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Old 09-07-2007, 05:27 PM   #31
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It seems six years after 911

that BinLaden is more lucid and has a better grasp on reality than President Bush

if this tape is legit - BinLaden seems to have better writers
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Old 09-13-2007, 10:23 AM   #32
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Key Iraqi Sunni tribal leader killed

September 13, 2007

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A key leader of an alliance of Iraqi Sunni Arab tribes that opposed al Qaeda was killed in a roadside bomb attack on Thursday, police and a tribal sheikh said.

Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed in the bomb blast near his home in Ramadi, provincial capital of the western province of Anbar. U.S. President George W. Bush had met Abu Risha during a visit to Iraq last week.

"The sheikh's car was totally destroyed by the explosion. Abu Risha was killed and two of his bodyguards were seriously wounded," Ramadi police officer Ahmed Mahmoud al-Alwani told Reuters.

Abu Risha set up an alliance of tribal sheikhs in Anbar to fight Sunni Islamist al Qaeda, an effort which has been held up by U.S. and Iraqi leaders as one of the biggest success stories in improving security in Iraq.

But the alliance had shown signs of splintering in recent months over dissatisfaction with Abu Risha's leadership and infighting between tribal leaders.

It was one of the first examples of working with local tribal sheikhs in Anbar, once the most dangerous area of Iraq for U.S. forces, to develop tribal police to secure their own communities.
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:39 PM   #33
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Iraqi government may ban Blackwater security group

By Dan Murphy
Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2007


CAIRO - The Iraqi government said it would suspend the license of Blackwater, probably the most famous among the armies of private security contractors working inside Iraq, after an incident in central Baghdad in which government officials allege eight civilians were killed. The incident looks certain to rekindle the controversy of the wide role given to the contractors in the Iraq war, with critics saying that they operate outside the sorts of legal oversight and codes of conduct that restrict the behavior of soldiers in war zones.

Blackwater first became famous after four of its contractors were murdered in Fallujah in early 2004, an event that prompted an American assault on that city that engendered widespread anger against the US inside the country.

Reuters reports that the government is vowing a tough line with Blackwater, with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki saying the incident was a "criminal act." An Interior Ministry spokesman said the contractors, working for a US security firm, "opened fire randomly at citizens" on Sunday after mortar rounds landed near their cars: "We formed a committee to investigate the incident and withdraw the license from this company and also to deliver those who committed this act to the court," Brigadier-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf told Reuters.

The U.S. military said on Sunday security contractors working for the State Department were involved in an incident, but gave no further details.

Khalaf said the contractors opened fire after two mortar rounds landed in Nusour Square in the western Baghdad district of Mansour. "By chance the company was passing by. They opened fire randomly at citizens," Khalaf said. Eleven people were killed, including one policeman, and 13 people were wounded, he said.

The Washington Post reports that one of its employees witnessed the incident: "A Washington Post employee in the area at the time of the shooting witnessed security company helicopters firing into the streets near Nisoor Square in Mansour. Witnesses said they saw dead and wounded people on the pavement." Blackwater often uses light helicopters with riflemen at the windows to provide cover to ground-based convoys.

The Associated Press reports that witnesses said the convoy definitely came under attack: "We saw a convoy of SUVs passing in the street nearby. One minute later, we heard the sound of a bomb explosion followed by gunfire that lasted for 20 minutes between gunmen and the convoy people who were foreigners and dressed in civilian clothes. Everybody in the street started to flee immediately," said Hussein Abdul-Abbas, who owns a mobile phone store in the area.

The wartime numbers of private guards are unprecedented — as are their duties, many of which have traditionally been done by soldiers. They protect U.S. military operations and have guarded high-ranking officials including Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Baghdad.

Blog reactions to the incident, so far, have roughly broken down along left-right lines, with right-leaning blogs viewing groups like Blackwater as patriots doing difficult jobs, and left-leaning ones seeing the groups as dangerous and financially predatory.

On Freerepublic, a popular pro-war blog, one fairly representative comment was: "Methinks they were just doing their job. The message is, if terrorists dress like civilians you can't shoot at them even if they blow up your vehicle. What cowardice." At Democratic Underground, which sits firmly on the left of the US blog divide, this was a fairly typical comment: "Goes to show what I think of the sovereignty of the Iraqi government. It will be interesting to see if they can make this stick, and improve their rep, or if [it] fails and provides another evidence of their government's impotence."

