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Navy pares back strategic communication units


Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, once derided strategic communication as a "cottage industry.

Navy pares back strategic communication units
Tom Vanden Brook

1:16PM EST December 7. 2012 - WASHINGTON - Leaders of the military's services and combatant commands are scrambling to interpret a new initiative from the Pentagon that seeks to contain a poorly understood communication program that has taken root in some commands.

Strategic communication offices have proliferated throughout the military in recent years, including in the Army and at some of the military's geographical combatant commands. In essence, strategic communication was designed to help the military coordinate its operations with its messages.

In practice, some these offices "actually added a layer of staffing and planning ... and resulted in confusion and inefficiencies," Assistant Secretary of Defense George Little wrote late last week in a memo to commanders. He added that the Pentagon would avoid using the term and that public affairs offices should take the lead in communicating for the military.

Late Thursday, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the chief of naval information, told his public affairs spokesmen in an e-mail obtained by USA TODAY to seize the initiative offered by Little's memo and take the lead in communicating for their commanders.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Dec 10, 2012, 08:35 AM (0 replies)

Move Over, NRA. Meet the Knife Lobby.


Knife rights activists say the Second Amendment protects your right to wield anything from a bowie knife to a cutlass.

Move Over, NRA. Meet the Knife Lobby.
—By Richard Grant
November/December 2012 Issue

Doug Ritter was carrying two pocketknives and a Leatherman on his belt as he entered a suburban barbecue restaurant near his home in Gilbert, Arizona. "If we were in New York City right now, I could be arrested and sentenced to a year in prison for carrying these knives," he told me as we stood in line at the counter.

Sitting down to carve into a big platter of pork and brisket, Ritter, the founder and chairman of Knife Rights Inc., laid out his arguments for restoring our right to carry switchblades, double-edged daggers, combat knives, bowie knives, stilettos, and cutlasses on any street in America. "Knives are essential tools used by millions of Americans every day, at work, at home, at play," he said. "And on rare occasions, they're also used as an arm in self-defense, or to defend one's family. When the Second Amendment talks about the right to bear arms, it doesn't specify firearms in particular."

Ritter, a 59-year-old survival equipment expert, has carried a pocketknife since he was seven, and he feels naked without one. "It's part of getting dressed, like pulling on your pants in the morning," he said. He started Knife Rights in late 2006 after reading a Wall Street Journal article that portrayed military-style tactical knives as a deadly menace but offered no statistics linking them to any crimes.

His group now has more than 2,200 members. Its legal arm receives most of its funding from the knife industry. Its chief lobbyist sits on the National Rifle Association's board of directors, and its website is strewn with overheated endorsements from the likes of Ted Nugent ("God Bless Knife Rights!" and NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.

There’s No Country That Would Tolerate Missiles


There’s No Country That Would Tolerate Missiles
by Johnny Barber
Published on Sunday, December 9, 2012 by Common Dreams

Walid al Nassasra and two of his daughters stand staring into the pit where his brothers sheet-metal roofed, cinder-block home stood until it was hit in a pin-point strike with a precision guided bomb from an F-16 fighter jet (provided by the United States) on 19 Nov 2012 at 10 pm as the family slept. If not for the clothes and bedding strewn about, it would be difficult to tell that a home once stood here. His brother Taqwfiq, like Walid, is a farmer. Their family has been farming in the Rafah area for 35 years. They are poor people, scratching out a living on a small plot of land. As we sat and talked with Walid, Israeli F-16's roared across the sky.

His brother as well as a 12 year old nephew remains hospitalized, the nephew is in the ICU with skull and hip fractures. His sister-in-law is blind after her head and upper body was severely burned.

His 4 year-old niece suffers severe burns and a fractured leg stabilized by an external fixation device. In this kind of reduction, holes are drilled into uninjured areas of bones around the fracture and special bolts or wires are screwed into the holes. Outside the body, a rod or a curved piece of metal with special ball-and-socket joints joins the bolts to make a rigid support. The fracture can be set in the proper anatomical configuration by adjusting the ball-and-socket joints. Since the bolts pierce the skin, proper cleaning to prevent infection at the site of surgery must be performed. Yes, i said his niece is 4 years old. She has been released to the home. They bring her to us to show us her damaged body, her face covered in burns, her leg with eight metal screws holding it together. She is crying. All 9 surviving members of the family were injured in the blast.

2 nephews, Ahmed and Mohamed, were killed. (Yes, every Martyr, innocent civilian, and resistance fighter here has a name. Everyone killed here has family left behind who grieves for them. Everyone.)
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:07 AM (1 replies)

What the New York Times Missed in Its 1st Article on Manning's Torture Hearing


What the New York Times Missed in Its 1st Article on Manning's Torture Hearing
by Jesselyn Radack
Published on Sunday, December 9, 2012 CWO Barnes

On the ninth day of Manning's torture hearing--one of the most important legal proceedings of the past decade--I was heartened to see that the New York Times finally showed up to cover the case. (Full disclosure: I know Times reporters Scott Shane and Charlie Savage, whom I think have done an excellent job reporting on some of Obama's most controversial counterterrorism policies and actions.) But my encouragement was dashed when--despite a mea culpa from the Times public editor that someone should have been covering this important hearing--Shane left after 4 hours (Savage was not at the hearing at all). His missed one of the most searing cross-examinations yet of a key witness, Quantico Brig Officer in Charge Denise Barnes, who--against military regulations--confiscated Manning's underwear and deprived him of it every night until his departure.


