“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."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Funny Drivers!

Adapt to the Red Dawn of the Obama Era

The macro-culture war is demographically lost. That is the logical outcome of universal suffrage of civic and economic illiterates. Their elected representatives will lawfully take and redistribute property and individual rights. The Obamrades will soon control the courts and will change the laws that do not suit their goals

Obama is a visionary and realized that the era of increased affirmative action was over. So he sidesteps it by making education through college and graduate school universal and shifts the financial burden to the public treasury. He will do the same for unionization, health care and cultural decarbonization of the planet. The mob will love him for it.

I did not particularly care for the army recruiting slogan of "an army of one" but lately it has a more pleasing and universal resonance. I modify that to the equally silly "carbon footprint" mantra and come up with a good life strategy of being an army of one and lessening your footprint. Get closer to the ground. Assume your personal life and privacy will come under more governmental scrutiny and control and your property more subject to more confiscatory taxation and seizure.

Draw your own map and structure a plan B, C, D and X. Reduce your exposure and protect what is yours. Be smart and do nothing foolish.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gingrich on Obama Budget

Other that Romney, I see no Republican of credibility, who can speak up for those who were not rolled by the Obama machine. It is certainly neither Bobby Jindal or Sarah Palin. Things would have to get very bad for Newt to have a chance, but he still has some star power and understands how the politics of the Left works.  Both Romney and Gingrich have a far better understanding of the limitations of government and the workings of the American economy than the Obama Administration.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama projects a budget for the 2010 fiscal year of nearly $3.6 trillion.

Departing from the free market orthodoxy of his predecessor, George W. Bush, Mr. Obama would aggressively use the government’s powers of spending and taxation to push the private market in new directions.

That means the US Government is going to be spending twice its revenue. It is a social putsch. The deficit will be 12.3 percent of GDP. Government spending will be 27.7% of GDP and revenue 15.4% of GDP. The bureaucracy to do that, and the government union jobs created to service this will be impossible to dismantle.

All of this is dependent on how and who will finance this colossus. I smell blood.


Obama Plans Major Shifts in Spending

Published: February 26, 2009

WASHINGTON — Proclaiming a “once in a generation” opportunity, President Obama proposed a 10-year budget on Thursday that reflects his determination in the face of recession to invest trillions of dollars and his own political capital in reshaping the nation’s priorities.

He would overhaul health care, begin to arrest global warming, expand the federal role in education and shift more costs to some corporations and the wealthiest taxpayers.

In a veiled gibe at the Bush years, Mr. Obama said his budget breaks “from a troubled past” and attributed the current economic maelstrom to “an era of profound irresponsibility that engulfed both private and public institutions from some of our largest companies’ executive suites to the seats of power in Washington, D.C.”

Without trimming his ambitious campaign promises, the president projects a budget for the 2010 fiscal year of nearly $3.6 trillion. He says he would shrink annual deficits, now at levels not seen in six decades, mostly through higher revenue from rich individuals and polluting industries, by reducing war costs and by assuming a rate of economic growth by 2010 that private forecasters and even some White House advisers consider overly rosy.

None of the new taxes and other sources of revenue, however, would take effect until the economy recovers, administration officials said.

Mr. Obama’s first budget was light on proposals to cut spending, despite his statement at the White House on Thursday that the government would be “cutting what we don’t need to pay for what we do.” But the cuts he does propose, contrasted against his new spending, underscore the change he seeks.

Mr. Obama would slash about $5 billion in the coming year for direct payments to agribusinesses and farmers with more than $500,000 in annual revenue, and $4 billion in annual subsidies to private banks that make college loans. Instead he would increase spending for government Pell grants to needy students, and for the first time index the maximum yearly grant for inflation.

Those two cuts alone will provoke big fights with the farm and banking lobbies and their supporters in Congress. Republicans and business groups condemned the tax proposals. Robert Greenstein, executive director of the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, praised the budget as “bold, courageous and honest” but acknowledged that it takes on “one vested interest after another, and that will require all of the president’s skills to get through Congress.”

Damn, and there is more...

Thanks George

The Cold Rush. Who Owns the Arctic?

Canada and the United States have an agreement to disagree over the Arctic. It is based on passage rights. Guess what will happen if other powers, say Russia, get involved, especially if energy resources become the issue. This could get to be a lot more interesting than Afghanistan.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Got Hope Yet?

Obama Budget Would Create $634 Billion Health-Care Fund

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 25, 2009; 4:22 PM

President Obama intends to release a budget tomorrow that creates a 10-year, $634 billion "reserve fund" to partially pay for a vast expansion of the U.S. health care system, an overhaul that many experts project will cost as much as $1 trillion over the next decade.

More British voices in the Taliban front line.

Exclusive: Army is fighting British jihadists in Afghanistan

Top Army officers reveal surge in attacks by radicalised Britons

By Kim Sengupta Independent
Wednesday, 25 February 2009

British soldiers are engaged in "a surreal mini civil war" with growing numbers of home-grown jihadists who have travelled to Afghanistan to support the Taliban, senior Army officers have told The Independent.

Interceptions of Taliban communications have shown that British jihadists – some "speaking with West Midlands accents" – are active in Helmand and other parts of southern Afghanistan, according to briefing papers prepared by an official security agency.

The document states that the numbers of young British Muslims, "seemingly committed jihadists", travelling abroad to commit extremist violence has been rising, with Pakistan and Somalia the most frequent destinations.

MI5 has estimated that up to 4,000 British Muslims had travelled to Pakistan and, before the fall of the Taliban, to Afghanistan for military training. The main concern until now has been about the parts some of them had played in terrorist plots in the UK. Now there are signs that they are mounting missions against British and Western targets abroad. "We are now involved in a kind of surreal mini-British civil war a few thousand miles away," said one Army officer.

Somalia is also becoming a destination for British Muslims of Somali extraction who have started fighting alongside al-Qa'ida-backed Islamist forces. A 21-year-old Briton of Somali extraction, who had been brought up in Ealing, west London, recently blew himself up in the town of Baidoa, killing 20 people. The head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, has raised the worrying issue of British citizens being indoctrinated in Somalia, and Michael Hayden, the outgoing head of the CIA, warned that the conflict in the Horn of Africa had "catalysed" expatriate Somalis in the West.

But it is in Afghanistan that British forces are now directly facing fellow Britons on the other side. RAF Nimrod aircraft flying over Afghanistan at up to 40,000ft have been picking up Taliban electronic "chatter" in which voices can be heard in West Midlands and Yorkshire accents. Worryingly for the military, this has increased in the past few months, with communications picked up by both ground and air surveillance, showing the presence of more British voices in the Taliban front line.