The controversy comes even as Blackwater appears set to begin offering direct counterinsurgency training to foreign air forces. A number of blogs, including Danger Room, a national security blog for Wired Magazine, referred to a subscription-only article in Jane's, a defense magazine, in late August, that said Blackwater was seeking to buy a Super Tucano light-attack plane. The Wired blog shares the following passage from the Jane's article: "Blackwater President Gary Jackson confirmed to Jane's at the Force Protection Equipment Demonstration in Stafford, Virginia, in mid-August that the company is in the process of acquiring the Super Tucano for a new training programme. If the deal goes through, it will give the company a significant boost in a growing international market for fixed-wing tactical flight instruction, as well as a potential platform for counter-insurgency-style training. The Super Tucano is in service with the Brazilian Air Force, which operates the aircraft as a primary aircraft trainer and in border-patrol missions under its SIVAM (Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia) programme. Colombia finalised a contract for 25 Super Tucanos in December 2005; the aircraft has also been marketed to Singapore and the Dominican Republic. Fully equipped, the aircraft features five weapon hardpoints and a night-vision goggle (NVG)-compatible 'glass cockpit'."

In an interview with PBS Frontline, Peter Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institute in Washington who has tracked the rise of Private Military Contractors (PMCs) like Blackwater, said the business is worth $100 billion a year and worries about the impact their role is having on policy and accountability: "You're talking about an industry that really didn't exist until the start of the 1990s. And since then, it's grown in size, in monetary terms to about $100 billion worth of revenue a year. In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. It's operated on every single continent but Antarctica. It operates in poor states, rich states -- you know, the Saudi Arabias, the Congo-Brazzavilles. It operates in superpowers like United States -- we're the largest client of that industry; the Pentagon's entered into over 3000 contracts with it in the last couple years -- to weak states, failed states, Sierra Leones, Liberias, Afghanistans of the world...sometimes [the Pentagon has] outsourced things that infringed upon the core function of the military. And that's when you see all these kind of questions of accountability, all these kind of questions of how the heck did we get contractors in that role, where it's not only the public that's surprised, but people in the military themselves who are surprised and offended by it."
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Old 09-17-2007, 01:58 PM   #34
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Their deaths aren't counted, their crimes aren't punished. "Security contractors" my ass. They're highly paid mercenaries who undermine what our troops are doing, and most people (including members of Congress) don't know anything about them.

I highly recommend the book Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill. Here's a short video clip with more background if anyone's interested:

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Old 09-17-2007, 02:52 PM   #35
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Blackwater 'needs no license' in Iraq


Published: Sept. 17, 2007 at 2:26 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Questions are being raised about the efficacy of Iraq’s attempt to close down Blackwater's operations in the country after civilian deaths.

Iraqi Interior Ministry officials told reporters in Baghdad Monday they would revoke the company’s license and initiate criminal proceedings after Blackwater contractors providing security for U.S. diplomats allegedly opened fire from aircraft into a Baghdad street -- killing 11 people, according to some reports.

The problem is, Blackwater does not have or need a license, and its employees are not subject to Iraqi criminal jurisdiction.

Former senior State Department official Larry Johnson wrote in his Web long No Quarter Monday, “Blackwater does not have a license to operate in Iraq and does not need one. They have a U.S. State Department contract through (the Bureau of) Diplomatic Security.”

U.S. State Department security staff, whose duties Blackwater contractors perform in Iraq, typically enjoy the same immunities accorded to all foreign diplomats.

Doug Brooks, president of The International Peace Operations Association, representing private companies involved in peace-keeping and low-intensity conflict operations around the world, said that U.S. law gave jurisdiction to federal law enforcement.

“Under the Military Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction Act,” he said, those accused of a crime “would be brought back to the U.S. and tried in federal court.”

He said that investigations could be undertaken by Dept of Justice prosecutors or FBI personnel in Iraq, working with the coalition military, but that the initial decision to refer a case for investigation would be taken by U.S. military lawyers known as JAGs.

Blackwater representatives did not return phone calls or e-mails requesting comment.
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:28 PM   #36
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On Christmas Eve 2006, a Blackwater employee got drunk while inside the Green Zone in Baghdad and got in an argument with a guard of the Iraqi Vice President. He then shot the Iraqi dead. The employee was quickly flown out of the country and, 9 months later, has not been charged with any crime. Imagine the same thing happening in the US, an Iraqi embassy guard, drunk at a a Christmas party, shooting a Secret Service agent guarding Vice President Cheney, and you can see some potential for underlying tension there.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:37 PM   #37
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In the documentary "No End in Sight" there is footage of Blackwater mercenaries shooting at everything in sight without justification. I've heard too many of these stories now and I'm glad this is finally getting some attention in mainstream media.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:48 PM   #38
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I saw that movie, too.