(CWO) Barnes elaborated later on that she thought Manning stood for count naked on purpose, to be provocative, despite his record of consistent good conduct throughout his chilling stay at Quantico. If Shane had bothered to stay for the next 6 hours, he would have seen a haughty low-rank Chief Warrant Officer with a chip on her shoulder (she was the most junior person to ever run a brig; if anything bad happened to Manning, it would ruin her career; etc.), who flouted prison regulations in favor of her own "personal opinion."


She (CWO Barnes) wasn't concerned that he'd use the underwear to commit suicide. She was concerned with punishing him.

Barnes and her predecessor, Brig Commander James Averhart, both put their personal opinions above the sound medical evaluations of multiple mental health professionals, military regulations, and Manning's well-being, to use pre-trial detention to punish Manning, who Averhart said plucked his eyebrows and was not like the other "patriotic" prisoners. They were concerned not with Manning's health, care, protection, and dignity, but with (as they both testified) what the media might think. After 9 days of testimony (and the torture hearing is still not over), one thing is absolutely clear: Bradley Manning was never going to get off solitary confinement while he was at the gulag known as Quantico.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Dec 10, 2012, 07:04 AM (3 replies)

Bye, Bye Alexandria: A 1-Meter Sea Rise is Certain


Bye, Bye Alexandria: A 1-Meter Sea Rise is Certain
Posted on 12/10/2012 by Juan

COP18, the Climate Change Conference held in Doha, Qatar, is a dismal failure, with the United States and Russia being the chief villains. The failure of the world’s leaders to have their hair on fire about the extreme challenges of the climate change we are producing with our carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions has imperilled some countries more than others. Subsaharan Africa is in the firing line for the worst effects of climate change. But the low-lying areas of West Bengal and Bangladesh, and of the Egyptian Delta, are especially vulnerable to the one-meter sea level rise that the COP18 failure has ensured will occur within 80 years.

Here at geology.com there is a useful web tool that lets you see what the world looks like with a 1-meter (about three feet) sea level rise, which is now certain to occur by the end of this century. Actually, in past eons, a one-degree Centigrade increase in average temperature has produced a 10-20 meter rise in the seas. We are certainly going to exceed a 2-degree C. increase, so we could see a 20-40 meter increase, i.e. 60 to 120 feet. Obviously that would put a lot of our current land under water, but it will take a long time for that extreme rise to occur. The seas are very cold, very deep and very big, and circulate slowly, so that they will take thousands of years to warm. Once they do, human beings will be in big trouble. And even these enormous, icy bodies of water will warm up a bit by 2100, causing sea level rises of at least a meter, and maybe two. This is what Egypt would look like with a one-meter rise (and no, you can’t build sea dikes to deal with that kind of increase):

The city of Alexandria, celebrated in the poetry of Cavafy and the novels of Lawrence Durrell– with its 4.5 million population– has no more than 80 years to live. Note that Alexandria is bigger than Chicago (inside city limits), America’s third-largest city. The Delta city of Damanhour, where Muslim Brothers and their rivals clashed last week, leaving a young man dead? Under water. The ports of Damietta and Rosetta? Gone.

Alexandria is a key port for Egypt, with necessary infrastructure, through which 4/5s of the country’s imports are brought in.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Dec 10, 2012, 06:42 AM (21 replies)

For Afghan Officials, Facing Prospect of Death Is in the Job Description


Abdul Majid Khogyani, center, the governor of Wardak Province, touring government buildings damaged by a suicide truck bombing two days earlier.

For Afghan Officials, Facing Prospect of Death Is in the Job Description
Published: December 8, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — There are so many ways for an Afghan official to die: car bombs, suicide attacks, a volley of bullets or, in the case of one particularly enterprising assassin, a handgun hidden in the sole of a shoe.

On Thursday, a Taliban suicide bomber with a bomb hidden in his groin area tried to assassinate the new chief of Afghanistan’s intelligence service in Kabul, seriously wounding him. Two weeks before, insurgents welcomed two of the country’s newest governors with an armed assault in Helmand Province and a car bomb that leveled an entire city block in Wardak Province. Both governors survived and came away with an attribute essential for politicians here: a sharpened sense of fatalism.

“Assassination attempts are a part of the job,” said Abdul Majid Khogyani, the new Wardak governor, seated in a makeshift office in his compound’s frigid courtyard, the only place untouched by the bombing. “It comes with the package.” He actually grinned.