The men involved are said to try to hide their British connections but sometimes "fall back" into speaking English. One senior military source said: "We have been hearing a lot more Punjabi, Urdu and Kashmiri Urdu rather than just Pashtu, so there appears to be more men from other parts of Pakistan fighting with the Taliban than just the Pashtuns who have tribal allegiances with the Afghan Pashtuns. It is this second group, the Urdu, Punjabi speakers etc, who fall back into English in, for example, Brummie accents. You get the impression that they have been told not to talk in English but sometimes simply can't help it."

Some of the British Muslims had originally trained in Pakistan to commit attacks in Kashmir. But security sources say the rising threat of Indian retribution, especially after the Mumbai attacks, had led to the Pakistani government curbing the activities of the Kashmiri separatist groups, so the fighters are being switched to Afghanistan. The numbers involved in Afghanistan, the intelligence document shows, are relatively few, dozens rather than hundreds, but the pattern of involvement is described as a cause for concern.

Last week, during a visit to Helmand, the Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, was shown Taliban explosive devices containing British-made electronic components. An explosives officer said the devices had either been sent from Britain, or brought over to the country. They ranged from remote-control units used to fly model airplanes to advanced components which could detonates bombs at a range of more than a mile.

Evidence of British Muslims fighting inside Afghanistan and training in insurgent camps in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas has been provided to the UK authorities by the Americans. The US has significantly stepped up its surveillance inside Pakistan as part of a more aggressive policy including cross-border raids by unmanned Predator aircraft.

The Americans are said to have raised the issue of the Pakistan connection, complaining that the UK is not doing enough to curb radical Muslims. The US pointed out that this threatens their own security because UK passport holders can get into the US under the visa waiver programme. The Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, the chairman of the Commons' sub-committee on anti-terrorism, which has been examining the activities of British Muslim extremists, said: "We know the problem we have with UK-based jihadists. We also know that a number of them have been arrested trying to leave the country. With the UK intelligence services at full stretch, it is not surprising some of these jihadists had ended up in Afghanistan."

Brigadier Ed Butler, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said British Muslims were fighting his forces. "There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar," he said. "There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands but the British public does not."

Robert Emerson, a security analyst who has worked in South Asia, said: "There is ample evidence that British Muslims had trained in camps in Pakistan. What is emerging now is a picture of them being more active in Afghanistan, either providing support and logistics or in active service. The numbers are not particularly large, but it is worrying."

Jonathan Evans, of MI5, said the number of extremists wanting to travel to Iraq had "tailed off significantly" as Britain begins the drawdown of its troops in the country. But there was "traffic" into Pakistan and Afghanistan. "What happens in Afghanistan is extremely important because what happens there has a direct impact on domestic security in the UK," he said. "Pre-2001, they were able to establish terrorist facilities and to draw hardened extremists and vulnerable recruits to indoctrinate and teach techniques. If the Taliban is able to establish control over significant areas, there is a real danger that such facilities will be re-established."

Last week, as Barack Obama ordered 17,000 extra US troops into Afghanistan, a confidential Nato report revealed that more than 30 per cent of the population believed the government of President Hamid Karzai had lost control of the areas in which they live and much of that has slipped back into Taliban control.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The $500 Million Ship

A Littoral combat ship class of small vessels designed for coastal operations. The cost to build the ships has more than doubled to what?

CNN, Tue February 24, 2009

Cost overruns have military facing 'train wreck,' McCain says

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Cost overruns on big-ticket Pentagon projects have left the U.S. military facing a budgetary "train wreck" at a time of growing budget deficits, Sen. John McCain said Tuesday.

McCain and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the cost of 95 major weapons systems -- ships, aircraft and armored vehicles -- have ballooned by a total of 30 percent in recent years, to about $1.3 trillion. The senators announced an effort, including legislation, to rein in that spending and tighten Defense Department oversight.

With U.S. troops fighting two wars overseas and personnel costs dominating the defense budget, "We're facing a train wreck," said McCain, the ranking Republican on the committee and the GOP's presidential candidate in 2008.

"We cannot continue on this path of escalating costs without at some point making some tough choices, which may endanger our nation's security," he said.

McCain and Levin singled out the Navy's planned construction of Littoral combat ships, a class of small vessels designed for coastal operations, for particular criticism. Levin said the ships are "way beyond" their projected construction time of two years, and the program has grown from a cost per ship of about $220 million to more than $500 million, according to a November report from the Congressional Research Service.

"We can't have a ship that's a small ship that's supposed to be built in two years run completely out of control to double or triple or quadruple its original cost estimates," McCain said.

He also criticized the planned purchase of 28 new Marine helicopters for the White House that he said cost "more than Air Force One." But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has put that $11 billion order on hold.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday that the Defense Department is committed to reviewing its big-ticket contracts, "particularly those programs that are underperforming." The presidential helicopter project "is one of those programs," he said.

Levin and McCain said their push will include hearings into military contracting, legislation creating new watchdog posts in the Pentagon and an effort to stiffen congressional oversight of big-ticket programs.

"The Department of Defense has the major responsibility to make sure that these programs are run efficiently. Congress has an oversight responsibility," Levin said. "Neither of those activities have been carried out adequately."

Their announcement comes as Obama is scheduled to deliver his budget address to Congress, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates is already examining whether to cut back on some of the armed services' biggest purchases.

"This moment also presents an opportunity, one of those rare chances to match virtue to necessity, to critically and ruthlessly separate appetites from real requirements," Gates told a Senate hearing in January.

Among the other items under scrutiny: The $950 billion joint strike fighter program, the Army's $200 billion Future Combat System and the Navy's Virginia-class attack submarines.

The Male and Female Brain. Finding Lucca.

Some time ago, I took a lady friend to Tuscany to relax, hunt and enjoy the pleasures of her company and rural Italy in off-season. Not necessarily in that order. One day we decided to take a meandering trip to Lucca, a charming ancient walled city founded by the Etruscans. I intentionally planned a back route so that we could enjoy the scenic trip and marked up a map and handed it to her. She insisted she was not good with maps and I insisted she would do just fine.

She is a bright and good humored woman and as usual she was right. It soon became obvious to both of us that her skills at navigation were not up to the task.

In frustration she refused to further humiliate herself and quit, forcing the map back on me. Unfortunately, I need reading glasses and could not both drive and read without getting us killed. A stop at a little cafe saved the moment.

Over coffee, I came up with a plan. Country road signs in Italy are quite good and reliable. I wrote down a list of all the places we needed to pass through on our route to Lucca. She happily accepted the list, and checked off each little village, one at a time, and we got to Lucca without a further wrong turn.

The Telegraph explains:


Why women cannot read maps and men lose their keys

Women's difficulty in reading maps and men's uselessness in finding things under their noses could be explained by new research, scientists claim.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent Telegraph
Last Updated: 6:48AM GMT 24 Feb 2009

Scientists believe the reason the sexes differ is due to their different roles in evolution.