I've spent so much time on all of this,
that the movie was just depressing to me
seeing all the things I believe
confirmed on the big screen


however, I do recommend everyone seeing this film


back to blackwater,

there will be a few more news stories

but at the end of the day
blackwater will remain in Iraq with fingers on the triggers
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:53 PM   #39
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There's a Blackwater debate with Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now:

http://www.democracynow.org/article....7/09/18/140201

I agree with you about No End in Sight. Even though there wasn't all that much new in the film for me, just seeing it all laid out like that with first person testimonials really depressed me. I went home kind of numb and out of it.
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Old 09-19-2007, 05:34 PM   #40
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Iraqi officials now say at least 20 civilians were killed in the Sunday shooting incident in Baghdad involving the contractors. A joint U.S.-Iraqi commission is investigating the shootings that took place on Sunday.

"We will never allow Iraqi citizens to be killed in cold blood by this company which doesn't care about the lives of Iraqis," al-Maliki said.
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Old 09-22-2007, 03:18 AM   #41
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How George Bush became the new Saddam

COVER STORY: Its strategies shattered, a desperate Washington is reaching out to the late dictator's henchmen.

article here
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Old 09-24-2007, 08:54 PM   #42
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U.S. moves in Iraq may push Iraqi and Iranian governments closer


The US arrest of an Iranian official to Iraq has resulted in closed borders between the two Middle Eastern countries – a decision that may take an economic toll.
By Dan Murphy

Iran shut most of its border crossings with Northern Iraq on Monday to protest the US military's arrest of an Iranian official who had been visiting Iraq as part of an official delegation.

The detention in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah of the Iranian, who was visiting Iraq at the behest of both the Iraqi central government and the semiautonomous Kurdish government in the north, has brought protests from the Iraqi government as well as rare signs of unhappiness with the US from the Kurds, who are usually the most pro-American of any Iraqi faction, the Associated Press reports.

Iran closed major border crossings with northern Iraq on Monday to protest the U.S. detention of an Iranian official the military accused of weapons smuggling, a Kurdish official said.

The closings came four days after U.S. troops arrested an Iranian official during a raid on a hotel in Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad.

U.S. officials said he was a member of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that smuggles weapons into Iraq. But Iraqi and Iranian leaders said he was in the country on official business and with the full knowledge of the government.

"This closure from the Iranian side will have a bad effect on the economic situation of the Kurdish government and will hurt the civilians as well," said Jamal Abdullah, a spokesman for the autonomous Kurdish government. "We are paying the price of what the Americans have done by arresting the Iranian."

US officials have alleged that the arrested man, Mahmudi Farhadi, is not a diplomat as Iraqi and Iranian officials insist, but has instead been involved in smuggling weapons into Iraq.
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:08 PM   #43
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I saw this live, it was impressive. To be fair I bet many Democrats couldn't name the latest soldier from their district who was killed either.

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Old 09-27-2007, 01:55 PM   #44
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Army is worn too thin, says general
Calls force not ready to meet new threats

By Bryan Bender, Boston Globe Staff | September 27, 2007

WASHINGTON - The Army's top officer, General George Casey, told Congress yesterday that his branch of the military has been stretched so thin by the war in Iraq that it can not adequately respond to another conflict - one of the strongest warnings yet from a military leader that repeated deployments to war zones in the Middle East have hamstrung the military's ability to deter future aggression.

In his first appearance as Army chief of staff, Casey told the House Armed Services Committee that the Army is "out of balance" and "the current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting the demands of the current fight and are unable to provide ready forces as rapidly as necessary for other potential contingencies."

Officials said Casey, who appeared along with Army Secretary Pete Geren, personally requested the public hearing - a highly unusual move that military analysts said underscores his growing concern about the health of the Army, America's primary fighting force.

Casey, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wanted a public forum even though he has ample opportunity to speak to lawmakers in closed-door meetings.

Representative John M. McHugh, a New York Republican, said Casey's blunt testimony was "just downright frightening."

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked Congress for a record-setting $190 billion to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next year - nearly $50 billion more than anticipated. Most of the money would go to Iraq. If the request is approved, the cost of the 2003 invasion will top $600 billion.

Gates's request is expected to include $17 billion to manufacture thousands of new, heavily armored vehicles designed to withstand the lethal blasts of roadside bombs, the biggest cause of US combat deaths.

Seeking to head off Democrats' maneuvers to attach conditions, including troop withdrawals, on an Iraq spending bill they will send to President Bush, Gates urged the Senate Appropriations Committee "to approve the complete global war on terror request as quickly as possible," without "excessive and counterproductive restrictions."

But Casey, a four-star general who until earlier this year was the top commander in Iraq, made it clear to the House committee that the costs to ongoing military operations is rising, especially in terms of the United States' strategic position in the world.

The strain on the Army has been growing steadily since Bush sent troops into Iraq in 2003 - the longest sustained combat for an all-volunteer American force since the Revolutionary War. The Pentagon and military analysts have documented the signs of the breakdown: serious recruiting problems, an exodus of young officers, and steadily falling readiness rates of nearly every stateside unit.