Government officials here do not worry so much about the wrath of constituents; a more immediate fear is coldblooded assassination at the hands of the Taliban. Public service jobs are among the most dangerous in Afghanistan, with hundreds of officials killed every year. The more important the official, the greater the risk — some particularly fortunate, and well defended, governors have survived more than a dozen assassination attempts.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:08 AM (0 replies)

Pentagon to review perks for its leaders


Pentagon to review perks for its leaders
By Craig Whitlock, Published: December 7

The Pentagon announced Friday that it will examine whether its generals and admirals receive too many perks and said they should receive more ethics training earlier in their careers.

The measures are a preliminary response to a directive issued last month by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who ordered a review into misconduct by top brass in the wake of investigations involving several leaders, including the commander of the war in Afghanistan.

On Friday, however, the Pentagon gave no indication that sweeping reforms were in store, and officials downplayed a recent string of scandals involving senior officers as isolated incidents.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said Panetta believes the misconduct is limited to a “very small number” of senior officers. Little said the defense secretary has also decided to allow the Joint Chiefs of Staff to determine on their own whether further reforms are needed, instead of imposing changes.

Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 09:03 AM (0 replies)

Afghanistan peace plan that would increase Pakistan’s role


Afghanistan peace plan that would increase Pakistan’s role
By Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Saturday, December 8, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Afghan government is pursuing an ambitious new peace initiative in which Pakistan would replace the United States in arranging direct talks between the warring sides and the Taliban would be granted government posts that effectively could cede to them political control of their southern and eastern strongholds.

If implemented, the plan would diminish the role of the United States in the peace process, but would still leave Washington with input on a number of critical issues, including the terms for initiating negotiations. Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Great Britain also would be involved.

The plan envisions ending the war by 2015 through a ceasefire and negotiations in the second half of next year, most likely in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan would help select the leaders of the Taliban and other rebel groups who would take part in the negotiations with the Afghan government. The effort, the plan says, should be conducted “through one consistent and coherent channel,” a measure that would secure a role for Afghan President Hamid Karzai after the end of his term following April 2014 elections.

Another provision would give the insurgents a voice on “issues related . . . to the withdrawal” of the U.S.-led NATO force by the end of 2014.

unhappycamper comment: It would much easier to declare 'Victory' and leave Afghanistan. (We are spending over $100 billion dollars a year in this enduring occupation.)
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:52 AM (0 replies)

The F-35: U.S. Air Force in Corrupt Practice


F-35 nuclear-capable stealth fighter

U.S. Air Force in Corrupt Practice
By William Boardman
12/7/2012 at 14:51:46

The Governor of Vermont and the Mayor of Burlington have decided to flaunt their corrupt behavior as they engage in a private, lobbyist-paid trip supported by a directly interested party in a charade of investigation designed to bring a nuclear weapons system to Vermont at the expense of the health, welfare, and homes of thousands of Vermonters.

That's not exactly the way Governor Peter Shumlin put it at his news conference December 6 when he announced that he would be taking a trip to Florida, in a private jet paid for by the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, to visit the Eglin Air Force Base, in order to listen personally to an F-35 nuclear-capable stealth fighter bomber that has created significant controversy in Vermont because of the Air Force's potential plan to base the world's most expensive weapons system in the midst of Vermont's most populated area.

Accompanying the governor on the December 12 Florida trip, he said, would be Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Winooski Mayor Michael O'Brien. All three elected officials are Democrats and the mayors endorsed the governor's 2012 re-election. Shumlin and Weinberger endorsed the F-35 as Burlington's own WMD last May.

Although the F-35 would be based at the Burlington Airport in South Burlington if it comes to Vermont, the governor has excluded South Burlington officials from his Florida trip. The South Burlington City Council recently voted unanimously to reaffirm its opposition to an F-35 base that would devastate the city. City Council chair Rosanne Greco is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former Pentagon planner, whose concise and wide-ranging critique of the Air Force plans have gone unrefuted.


And in other F-35 news, Canucks dumped the F-35: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11791847
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:36 AM (4 replies)

The Senate Report on CIA Interrogations You May Never See


The Senate Report on CIA Interrogations You May Never See
by Cora Currier
ProPublica, Dec. 7, 2012, 4:02 p.m.

A Senate committee is close to putting the final stamp on a massive report on the CIA’s detention, interrogation and rendition of terror suspects. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who heads the Select Committee on Intelligence, called the roughly 6,000-page report “the most definitive review of this CIA program to be conducted.”


The committee first needs to vote to endorse the report. There will be a vote next week.

Republicans, who are a minority on the committee, have been boycotting the investigation since the summer of 2009. They pulled back their cooperation after the Justice Department began a separate investigation into the CIA interrogations. Republicans have criticized that inquiry, arguing that the interrogations had been authorized by President George W. Bush’s Justice Department. (In August, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the investigation was being closed without bringing any criminal charges.)

Even if the report is approved next week, it won’t be made public then, if at all. Decisions on declassification will come at “a later time,” Feinstein said.

unhappycamper comment: Want to read what the CIA has gotten right since it's inception in 1947? I suggest you read "Legacy of Ashes" by Tim Weiner.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Dec 9, 2012, 08:27 AM (4 replies)
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