Men had to hunt and stalk their prey, so became skilled at navigation, while women foraged for food and so became good at spotting fruits and nuts close by.
The theory emerged from a study which looked at the different ways in which men and women appreciate art.

Researchers discovered that a brain region called the parietal lobe, which governs spatial awareness, is active in both men and women when they admire a "beautiful" picture or photograph.

But while neurons on both sides of the brain were stimulated in women, only those in the right hemisphere were activated in men.

The left side deals with closer range objects while the right is better at co-ordinates.

The scientists, led by Dr Francisco Ayala from the University of California, and reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, believe differences in the way men and women appreciate beauty probably arose early in the evolution of early modern humans, say the researchers.

Hunting, traditionally done by men, required a "co-ordinating" ability to track animals accurately while on the move. Closer spatial awareness was better suited to foraging for fruit, roots or berries, a job mainly carried out by women.
"Women tend to be more aware than men of objects around them, including those that seem irrelevant to the current task, whereas men out-perform women in navigation tasks," the scientists wrote.

"Men tend to solve navigation tasks by using orientation-based strategies involving distance concepts and cardinal directions, whereas women tend to base their activities on remembering the location of landmarks and relative directions, such as "left from", or "to the right of"."

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Mac Mansion and Hyper SUV Reduces US to Grovelling in China.

Insane consumption, negative savings, unbalanced trade, hubris, delusions of empire, greed and doctrinaire worship of wishful thinking have reduced us to this. There are no innocents. Our future is dependent on the Chinese Communists taking our script.

Smoke em if you got em.



Clinton wraps Asia trip by asking China to buy US debt

Feb 22 AFP -BreitBart

Clinton Tells Chinese TV: US, China Going to ‘Rise or Fall Together’

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday urged China to keep buying US debt as she wrapped up her first overseas trip, during which she agreed to work closely with Beijing on the financial crisis.
Clinton made the plea shortly before leaving China, the final stop on a four-nation Asian tour that also took her to Japan, Indonesia and South Korea, where she worked the crowds to try to restore America's standing abroad.

In Beijing, she called on authorities in Beijing to continue buying US Treasuries, saying it would help jumpstart the flagging US economy and stimulate imports of Chinese goods.

"By continuing to support American Treasury instruments the Chinese are recognising our interconnection. We are truly going to rise or fall together," Clinton said at the US embassy here.

Clinton had sought to focus on economic and environmental issues in Beijing, saying Washington's concerns about the human rights situation in China should not be a distraction from those vital matters.

Beijing's human rights record emerged nonetheless as an issue, as Chinese activists on Saturday reported being harassed or intimidated by Chinese authorities in a bid to stop them speaking out or meeting Clinton while she was here.

"Plainclothes police blocked me from leaving my home. They were afraid I would try to meet with Hillary Clinton or others in her delegation," democracy campaigner Jiang Qisheng told AFP by phone on Sunday.

Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi largely agreed to disagree on human rights as they pledged future joint action on the economy and climate change.

The goodwill, also on display in her talks with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, could raise hope for a new era of cooperation between the two largest greenhouse gas emitters and two of the world's top three economies.

"Now it is more important than any time in the past to deepen and develop China-US relations amid the spreading financial crisis and increasing global challenges," Hu told Clinton, according to state media.

Clinton began her day Sunday by attending a Protestant church service in western Beijing at which an AFP journalist saw plainclothes police taking away some visitors who attempted to enter the church.

Their identities could not be confirmed.

Later, Clinton met Chinese women's rights advocates at the US embassy but continued to steer clear of speaking on contentious human rights issues.

Instead, while taping an interview on a Chinese talk show, she focused on the need for China to help finance the massive 787-billion-dollar US economic stimulus plan by continuing to buy US Treasuries.

"Because our economies are so intertwined the Chinese know that in order to start exporting again to its biggest market, the United States had to take some very drastic measures with this stimulus package," Clinton said.

"We have to incur more debt. It would not be in China's interest if we were unable to get our economy moving again."

Clinton added: "The US needs the investment in Treasury bonds to shore up its economy to continue to buy Chinese products."

The US secretary of state had said on Saturday after meetings with China's leaders that Beijing was still confident in US Treasury bonds and expressed Washington's appreciation for the investments.

China is the top holder of US Treasury bills, with 696.2 billion dollars worth of the securities in December followed by Japan with 578.3 billion dollars, according to the latest official data from Washington.

China's economic growth is at its slowest rate in about two decades as foreign demand for its exports, including in the recession-hit United States, have dried up.

Yang indicated Saturday that China would not deviate drastically from its US Treasury policies, but gave no overt promises either way.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Guandique is an illegal alien who had been offered a form of amnesty by the U.S. government.

In a statement released in response to questions from Human Events, the Eastern Region Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service said: "Our records indicate that Mr. Guandique entered the United States illegally but was eligible for an immigration benefit because of the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nationals of El Salvador. He filed for that benefit and received work authorization while that application was pending. The application has subsequently been denied because Guandique failed to submit fingerprints."

President Bush decided to grant TPS status to illegal aliens from El Salvador on March 2 of last year after meeting with Salvadoran President Francisco Flores. According to a 1990 immigration law, the attorney general can certify illegal aliens as eligible for this status whenever he determines "they are temporarily unable to return to their homelands" because of a war or natural disaster. In January and February 2001 there were earthquakes in El Salvador that killed hundreds of people. Bush determined that TPS status should be extended to Salvadoran illegal immigrants as a means of providing additional financial aid to the stricken country. "This will allow them to continue to work here and to remit some of their wages back home to support El Salvador’s recovery efforts," Bush said at the time.

A few days after the President’s decision, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft issued regulations indicating that any Salvadoran who had been in the United States before February 13, 2001 could apply by September 9, 2002 to stay in the U.S. under TPS. While their TPS application were pending, they could apply for permission to legally work in the United States. Ashcroft estimated there were 150,000 potential applicants for the program.

Guandique was one of them—and, although the INS will not say when he applied, it must have been within weeks of beginning his crime spree.

To be sure, no evidence has tied Guandique to Chandra Levy. As Chief Ramsey told CNN, "We can’t make the leap from that [Guandique’s crimes in Rock Creek Park] to anything to do with Chandra Levy." But the circumstances of Guandique’s crimes and the way he was handled by U.S. law enforcement, raises questions about how criminal and immigration laws are enforced in our nation’s capital.

Washington is a more dangerous city because of criminal aliens. Guandique’s brief, violent residency in the city demonstrates the point.

His first recorded encounter with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department was on May 7, 2001 (six days after Chandra Levy disappeared). At 1:15 PM that day, a woman returned with her daughter to her apartment on Somerset Place, NW. This is on the eastern edge of Rock Creek Park.

