemed interminable at the time.

    The Daley's didn't have it in for Blago and I doubt they had any hand in his downfall. They'll work with anyone and they seem to stay out of each other's business, other than doing state-city related business on the up and up.

    What is amazing to me is that Daley has had so many of his own top people and close friends fall, yet he remains untouchable. Now there is a guy who seems like a mob don who knows how to whisper in ways that can't be recorded. Imagine Daley going for a little boat ride down the Chicago River--just an outing with a friend who also happens to be a developer. The two of them stand at the railing and as they pass some old factory space and Daley just idly says, to no one in particular, something like "gee, that would be a great place for a park." Next thing you know, friend buys the condemned property for nothing, then the city takes an interest in the property and buys it from the friend.

    The alderpersons have their own franchises and play the same game. The city council almost always does whatever Daley wants. In return, alderpersons have virtual dictatorial control of city resources in their wards and defacto control of zoning. And wouldn't you know it, many of them have spouses and friends in the real estate business. They buy a lot, a building or a factory, get it rezoned when others couldn't, and walk away with a fortune, sometimes without doing a damned thing to the property. Many of the alderpersons are both greedy and stupid and they get so greedy and explicit about their deals, demanding direct personal payoffs, they end up getting caught much in the same manner that Blago got caught. The smarter one's just get rich.

    Why do Chicagoans go along with it? Everybody knows somebody or knows somebody that knows somebody and you can get stubborn problems resolved very fast with the right phone call. (The well known Chicago corollary is “We don’t want to see nobody that nobody sent.”)

    A personal example of problem resolution Chicago style: years ago when I was first starting in practice, my business partner and I purchased a condo in a building undergoing conversion. We signed a contract with a clear schedule for the build-out, leaving ourselves plenty of room time-wise for launch day. But as the deadline approached, the developer was swamped and the offices were still unusable the day before we needed them. Our efforts to pressure the project manager met with nothing but abuse and indifference to our situation.

    I was dating a woman at the time who was in charge of project managers with a different contractor that did city work. She knew everyone with the building department. When I told her what was happening she told me she would fix it and not to worry. I kid you not, 15 minutes after I got off the phone with her, the project manager for the condo conversion called me and sheepishly asked if she could send a construction super up to the unit. Within a half hour, we had maybe 8 men working until everything was completed to our satisfaction and, most important, before the day was out. Girlfriend had called the head of buildings for the city and he had taken care of it immediately.

    Many of us here have had those experiences. So, it's a strange world where Chicagoans decry the criminality of it all, but enjoy personalized service when they need it most. That dictatorial control of resources is a helluva device. It’s why many candidates here repeatedly win office with 80-20 and even 90-10 margins.
    #12 Dr X on 2008-12-09 22:47

    pilfered from Maggie's Farm

  25. Linear,

    Went on a t-shirt run around north Bogota last night. Have your black XL Hooters', if you're still interested. Email me at w/ address (previous one is long since into the black hole of the 'net). Our embassy mail run is Thursday.

    (Our son's already covered. Got the Colombian SpecOps t-shirt. Which he will wear back home with an eye toward impressing the serenely unknowing and uncaring.)

    Rat, I will pit my warm and fuzzy feelings for Sec Gates against your man-crush on the previous occupant of that office any day.

  26. Rummy got Bush wacked in Iraq, not all his fault.

    He may have thought we'd won and we should have left, or not.

    Mr Gates assures US we cannot win. Which is good to know, if we want to be 'good to go'.

  27. Despite the gravity of the crisis, our closest neighbor has fallen off our political radar. Heaven help you if you bring up the border violence at a Washington dinner party. Nobody -- Republican or Democrat -- wants to approach this thorny discussion.

    Mexico, our second-largest trading partner, is a fragmenting state that may spiral toward failure as the recession and drug violence worsen. Remittances to Mexico from immigrant labor have fallen almost 20% in 2008. Following oil, tourism and remittances, drugs are the leading income stream in the Mexican economy.

    While the bottom is dropping out of the oil and tourism markets, the American street price of every narcotic has skyrocketed, in part because of recent drug interdiction successes along the U.S. border.

    Unfortunately, this toxic economic cocktail also stuffs the cartels' coffers. Substitute tribal clans for drug cartels, and Mexico starts to look disturbingly similar to Afghanistan, whose economy is fueled by the heroin-based poppy trade.

    Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Obama's pick for Homeland Security director, has argued for permanently stationing National Guard troops along the border. That response alone will do little to assuage American border citizens. To them, talk of "violence bleeding over" is political pabulum while they watch their southern neighbors bleed.

    If Napolitano wishes to stabilize the border, she will have to persuade the Pentagon and the State Department to take a greater interest in Mexico. Despite Calderon's commendable efforts to fight both the cartels and police corruption, this struggle shows no signs of slowing. When 45,000 federal troops are outgunned and outspent by opponents of uncertain but robust size, the state's legitimacy quickly deteriorates.

    The Mexican state has not faced this grave a challenge to its authority since the Mexican revolution nearly a century ago.

    If you want to see what Mexico will look like if this pattern continues, visit a border city like Tijuana, where nine beheaded bodies were discovered in plastic bags 10 days ago. Inhale the stench of decay. Inspect the fear on the faces. And then ask yourself how the United States is prepared to respond as Mexico's crisis increasingly becomes our own.

    David J. Danelo is the author of "The Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide" and "Blood Stripes: The Grunt's View of the War in Iraq."