Casey's testimony yesterday sent a clear message: If President Bush or Congress does not significantly reduce US forces in Iraq soon, the Army will need far more resources - and money - to ensure it is prepared to handle future security threats that the general warned are all but inevitable.

"As we look to the future, national security experts are virtually unanimous in predicting that the next several decades will be ones of persistent conflict," Casey told the panel, citing potential instability caused by globalization, humanitarian crises, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Casey's assessment of the Army's preparedness, however, was far more pessimistic than his predecessor's, General Peter Schoomaker, the former Army chief of staff.

When the same committee in January asked him about the Army's overall condition, Schoomaker answered only that he had "concerns" about the Army's "strategic depth."

Several Pentagon insiders have privately remarked that Casey's apparent alarm about the Army heightened when he returned from nearly three years of duty in Iraq. One civilian military adviser said that Casey was taken aback when informed at a recent meeting that some combat units were heading into battle short of key personnel. After the meeting, the adviser said, Casey took an officer aside and peppered him with questions about exactly which units were affected.

Casey and Geren insisted that the units now deployed to the combat zone are highly trained and outfitted with the proper equipment. However, they said the units of most concern are the ones returning from Iraq or those preparing to deploy without all the proper equipment.

Stocks of equipment the Army has positioned around the world are also growing low because of the war, they said. Replenishing those stockpiles, Casey told the committee, "will give us back our strategic flexibility."

A major risk for the future, however, is that the Army currently spends nearly all of its time training for counterinsurgency operations - "to the detriment of preparedness" for other types of combat, Casey testified. If troops don't continue to train, their skills "will atrophy over time."

Army units are now deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan for 15 months at a time. At current force levels, that allows them 12 months or less back home before being sent overseas again. Casey said yesterday that the cycle allows for "insufficient recovery time."

Compounding the situation, he said, is the fact that part-time soldiers in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard - considered the nation's backup forces in the event of a major conflict - "are performing an operational role for which they were neither originally designed nor resourced."

At the same time, he said, the toll on soldiers' families is even greater, raising serious questions about whether the Army will be able to retain its best soldiers.

In the six months he has been Army chief of staff, Casey said that he and his wife have talked extensively with commanders and Army families about the pressures of repeated tours. "It was clear to us the families are affected," he said. "It's cumulative."

But he warned that the Pentagon's current system can not sufficiently support the troops or their families. "Army support systems including health, education, and family support systems are straining under the pressures from six years of war," he said.

Given enough resources, Casey predicted, it would take at least three to four years to restore the Army to full strength, including replacing damaged or destroyed equipment, adding tens of thousands more soldiers, and increasing health and other benefits for Army families coping with frequent deployments of loved ones.

But committee members wondered if there is enough time.

"This is foremost a question of strategic risk," said the committee's chairman, Representative Ike Skelton, a Missouri Democrat, noting that the United States has used military force on a dozen occasions over the past 30 years. "In most cases the United States was forced to act with little warning. It will happen again; later we hope, but undoubtedly sooner than we'd like."
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Old 10-08-2007, 10:19 AM   #45
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(Reuters) Report says war on terror is fueling al Qaeda

By Kate Kelland1 hour, 48 minutes ago

Six years after the September 11 attacks in the United States, the "war on terror" is failing and instead fueling an increase in support for extremist Islamist movements, a British think-tank said on Monday.

A report by the Oxford Research Group (ORG) said a "fundamental re-think is required" if the global terrorist network is to be rendered ineffective.

"If the al Qaeda movement is to be countered, then the roots of its support must be understood and systematically undercut," said Paul Rogers, the report's author and professor of global peace studies at Bradford University in northern England.

"Combined with conventional policing and security measures, al Qaeda can be contained and minimized but this will require a change in policy at every level."

He described the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as a "disastrous mistake" which had helped establish a "most valued jihadist combat training zone" for al Qaeda supporters.

The report -- Alternatives to the War on Terror -- recommended the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq coupled with intensive diplomatic engagement in the region, including with Iran and Syria.

In Afghanistan, Rogers also called for an immediate scaling down of military activities, an injection of more civil aid and negotiations with militia groups aimed at bringing them into the political process.

If such measures were adopted it would still take "at least 10 years to make up for the mistakes made since 9/11."

"Failure to make the necessary changes could result in the war on terror lasting decades," the report added.

Rogers also warned of a drift toward conflict with Iran.

"Going to war with Iran," he said, "will make matters far worse, playing directly into the hands of extreme elements and adding greatly to the violence across the region. Whatever the problems with Iran, war should be avoided at all costs."
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