"She heard a noise coming from her bedroom," says a police report filed that day. She investigated and found a man "hiding in the corner." She screamed, the man fled. She called the police and described for them a suspect who was "a hispanic male wearing a striped yellow shirt, black pants."

The police discovered that the burglar had entered the victim’s home by breaking the deadbolt on the door and that a gold ring was missing from the bedroom. A few minutes later they found a man walking down the street who fit the description of the burglar. They discovered a gold ring in his pocket. The woman "positively identified" him as the man she had seen in her apartment.

The suspect could not speak English, so a Spanish-speaking officer interpreted for him. His name was Ingmar Guandique, he said, and he was born in El Salvador on August 21, 1981. He had no Social Security number and "refused" to tell police the name of any "family, relatives, friends or associates." He did not call anybody from jail.

The next day, the District’s Pretrial Services Agency (PSA) interviewed Guandique. This is the only agency that ordinarily investigates a suspect’s background on behalf of the District of Columbia’s government before a judge determines whether to release the suspect on bail.

Guandique told the PSA interviewer he had lived in Washington for one and a half years. He said he lived on the same block of Somerset Place as his alleged victim. He said he had not used drugs in the past month. He said he had been employed for three months as carpenter by a company whose name does not appear in local telephone or business directories. Before that, he said, he had worked in "rock construction" for an unnamed contractor, and as a "rock cutter" for another unnamed employer. He was not married, he said, but had one child who did not live with him.

PSA could not determine if any of this was true. The agent noted: "The provided references were unavailable to verify the defendant’s information."

That same day a judge released Guandique on his "personal promise" to return for trial. On the release form, the judge checked off boxes indicating he was to verify his address with the PSA, and "Refrain from committing any criminal offense."

Six days later Guandique was stalking Rock Creek Park. His victim was a 30-year-old professional woman.

"I went to Rock Creek Park, in the District, for a run at about 6:30 in the evening," she later wrote the judge in the case. "I was wearing a bright yellow Walkman radio with earphones and started jogging from the parking lot at Pierce Mill. About 200 yards into my run, at the next parking lot, I noticed a young Hispanic guy sitting on the curb watching as I ran by. I made a mental note, but kept running."

Guandique ran after her. He kept after her for five or six minutes.

"As I slowed, this runner jumped me from behind," she said. "We wrestled and it became clear he was physically attacking me. I twisted around, in the ensuing moment, and realized my attacker was the young male I had noticed watching me in the parking lot. Also when I had twisted around I saw that he had a small knife in his hand."

She fought for her life, grabbing Guandique by his lower jaw and pulling as hard as she could. He bit her finger then ran away. She ran in the other direction, and came across two other runners who brought her to a police station.

Five weeks later, Guandique, still free on his "personal promise," showed up to sign a plea agreement in the burglary case. The government charged him with second-degree burglary. He admitted it. The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for August 9. He walked back onto the streets.

Eleven days later he was in Rock Creek Park again. This time his victim was a 26-year-old attorney. She, too, was wearing a Walkman.

"On Sunday, July 1, 2001," this victim later wrote the judge, "I went for a run in Rock Creek Park with my fiancé and I will never forget what happened that day. Being attacked from behind by a man with a knife is the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. When my attacker dragged me into the ravine, holding a knife against my throat and covering my mouth, I thought and still think today that he was going to rape me or try to kill me. I feared for my life. What struck me most was that within ten seconds, I was off the jogging path in the woods, struggling to scream and out of sight of any passersby."

"Until that day," she said, "I never realized how quickly someone with the advantage and a weapon can put a person in a position of total isolation and helplessness."

When she continued to scream, Guandique fled. She immediately reported the incident to the U.S. Park Police. They captured him on a street near the edge of the park.

The next day, the District’s PSA interviewed Guandique for the second time in two months. Now he said had been living for 15 days at an "unknown" address in Langley Park, Md.—meaning he had moved since he was released on his "personal promise" to return to court and to certify his address with PSA. Indeed, he had moved to this "unknown" address only days before pleading guilty to a felony, for which he was not immediately imprisoned.

Now, he said he had been working for two months as a carpenter for an unnamed employer. Before he had said he had been working for three months as a carpenter for a specific employer. Before he said he had worked once as a "rock cutter." Now he said he had worked once as a "grass cutter."

Perhaps these were botched translations.

But his answer to the drug question was unambiguous. Before he said he had not used drugs in the month before his arrest. Now, the PSA said, "Defendant reports current alcohol abuse. Defendant indicates drug use within the past month."

Before, PSA had not been able to verify his claims. Now PSA said it had verified his claims through an unidentified "friend" to whom Guandique had referred them.

At the time of Guandique’s first arrest on May 7, the police had run his thumbprint through the FBI’s criminal database. This showed that the then-19-year-old alien had not previously been arrested in the United States.

On July 2, at the second PSA interview—twelve days after he had agreed to plead guilty to burglary—the PSA still concluded he had "no prior convictions in the District of Columbia."

This time, however, the judge did not release Guandique on a promise. He was held without bail. In September, he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with intent to commit robbery.

Prior to his February sentencing, his two assult victims wrote their letters to the judge.

"I do not doubt for a minute that he purposefully stalked me as a hunter tracks his pray," wrote the first victim. "I know in my gut that, given the chance, he would not hesitate to repeat his crime on some other woman and it scares me to think what would happen if she was not prepared with some sort of self defense."

The second victim came to the same conclusion. "I feel certain that this man will attack other women if he is not incarcerated," she wrote.

The prosecutor repeated the point. "There is no reason to believe that the defendant will cease this [sic] attacks on women if released to the community," she told the judge in a sentencing memorandum. "Rock Creek Park alone could provide him with a constant stream of victims."

Guandique, for his part, according to the prosecutor’s memorandum, "steadfastly denies possessing a knife during the attacks." At one point, she said, "he insisted that the victims may have mistaken his bracelet for a weapon." The prosecutor dismissed this claim as "ludicrous" in light of the "level of certainty" in the independent and uncoordinated testimony of the victims.

"In a debriefing," the prosecutor said in her memo, "the defendant represented that his attacks in May and July were both motivated by the simple desire to obtain a Walkman Radio."

In issuing her sentence, Judge Noel Kramer called Guandique "predatory." She gave him two ten-year sentences to be served concurrently. Another judge gave him nine months for the burglary, also to be served concurrently.

After his prison term, he can be deported. If our borders are not secured by then, he can come back.

On May 22, Chandra Levy’s body was found in Rock Creek Park not far from where Guandique attacked his two victims.

Chandra, too, had been wearing jogging clothes and a Walkman.

Atlantis? Prepare to have your mind blown over this one.