  28. Rat, the love affair with Rumsfeld was always about style rather than substance. And it's fair to note that even in the latter category, he was a dismal failure. In either, no one in that position had taken a more minute, controlling interest in remote events since MacNamara.

    "Mr Gates assures US we cannot win."

    What Gates said is that we cannot prevail through kinetic operations alone, an observation neither novel nor controversial - especially among those who have been there, done that and who are there, doing that.

    I can understand and, to a short point, sympathize with the nahncees and the whiskeys - though their justified praise and admiration for Petraeus is humorously at odds with their coexisting penchant for the third conjecture. Yet the nahncees and whiskeys are also buffoons, as goofy in their own right as those who insist that any and all pointy operations undertaken by us and/or our allies are a crime and a crying shame. I don't think we should be eager to emulate either school of asshat-ery, do you?

  29. You Bar Boys fell for it:
    Whole deal was a ploy to get Habu's Home Movies in the headline.

  30. That was really a dumbshit Idea of Rummy and Garner's to not dismantle the Army and get out quick. we would have missed the long war.
    Not to mention the insurgency caused by doing the opposite.

  31. No, but the point remains the same.

    The US was attacked by terrorists sponsored by the intelligence services of Pakistan. This is undisputable. All that could be debated is the level of control the ISI had.
    Which matters not at all.

    Mr Sowell tells US that if the suicide cultists ever develop nuclear capacity, the end is near. They have nuclear capacity, today, in Pakistan.
    The Paki Army motto,
    "Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah", instructive in its' choice of a religous tone.

    Faith, Piety and Jihad.
    The definition of jihad varies, as we all know, already. wiki using the most benign. "strive in the path of Allah"

    The War in Afghanistan is only authorized as it relates to the miscreants of 9-11, all the other 'Nation building' missions are merely imperial over reach by the Executive and the military under his command.

    The enemy that is named in the 9-14-01 Authorization for Use of Force are those that attacked US on 9-11-01 and their sponsors.
    That list is short and resides in Pakistan, for the most part.

    The US can remove the Pakistani nuclear terrorist threat and do so without committing ground troops into the country. We can remove the active threat that Pakistan is by isolating them from the world, until they surrender.

  32. The payment of tens of billions of US dollars in tribute to the Pakistani Army has not diminished their use of terror, on the international scene.

    That the ISI coordinated a bombing, in Kabul, is an act of war, against a Nato occupied country, and by extension US, again.

    That the Pakistani refuse to turn oover the terrorist mastermind of the Bombay attacks, for trial in India, an exact equivilancy to the Taliban not handing over Osama, in 2001.

    It is all the same war, with Pakistan at the epicenter of the real Axis of Evil. That the Federal Socialists in DC, both military and civilian refuse to admit it, does not change the reality of it.

  33. Like the idea of pulling out CENTCOM toot sweet and leaving V Corps in charge of the entire theater, then having them stand around with their thumbs up their asses as freedom's happy messiness sweeps the capitol.

    'Course, when you've billed your war to the public as the shortest, sweetest gig in the history of same, where's the incentive to stabilize your AOR - much less acknowledge the gathering chaos?

  34. Added to all that, Pakistan is by far the most prolific of nuclear weaponry technology proliferators.

  35. You, trish, as much or more than the others that comment, see the Federal camp as divided, splintered and factionalized.

    Seeing all the trees.

    When in fact, it is a forest.

    Remember that no General can win the "Long War" they can only be embaressed by an error. A defeat on their watch, not only on the ground, but in the Press.

    The humiliation of Abu Ghraib prison not caused by the living conditions, but the activities of Spec4's and NCO's playing recreational sex games with the prisoners, while on duty.
    Then disrespecting the authority of the Command, so much so as to e-mail the foreplay photos to their friends, Stateside.

    Then, that no officer was found responsible for the lack of discipline within that prison command, that was almost criminal. Said, to me, that the behaviours of those troops were more the norm than an abberation.

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  37. A few threads ago, we were discussing whether the US was a socialist State, or not.

    ash providing the definition of socialism, then admitting the US fit it. My position that the increasingly socialist aspects of the Government had been planned and nutured. That both of the major political parties had contributed to the trend, at least since 1912.

    Manufacturing was touted as one of the aspects of the economy that the Federals did not control, directly. Soon there'll be a Federal Car Czar. My how time flies.

    Do we really need another Ceasar?

    The Detroit Free Press calling for one:

    Give 'car czar' real muscle over companies
    December 10, 2008

    As Washington moved closer Tuesday to approving emergency loans to keep the Detroit-based auto industry in business, there was appropriately less talk of ousting its leaders and more about how tight a rein to keep them on with billions of taxpayer dollars flowing their way.

    The loan program calls for the installation of a government official to monitor the money, and to keep track of whether GM, Chrysler and Ford -- if Ford does need to tap into it -- stay on track to restructure their business not just for survival but for long-term competitiveness. Already dubbed the "car czar," the official would be appointed by outgoing President George W. Bush. At issue is whether he or she would only report to Congress on progress in Detroit or actually be empowered to cut off funds if the auto companies try to slide back to their old ways.

    Congress ought to opt for the latter, an overseer with what U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., calls "a great deal of head-knocking ability," much as a bankruptcy judge could exercise. While the funds involved here, $17 billion, are a relative pittance compared to what Washington is showering on the financial sectors of the economy, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be purposefully spent.

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