Look at the sequence of close-up photos from Google Ocean.......Whoooooa

A "grid of streets" on the seabed at one of the proposed locations of the lost city of Atlantis has been spotted on Google Ocean.

From the Telegraph

The network of criss-cross lines is 620 miles off the coast of north west Africa near the Canary Islands on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

The perfect rectangle – which is around the size of Wales – was noticed on the search giant's underwater exploration tool by an aeronautical engineer who claims it looks like an "aerial map" of a city.

The underwater image can be found at the co-ordinates 31 15'15.53N 24 15'30.53W.
Last night Atlantis experts said that the unexplained grid is located at one of the possible sites of the legendary island, which was described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

According to his account, the city sank beneath the ocean after its residents made a failed effort to conquer Athens around 9000 BC.

Dr Charles Orser, curator of historical archaeology at New York State University told The Sun that the find was fascinating and warranted further inspection.

"The site is one of the most prominent places for the proposed location of Atlantis, as described by Plato," the Atlantis expert said. "Even if it turns out to be geographical, it definitely deserves a closer look."

Bernie Bamford, 38, of Chester who spotted the "city", compared it to the plan of Milton Keynes, the Buckinghamshire town built on a grid design. "It must be man made," he said.

Google Ocean, an extension of Google Earth, allows web users to virtually explore the ocean with thousands of images of underwater landscapes.

Launched earlier this month, it lets users swim around underwater volcanoes, watch videos about exotic marine life, read about nearby shipwrecks, contribute photos and watch unseen footage of historic ocean expeditions.

The legend of Atlantis has excited the public imagination for centuries. In recent years "evidence" of the lost kingdom has been found off the coast of Cyprus and in southern Spain.

Plato described it as an island "larger than Libya and Asia put together" in front of the Pillars of Hercules - the Straits of Gibraltar. He said Atlantis was a land of fabulous wealth, advanced civilisation and natural beauty destroyed by earthquakes and floods 9,000 years earlier.

Is the Obama Administration Challenging US Law on Political Assasinations?

What is U.S. policy on assassinations?

As a reaction to post-Watergate revelations that the CIA had staged multiple attempts on the life of Cuban President Fidel Castro, President Ford in 1976 issued Executive Order 11905.

In a section of the order labeled "Restrictions on Intelligence Activities," Ford outlawed political assassination: Section 5(g), entitled "Prohibition on Assassination," states: "No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination."

A banner headline in this morning's NY Times reads:

Obama Widens Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan

Published: February 20, 2009

WASHINGTON — With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government.

The missile strikes on training camps run by Baitullah Mehsud represent a broadening of the American campaign inside Pakistan, which has been largely carried out by drone aircraft. Under President Bush, the United States frequently attacked militants from Al Qaeda and the Taliban involved in cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, but had stopped short of raids aimed at Mr. Mehsud and his followers, who have played less of a direct role in attacks on American troops.

The strikes are another sign that President Obama is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy in using American spy agencies against terrorism suspects in Pakistan, as he had promised to do during his presidential campaign. At the same time, Mr. Obama has begun to scale back some of the Bush policies on the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, which he has criticized as counterproductive.
continued here

Further background on US policy under every US president since Ford:

Since 1976, every U.S. president has upheld Ford's prohibition on assassinations. In 1978 President Carter issued an executive order with the chief purpose of reshaping the intelligence structure. In Section 2-305 of that order, Carter reaffirmed the U.S. prohibition on assassination.

In 1981, President Reagan, through Executive Order 12333, reiterated the assassination prohibition. Reagan was the last president to address the topic of political assassination. Because no subsequent executive order or piece of legislation has repealed the prohibition, it remains in effect.

The ban, however, did not prevent the Reagan administration from dropping bombs on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's home in 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of a Berlin discotheque frequented by U.S. troops.

Additionally, the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles at suspected guerrilla camps in Afghanistan in 1998 after the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

Following the September 11. 2001, attacks, the White House said the presidential directive banning assassinations would not prevent the United States from acting in self-defense.

According to an October 21, 2001, Washington Post article, President Bush in September of last year signed an intelligence "finding" instructing the CIA to engage in "lethal covert operations" to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization.

White House and CIA lawyers believe that the intelligence "finding" is constitutional because the ban on political assassination does not apply to wartime. They also contend that the prohibition does not preclude the United States taking action against terrorists.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The UK and US are giving up Freedom with Hardly a Protest.

The erosion of civil liberties in the UK and in the US is past the concern phase and is getting frightening to most civil libertarians. Personally I am alarmed at how docile most Americans are about the subject. We have acquiesced to allowing corporations to maintain dossiers on every aspect of our lives.

Why do we accept that three major rating agencies can maintain all of our private affairs on databases and sell them to all comers for a pittance? In the not too distant past an interested party would have asked for your permission to do a credit check and requested you to bring in your private papers and provide your references.

Why can a Google accumulate an eternal file on every aspect of your life? All this happened under Republicans and Democrats.

It will get worse as the Obama Administration now has the money and the law to put all your medical records in centralized data bases. What will be next?

Revealed: the full extent of Labour's curbs on civil liberties
Audit report highlights 'permanent erosion' of freedoms since 1997

By Michael Savage, Political Correspodent Independent
Friday, 20 February

'We have lived under one of the most authoritarian ages in living memory,' says Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty

The full extent of state powers to detain people without charge, cover up Government errors, hold the DNA of the innocent and share personal data between public bodies has been revealed in a devastating analysis of the erosion of civil liberties in Britain over the past decade.

Almost 60 new powers contained in more than 25 Acts of Parliament have whittled away at freedoms and broken pledges set out in the Human Rights Act and Magna Carta, according to a new audit of laws introduced since Labour came to power in 1997. The dossier, compiled by the Convention on Modern Liberty, criticises police powers to detain terror suspects for 28 days without charge, new stop-and-search powers handed to police (allowing them to stop people without reason at airports and other designated areas), and restrictions on the right of peaceful protest.

It is the first time such a picture of the erosion of rights under Labour has been published. The rise in surveillance in Britain is also documented, including new laws allowing individuals to be electronically tagged, and the legal interception of letters, emails and phone calls.

"The right to privacy has been eroded, perhaps permanently, by broad powers to intercept, collect, store and share our private information," the dossier states.

The Coroners and Justice Bill, currently going through Parliament, is accused of seeking to hand the state the power to prevent embarrassing revelations of Government failure becoming public. Coroners are currently able to criticise the Government and any of its agencies that cause a death. But the Bill would hand the state new powers to suspend inquests, or force them into secret. It would also allow Government agencies to share personal data.

David Davis, the Conservative MP who resigned as shadow home secretary and called a by-election to campaign against what he described as the Government's growing attack on British liberties, said the measures cited in the report give hundreds of bodies the power to "snoop, spy and bug" on the public.

"It is a real, serious, systemic problem," Mr Davis said. "I cannot believe it is happening. It's up to us to make sure it is stopped."

Mr Davis said that he did not regret leaving his post as shadow Home Secretary to fight the cause "for a second". "We had to put a check on this process, dribbling away, salami slice by slice," he said. "And if I'd found a cheaper way of doing it, I would have done it more cheaply."

Henry Porter, one of the organisers of the Convention on Modern Liberty, said that there was "little doubt that there is a crisis of liberty in Britain".

"We needed an account to show the legislative programme that swept away many centuries-old rights and transferred so much power from the individual to the state actually existed," he said. "We now have that evidence [and can] oppose what is happening to one of the world's oldest democracies."

A spokesman for the Home Office said that CCTV surveillance and the use of a DNA database were "essential crime-fighting tools".

"The Government has been clear that where surveillance or data collection will impact on privacy they should only be used where it is necessary and proportionate," he said. "The key is to strike the right balance between privacy, protection and sharing of personal data."

New powers in 25 Acts have undermined civil liberties under Labour.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank U BS

I really do not care about those who get caught scamming the government, but you have to admit you really do get a secret thrill out of those who "get away with it." If you found a bag of money, say five hundred thousand and could get it into a secret bank way off-shore, would you do it?


UBS blocks US client details move

Switzerland has strict legislation on bank secrecy

Swiss bank UBS has refused a US government demand to provide information on 52,000 US clients.

The request was made in a lawsuit filed earlier in the day in Miami as part of a tax fraud investigation.

The Obama administration wants UBS to turn over information on American customers who hid accounts from US authorities, in violation of tax laws.

A deal on Wednesday provides access to about 250 to 300 UBS customers who used Swiss bank secrecy laws to hide assets.

"At a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, and their health care, it is appalling that more than 50,000 of the wealthiest among us have actively sought to evade their civil and legal duty to pay taxes," the acting assistant attorney general, John DiCicco, said in a statement.

Bank chairman Peter Kurer said UBS accepted "full responsibility" for helping its US clients hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

But the bank said it had a defence against the enforcement of the summons to hand over account details, and that it would vigorously contest the enforcement of the summons in the civil proceeding.

Sir Stanford, Billionaire Scammer Missing.

Sources at the SEC confirmed that they were searching for the billionaire, who has not been seen in public since news of alleged fraud totalling 9.2 billion dollars.

A spokesman for Stanford Financial Group repeatedly refused to discuss the tycoon's whereabouts when contacted.

Reports suggest that Stanford attempted to leave the US on a private jet bound for Antigua,except a slight problem developed. The aviation firm refused to accept his credit card.

By the way, I almost forgot to mention, eight billion is also missing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Originally Sinless Responds

Originally Sinless said...

"They said if I voted for Goldwater, I'd wind up with a large-scale war in Vietnam. They were right."

Yes. He's going to take the plunge to some degree. It would take a President much stronger and wiser (experienced is a double edged sword, as John McCain illustrates) to oppose the choices he's being presented. They don't know yet how big of a jump it'll be. As I said before - originally they had big dreams, but now they're extremely worried, realizing just how clueless they were, on the outside yelling in. Indeed, it is easy to be ignorant and responsibility-free, as the crew from Center for a New American Security, and like-minded, are about to find out.

The "review," probably the 3rd or 4th such review in the past year and a half or so (each of which predictably gets more pessimistic in its conclusions), is intended to buy them just a little more time to figure out some wonder solution. It remains to be seen whether they'll swallow the wild-eyed COIN dogmatists like Nagl and Kilcullen. Unfortunately, there isn't much pushing against it due to a lack of coherent alternatives being put forward. Even those who see clearly enough that a massively expanded presence is incredibly dangerous and probably not the answer haven't yet, or at this point are still unable to, come around to the realization of just how bad the strategic situation actually is. There's also precedent of partial success in Iraq tugging at them on a number of levels (which is actually to some extent a badly misunderstood model in Washington right now...but that's a story in and of itself). Working with locals is always a good idea, but it doesn't solve the mid or long-term problems with a nation-building strategy.

Even if they were being provided with level-headed advice they'd still have to deal with the problem of political feasibility and inertia. On that front, Gates and company are smart enough to realize that they need desperately to reduce expectations, but they were so unrealistic to start with that they can only go so far so quickly.

"The Germans are going to send 600 troops for security purposes. Germany would use more police than that for a gay rights parade."

They'd also be more proud of it. (Not that there's anything wrong with gay rights parades, as long as they keep their clothes on and stay orderly.)

"Pakistan has decided it would be a good idea to let a big chunk of their population be guided and ruled under Sharia law. Pakistan is folding to the Taliban and Islamists. Meanwhile President Obama is thinking thirty thousand more."

It certainly reflects the true weakness of the Pakistani federal government in the NWFP. Same is true in the rest of border areas. But then again, it's always been that way. It's occurred before that what went on in those areas threatened the rest of the state. Nonetheless, there were, and will continue to be some serious battles going on there, and the Pakistani Army generally isn't doing too good.

But at least it isn't Pakistan proper, yet. People who are complacent about Pakistan's general stability are idiots. It might hold, but it might now. Our predictive abilities there are shit. But our presence in Afghanistan has very little influence over Pakistan's health, and whether that influence is negative or positive is itself up for debate.

"I am old fashioned. I admit it. I remember another liberal president calling for more US troops in Asia, except then it was "fifty thousand more."

Except of course there's a hard ceiling on how high we can go. Because, as I said months ago, people who think we can supply everything for a major military effort through airlift are dreaming. The tonnage is not there and never will be.

Throw in a major counterinsurgency effort, complete with reconstruction, and it's even more unlikely. We are dependent on supply lines through Pakistan and whatever we negotiate with the Russians. Airbases in the Stans are not enough, you need rail or shipping. One goes through Russia, the other Pakistan.

And for historical perspective, even the Russians, when they had full control of the Stans, and an army that used much less supplies, couldn't sustain more than 130,000 troops or so in the area, the majority of which were occupied in maintaining those supply lines. Of course, they also were fighting the entire country. We're not there yet, but given a few years of major combat in the south and opportunistic "Afghan" politicians in the rest of the country, and it's possible. Picking an open fight with Karzai right now? Not smart, morons.

The dirty little secret is that despite the focus on the Taliban (which is far from a monolithic organization, though we certainly wish it was), much of the rest of the country is only secure to the extent we're not messing around with it. I.e., it's under control of warlords, who are inserted into the government at various levels.

The Taliban is simply what we we're currently focusing on. You could disappear it tomorrow and our prospects of creating a viable Afghan state at peace with itself would still be long.

"This is a cultural and political quagmire where we know nothing."

We're learning quickly. Unfortunately, the more we learn, the more realize just how long the odds really are.

"The Taliban did not attack the US, Saudis did."

Don't go down that road. The Taliban harbored, were partially linked at the hip with, and aided those who did. All of which are even more true today. There's a debate to be had over whether what's left of Al Qaeda is best dealt with, or worth, the current effort in Afghanistan. I WELCOME that one. But they are still who they are.

"Promise all the Islamists hell if they return to US shores."

Define hell. Define the targets. Strikes me as vague rhetoric that in any case will certainly never be acted upon by our current leadership.

My personal view? Our best best is stay for the short-medium term, ditch the nation-building strategy, heavily minimize our commitment, and work through the anti-Pashtun groups within the country, and with most of the neighbors. Put them on the hotseat. And let the Taliban and Al Qaeda fight their personal war and tear themselves up against whomever, backed by whatever support it is prudent for us to give them. Contra to the nonsense that's been spouted over the past however many years the transnational core of Al Qaeda, which is the most dangerous part for us, is not some magical regenerating networked organizations, but a unique (amazing) and somewhat fragile organization built on personal ties. Years of ongoing warfare and targeted killings won't treat it well. Certainly start laying the groundwork to get the hell out there, with the expectation that you are probably not going to leave a stable Afghan state. Focus on other goals.

Odds it's going to be implimented? Not anytime soon. But, provided things don't get better (and it should be said there is a chance the military situation in the south could get better, if you can have some series of fortuitous developments like those that that greatly aided the Surge), you're going to start having countries dropping out of the Coalition over the next few years. And that's going to put pressure on the rest, adn so on.

Then people might be open to some changes.


Oh yeah, and Wolcott's a fucking idiot.


Wed Feb 18, 12:21:00 AM EST

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Will Obama Piss into the Wind?

Eisenhower talking to Lyndon Johnson about Viet Nam

The Germans are going to send 600 troops for security purposes. Germany would use more police than that for a gay rights parade.

Pakistan has decided it would be a good idea to let a big chunk of their population be guided and ruled under Sharia law. Pakistan is folding to the Taliban and Islamists. Meanwhile President Obama is thinking thirty thousand more.

I am old fashioned. I admit it. I remember another liberal president calling for more US troops in Asia, except then it was "fifty thousand more."

It went to fifty-thousand-more times ten.

Fighting a land war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, while Pakistan is folding to Islamic radicalism in Pakistan, is a bridge way too far. We will not fight to win. We will not use the full strength that we have. This is a cultural and political quagmire where we know nothing.

Forget this foolish mistake. Let the bastards return to the dark ages. The Taliban did not attack the US, Saudis did. Promise all the Islamists hell if they return to US shores.


Obama To Decide "Shortly" On Additional Troop Levels For Afghanistan

February 17, 2009 5:03 a.m. EST

Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama would decide "shortly" on how many additional troops will be deployed to Afghanistan, where about 34,000 U.S. military personnel are already posted.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said aboard Air Force One the President has "been working on this in consultation with military leaders and in conjunction with his foreign policy team."

"I would expect that the President's decision could come shortly... I don't think it will go -- without getting into broad time lines, I don't think this is anything that involves weeks,"Gibbs added.

The President last week ordered a policy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan ahead of a NATO summit in April. The administration is still currently reviewing the policy on Afghanistan, according to Gibbs.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has said he expects no more than 30,000 troops to be added to the U.S. presence in the war-torn nation, where violence has increased.

Defense Sec. Robert Gates said in a press briefing last Tuesday "there is no cap" but that the 30,000 requested by Gen.David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, would likely be enough.

"I think it is better to focus on units and capabilities as we talk about this," Gates said. But I have said... if the president agreed to -- ultimately to satisfy the standing request from General McKiernan, I would be deeply skeptical about further troop deployments beyond that.

"In the short term, the goal of those troops is to bring greater security in places like Helmand by being a permanent presence there... in terms of the mission for those troops long term, I think that's what will be recommended by the strategic review," the secretary added.

Appearing in the same press briefing, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. James Cartwright also said, "In addition to the local security are the local Afghan forces and the Afghan army, and bringing them into the mix, training them in the area, getting their proficiency up. That's what's going to relieve the stress on our forces. The sooner we can do that, the sooner our forces can come down."

Gates had said last month in testimony before Congress that Afghanistan is currently the nation's "greatest military challenge" but that there is "no purely military solution in Afghanistan."

At about the same time, the President made his first visit to the Pentagon and said his administration would ease some of the pressure on the military but that tough decisions face the nation about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We're going to have some difficult decisions that we're going to have to make surrounding Iraq and Afghanistan," Obama had said. "We had for a long time put enormous pressure on our military to carry out a whole set of missions, sometimes not with the sort of strategic support and the use of all aspects of American power to make sure that they're not carrying the full load. That's something that I spoke with the Chiefs about and that I intend to change as President."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Pakistan Slips from Bad to Very Bad

Liberals never fail to underestimate evil. Pakistan has capitulated to radical Islam. It will be no different in Pakistan than it was in Iran. Jimmy Carter discouraged the Iranians from a military coup as a means to fight the mullahs. It was a critical error in judgment and a belief that one could negotiate with the irrational. You cannot.

I fear that this will ensure that the Islamists will end up with a one hundred nuclear weapon arsenal. Bad to bad and on our way to far worse.


Pakistan imposes Islamic law in Taliban stronghold

Government brings in sharia courts in Malakand in attempt to placate extremists

Saeed Shah in Islamabad, Sunday 15 February 2009 18.39 GMT

Pakistan is to impose Islamic law in a vast region of the north-west called Malakand in an attempt to placate extremists, even as President Asif Zardari warns that they are "trying to take over the state".

Pakistani Taliban militants who are in control of the Swat valley in the region announced a ceasefire tonight, reacting to the government's agreement to bring in sharia courts.

Malakand is part of North West Frontier province, a regular part of Pakistan, not the wild tribal area, which runs along the Afghan border.

Critics warned that the new sharia regulations represented a capitulation to the extremists' demands, and that it would be difficult to stop hardliners elsewhere in the country from demanding that their areas also come under Islamic law.

"This is definitely a surrender," said Khadim Hussain of the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy, a thinktank in Islamabad. "If you keep treating a community as something different from the rest of the country, it will isolate them."

Javed Iqbal, a retired judge, speaking on Pakistani television, said: "It means that there is not one law in the country. It will disintegrate this way. If you concede to this, you will go on conceding."

The deal, set to be announced tomorrow, follows talks between the government and a local Islamic leader, Sufi Muhammad, who once led hundreds of men to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan against the US-led coalition. He was freed by the Pakistani authorities after the restoration of democracy last year, in a move heavily criticised by Washington.

In an interview broadcast todayby the US television channel CBS, Zardari admitted that the future of Pakistan was in grave danger from the Taliban, who are present in "huge parts" of the country. Islamabad is under severe pressure from the US, Britain and other western allies to rein in the extremists, who fight both in Pakistan and Afghanistan and play host to al-Qaida.

Zardari said: "We are aware of the fact [the Taliban are] trying to take over the state of Pakistan. We're fighting for the survival of Pakistan. "

Zardari's wife, the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was killed by Islamic extremists in 2007. "I lost my wife, my children's mother," the president said. "It's important to stop them and make sure that it doesn't happen again and they don't take over our way of life."

Hajji Adeel, a senior member of the Awami National party which runs the government of North West Frontier province that undertook the negotiations with Muhammad, said the main aim of the new law was to speed up the justice system. Under the new regulations, criminal cases would be disposed of within four months and civil cases in six months, he said.

The creaky colonial-era legal system in Pakistan means that cases drag on for years, sometimes decades, a major source of anger for ordinary people. "If six months ago, this [sharia] had started working in Swat, the intensity of the terror there would have been much less," said Adeel.

The ANP a proudly secular party, has come under sustained attack from the Taliban, and last week one of its members in the provincial parliament was killed by a roadside bomb.

The new law is a relatively mild form of sharia, with the aim of undermining support for the extremists and their populist demand for speedy Islamic justice. Religious experts, known as a qazi, will sit in the court, alongside a regular judge, to ensure that the rulings are in compliance with Islam.

However, many believe that the Taliban will not ultimately accept this form of Islamic law. Muhammad is not part of the Taliban and it is unclear how far his influence goes.

The Swat Taliban's ceasefire, described as a "goodwill gesture", will only last for 10 days, while it decides what to do. Muhammad has undertaken to tour the area to convince the militants to put down their arms. In Swat, the Taliban have for months been enforcing their brutal version of Islamic justice, which includes public floggings and summary executions. The Taliban are also entrenched across the tribal area.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Buy a gun, get a permit and buy a murse (man purse)

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win"

Sun-tzu - The Art of War

An editorial in this morning's times discusses and warns about the recent (since 911 actually) intensifying trend of terrorists striking civilian targets in teams. The author predicts that it will happen in the US..."Nightmare possibilities include synchronized assaults on several shopping malls, high-rise office buildings or other places that have lots of people and relatively few exits. Another option would be to set loose half a dozen two-man sniper teams in some metropolitan area..."

The author, not surprisingly, sees only governmental solutions and preventions. Mr. Arquilla fails to contemplate the lethal and sensible use of an armed citizenry.

Gentleman, get a permit, carry a man purse so you have adequate ammunition, and shop.

The Coming Swarm

Published: February 14, 2009
Monterey, Calif.

Oliver Munday and Ramell Ross

WITH three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging.

The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.

While it’s true that the assaults in Kabul seem to be echoes of Mumbai, the fact is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been using these sorts of swarm tactics for several years. Jemaah Islamiyah — the group responsible for the Bali nightclub attack that killed 202 people in 2002 — mounted simultaneous attacks on 16 Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, befuddling security forces.

Even 9/11 itself had swarm-like characteristics, as four small teams of Qaeda operatives simultaneously seized commercial aircraft and turned them into missiles, flummoxing all our defensive responses. In the years since, Al Qaeda has coordinated swarm attacks in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere. And at the height of the insurgency in Iraq, terrorists repeatedly used swarms on targets as small as truck convoys and as large as whole cities.

This pattern suggests that Americans should brace for a coming swarm. Right now, most of our cities would be as hard-pressed as Mumbai was to deal with several simultaneous attacks. Our elite federal and military counterterrorist units would most likely find their responses slowed, to varying degrees, by distance and the need to clarify jurisdiction.

While the specifics of the federal counterterrorism strategy are classified, what is in the public record indicates that the plan contemplates having to deal with as many as three sites being simultaneously hit and using “overwhelming force” against the terrorists, which probably means mustering as many as 3,000 ground troops to the site. If that’s an accurate picture, it doesn’t bode well. We would most likely have far too few such elite units for dealing with a large number of small terrorist teams carrying out simultaneous attacks across a region or even a single city.

Nightmare possibilities include synchronized assaults on several shopping malls, high-rise office buildings or other places that have lots of people and relatively few exits. Another option would be to set loose half a dozen two-man sniper teams in some metropolitan area — you only have to recall the havoc caused by the Washington sniper in 2002 to imagine how huge a panic a slightly larger version of that form of terrorism would cause.

So how are swarms to be countered? The simplest way is to create many more units able to respond to simultaneous, small-scale attacks and spread them around the country. This means jettisoning the idea of overwhelming force in favor of small units that are not “elite” but rather “good enough” to tangle with terrorist teams. In dealing with swarms, economizing on force is essential.

We’ve actually had a good test case in Iraq over the past two years. Instead of responding to insurgent attacks by sending out large numbers of troops from distant operating bases, the military strategy is now based on hundreds of smaller outposts in which 40 or 50 American troops are permanently stationed and prepared to act swiftly against attackers. Indeed, their very presence in Iraqi communities is a big deterrent. It’s small surprise that overall violence across Iraq has dropped by about 80 percent in that period.

For the defense of American cities against terrorist swarms, the key would be to use local police officers as the first line of defense instead of relying on the military. The first step would be to create lots of small counterterrorism posts throughout urban areas instead of keeping police officers in large, centralized precinct houses. This is consistent with existing notions of community-based policing, and could even include an element of outreach to residents similar to that undertaken in the Sunni areas of Iraq — even if it were to mean taking the paradoxical turn of negotiating with gangs about security.

At the federal level, we should stop thinking in terms of moving thousands of troops across the country and instead distribute small response units far more widely. Cities, states and Washington should work out clear rules in advance for using military forces in a counterterrorist role, to avoid any bickering or delay during a crisis. Reserve and National Guard units should train and field many more units able to take on small teams of terrorist gunmen and bombers. Think of them as latter-day Minutemen.

Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen all responded to Qaeda attacks with similar “packetizing” initiatives involving the police and armed forces; and while that hasn’t eliminated swarm attacks, the terrorists have been far less effective and many lives have been saved.

As for Afghanistan, where the swarm has just arrived, there is still time to realize the merits of forming lots of small units and sprinkling them about in a countrywide network of outposts. As President Obama looks to send more troops to that war, let’s make sure the Pentagon does it the right way.

Yes, the swarm will be heading our way, too. We need to get smaller, closer and quicker. The sooner the better.

John Arquilla teaches in the special operations program at the Naval Postgraduate School and is the author of “Worst Enemy: The Reluctant Transformation of the American Military.